Recent events and news

Sussex Beekeepers Convention was held on 25th November in Uckfield.

Several of our association members attended.

We enjoyed informative and entertaining talks from the five speakers and during breaks we also had the opportunity of meeting members from other associations.

First to speak was Dr John Feltwell  a fellow member of Hastings and Rother BKA and accomplished entomologist. He has been studying the Asian Hornet in France and Jersey. We were shown many pictures of the insect and its nest which gave greater knowledge aiding in its identification. The talk also went into some detail of the nesting and predatory habits. Emphesis was placed upon the need to be vigilant for any sign of this invasive pest which has decimated bee colonies in several European countries since it arrived in France.

Nikki Gammans spoke next, mentioning the many species of bee in the world (around two hundred and fifty!) and the twenty five species of bumblebee in the UK.

She has been involved in the reintroduction of the short-haired bumblebee into the UK and currently working with The Bumblebee Conservation Trust, as their Short-haired bumblebee Project Manager.

She spoke at length about her work “with farmers and land owners across the release site of South Kent and East Sussex, collection and release of the short-haired queens and working with 39 volunteers on bumblebee monitoring”.

Her project aims to educate and work in conjunction with those managing land to co-ordinate grass cutting outside of the relatively short breeding season of the newly re-introduced bee and to encourage the planting of suitable bee friendly plants including wildflower meadows, 97% of which have disappeared from the UK since the Second World War!

Mike William's presentation, The bee sting, how it works and the effect of bee venom on humans.

We were shown detailed diagrams of the bee sting mechanism, how it operates and how the venom reacts with the tissue and immune system of the victim. Unfortunately, sometimes with the severe consequences of anaphylactic shock.
A very thorough and informative session from a surgeon and hobbyist beekeeper.

After a lunch break, Roger Patterson told us about his ‘Simple approach to bee improvement’.  He gave us his views on how to better our stocks with simple selective breeding methods. Apart from being an accomplished beekeeper of fifty plus years, he owns and maintains the ‘Dave Cushman website’  containing much useful information (see our bee info links page) Roger is president of Wisborough Green BKA in West Sussex.

The final speaker, Bob Smith gave an appraisal of UK beekeeping, its value and contribution to the environment and the economy (through pollination services). He then  explained his thoughts on how best to look after the bees in our charge, with emphasis on diligent hygiene in the apiary in order to maintain good disease management. As per promoted good practice from BBKA and the national bee unit, he was advocating the use of disposable gloves, changed between each hive inspected and a strong solution of washing soda to sanitise hive tools etc. Bob was a bee inspector in Kent for six years and concurred with Roger Patterson that the more hives you see the better you can recognise a healthy colony of good natured bees.

All in all an enjoyable day .

Please note: For new beekeepers and those wishing to remind themselves of Apiary hygiene current best practice, the following links are informative. (clicking on them will download the relavant files direct to your download folder) 


Saturday 2nd December

Our association's Annual general meeting at Mountfield Village Hall.

There was a reasonable turn out of members.

The usual business of the accounts etc was dealt with and then some changes to the committee were announced and members voted in favour as follows.

Harold Cloutt has replaced Joy as Chairman (Joy has sadly retired due to ill health of herself and her husband)

Sheila Fellows-Turnbull (Secretary elect) was appointed to replace Harold Cloutt

Two association members Graham Burgess and Jeremy Carr who have attended committee meetings as guests were nominated and voted onto the committee.

After the AGM came to a close, we were treated to a mead making demonstration by Steve Gibson of Brighton and Lewes Association.

He prepared a batch of mead using an old recipe. It  was both highly informative and amusing and followed by the opportunity to sample three different meads that Steve had made and brought with him all having been allowed to mature in the bottle, apparently the longer the better. They were all rather delicious and I am sure Steve has inspired some of us to try making our own, indeed as the event was advertised as a 'workshop' two members brought their own brewing equipment and ingredients making their own first batches!