Vale and Downland Association – Chairman’s report October 2012
To start 2012 off we ran 5 study group sessions for those members who were planning on taking their Basic Assessment and also be group leaders at the Teaching Apiary during the season. Approximately 15 members attended these sessions, of which 9 successfully took and passed their Basic Assessment. Prior to the study group sessions an 8 week evening class and one practical workshop day had taken place with 20 students in attendance.
Our summer evening meetings for those members of the public interested in seeing bees in the hive did not have as many attendees as in previous years, some of these meetings had to be cancelled because of the rain.
The members’ meetings that have been held have been well supported by new and old members alike, but it is always nice to see a few more members attending.
Twenty nucs had been sourced and purchased for the beginners, but because of the inclement weather the delivery of these was delayed, they eventually arrived late May. Seven beginners took a place on the beginners’ apiary for the season. Unfortunately due to weather the nucs had to be fed for some considerable time, only one beginner was able to do an artificial swarm this year.
The Association’s apiaries were successful with the training of beekeepers, even with the bad weather the bees managed to produce some honey, at times things became very trying with the disappearance of queens on a regular basis. With the patience and help of the group leaders and their helpers all the colonies eventually came through with a good viable queen. At the moment we have 22 colonies on the Teaching apiary, they have all been fed for the winter and mouseguards and woodpeckers cages have been put in place.
The weekly apiary meetings held at the Beginners’ and Teaching apiary have been very well supported by the beginners from this year and last year. This year we arranged a rota for those group leaders who were able to attend on a regular basis; this ensured us that there would be plenty of helpers to look after the bees. Each group had 3 or 4 beginners/improvers with a group leader and each group was allocated two hives to take care of for the season. This format seemed to work well with everyone learning something. Due to the weather we were restricted on what activities could be done with the hives, i.e. no queen rearing etc. Hopefully next year we will be able to arrange projects with each group. John and I were in the background in readiness to give advice.
Thanks must be given to all those members who have helped with the association over the past year, especially those members who have turned out every Saturday afternoon (from April to October) to help with the teaching of Beginners and managing the hives on the teaching apiary. Thanks also to those members who opened their apiaries for our visits. A special thanks to our retiring secretary, Michael Taylor for the support he has given the association over the years.