Bee-news-ed W&DBKA Newsletter January 2024

Committee Meetings (Zoom)

The committee met on Wednesday 03 January. The next meeting will be on Wednesday 07 February 2024. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you want to join one of our Zoom meetings, either as a one off to see what we do OR to get involved in managing the Association.

Our Recent Bowls Club Meeting, 10 January 2024

Skep Talk: Mead Making  Evan ‘walked’ through the basic steps of mead making, explaining each piece of equipment and ingredient at each step. He (and the hand-out) forgot to say: add a Campden tablet to the fermented must before sealing the second demijohn. Attendees will understand the jargon! A corrected hand-out is on the website.

Guest Speaker: Small cell beekeeping and checker boarding.  John White spoke to us on two subjects. Firstly how small cell foundation can reduce the size of brood cells, creating smaller bees as are found naturally in feral colonies. He explained the advantages of bees produced by smaller cells and how to set them up in your hives. He has found a reduction in the impact of varroa and no longer uses chemical controls.

John then went on to speak to us about checker boarding: a manipulation of frames in honey supers, which he has found reduces the swarming instinct. Timing, he explained is important and December is the best time to start. September and October 2020 issues of BBKA News include John’s articles on checker boarding if you want the full story.

Down at the Apiary

If you went to the apiary clean-up (see next item) you will know that the Portakabin has been re-painted grey and the leaking roof has been sealed: all thanks to Mark and Gill. Please get in touch if you have any spare white emulsion paint. We need it to repaint a number of sections of the inside walls.

Meanwhile the bees have been consuming fondant and were treated for varroa with Api-Bioxal in December.

Annual Apiary Clean-up 06 January 2024

Apiary Manager, Mark, would like to thank you all the Association members that helped with the annual equipment clean-up, which was a great opportunity for a post New Year catch up. Mark observed visible signs of ‘work-bench envy’, which might result in a range of new purchases being shown off next year. As well as scraping and sterilising the working party fixed a number of supers and brood boxes, which were in need of attention. Everything was stored away neat and tidy.

Our thanks go to:

  • Alan Webster
  • Andrew Purchase
  • Gillian Turner
  • Lori Munday
  • Natasha Nicols
  • Paul Hampton
  • Peter Munday
  • Ray Livesley
  • Richard Roll, &
  • Sarah Biddle

Asian Hornet Action Plan

Gill, Mark and other members of the committee are working on an Asian Hornet Action Plan with the aim of informing Wokingham Borough residents about the danger and what they can do to help. If you can help distribute posters and leaflets to local vets, libraries, POs, garden centres and the like (in the spring) please get in touch.

The Association Foundation Bulk Purchasing Scheme

You have until the end of January to take advantage of the Association’s bulk purchasing of foundation for the coming year. Enough interest has been shown so far for us to get a 20% discount on Maisemore’s normal prices. Based on current prices, we can get 10 sheets of foundation at the following prices:

  • 14 x 12 wired worker base: £21.24
  • National deep wired worker base: £12.48
  • National super wired worker base: £7.89
  • National super wired drone base: £7.89
  • National cut comb: £5.57
  • Langstroth deep wired worker: £15.76
  • Langstroth shallow wired worker: £9.84

Email us with your requirements at: and select Beekeeping Supplies in the Subject drop down field.

Dates for Your Diary

Two more monthly Wokingham Bowls Club meetings for your diary. 7pm doors open, skep talks start promptly at 7.30pm, main speakers start at 8pm and the raffles wind up the evening. Please donate a raffle prize if you can: proceeds go towards fees for the hall and guest speakers. Tony has organised the following:

  • 14 February. Skep Talk: Bee space for drones (Bob Loades), Guest speaker: Peter Higgs from BeeGone, subject: the ins and outs of removing live bees from buildings.
  • 13th March Skep: Into the Spring (Kevin), Guest speaker: Peter Dalby, subject: Queen rearing.

Other dates for your diary:

  • Wed 31 January: Thorne’s Winter Sale ends.
  • Second & last Wednesday of the month, April – September. Pub socials. To be confirmed.
  • BBKA Spring Convention: 12, 13 & 14 April 2024. Tickets released at noon Monday 29 January 2024.
  • 06 May, Wokingham Lions May Fayre, where we intend to have a stall.

Simple & Inexpensive Asian Hornet Trap

At the last Bowls Club meeting Gill demonstrated a simple re-useable wasp/hornet trap that slots into the side of a plastic bottle. 20 pieces currently for £6.71. Search on ebay for: 20pcs reuseable wasp trap on ebay.

… And Finally…Tanging a Swarm

Do you rhythmically bang a metal object to let your neighbours know you lay claim to a swarm and to coax the bees down to the ground into a prepared skep? Tanging, as it is known, was a common practice in the 17 century and earlier. Still practiced by some today: search tanging on the internet

(To contact the editor please e-mail )