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Learn what happened at the HBA Bee Health Day 2022

HBA members examining infected comb

Learning how to identify a notifiable disease is much easier in a real life situation

Hampshire Beekeepers’ Association hosted its Bee Health Day in partnership with our Regional Bee Inspectors on Saturday 18 June 2022. The free event was held at Sparsholt College, Winchester and combined talks from a variety of experts with practical hand-on learning.

After teas and coffee and a catch-up with friends, the day started in the lecture theatre with an overview of exotic pests by Seasonal Bee Inspector Nigel Semmence. There was particularly emphasis on the Asian hornet and Small Hive Beetle.

The Asian hornet information was particularly pertinent to members as most of the incursions so far have been close to our area due to its proximity to the channel ports. It was also interesting to hear (and see, with the benefit of visuals) how the team tracked down and removed the last reported nest in Ascot, Berkshire.

After a break for coffee, our regional bee inspector John Geden talked through how to identify European and American foulbrood in preparation for our afternoon session in the laboratory. This is an important subject not least because as beekeepers, we are legally obliged to report these diseases and therefore must know how to identify them.

At 12.30 members stopped for lunch at the college cafe, there was an excellent choice of reasonably-priced, good quality fare before starting the afternoon workshops.

We were split into three groups which rotated through the workshops. The first workshop was a much more detailed look at Varroa (varroaris), its effect on our honey bees and the various treatment and control techniques open to us. Whilst the threats discussed earlier in the day such as the Asian Hornet and Small Hive Beetle are thankfully at the moment, not of immediate concern, Varroa is a clear and present danger and it was good to be reminded of what we should be doing and when, the options available to us as well as new developments and ideas. 

Seasonal Bee Inspector Mark Lynch

The next workshop, hosted by seasonal bee inspector Mark Lynch was a practical demonstration of the various methods of comb changing and apiary and equipment hygiene.

Mark talked the group through various methods of comb change before demonstrating how to correctly flame a box.

Members discussed comb rotation (the movement of dirtier comb from the centre of the brood nest to the edges of the box prior to removal), the bailey comb change and the Shook swarm method.

Members also looked at the basics of good apiary hygiene, like how to clean a smoker, hive tool and bee suit. The National Bee Unit has produced a series of short videos which are available to you by subscribing to their YouTube channel. You can access the channel by clicking on one of the links in this paragraph.

The third workshop took place in a laboratory and provided the chance to examine frames recently removed by Bee Inspectors infected with European and American Foulbrood. This was an opportunity most beekeepers would not get in an ordinary apiary meeting and was a chance to really expand knowledge of these notifiable diseases.

Reading about EFB and AFB in text books and looking at photographs and videos is one thing but being able to actually see the frames, pull out and dissect infected grubs and carry out the matchstick test really did increase our confidence in being able to identify these diseases.

The workshop, hosted by JohnAvril Earl and Rob Poole, was carried out in strict laboratory conditions with every care being taken to ensure no infection could be transmitted to attendees for onward transmission to their bees. 

John Geden taking a group through a frame

The whole day was extremely informative and interesting and our gratitude goes out to our regional bee inspectors for the time and effort they put in to making the day so useful and enjoyable.

Our bee inspectors are a rare and precious resource, available to all of us free of charge. If any of our members ever worries that their bees are infected with any of the notifiable diseases or pests, the bee inspectors are their to help and are not to be feared. Beebase is also a free resource packed full of definitive information designed to help you to keep your bees healthy and if you haven’t done so already, its a good idea to register there.

The day ended with a questions and answer session and various handouts including a guide to the Miller method of queen rearing and an Asian Hornet fact sheet were handed out.

If you missed the Bee Health Day, we hope this page provides some of the information you missed. If you get a chance to attend next time, it is thoroughly recommended, not just for new beekeepers but for those with more experience too. The most up-to-date information is presented clearly and in an engaging way and encourages and motivates us all to better look after the welfare of our bees.

HBA Honey Show 2022

Honey Shows have been sadly missed in the last 2 years; so this year we look forward to showcasing our hive products at an impressive venue. The HBA Honey Show 2022 will be held at The Great Hall, Winchester. on Saturday 1st and Sunday 2nd October.

Image - 2019 HBA Honey Show The Show schedule will be published in the coming weeks, so please come back here to keep up with the latest information. There are several awards, cups and prizes to be won as individuals and for your local association.

Judging will take place on the morning of Saturday 1st October. The exhibits will be on show to the visiting public for the remainder of the weekend. There will be informative displays, books, candle rolling, and honey sales; all organised with the support from Hampshire’s local associations.

If you are an HBA member, please:

  • Make a note in your diary, start saving your best hive products and planning your entries
  • Encourage your beekeeping friends to do likewise
  • Think about offering to help (send us an email)
  • Spread the word – The Great Hall is always worth a visit, even more so with the bonus of a Honey Show

Hampshire Beekeepers Association Autumn Convention 2022

HBA has now agreed on a date and location for the Autumn Convention. The event will be held on the 19th of November 2022 from 09:00 – 16:00 at Sparsholt College near Winchester. A subgroup of the trustees has been set up to make this another fun-filled and informative day for all.

So please save the date and we will update you all on the speakers, vendors, and activities as they are confirmed.

Hives to the Heather 2022 Update

In the past registered members of HBA have had the privilege of taking a combined maximum of 350 colonies onto the New Forest, spread across several designated areas and enclosures.

Forestry England has allow beekeepers who have been granted permits to place their agreed number of hives on sites allocated to them, between 01 July and 31 October 2022.

The honey bees and beekeepers often benefit from the heather if it produces a good flow. In 2021, bees in a total of 350 hives enjoyed a working holiday. The 28 beekeepers who owned those hives enjoyed the challenge of dealing with a different type of honey; heather honey is thixotropic.

However this year HBA became aware of a certain clause in the contract that put the association, it’s trustees and members at risk in the event of significant damage to the New Forest.

John Lauwerys – HBA Chair

I regret to report that a major problem has emerged in respect of the agreement HBA has with Forestry England (FE) which enables Hampshire beekeepers to apply to bring hives to the New Forest.

The agreement with Forestry England requires each beekeeper to be covered by an insurance policy with a claim limit of up to £10 million per claim. This is automatically provided to any beekeeper who is a member of a local beekeeping association in Hampshire, and who is a registered member of HBA and thus able to benefit from the group policy provided through BBKA.

Over the winter HBA has been reviewing the terms of the agreement with Forestry England and in particular there has been discussion about removing one onerous condition. This states that if there were ever a claim arising from some catastrophic event connected with ‘taking bees to the heather’ which led to a claim above the £10 million provided by the insurance policy, ‘the amount of such claim shall not limit the Permit Holder’s (i.e., HBA’s ) liability to Forestry England’. What this means that in the event of a claim running to, say £15 million, HBA would be liable to meet £5 million of that claim!

Unfortunately, Forestry England are not willing to remove this condition largely because it is the standard clause in all their many thousands of agreements covering access to the land they own.

HBA has reserves of just a few thousand pounds, so as a charity whose trustees do not have limited liability status, the claim would fall personally on each trustee. You will recognise that this is not a situation that the trustees can risk, albeit the chance of a claim connected with taking bees to the heather is very remote.

So reluctantly I have informed Forestry England that HBA will have to withdraw, at least for 2022, from the agreement we have had with FE, and its predecessor the Forestry Commission, for nearly 50 years. There is a possible option for HBA to adopt a different charity constitution (CIO) which would protect its trustees from any personally liability affecting the charity. However, that needs careful consideration and would take many months to effect.

Relations with the Forestry England staff are good, and they are very willing to work with HBA to find a solution to the problem which has arisen.

For this summer the approach we are working on is to enable each beekeeper who wishes to bring bees to the heather to enter a direct agreement with FE.

HBA will help set up this arrangement which will include the insurance cover of up to £10 million held by registered HBA members but this will still leave the individual beekeeper liable were there to be a claim above the insurance limit.

However, each beekeeper can decide if that is a risk they are prepared to take in return for the perceived benefit of bringing their bees to the heather.

The charge per hive will be levied directly from each beekeeper by FE which would also charge an application fee. This is usually £90 inc vat but Forestry England has agreed in the circumstances to reduce this by 50% to £45.

The charge per hive would also be levied from each beekeeper but a reduced charge will apply to hobby beekeepers bringing nine or fewer hives to the heather.

Any registered member of HBA who wishes to apply for a permit to bring bees to the heather in the summer of 2022 should submit a request by email to southern.permissions@forestryengland.uk

An application form will be returned by Forestry England to each applicant in mid-June for completion and return.

Further Information please email

Peter Grimes: aabees321@gmail.com

Reporting Varroa in your Apiary from April 2021

The following was announced by the National Bee Unit on 12th April 2021:

On 21st April, 2021 an amendment to the Bee Diseases and Pests Control (England) Order 2006 and the Bee Diseases and Pests Control (Wales) (Amendment) Order 2021 comes into force requiring beekeepers and/or officials to report the presence of Varroa in any of the hives that they manage. Reporting will be for each apiary site. This amendment will allow England and Wales to comply with the Animal Health Law which is necessary for future working relationships with the European Union. Similar arrangements are being made in Scotland.

To make this simple, a tick box will be introduced to BeeBase, the voluntary register for beekeepers managed by the National Bee Unit. This will allow beekeepers and inspectors to report the presence or absence of Varroa. This will be the easiest way to report Varroa. We are currently working on an alternative mechanism for those who do not wish to register on the BeeBase system and aim to share this before 21st April.

You will see from the screen shot below that it is easy to comply.  Simply edit your apiary details and click on “Yes” if Varroa mites are present in at least one colony in your apiary.

A screenshot of NBU Beebase showing the tick-box for Varroa mites in the apiary

If you have not registered on Beebase we strongly recommend that you do so as soon as possible.  As well as providing invaluable statistics for lobbying government and supporting research, it will send you an automated warning if any notifiable disease or pest is found in close proximity to your bees.  It is safe and secure; your personal details and apiary location  are neither shared nor specifically used.

Importation of honey bees, spring 2021

Until 31st December 2020, packages of bees could be imported into the UK as long as they were accompanied by a bee health certificate. The bees were made available to experienced inspectors at the National Bee Unit. This process was our safeguard against imported pests such as the Small Hive Beetle (SHB), Aethina tumida.
That process no longer exists now that the UK is not an EU member state. Importers can, however, ship packaged bees using a loophole: transit through Northern Ireland.
“Packaged bees” are shipped in a box with no comb and are notoriously difficult to inspect. Inspectors in Northern Ireland cannot – and cannot be expected to – deal with such imports. The majority of such shipments come from southern parts of Italy where SHB has necessitated the destruction of some 3,500 hives since 2014.
British, Welsh, Ulster and Scottish Beekeepers’ Associations and Bee Disease Insurance Ltd have jointly issued a briefing note to Westminster and the devolved governments to warn them of the real and serious risk to the honey bee population in the UK while this loophole exists.
Please read the BBKA statement. This is an important issue that affects all beekeepers.
Note: A nucleus colony is a small colony with all stages of life: eggs, larvae and pupae, house bees and foragers, and a young queen on clean, drawn comb. Nucleus colonies are occasionally advertised as package bees on new foundation; such colonies require extra care and attention and are not recommended for inexperienced beekeepers.

Additional information:

HBA Special General Meeting and Annual Council Meeting 2020

Both meetings were held on Monday 9th March 2020 at Badger Farm Community Centre, Winchester SO22 4QB.

The Special General Meeting regarding our new Constitution began at 19:00, chaired by John Lauwerys.   Representation was good, with 10 out of the 14 Hampshire associations present.   John explained that provided 2/3rds of the attendees present agreed to this constitution it could be passed in accordance with the terms of the current HBA constitution for enacting constitutional amendments.

After a short discussion about specialist groups’ rights and partner members’ capitation fee to HBA, John recommended that the meeting adopt this constitution, and if refinements needed to be made they could be implemented at the next ACM.

The meeting voted unanimously to adopt the new constitution.
Thus the new constitution, based on the Charity Commission model constitution,  replaces the HBA constitution previously adopted on 3rd October 2007.

The Special General Meeting was then followed by the Annual Council Meeting summarised as follows:

  • In his address, the Chair (John Lauwerys) stated that the approval of the new constitution will significantly streamline the running of HBA. He thanked individuals who had helped to run HBA and its events throughout the year. He was pleased with the 2019 Honey Show and he, with HBA Hon.Sec. Janelle Quitman, has visited a potential venue for the 2020 Honey Show. John and Janelle had also visited the Principal of Sparsholt College and secured premises to hold the HBA Convention on 14th November, 2020. Janelle is working on Asian Hornet control with the 14 HBA associations, 9 of which now have an Asian Hornet Action Team.
  • Mike Lloyd-Owen (Hon. Treasurer) reported that with no income in 2019 the accounts showed a significant deficit. In light of the planned activities of HBA in 2020 the ACM supported his recommendation for the reintroduction of a capitation fee, to come into effect in 2021. The report and accounts were formally adopted.
  • Janelle Quitman (Hon. Secretary) stated that a paper had been circulated to the membership regarding monitoring for the Asian Hornet, the Honey Show, and the forthcoming Convention in November.
  • Jean Frost (Education secretary) stated that for 2020 15 applications had been submitted for the Bee Health Certificate assessment. All Basic Assessment applications must be submitted to Jean before the end of April.
  • Gillian Bird (website manager) stated that a paper had been circulated to the membership, encouraging all associations to submit information about their events to which others are invited, and changes to contact details.
  • Avril Tillman (Librarian) stated that a paper had been circulated to the membership. The library has moved into another building on the same site. Avril is considering offering weekend access to the library once security issues have been agreed. Avril asked local associations to encourage new beekeepers to visit and make use of the library.
  • Jim Stuart (heather permit facilitator) had circulated a paper. He will retire from this position after 2020. John Lauwerys thanked Jim for his work over many years, covering paperwork, liaison with beekeepers, park rangers, forestry commission and the general public, complaints and advice, as well as being keyholder and manager, and organising fees and maps.
  • Janelle Quitman (AHAT – Asian Hornet Action Team – co-ordinator) explained the cost benefit of placing a bulk order of Suterra/Trappit (the most effective bait) in 5-litre containers that could be distributed among the associations. Monitoring for Asian Hornets daily from a convenient location such as a kitchen window is effective. Once the bait is found, the hornet will make repeat visits to the bait, making tracking easier.
  • Elections – all members of the executive committee are willing to continue. John Lauwerys explained that under the new constitution we do not need to elect any additional members this year. Janelle Quitman was formally elected as Hon. Secretary for a three year term from March 2020; nominated by John Lauwerys and seconded by Jean Frost, carried unanimously.
  • A paper was circulated prior to the meeting on BBKA Annual Delegate Meeting.
  • Insurance will be extended for AHAT teams on a similar basis to swarm collection insurance.
  • The 2021 ACM will be held at Itchen Abbas Village Hall
  • Christine Coulsting (Chair, Romsey) had held a meeting in January for all education officers with a view to improving association training.

John Lauwerys thanked members for their attendance at the ACM and invited everyone to remain for an opportunity of a social gathering with refreshments.

The meeting ended 8.25pm

HBA Honey Show 2019 – Report

Congratulations to all who contributed to making this year’s Hampshire Beekeepers Honey Show a happy success.

On Friday afternoon Mike Barrie from Andover Beekeepers Association arrived with signage, benches and fresh white tablecloths. With a little assistance (or as he had me there, a little assistant) and much jollity and banter- probably made the job longer – we placed them in position ready for the exhibits. I might not have helped had I known he’d beat me to First in the Soft Set Honey class – well done Mike.

He then drove off in the early evening light which was fading rapidly to the entrance and the roundabout to hammer in the signage, a safe distance from the road, pointing the way into the Hampshire Beekeepers Honey Show.

It was fun meeting and chatting to beekeepers from all over the county, exchanging ideas as well as contact details and, as always at such gatherings, making new friendships.

The weather was kind, the motorway on Saturday morning created a little excitement with trying to get some entries in on time but we managed with the help of the volunteer stewards, who, dressed in crisp white coats, hairnets and hats helped to stage the last few items (pots of honey, mead and wax blocks) ready for the similarly attired judges.

A steady stream of notes was stewarded from the show bench to Gillian’s laptop to be recorded and then on to the desk for certificates to be filled out and placed next to the exhibitors’ winning samples.

The purifying scent of beeswax filled the room as the judges watched the steady flame of moulded, non-moulded, decorative and plain candles burn with a golden glow.

Photographs; fun, interesting and educational were critically appraised with helpful notes scribed for the winners.

Cakes, scones, biscuits, sweets and preserves were all tasted and tantalisingly left visible for the visitors to be inspired to bake more with honey.

Crystal clear mead, all in traditional tall bottles with matching corks, gleamed in the sunlight and finally the cosmetics and furniture polish, which added a pertinent perfume of past times when furniture and chopping boards were made of natural wood.

Opposite the encased frames for extraction were the shining silver and gleaming glass trophies which this year were presented to the winners by The Rt. Hon. The Countess of Mountbatten of Burma. Honey show exhibits

The Countess showed great enthusiasm for the need for good forage and the craft of beekeeping, visiting Meon Valley’s spectacular display, including a treasure trail for children, an observation hive, the Asian Hornet tableau, Winchester’s honey extraction equipment including a heather press, Romsey’s candle rolling bench with wax of many colours, Portsmouth’s historic artefacts, the library and Southampton’s sunny sales table.

Having the show in the grounds of Hilliers, with ample parking, its café, shop and arboretum made it a great day out for all the family, educating the general public about the importance of pollinators and providing members of HBA with an easy sales outlet for their hive products.

Best in show Checking the extractor

On Sunday evening the marquee and showrooms were derigged, and the cloths removed for more laundering. Jim Stuart from Andover Association manfully took away the props to be stored.

People wandered in and out of the room over the weekend oblivious of what was involved in setting up a honey show.

Packing up was much quicker than setting up. With the rooms and marquee empty we strolled back beside the parkland tapestry of autumnal colours to our cars and headed home to a welcome cup of tea. Together everyone achieves more. It was that teamwork which made the weekend work so well. This is what HBA stands for and next time even more associations will be showcased and promoting pollinator protection and products from our hives.

Thank you all for your time, efforts and participation.

(You can see some photos taken at the Show if you click here)

Hampshire Beekeepers’ Honey Show 2019

Hampshire Beekeepers’ Association held a Honey Show on Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th October 2019 at Hilliers Arboretum, Romsey.

Our bees have had a busy summer and we have harvested their surplus honey and wax. The wonderful display of more than 250 items was open to the public after 13:30 on Saturday and experienced beekeepers were on hand to answer questions.

We also had several displays and attractions including beekeeping history, honey extraction, books, candle rolling; and of course tables with lots of delicious honey to buy, direct from the bees and beekeepers of Hampshire.

We were delighted to welcome The Countess Mountbatten of Burma on Sunday, 20th October at Hillier’s Arboretum circa 15:30 to present our awards.

Please click here for the printable A4 2019 Schedule, which includes a list of prizes, the classes, the recipes, and the rules and regulations. (* see below)

The same schedule is also available in A5 booklet form. (To print, download the schedule then open it in Adobe Reader. Click “File” then “Print”. Under “Page size and handling” click the button labelled “Booklet”. It will print on 4 double-sided sheets of paper, the pages in correct order for folding in half.)

(*) If clicking the links above returns a schedule or forms that are not 2019, please clear your browser cache/history and try again. If you are unable to download the schedule or forms, please contact us and we will email a copy to you.

HBA Honey Show 2019

Hampshire Beekeepers’ Association will hold a Honey Show on Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th October 2019 at Hilliers Arboretum, Romsey https://www.hants.gov.uk/thingstodo/hilliergardens/visitus.

Our bees have had a busy summer and we have harvested their surplus honey and wax. The wonderful display is open to the public after 13:30 on Saturday and experienced beekeepers will be on hand to answer questions.

We will also have several displays and attractions including beekeeping history, books, candle rolling, and of course honey sales.

Please click here for the printable A4 2019 Schedule, which includes a list of prizes, the classes, the recipes, and the rules and regulations. (An A5 booklet-form version will be available soon.)

Please click here for a printable Show entry form. All entries must be received by Saturday 6 October. Please note that entries must be submitted by post.