This page contains copies of  the latest emails which have been sent to all ABKA members

From:  Chris Hardy, 15th October 2017
Subject:  Heft
Wandering around Harrogate yesterday in my flip flops with outside temperatures at 20C (in the middle of October !!)  I started to slightly worry about my bees.
It’s a good idea to heft your hives at the start of this (normally) quietening down season to have some sense of how much the bees have in store.  Then when you pop back to your apiary again just to do a visual check you can heft again and get a sense of the weight to store ratio without going into the nest and doing an invasive examination.
If you dont know how to heft…
Gently tilt the broodbox and lid to one side and feel the weight of that.  Don’t lift the whole thing off its floor.  The heft will give you a lot of information about weight.  If you are unsure you can set up an identical hive minus bees and stores to inform you how heavy the equipment is for comparison.  Without stores an empty hive is quite light.
Make a mental note of this weight for when you visit again.
So back to my point.  The bees would normally be clustering now but they don’t need to at the moment to because its so bloody warm.  This means they will be expending more energy inside the hive and flying more.  There will be more respiration in the hive which means more water and more CO2.  They will have to work to maintain the hive’s equilibrium -which all takes energy and uses up their fuel source.  This normally natural cycle of life is how the superorganism functions in seasonally appropriate foraging times. Who knows the queen might even have been induced to lay a bit more?
That’s why I’m suggesting you heft.  To gauge their stores so you’re ready to supplement if necessary. Never supplement with wet feeds in the winter period (Oct to Feb) only use fondant. 
Other seasonal jobs
Take off the queen excluder if it’s still on.
Put on your mouse guards
If you’re hives are in a windy/exposed position or vulnerable to being knocked over by live stock then strap them up.
If you dont have fondant in stock then get some ready now.  (ABKA has some in stock – just email me)
Diairize and make regular checks on your hives – heft/ check entrances for dead bees/damage/ingress of wet into the woodwork/sign of bear activity(grrrr!)
And ALWAYS wear a veil when you’re at your bees -a sting in the eye could mean the loss of use in it.
And remember if you feel you need advise then use the membership to get it.  Facebook/email/our web site – you’re not alone.  Your question is not stupid.  That’s the point of belonging to a group.
From:  Chris Hardy, 24th September 2017
Subject:  Bee photos required
the ABKA Education Team is in the process of creating a really great training manual and we need some good quality images that we can use without reserve.
Specifically I’m looking for high resolution images from members of:
     swarm cells
     queen cups
     supercedure cells
     emergency cells
     uncapped queen cells
    queen cells being drawn out
We need to be able to use them freely but will credit the photographer.
I know there is lots on the net but we need permission each time we use those images and resolutions aren’t so great for printing.  It would be great to generate images literally from our own stock. 
Hope you can help
From:  Chris Hardy, 23rd September 2017
Subject:  New Team to work at ERH next year – please read me!
I’m asking again because I know you’re just shy!!
The association apiary really does need more input from you and other members.  We’re radically rethinking how we can make it work – more people/less time and commitment.
Would you be able to work in it if it was at a time that suited you more? Evenings?  Early mornings?
Would you be able to offer 3 or 4 hours a month – for the season?
Are you tired of being a lonely beekeeper trying to solve mind boggling bee behaviour in your splendidly confounding & desperate isolation?
Do you want to learn more but like hands on and not books?
Do you think you’re not experienced enough to work at the association apiary?
If your answer to any of these questions is YES – then you can be a volunteer.
PLEASE,PLEASE even if it’s only a whiff of a small commitment – please respond .
Your association really does NEED YOU.
From:  Chris Hardy, 22nd September 2017
Subject:  Winter prep
It’s time to prepare your bees for winter but it’s too soon to walk away and forget about them right now.
You’ve done your health check and have treated them or will be very soon.  You’re options are limited now as to what you can use.

Ive got supers on and the bees are filling them up. 
This is the best possible scenario.  The colony has a healthy queen and there’s plenty of workers in it – covering more than 5 frames.  There is ample food in the brood box and you wont need to feed them.  The ivy is now offering up its bounty as is the balsam – the bees are covered in white pollen. Can the bees spare a little for you?
By October you will need to remove the queen excluder if you are leaving the super on so that ALL of the bees can get to the stores and take the queen with them.
Or you put the super under the brood box and score the sealed honey to encourage the bees to take it upwards.
The advantage of under supering is that you can leave it in place and the queen will never lay in it.  The disadvantage is that it will get a bit of bee poo on it but that should be OK as the bees will clean it off if its just a bit of fecal spotting.  If its dysentery then the frames will have to be cleaned up by you.
The advantage of leaving he super atop is just that – no fussing and the bees will move upwards naturally to the stores but remember to remove the queen excluder.  The disadvantage is that the queen will start laying up there or you’ll have to make some timely intervention to remove it.  Up ‘ere it’s a bit too chilly to be meddlin’ too early.

They’re not touching the supers.
Take ’em off. Then feed them a heavy syrup.  Not 1:1 sugar:water but 2:1.  All of that water will ferment in the comb and give the bees the runs at best, it will in the worst case kill the entire colony. Feed them in a contact feeder until they refuse to take anymore.  Then remove the feeder.
Your must have bees covering 5 good frames for it to be viable in a non insulated hive.  If it’s small and you have a poly hive/nuc then put it in there for the winter.  It’s best to merge your weakest colony to your strong one now rather than loose it over a long winter.  You takes yer chances…
Wasps will be looking for a free meal so make sure you are down to a narrow or even just one bee space at your entrance.  They hunger for sweet things and your honey or syrup is definitely on their menu.
Get your mouse guards ready and get your fondant supplies stocked up.  If you suffer from woodpecker attack then ready yourself for that too – that small bird can cause a lot of damage.  I would also keep the blunderbuss ready in case of stray bears!

Our annual do and honey show is on the 17 November. You’ll get more news of that from Jane very soon.  Put the date in the diary and save some jars of your lovely honey to enter the comp.  Peter Hewitt our President has agreed to judge us this year and he’s no moron like the American one is.  It’ll be a great larf.

You’ll never believe it but I got a call today from a BK who said that his bees had swarmed!  I tell you these animals never cease to amaze me.  Their survival and risk instincts are mighty indeed.  Luckily he’s caught his swarm and housed it next door to the original colony (you can never just drop them back into the box they just left.  They’ll only bugger off again.)  SO he needs to feed the swarmed colony now (thick syrup) as they will be starting from scratch.  The new queen is more than likely not mated – but  you can never really be 100% with bees they constantly suprise and amaze you.  It’s likely he will unite the new queen colony with the old queen (after killing the new queen first). Once united all of the old drawn comb with stores in it can be given back to the old queen colony.
From:  Chris Hardy, 21th September 2017
Subject:  New team needed to work at ERH next year
Hello and calling all ABKA members
We are looking to create a new team to work at ERH for 2018 under new management.  We are exploring ways of  making the work less pressured by incorporating more people into the life of ABKA’s apiary.
If you would like to consider participating then please reply to me.  This is a good way to share your knowledge with others, learn on the job if you need more skills and hands on experience and generally have a bit of bee fun.
It’s a good way to get a ‘big’ picture of colony life.  If you’re just working on your own with one or two hives and dealing with things on your own, then working as part of a team, problem solving and seeing how other colonies are so utterly different from your own – it gives you better perspective. 
Working at ERH’s apiary should enable you to plan better with your own bees, you’ll see how big colonies should be, you’ll be able to identify brood diseases, the different queen cells, do a bit of queen rearing and be able to input some of your own ideas and plans too.
Ideally we need a dozen folk which will lighten the working load somewhat.  That will mean that you dont have to go every week but will still be part of a regular team reporting to the managers.
be lovely to  hear from you
From:  Linda Schofield, 18th September 2017
Subject:  Annual General Meeting: Agenda and Pie and Peas orders!
Hi Everyone
As previously circulated, we will be meeting for the ABKA AGM on Thursday, 12 October 2017 at the Keighley Rugby Union Ground, Utley Road at 7.15 for 7.30pm. Please find the agenda and Minutes of last years’ meeting, attached, to copy and bring with you. Be warned, I will be circulating even more information after the next Committee meeting next week!

This will be your chance to pay your subs for 2018, so please bring a cheque book (no cash payments accepted).

To restore your equilibrium and blood sugar levels, after listening to Officers’ Reports, scintillating debate, raising your hands to vote and the shock of parting with a goodly portion of your bank balance, there will be the welcome bonus of a pie and pea supper! There is a bar at the venue for those with need of more intensive care.

Pie and Peas (meaty and veggie options available), will cost £2.95 per person. Please let me have your orders and options asap so that kitchen staff can start catching the meat and growing the veg in good time.

From:  Louise Mallinson, 17th September 2017
Subject:  Bee Event next Sunday 24th at Brackenhall

Linda and I are holding a bee event next Sunday between 12.00 and 4.00 at Brackenhall Countryside Centre, Baildon.   We held a similar event a couple of months ago and it was very popular so they’ve asked us to organise another.   Last time I did an inspection with the bees behind mesh which went down well but of course its a bit late in the year to do that so I’m after volunteers to help out with talking to the visitors about bees, honey tasting and sales and maybe face painting or similar.  Its a bit short notice but please let me know if you’re up for it.