A blog originally for keeping track of my hobby of being a Beekeeper which has evolved to include Home Brewing and even more recently to follow me and my families approach to "The Good Life". Eventually I hope to include baking recipes and stories of our flock of chickens also reporting on the success and failure at the allotments.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Wakefield and Pontefract Beekeepers: February Meeting

Monday just gone was the February meeting for my local Beekeeping association. This month the talk was held by a guy from the NBU or the National Bee Unit. The main purpose of the talk was to give the results of some research that has been going on recently. He covered how they conduct their research, which was done over 2 years in random apiaries. There were plenty of pie charts and diagrams to show the different levels of disease that where found within the apiaries. I won't include any of the figures, this is mainly due to not having access to them! The general idea I got was that EFB and AFB aren't at high levels, but other diseases are higher. One of the higher level diseases was DWV (deformed wing virus) and there was a further graph to show how levels of this problem relate directly to varroa levels. All in all the presentation gave me confidence that no matter how many problems the Bees face there is still a lot of research going on to try to combat them.

Within the presentation a lot of emphasis was on encouraging people to register on Beebase Website. I have already done this some time ago and can confirm that it is a very good resource for UK Beekeepers to use. Within the site there is a section for putting details about each hive inspection and can also easily be set up for various different apiaries. There is also a lot of information about the various problems Bees suffer from and what to do. There are lots of .pdf documents to download and print out to hand out to people to provide further info. All in all it's well worth registering if your either a Beekeeper or interested in becoming one.

After the presentation I went to see the secretary as some goodies that I had ordered as part of my associations bulk buy scheme had arrived:-

Apiguard. This is a treatment for varroa mites. There is enough for 5 hives in this box. I'll describe how it's used closer the time that I use. I think it's very similar to the other treatment I used last year, APILIFE VAR, but in an easier to use package!

Another varroa treatment. It's the same as the stuff I used in the winter time except already made into a liquid.

Hessian sacking. This is just a bundle of hessian. It's useful in the smoker and really helps get your smoking working properly.
There are more items that I ordered but they will be there next month. I think all I have left to arrive are some more packs of wax foundation.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Birthday Beekeeping and Homebrewing Gifts

It was my birthday last week and no surprise I got some presents relating to my hobbies. I received other presents but I'll only show the gifts relevant to this blog.

A beer making kit from my soon-to-be mother in law (less than 3 weeks!). I have already started this kit off and it is sat in a warm place busy fermenting. In a few weeks I will have around 40 pints of bitter!

A cookie jar shaped like a beehive. Inside there were some tasty chocolate truffles! This was off my soon-to-be aunt in law.

From my soon-to-be wife. I have only skimmed through this but intend on ready it in full in the coming weeks.

A new hydrometer and siphon tube from my sisters.

From my daughter. Hope she got mummy to buy this, not sure it would be right if they had served a 14 month old mead!

And last but by not least, again from my daughter. She was fed up of reading anatomically incorrect stories about Bees. One such book was about a male bumble Bee with 1 set of wings collecting pollen to make honey, then returning to his W.B.C. hive to make the honey comb. She is only 14 months but know how wrong it is so bought me the above book which is much better! Clever girl!

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Happy Valentines Day

Just a quick post to say happy Valentines day to all the Beekeepers out there. I don't reference the lovey dovey side of Valentines day but more to the fact that St. Valentine was also the patron Saint of Beekeeping! 

Thursday, 9 February 2012


Having a bit of time to spare in the last few days I decided to try my hand at making some blocks of Beeswax using a mould that my fiancĂ©e bought me for Christmas. The wax I used isn't from my Bees but from some unused wax foundation I acquired from one of my sisters work colleagues, who sadly had to quit Beekeeping due to an allergy. The wax foundation had been kept in the garage so had turned hard and brittle. I melted it down several months ago and put it in a container for storage.  

The wax block in the plastic container in a pan of simmering water; after a while the wax had melted.

I then carefully poured the wax into the mould then left it to cool and set
Once the wax was fully set I banged the mould hard and out popped the 5 blocks of Beeswax.

I then repeated the process to make a total of 10 blocks!

From here I'm not sure what to do with them; I could make candles or try to make soap and other cosmetics. There is also the option of sending it back to the people that make wax foundation and they will swap it back into foundation to be used again in the hive. Whatever I do with it I had fun making the blocks and they will store well in their current form. I'm hoping that sometime later in the year I will be able to make some blocks out of my own Beeswax.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Wakefield and Pontefract Beekeepers: January Meeting

The first meeting of the new year was held by a doctor from Halifax, a town about a half hour drive west of where I live. The subject of the meeting was to give a better idea of the relationship between Bee products (including stings) and health, also dispelling a few myths about honey.

The start of his presentation was a video, I think it was set somewhere in India, showing someone who holds a surgery where the treatment is Bee stings; patients will come to him with different ailments and the "doctor" would administer the stings. In the video there was a claim that 80% of patients felt benefits from the treatment. The guy holding the presentation was, like me, a little sceptical of the claims, however it could have been the placebo effect that was making the patients feel relief. I will not be trying this form of pain relief!

From there the presentation went into allergic reactions to Bee stings and what can be done to lessen the effect. There was a fair bit of medical terminology used that I don't remember but the basics were that the more you get stung the more of a resistance you can build up but on the other hand you can have a severe reaction and develop hypersensitivity at any time. To better prepare yourself for your inspection a single anti histamine tablet was recommended; this taken prior to the inspection will help if you are stung but won't totally stop the effects, especially if you are hypersensitive. If you have a known allergy then maybe it's worth seeing your GP and enquiring about an epipen so if you have a severe reaction you can have something you can administer while waiting for an ambulance. As with all forms of medication you should consult your doctor prior to using them anyway.

This was followed with another video, this time of the survivalist Bear Grylls. Below is the youtube video. I think it speaks for itself!

After we had finished laughing at Bear Grylls expense the presentation went into dispelling a few so called facts about honey and it's healing properties. He did state that people would probably disagree with what he was about to say but he was basing his views on scientific experiment, or the lack of.
I think one of the big ones was that local honey has no proven benefit to people suffering from hay fever; as the pollen is ingested and destroyed in the process there is no real benefit gained from it. He said that no scientific experiment of any credit has shown any reduction in symptoms from using honey. He did however say that in just believing that it'll work may give you benefit from the placebo effect.

There was mention of other anecdotes that show how good honey is for various things but with little scientific proof but one product has been tested scientifically and shown to have the properties that it say it has but not as fully expected! This product is the manuka honey; there is proof that it has above normal antibacterial properties but not if it is ingested. The main use for this honey would be to apply to the skin where you are healing from a wound or similar. Eating it had no extra benefit and apparently doesn't taste very good anyway.

To round his presentation off he mentioned propolis, wax, royal jelly and even Bee larva, all of which are used with no real scientific proof of having medical properties. I think something that has to be taken into account is that his views are based on the lack of scientific evidence to prove the medical benefits, there is also very little evidence to disprove any of this! Basically you can believe it or not and if you do believe it works then there is a good chance you'll notice a difference so why not try it!

There was a lot covered in his presentation and I don't think I have done it justice, however I think I have covered the subject in enough detail for today, if anyone has any further questions please ask me and I'll try to answer them.

As per usual there was a raffle after the presentation but I didn't win anything. It is a good place to go to and discuss how your hives are doing and other topics that interest me. One guy who I talk to regularly has mentioned he has an apple press and would be willing to lend me it if my dads allotment produces a large amount of apples again this year, so home made cider may be on the cards later in the year!