Surrey Honey Show, Saturday 11th September 2021 – Results!!

The Surrey Agricultural Show, which always includes the Bees and Honey Tent where the Honey Show is staged, was obviously not held last year or this year, but the SBKA Show Committee decided to run the event at the Reigate Division’s spacious and attractive apiary, way out in the Surrey countryside. Apart from the Show, this tree-lined site with its extensive area for hives, excellent wooden building with all facilities and large car park is always worth visiting – how envious we are!

There was a very friendly atmosphere, a good display of exhibits and tea and cake were available thoughout the afternoon. Special thanks go to the organisers, especially Mike Axford, Daphne Thomas and Julie Hogarth, as well as the many helpers on the day.

Now for the Weybridge contribution to the Show. We did VERY WELL, with a total of 82 points, second only to Reigate, with 87, BUT, 51 of Reigate’s points were won by one exhibitor, without whose points Reigate would have been fifth – and – Weybridge first! Now, NEXT year… how about it?

Marion Cooper Here are the details of the 18 Weybridge achievements, with the exhibitors given in alphabetical order:

(VHC = Very Highly Commended, HC = Highly Commended, C = Commended)

Leona Cobham

VHC – Single Jar of Honey, Novice Class

Geoff and Marion Cooper

1st – Two jars medium honey

1st – Honey cake

2nd – Interesting or Instructive Exhibit (heated tank for cleaning frames)

2nd – Honey biscuits

3rd – Lemon honey cake

Lisa Davis

1st – Honey and Beeswax Products

2nd – Single jar of honey, Novice Class

Vanessa Inwood

3rd – Colour Photo

David Parker

1st – Composite display of four items

1st – Two cut comb in containers, ColmanCup

2nd – Two jars light honey

2nd – Frame suitable for extraction

3rd – Two jars set honey

3rd – Two beeswax candles

VHC – Two jars dark honey

Alan Wells

3rd – Single jar of honey, Novice Class

C – Honey cake

Preparing your hives for Winter

Summer Meeting at Fairoaks Airport, 18th September 2021

The subject of this meeting was “Preparing your hives for Winter.”

As had been advised in David Parker’s notes that had been circulated in advance of the meeting, he winters his bees on two brood boxes with 8 frames in each thus closer simulating the colony nest in a hollow tree. The spare space either side is filled with insulating board to reduce heat loss during winter.

Disappointingly only 15 members turned up and 5 of those were committee members. The group was split into two groups and allocated 2 or 3 hives to go through. The plan was 1) to assess how much food each hive had, 2) to check that it was queenright and 3) to scratch the Apivar strips that were in the hives. The latter had been in for 3 weeks and the process of scratching the strips with a hive tool removes any wax or propolis and increases the effectiveness for the last three weeks. After inspecting each colony the estimated stores were recorded on the Hive record and the feeders filled up with appropriate additional sugar solution.

After we rejoined as one group away from the bees for tea, David showed us the mixing paddle and drill that he uses for mixing the sugar in his plastic containers. Using this he can prepare food and mix it into solution in three minutes.

We then had a picnic tea and talked about bees. An interesting meeting for those beginners who attended and everyone enjoyed the afternoon. Our thanks go to David for hosting the meeting.

Michael Main

Thanks for your report Michael. As you said, it’s a pity the attendance was so poor. David has sent details of the mixing paddle he uses for making up sugar syrup, as mentioned in the report above:

Weybridge Division’s AGM Monday 8th November 2021

Formal Notice of Weybridge Division’s AGM

The Weybridge Beekeepers Annual General Meeting is scheduled to be held on Monday 8th November 2021 at 7.30 p.m.

We are currently considering a repeat of last year’s successful format of holding the meeting over Skype, with a physical venue a possible alternative. The final details will be in the November newsletter.

Our traditional honey tasting will not take place again this year, for obvious reasons.

It would be great to see you at the meeting.

Jane Hunter – Hon Secretary

An invitation for your bees (and yourself) to help with a research project by Coventry University into air pollution

We are looking for 60 beekeepers to take part in a project to record local air pollution. Working together we will collect small samples of bees to discover whether air pollutants are present in the hives. 

Go to  to see how it works.                  Thanks to David Parker for this item.

This looks to be an interesting and worthwhile  project. Do spend a few minutes reading the details even if you do not intend to be a volunteer. It gives an idea of our polluted environment. 

Apiary Meeting: ‘An inspector calls’ at Michael Main’s garden

Thanks to Jenny Nield (Report), Stewart Westsmith (Demonstration), Nicola Simpson, David Parker, Claire Balla (Photos), Michael Main (Host)

The purpose of this meeting was to introduce Stewart Westsmith, our seasonal bee inspector (between April and October), and for him to demonstrate how to carry out a disease inspection on a colony. Last year he inspected 1100 hives. David Parker and Michael Main opened the meeting by thanking everyone for attending despite the weather. (In fact this turned out to be quite good, warm with a hint of damp air near the end, not a return to the heavy downpour we had at the beginning – see photo below.)

Throughout the meeting, due to Covid and the local EFB outbreak, only Stewart and Michael handled the frames and any equipment during the inspections.

Quoting Stewart’s opening comments:

“We’ve had an increase of EFB in areas in Surrey which we never had before, so it’s obviously more important to be aware of checking your hives for signs of EFB and of course AFB, recognising it and being able to then have the confidence to say whether it is FB or getting it analysed. What I’m busy doing at the moment is finding cases, diagnosing them, treating them and making sure it is not spreading out of that area. This has been my whole summer.”

Stewart stressed the importance of hygienic practice throughout the apiaries particularly if you have multiple sites. Here is the list of the items he mentioned on a few occasions: boots, gloves, (disposable is better), jackets, tools and a bucket of washing soda solution to clean all tools between each hive, which is highly advisable (4.5 litres water to 1 kilo soda crystals). He uses wire wool in the soda solution to clean the tools between each hive.

Stewart has several clean suits to change into for every Apiary. He sprays his car with anti-bacterial solution and at home he sprays door handles and everything he touches, very mindful of potential spread.

He uses a plastic sandwich bag around the smoker. The puffer on smokers is sometimes difficult to scrub down, hence a bag that can be taken off and replaced with a new bag is good hygiene.

He stressed the importance of beekeepers registering their  hives on Bee Base and keeping the record of  hive numbers up to date. It is a big help for the inspectors as if there is an outbreak, they can contact all beekeepers within a 3 km radius of it or more.

Stewart then went on to inspect 2 hives that Michael had prepared.

When it comes to FB disease inspection, the only sure method is to shake the bees off each frame, looking out for that one cell that has any signs of disease. It only takes one cell to show us.  And you can’t always see it with bees on the frame. The best way is to shake them off.

If found early enough, the bees can be saved, if not, it’s destruction and sterilisation of the equipment. The first step is to inspect the hive from the outside.

Make sure the hive looks ok, not damaged from woodpecker or other. Check underneath the floor of the hive, to see if there are dead bees about, this gives an indication of what’s going on inside the hive. If there’s a mass of dead bees at the front it could be an indication of starvation, varroa, poisoning or chronic bee paralysis, among other things.

Also it’s good to see what the bees are bringing in, pollen on their legs is a sign of brood in the hive.

You don’t have to see all the signs, 1 or 2 is sufficient to alert you.

Generally, EFB is found on unsealed brood, but can be found in sealed. AFB is mostly in sealed brood.

When looking for EFB some signs are an uneven or patchy brood pattern, dead and discoloured larvae in uncapped cells, twisted lying unnaturally in the cell, in some circumstances larvae may die after capping; sometimes there is also an unpleasant smell.

If a hive has any of these signs, the apiary must be put on stand still, (nothing allowed off the site). When results are verified, and the infested hive is cleaned, treated or destroyed by burning, the stand still order will be cancelled.

Stewart emphasised that if you have concerns at any time, do please take pictures and email them to him, as this can be a quick way of finding out if your bees require further investigation. Email in Contacts List.