From Observation to Winter Cluster

Winter draws on (to coin a phrase) and it’s time for our popular colony at Cliffe Castle observation hive to migrate to their quiet season quarters at East Riddlesden Hall.   D day is Monday 10th October.

This provides a useful opportunity to educate the public about what bees do in winter and to provide some information about how we keep them fit and well for the year to come. Cliffe Castle staff have asked us to help with an afternoon event in the half term holiday to do just this.  Members of the Observation Hive Team will be based in the Natural History Gallery to talk bees with interested visitors and Cliffe Castle staff will be providing children’s bee crafting activities in the Education Room.  

The event will be on Tuesday, 25th October.  Do call by if you have littlies to amuse over the half term holidays. It all kicks off at 1pm!

Honey Show – a reminder!

I hear from lots of ABKA beekeepers that you’re taking honey off your hives, extracting and bottling.  Remember to keep a couple of bottles of your best honey in reserve to enter it into ABKA’s annual honey show.  More info on that later, but for now just restrain yourself from flogging your amber nectar and ignore the demands of loved ones as they try to plunder familial honey stores.  Keep some back for the show.  I know Louise Mallinson needs seriously knocking off her 2015 prize-scooping perch.  (Chris Hardy)

Asian Hornet update

This week a Government press release confirmed the presence of the asian hornet in the UK (specifically in Gloucestershire);  Asian Hornet

Along with the rest of the media, the Guardian has also reported on the news:  Threat to Honeybees

A rather dry take, and a bit of a corrective for the hype surrounding Asian Hornets comes from UK safari man.  Yes, we know it’s serious, but it’s less of a threat to Western Civilisation than Donald Trump.  The Mail, as ever, never knowingly understated.

What is the plan for East Morton Apiary?

For some time now, we have been supporting two apiaries – one at East Morton and the other at East Riddlesden Hall.  This has stretched our resources very thinly, and at times this year we found it hard.  ABKA has broadened its activities over the last few years, with real success – our relationship with East Riddlesden Hall has developed, and the activitiies at Cliffe Castle have met with a very positive response – but as ever, too few members are sharing the work.  There is a real need to involve more of the membership in activities where possible.  We plan to canvas views among the wider membership regarding what they want from the Association, and what would help them become more involved.

We have had an apiary on the East Morton site for 50 years.  However, the situation there has changed over time and the site has become less suitable for us.  The situating of a stables very close by led to problems over the summer, particularly when the bees decided, despite our best endeavours, to swarm.  As a consequence of this, the ABKA Committee believe that the correct course of action is to run down the apiary at the East Morton site, and re-focus or resources on the East Riddlesden apiary.  Although we will retain a presence at the site, we won’t keep bees there.

It will be sad, given our long history at East Morton, to end beekeeping there.  However, we must be realistic as to how much we can do. As members, we would like to hear your thoughts on this, before a final decision is made.   Please send any comments to

Could you be an Egghead?

Or even a Beebrain?  We are looking for people to form a team to compete on Eggheads.  It’s not about winning, but would be good publicity for ABKA, and a bit of a laugh.  It would be great if you had a specialist subject (other than beekeeping, which is unlikely to come up) but OK if you don’t.  If you are at all interested, please let Louise know ( as soon as possible.


Make Merry with the Mead
YBKA have organised a day workshop on 24th September, on ‘The art of mead making’.
Why not prepare for a very merry Christmas by making your own delicious booze?  Serve it to friends to make them even merrier, to tedious guests to send them into a long and deep sleep, or just drink it yourself and forget you have any guests at all.  Check out the Facebook feed on the right of this page for more details

ABKA minutes and agendas

Agendas and minutes of the ABKA committee meetings are now available on the website.  If you spot something you want to comment on, do contact the secretary so we can take your views into account at the following meeting.

Cliffe Castle activities

Our activities at Cliffe Castle go from strength to strength.  The family activity day on the 9th August was a big success, and got a write up in the Keighley News.  Click here to read the article.

Keighley Show – Saturday 3rd September

As usual we will be supporting Keighley Show, and having a stand there.  It would be great if you could drop by to say hello.  It would be even better if you could help with the show.  You don’t have to do much, whether it’s helping to set up/close down, talking to the public, making a honey cake to sell, or selling honey and cake, your help is much appreciated.  We will be contacting you shortly with more information, but if you’d like to volunteer, please let us know and you’ll be welcomed with open arms.