2nd Monday meet – 11 March 2022

Well we do seem to be settling well into our now not-so-new home for 2nd Monday meetings, The George at Brailes. The room seems the right size for our meetings, there is no screen creating two separate ‘halves’ to the room and any speakers at one end of the room can be heard throughout the room. And the beer is pretty good too 🙂

This month the very topical theme was ‘Swarms and Swarming’. It was a two-hander, with David Blower starting by talking about swarm control followed by Douglas Nethercleft talking about what we do when swarm control has failed – swarm collection!

In his talk David took us through some useful pointers for swarm control:

  • Generally expect to have 2 supers on by the end of April – and provide space in advance of the bees needing it.
  • Add a super when the existing one is 60% full
  • The bees will be ready to swarm once there are 6 frames of brood; this can be delayed by moving a frame or two of brood with bees to a nuc
  • The bees can make and seal a queen cell in 5 days (eek!)
  • When adding 2nd / 3rd super separate if from the one below with a sheet of newspaper.

I found these short, simple tips very useful. Members may have watched the talk by Wally Shaw that WBKA arranged as their Winter Talk series (and available here on the WBKA website); it was fascinating and full of information but slightly difficult to distil into useful ‘todo’s’.

Douglas then took us through the kit and planning for swarm collection. As with David, Douglas had lots of advice and ‘how to’s’. Douglas has a water spray bottle which is useful for encouraging bees down and a spray bottle of sugar syrup, useful for feeding a caught swarm that might be out of food and getting exhausted. Douglas advises to mark them so you don’t confuse them and end up with a sticky mess where you don’t want one!

Adulterated honey

Started by a question at the end from Mike Clarke we had an interesting discussion on adulterated honey. I didn’t know that in America it’s legal for ‘honey’ to have up to 10% corn syrup. One wonders how the supermarkets can sell ‘honey’ for a couple of £ for a 12oz jar.

These links might explain a bit more if you are unfamiliar with ‘adulterated honey’:

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2021/nov/28/bee-aware-do-you-know-what-is-in-that-cheap-jar-of-honey

https://www.wired.co.uk/article/honey-fraud-detection

The BBKA has been tasked with some actions relating to the authenticity of imported honey at the 2022 BBKA Annual Delegates Meeting. Two propositions addressing the increasing problem of Adulterated Honey were passed in this year’s ADM. The BBKA Executive has set up a working group to pursue the objectives of the propositions. The Group has already written to the Prime Minister and The Minister for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to get action to reduce the importation of ‘false honey’. The BBKA is also pushing for the labelling of blended honey to require a listing of the country of origin and the proportions of the blend.

Gary Thomas