Rain didn't stop play

THIRTY members of St Albans Beekeepers’ Association attended the first apiary meeting of the year at Prae Wood on Saturday, April 27. Unfortunately the weather proved to be a little inclement, so the planned talk had to be given in the apiary shed and with this number of members present it became a little crowded inside.

It fell to Richard Peterson to open the meeting and he started by welcoming all members, old and new, to Prae Wood and then introduced David Wingate as the new HBKA president. He explained for the benefit of the newcomers that the HBKA’s president was appointed annually on a rota basis around the branches within the Association and this year the honour fell to St Albans to provide a candidate. David was invited to fill the post, as one of our most experienced beekeepers, and this has proved to be a popular choice.

David’s first duty as president was to present Peter Tomkins with the BBKA’s certificate for achieving fifty years of beekeeping and, as he interjected, he was not due to retire until next year. He started beekeeping at the age of fourteen and is now an octogenarian, he had passed that milepost many years ago.

After the formalities Anne Wingate gave a very well received talk on artificial swarm control which was aimed primarily at the new beekeepers and demonstrated with the aid of a couple of new brood chambers and frames, as visual aids, the procedures to be gone through to complete the procedure. Anne also explained, that persistent tearing down of swarm cells in order to prevent swarming, as many beginners mistakenly think they can do if they are really careful, is not an option as they will inevitably miss a cell and the bees will swarm anyhow, She then spoke about the virtues of leaving a couple of queen cells in the original box to hatch as sometimes the bees can encapsulate a worker inside a queen cell and the bees are fooled into thinking that the cell is viable and do not raise an emergency queen. Therefore if only one cell was left the colony would be left queenless and so cannot recover.

The members were then invited to partake of tea and cake and continued with an informal discussion outside as the rain had by then abated.

Some of the new beekeepers were anxious to do some beekeeping and open their hives but were advised against it as the weather had turned too cold to sensibly open up. The meeting finally closed around 5 pm

The next apiary meeting at Prae Wood will be on Saturday, May 18 when the subject will be ‘Questions & Answers Discussion’, hosted by Luke Adams and Eric Margrave. Everyone is welcome at these meetings so please do come and join in. You never know you may just learn something!

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