The best way to extract honey?

“At a recent beekeeping event we heard that to enter prize winning honey with maximum aroma it is worth considering extracting honey by letting it drip out of the comb, as the more vigorous action of tangential spinning allows too much of the aroma to escape.

We hadn’t considered this until we inspected our bees last week and found that they had been very busy and there were several unexpected capped frames that we could remove without leaving them in any way short of stores. Having thoroughly cleaned and put away our spinner I thought it might be the ideal opportunity to see if we could get the honey to drip out and thereby have an exceedingly fragrant jar or two of honey to exhibit.

I can report that after 48 hours of trying to get the honey to drip out (yes, I did uncap it!), a process involving cordoning off a third of the kitchen and a very large bucket, I am still waiting for the frame to drip all of its honey. The honey is not especially viscous, and there is no obvious reason for it not to drip, so it must be that we simply have a lack of gravity in the kitchen. We have searched Thorne’s website and they do not appear to sell gravity, either loose or by the jar, so it looks like we are going to have to get the tangential spinner out again, and then clean it all over again, just for 6 frames.

Has anybody else successfully separated honey from comb before in a low gravity environment, or using other methods that don’t involve spinning ?”

David Ramsay

Many thanks for this lovely item, David; it really is a bit special.  

Does anyone have some suggestions in response to David’s request? Let us know, even if you have not tried such a method yourself.

 A visit from Australian Beekeepers

We had the pleasure of entertaining two beekeepers, Henry and Mary from Australia, in our home a week or so ago. They had made a request, via Glyn Davis and Tim Lovett (Surrey BKA), to meet some English beekeepers and to see some bees in this country. Glyn had only a vague idea of their status in beekeeping, but gave the impression that they were probably new to the craft, which they are, but what a start they have made! 

During the visit they told us that although they are fairly new beekeepers, they have in the last couple of years purchased a bee business with about 120 colonies, and are both obviously ‘turned on’ by bees and beekeeping. The original owner has remained with them as an adviser who is guiding them during their initial management of the business in which a number of ‘bee boys’ are already employed.

The business is very unusual in that most of the hives are owned and situated in the ‘back yards’ of individuals living locally, who pay to have them looked after by the bee boys of the ‘Back Yard Honey’ company and are given some of the honey. There are also some small apiaries of about 20 colonies each, including one on the University of Melbourne site, that are stocked and maintained by Henry and Mary. Their whole operation takes place in Melbourne, which they described as an area of wealthy and enterprising people, giving us the impression of a very suitable clientele for honey.

They confirmed that dealing with diseases such as AFB and EFB is totally the responsibility of beekeepers, and the Government takes no part in controlling bee diseases of this nature. As we knew, Varroa was recently found in Australia; currently the Government is very confident that its policy of destruction of all colonies in areas where varroa is found will eliminate the mite. Meanwhile they are relying on other countries who already have the mite to come up with the solution. I did gently say to Henry and Mary that I could not share any of this optimism, but did agree that the vast empty spaces in their country may limit the speed of its spread, and perhaps they would not see it in their lifetimes. However, this seems unlikely because of migratory beekeeping, that is practised on a large scale in their country.

They were interested to go through a hive in our garden, commented on the calm bees and were excited to have their first sighting of two varroa mites on bees, and others under a microscope in the kitchen. They were also interested to see how we monitor varroa mites on a board under the mesh floor.

We exchanged honeys. Theirs was a very strong one from Eucalyptus trees (Red Gum Honey).

We very much enjoyed their visit, and I am sure it is true to say that they enjoyed theirs. They are coming again to this country at about the same time next year, and Henry agreed to give a talk to our members during their stay, if that can be arranged.   

Geoff Cooper

Future Events Honey Shows 2022

Three Honey Shows

We have been asked to share these details of future events:

With what is looking like being a bumper year for honey for many, there are Three Honey Shows coming up in September and October, that ALL SBKA members could enter. 

So start in September at the South of England Show to practice your skills for the Surrey Show at Henfold … and the National later during October.

September 24thSouth of England Honey Show … at the South of England Showground, Ardingly West Sussex, during the Autumn Show & International Horse Trials. 

SoE Honey Show Schedule, inc Rules and Registration forms for Show Bench Entries & Honey Stock to sell. For details seeSouth of England Honey Show website.   

October 8thSurrey Beekeepers Association … at the Reigate Division Henfold Pavilion  

Show Schedule and details to be announced

October 27th–29thNational Honey Show (91st)  … at Sandown Park Racecourse, Esher, Surrey. 

2022 Show Schedule (only) of Classes

Special Entry Classes for Younger Beekeepers (and bee supporters) 2022

 Weybridge Beekeepers Summer meeting, 25th July 2022. The main subjects of the meeting were the methods and timing of removing honey from the hives for extracting.

After 2 postponements approximately 30 members were finally able to meet at the Beehive pub in Egham where we were greeted by the sight of Richard Emmett’s hives at the back of the car park, including a WBC hive containing no less that 9 supers of honey (a 10th having already been removed a week previously).

Richard explained that he had kept bees at the Beehive for about 10 years and now had 3 hives on the site. Two of the hives had not performed so well and he would not be taking honey from them this year, but the one hive had been growing at a rate of a new super every 2 weeks throughout the season.

In addition to the 3 WBC hives Richard is also mentoring Leonard, a new beekeeper who has a polystyrene hive on the site which members were invited to view after the ‘main event’.

David Parker discussed and demonstrated the various devices available to the beekeeper to ‘encourage’ the bees to move out of the supers to enable the beekeeper to remove them quickly and easily. He covered: Porter bee escapes, Rhombus bee escape, Canadian clearer board, metal mesh rhombus escapes and Canadian escapes which resemble red bee-sized traffic cones.

He also covered chemical methods of clearing the supers such as the use of almond essence or proprietary branded products. Lastly there was the option used by large scale beekeepers which is the blower.

After a few pertinent questions the meeting moved to the hive itself with Richard using a step ladder to reach the top of the hive. Although Richard and David had put a clearer board and additional empty supers (to allow the bees space to move down from the honey supers) on the hive earlier in the day it was found that there were still some bees in the supers and so the blower was used to clear them before loading the boxes into Richard’s car.

There was a brief discussion about the blower method of clearing the bees and it was pointed out that hobby beekeepers are very unlikely to use this method, which is probably best kept for large volume beekeeping and meetings like this where there are a large number of supers to be removed in a short space of time.

Once extracted, the wet supers will be returned to the hive for the bees to clean up before they are stored ready for next year. The group discussed the various methods of returning and storing the drawn comb to keep it in best condition. David pointed out that there will probably still be up to 10% of the honey in the wet super so allowing the bees to clean the comb is a valuable method to retain this honey.

In addition to his ‘super’ hive Richard demonstrated another WBC hive that he runs with National boxes inside, which gives him 12 frames instead of the 10 frames in a WBC box and with the double wall insulation (both summer and winter advantage) of a WBC hive.

The timetable of removing honey in July and them beginning treatments (Varroa) in August before removing the queen excluder to allow the bees to prepare for winter was also discussed.

Please see the attached pictures from the meeting.

After the meeting a number of the members retired to the pub to enjoy food and/or a drink, and to enjoy a social time together. 

With thanks to everyone involved in presenting the meeting especially Richard Emmett and the landlady of the Beehive pub for their hospitality.

Alan Whitehill

Many thanks to Alan for his report – more contributions, please!

 A couple more comments on the meeting

  1. I am not sure that beginners should have had a demonstration of working on a ladder to remove full, heavy supers stacked nine boxes high. It’s a bit dangerous! Also, the bees have an awful lot of work to do, and energy to expend within the hive, when working on the top box. 
  2. There were a number of very unhappy people and critical comments about the ‘blower’ method of removing the last bees from the supers. After the demonstration, small clusters of bees were found huddled on the ground; probably this was not the main reason for the people’s discomfort – I suspect it was ethical issues. Michael Main took a kind approach, collected them up and returned them to their hive. A number of the members moved away from the action, declaring themselves to be ‘Conscientious Objectors’. I have to say that I see no need to treat living creatures in this manner even if it is what the bee farmers do. What do our readers think? Please let the editor know. 

Geoff Cooper

If you contribute to this, but would prefer not to make your name known, I suggest that you sign your message ‘Anonymous’ or something similar. I very much hope that there will be some in favour of the blower method, and some who disagree, but please don’t make it personal, the last thing we want is to set up friction between members. – Ed.

More on Chronic Bee Paralysis Virus

Here is another account and photos, this time from Nikki Simpson. She comments that the fake grass they have under their hives makes it easy to see the dead bees. The top picture is the death toll for one day and the close up shot below shows dead bees with the distinctive dark, shiny bodies as well as young bees.

As a new beekeeper I really wasn’t sure that the volumes of dead bees I found outside the hive in April were normal for the time of year. I was expecting to see the winter bees die and be replaced by new spring bees but the piles we found every day out the front of the hive seemed excessive. Canvassing opinion at the Nosema Clinic in April didn’t shed any light on it, and the death toll continued, consistently losing what seemed like 100s of bees every day. I began to worry if we’d have any bees left, but the colony seemed to be building up as expected so I tried to put the worry to one side but every day my husband would sweep the dead bees into a pile. Strangely, I noticed that while most of the bees looked black and shiny like old bees (with distinctive dark orange stripes at the top of their abdomens), there were also young bees lying on the ground, seemingly unable to walk or fly, but moving feebly. Like yourself, I wondered if it was pesticide poisoning. After reading the newsletter article last month the penny dropped. Everything we observed makes sense in the light of CBPV.

I’ve done some reading since, and there really isn’t much useful information that I could find. There seems to be a distinct lack of research on the topic. I read the Budge et al article in Nature Communications but struggled with the scientific language, so was relieved to find a summary article in the BBKA News, pp.151-154, May 2021. (Recommended reading) There were several points in their research that were interesting to me:

1. CBPV has traditionally been seen as a spring/early summer disease, but their research suggests that more recently it occurs throughout the season, with a slight peak in September. So we may not be out the woods yet! 2. CBPV seems to show clustering by years, most outbreaks are contained within a 40-mile radius, but these clusters do not seem to repeat themselves the following year. So we may catch a lucky break next year and be virus free!

3. Their research substantiates that adult bees are the carriers and found that the faeces of infected bees carry a high viral load (dysentery being a symptom for some bees). Without a known treatment, or any management advice suggested by any sources, other than to remove the floor of the hive so the dead bees can drop out, it’s difficult to know how to help our bees but I wonder if a comb change in the spring is a good idea?

How very unfortunate to have such a devastating disease in year 1, but Nikki and her husband have survived well – here is the concluding sentence of her email:

Our introductory year has been a bit more ‘full on’ than we anticipated but we have loved every minute of it so far!

A comment from Marion

The recommendation from the NBU shown in their video (Chronic Bee Paralysis Virus – Symptoms and Characteristics. – YouTube) that the hive floor be removed from affected colonies to allow dead bees to drop out, as quoted by Nikki above, has cause considerable consternation among some of our members, who have discussed this.

What about robbing? Reducing the hive entrance to a one-bee width is recommended to control robbing, so how would the colonies fare if the whole floor were removed? It doesn’t bear discussion, although several contributors to a beekeeping forum seem to have taken this drastic action. Even if it works at this time of year, there is no way it would in late summer, the worst time for robbing. Maybe these beekeepers haven’t seen robbing at its worst, when there is complete mayhem around the whole hive with the robbers and residents fighting, the robbers winning, then roughly uncapping the stored honey and removing all of it, leaving starving bees to die.

We have been promised contact from our Regional Bee Inspector on this aspect (floor removal) and also on the CBPV problem in general and will report on it. Meanwhile, searches for information and the burning of dead bees continue.

“An Inspector Calls’’ Apiary Meeting at Byfleet Manor Apiary, Saturday 11th June

This meeting was basically the weekly Beginners’ Course practical meeting, but on this occasion the beginners were joined by any of our members who wished to attend. The total number at the meeting was 31. The main purpose of the meeting was for our Seasonal Bee Inspector, Stewart Westsmith, to demonstrate how to carry out an inspection for EFB and AFB. In the event, Stewart did far more than this. He explained and demonstrated several important things to recognise in a hive, and mentioned many techniques used by experienced beekeepers. His talk was really a comprehensive review of practical beekeeping.

All concerned were relieved that no disease was found.
It is really hard to imagine that even the most experienced people present will have learned nothing from Stewart’s presentation – we all did. We are very grateful to him for spending all this time with us on what should have been his day off.

European Foulbrood (EFB)

An important reminder for our Weybridge Division Beekeepers

There are currently some very serious outbreaks of European Foulbrood (EFB) in our area. It is most important that you know what it looks like so that you can recognise it. EFB is not so obvious as American Foul Brood (AFB), so if you are unsure of what you are seeing checkout the entry and video on BeeBase (under Foulbrood Disease of Honey Bees) and/or ask an experienced beekeeper. If you think you have it, close the hive entrance completely at dusk, and contact our Seasonal Bee Inspector (see Contact Details table at the end of the Newsletter). Do make a point of checking your colonies specifically for brood diseases at least twice a year, and carefully watch out for it whenever you inspect your bees. Remember that even if it was not there last time you looked, it may be there at the next inspection. If EFB is in your hives, and you fail to deal with it, the disease will spread rapidly to hives close to you and further away. Remember that there is no totally reliable treatment for this disease, and often its control relies on the complete destruction of the colony.

Weybridge Beekeepers Division, Summer Meeting 23rd April – Preparing for a new season

Firstly, a big thank you to Michael Main for hosting this event in his lovely garden, and for allowing us to disturb his bees, hopefully they have recovered from being manipulated backward and forward simply for our amusement and benefit. Also, well done to Michael, who is obviously a bit of a Grand Master Tetrus Ninja, for his parking attendant prowess; who knew he could get 7 cars and a motorbike on this drive, if the scaffolding hadn’t been there, I think it might have been 8.

The sunny warm weather helped ensure it was a good turnout, with over 30 attendees ensuring that there were people with experience ranging from beginner to expert, so if there were to be lots of interesting questions, there would hopefully be as many knowledgeable answers.

As with all carefully planned events, the schedule was immediately thrown into disarray as a call had been received asking for a swarm to be collected, so as an added bonus to the afternoon’s planned events David Parker and six interested volunteers set off immediately to collect the swarm.

While this was happening the two master classes got underway, one on looking for EFB and AFB during inspections, and the other looking at swarm control using the Pagden Method.

Geoff and Alan demonstrated a hive inspection with a view to looking for EFB, European Foul Brood and American Foul Brood (AFB). For the beginners watching it was an excellent opportunity to see experienced beekeepers handle bees and carry out an inspection. They were shown brood in all stages, worker versus drone brood, pollen, stores, queen cups or worse queen cells, and of course identifying and looking after the queen. A pretty comprehensive A to Z of hive inspections. Predictably, and happily, no EFB or AFB was identified, but for beginners who may not have bees, this was an extremely valuable and interesting experience.

Meantime, Michael was demonstrating a swarm control technique called the Pagden Method. This method involves the complete separation of the queen and flying bees in a hive on the original site, from the eggs, brood, nurse bees and queen cells in a second hive newly set up beside the original one. The situation at the end of the manipulation would be two hives both eventually with laying queens, and you could either use these to increase your number of colonies or remove the old queen and reunite all of the bees to maintain a

Michael made this look easy, mainly because he could find the queen, had the necessary additional hive parts and also had the room to do this. I may not be able to do this yet, because I can never find the queen and may lack hive parts and space, but should I manage to conquer these issues, I now feel I have the strong colony. knowledge to try it myself .

This also led on to a discussion about what to do with a hive with a laying worker, and a demonstration of the use of a Snelgrove Board (£24 on Ebay, £43 from Thornes, or test your carpentry skills and DIY) to move flying bees between separated colonies. With a multitude of doors front, back and sideways as well as up and down, it became obvious that a practical demonstration was far easier than trying to describe it.

With impeccable timing, just as these two sessions were drawing to a close, the swarm catchers returned and we went straight into a very unusual session about removing and hiving a wild colony.

Michael had recovered to his garden a 5ft length of a tree trunk, which came down on an island in the Thames at Sunbury, which contained a feral colony. Goodness knows how he managed to get it from the island to his garden, using only a sack barrow and his car, but let’s just say that Hollywood are interested in the movie rights.

The plan was to remove the colony and house it in a hive. With surgeon like precision, the tree trunk had been chain sawed to allow a large section of trunk to be removed leaving the comb and the bees intact. The fact that this had been accomplished so successfully, and without anybody losing a finger, means we are calling this part of the process a roaring success!

David then removed sections of comb and attached them to frames using either elastic bands or wire. He said it was important that the comb was kept the right way up, because, and I didn’t realise this, the comb is built slightly facing upward so if it was slightly facing downward, it would be ignored by the bees, and the honey would drip out. David successfully moved the comb into the Nuc box and later saw bees coming and going from it, so the queen was successfully transferred although not seen.

The last demonstration was Michael showing how to change old comb for new using the Shook Swarm technique. This is important because old comb cells may become too small to raise decent sized bees as after repeated use they contain shed larval and pupal skins, the old comb may hold disease, and also by replacing it and the brood within, you can significantly reduce your varroa count.

Michael explained that he would often give the old comb to smaller colonies to build up their numbers rather than destroy good brood. In Michael’s method of Shook Swarm he had identified the queen and moved her with a frame of brood into the new box, he also added some partially drawn comb, this was to ensure that there would be no gap in laying.

If/when we do this, we will also add a couple of frames of brood with eggs, but for a different reason. We can never find the queen, so by having comb with eggs in the hive if the queen is in some way damaged during our ‘Shooking of the Swarm’, hopefully we can get some emergency queen cells raised by those bees not too dazed, confused and upset by the process.

This demonstration ended just as the temperature began to drop, and everyone retired to the seating area for a drink and a nibble and a very pleasant chat. For me this was another extremely enjoyable afternoon in which I learned new stuff, was reminded of things I forgot I knew, and all in the company of a very pleasant group of folk.

Many thanks, David, for this comprehensive and interesting report and for the pictures you sent with it – we have used some of these and also some kindly sent in by Anne Miller and Elaine Svard (Paul’s wife). It was great to read of your enjoyment of the meeting. We are looking forward to your future reports and other David Ramsay contributions to the newsletter.

BBKA INSURANCE for the period 4th October 2021 – 3rd October 2022 Frequently Asked Questions v.4

Over the years a number of queries have arisen about the insurance cover the BBKA has arranged for its Members. The following information provided by the BBKA is designed to help Members understand the cover they have.

As with all insurance, these FAQs should be taken as indicative answers only – the final wording is that contained in the policy and the interpretation rests with the insurance company. You can find policy and confirmation of cover documents at
Any questions not answered here should be addressed to the BBKA office at

1. As a member of the BBKA what am I covered for on the insurance arranged by the BBKA which is included in the cost of my membership fees?
Third Party Public and Products Liability insurance from the BBKA
The Third Party Public and Products Liability insurance policy automatically covers all Honorary, Registered, Partner, Junior, UKresident (plus Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey)Individual Members and constituent associations (referred to collectively as “Members”) against any financial loss caused by a successful claim against them by a third party for injury or other loss deemed to have been caused by the Member, or their bees, whilst undertaking beekeeping activities or through the normal use of their hive products. The limit of this cover is presently £10,000,000 with each new claim carrying an excess of £500 for third party property damage claims that is payable by the Member.

2. Does this policy cover my equipment against all risks including theft?

No – unfortunately the BBKA All Risks insurance scheme has been discontinued. As a result, Aston Lard will be unable to offer renewal terms and cover will cease from your renewal date.


The All Risks insurance is was arranged with the unique buying power of the BBKA’s 25,000+ members. However, over the period of 3 years + that it ran (since 31/01/2018), less than 2% of members have bought the cover. In addition, claims have been relatively high in relation to premiums.
Aston Lark can still offer cover, on a bespoke basis, using options from a wide number of insurers. However, the minimum cost will increase to at least £140 which we anticipate to be unacceptable to the majority of beekeepers with relatively normal levels of (but nonetheless beloved) equipment.

Aston Lark would be very pleased to hear from you if you would like a Household Insurance quotation, including beekeeping equipment, please contact:

For hobby beekeepers, Aston Lark suggest you have a discussion with your household insurers with the aim of adapting your

insurance cover to include hives in the open and other insurance covers that may not automatically be catered for. If they are

unable to assist, Aston Lark has negotiated facilities that will give most of, or all the insurance cover, you may require on one of

more of their own Household Insurance policies but they can only do so by arranging all your Household cover (not just

beekeeping equipment).

0161 830 1294 0161 830 1283

3 Parsonage, Manchester, M3 2HW

3. Does this policy cover me if my hives have American or European Foul Brood?

No. Bee Diseases Insurance (BDI) provides optional insurance for the replacement of beekeeping equipment should it have to be destroyed due to an incidence of a notifiable disease, such as European or American Foul Brood. Further information about how Bee Diseases Insurance Ltd operates can be found on the BDI website
Please note, not all BBKA Associations and Branches offer BDI insurance – please check with your membership secretary.

4. I pay a small extra premium with my subscription to my local branch each year for BDI insurance. What is this for?

This is a separate premium for Bee Diseases Insurance (BDI). In the event of your bees and equipment having to be destroyed due to foul brood, then this policy will pay out a fixed amount to help you replace your equipment. This is administered totally separately by BDI. The costs of this policy are part of your main subscription to your local association.

5. I’ve heard something about an excess; am I going to be charged for notifying a claim?

The Liability policy’s £500 excess is a marketstandard feature in the UK. It exists to impose an element of responsibility on the insured person so as to minimise recklessness.
The excess is limited in scope as it only applies to allegations of property damage. Claims alleging an injury are never subject to an excess.

Additionally, the excess is not payable during the defence phase of the claim. Insurers will provide full assistance and defend against the claim as robustly as possible. The excess is only payable when the decision is taken to make a payment to the Third Party. If the claim is successfully defended, no excess is payable.
The Insurers review the level of excess regularly in conjunction with the BBKA, but this must be balanced with premium considerations, as insurers require higher premiums for lower excess levels.

6. Are all Membership categories covered for insurance automatically?

Registered, Partner, Junior and Honorary members who are UK residents (plus Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey) are covered automatically for insurance as part of their payment of membership fees. Country membership does not include insurance cover. If you are in any doubt as to whether you personally are registered with the BBKA, you should consult with your association’s Membership secretary.

7. Are members of the public who attend Taster Days or visit our apiary covered?

The public are protected by the BBKA insurance when attending a taster day or training sessions. If a member of the public was injured (or their property damaged) and felt this was due to negligence, they could sue the BBKA members supervising the event (although liability should never be admitted, in case this results in cover being invalidated). BBKA Registered, Partner, Honorary and Junior members have BBKA insurance but not Country members. Naturally, BBKA cover would only protect a member of the public if there had been a failure in duty of care by a BBKA member.


8. Is it the bees or the beekeeper that is covered?

Bees obviously cannot be sued, so it is the beekeeper that is covered.
If a claim is made against BBKA Member, John, for a loss he caused while looking after Mary’s bees during her holiday, then John is covered even though the bees aren’t his. Even if Mary isn’t a Member, as long as John is a Member he will be covered if he is named in the action.
If it becomes apparent that it was actually Mary that was responsible for the loss and she is named in the action, the policy will only protect her if she is a Member.

9. I am called by a member of the public to collect bees that have swarmed – am I covered? What happens if I charge for my services?

You are covered provided, it is part of your normal beekeeping activities. If you charge reasonable expenses to cover fuel costs then this will not affect your cover. However, if you make a business out of swarm collection this would be viewed differently. You would need normal Commercial Insurance for this business activity which is not covered by the BBKA policy.

10. Is there any restriction on working at height?

No. The Aviva policy does not have a specified restriction for working at height. Broadly speaking, you should not attempt any work for which you do not have adequate equipment, training or experience. The policy does not cover reckless acts, so if you are in doubt seek guidance from someone with the relevant experience or training, or preferably use an alternate method that would avoid you having to climb to height.

11. I sell honey and wax products at farmers’ markets and local shows and they need proof of Third Party Public Liability and Product Insurance.

The confirmation of Insurance document available for download and printing from the BBKA website is sufficient to satisfy this requirement. You will need to login with your membership number and postcode to access the file, which can be found at:

12. I make a range of skin care products that I sell at markets and via retail outlets – am I covered for Product Liability if anyone makes a claim against me?

The BBKA policy only covers primary hive products – defined as wax, honey and propolis with no other added ingredients. Some examples of covered products are pure honey, lip balms consisting of honey and beeswax with no extra ingredients, and candles with no perfumes or colourings. Bees wax wraps are not covered.
The restriction applies because if a product with added ingredients proves to be faulty, it is difficult and sometimes impossible to prove whether it was the hive ingredient or additive at fault.

For instance, if cakes were covered, the insurance company would require lists of all products made and ingredients used by each and every member, and every product would need to comply with food hygiene and production standards. Premiums would be payable on an individual basis and therefore prohibitively high.

13. The number of my hives has grown over the years and I now supplement my income from beekeeping – am I covered?

The policy is designed for hobbyist BBKA Members, not commercial ventures or bee farmers. With 40 colonies or more you would be eligible for Membership of the Bee Farmers’ Association (BFA).
As such, cover is provided up to a limit of 39 hives per person. If you tend 40 or more hives by yourself you should apply for membership of the BFA.

If you share responsibility for the hives with another member, then the hives can be treated as shared between you for insurance purposes. Cover will not be invalidated as long as there are not more than 39 hives per person.

Additionally, insurers view any operation with any direct employees as a commercial venture, which cannot be covered by the policy.

14. I joined my local association in January, when did my insurance cover start?

As a Registered, Partner or Junior Member, your cover started the day you paid your local association subscription and received a receipt. However, if a claim arose between the time of your payment and your registration with the BBKA by your association, you would need to provide definitive proof that payment was made before the incident arose for a claim to be accepted.


15. I am a new direct UK Individual Member of the BBKA; when does my insurance cover begin?

The insurance cover for a new individual Member of the BBKA begins six weeks after he/she is accepted for Membership. When you renew your Membership, cover will start from the date you pay you renewal subscription to the BBKA.

16. As Membership Secretary I update members details on the members register. If some of the names on the list have lapsed or are awaiting renewal (ie have not paid me at the time) are they still covered?

Technically they are in default and would not be covered. However, if a claim arose, each case would be investigated and resolved on an individual basis. In order to avoid this potential exposure, it is imperative that all associations ensure that their Members understand this exposure and are encouraged to pay all dues promptly.

FAQs for Branch & Association Officers

17. I am a Treasurer of my local branch, am I covered for any claims against me as a branch official as opposed to in my beekeeping activities?

The BBKA policy includes what is commonly referred to as ‘Trustees Liability’ cover for all officials of the BBKA, Associations and branches affiliated to the BBKA. It does not matter whether your organisation is a charity or not for this cover. The amount covered is £2,000,000, with no applicable excess.
In order to be covered by the BBKA ‘Trustees Liability’ insurance, Association and branch officials must be a member of the BBKA (registered, partner, country or honorary). If a member serves as an officer for more than one Association or branch, he/she only needs to be a BBKA member of one of them.

18. Are Area Associations and branches covered for Public Liability Insurance if we want to hire a hall for a beekeeping meeting/training or attend a public event such as a local show?

Yes, up to a limit of £10 million. Associations that are registered charities or CIOs, although legal entities in their own right, are still covered.

19. If non-members were to break into a teaching apiary and be seriously injured by the bees is the association covered for any claim?

Yes, there would be full cover. If they put a claim in against the BBKA Local Association/Individual member/BBKA itself, insurers would either:-

  1. 1)  Defend you if there had been no breach of a duty of care, or:-
  2. 2)  If there had, then negotiate compensation on your behalf and pay it out, along with any legal costs.

It would be just the same for a non-teaching apiary.

Four times as much honey for twice the number of bees per colony

The Farrar rule (1931), known by many beekeepers, states that the more the population increases in the hive, the greater is the individual production of each bee. This amounts to saying that it increases in productivity and is known as a principle of synergy. This is because as the number of bees in a hive increases, the proportion of foragers also increases, according to the following table (Reid, 1980):

Total workers10.00020.00030.00040.00050.00060.000
Total foragers2.0005.00010.00020.00030.00039.000
Percentage of foragers20 %25 %30 %50 %60 %65 %
Population weight1 kg2 kg3 kg4 kg5 kg6 kg
Honey yield1 kg4 kg9 kg16 kg25 kg36 kg

We can also make a mathematical calculation by which, knowing the population of bees in a hive, the production of this hive can be estimated approximately. We say that the production capacity is equal to the square of the weight of the population.
If a full brood chamber has 10,000 bees and we know that 10,000 bees weigh about 1 kg, a hive that has 50,000 bees will be able to produce 5 squared, which means 25 kg of honey.

Editor’s comments:

  • Are Farrar and his rule known to most beekeepers (as stated above)?
  • Are the honey amounts listed: total produced by the colony, total harvested by the beekeeper, or what?
  • It would be very interesting to do some measurements on some real hives in the field. I suspect this is impossible due to the many variables and unknowns
  • More on this can be found on
  • The line below the table in the above link does not seem to make sense as it implies a hive of 1000 bees makes 1kg of honey

Anyway, it is certainly a bit of very new information to me. Perhaps someone would like to explore it further, or send their own knowledge if heard about elsewhere.
Thanks to David Parker for bringing this topic to our attention. The original article was in Spanish and I suspect that some of the ambiguities are in the translation.