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Reports on the meetings at Goytre  


Many members travelled to Goytre Village Hall to hear Ken Hoare’s talk entitled ‘Come Beekeeping with Me’. He began surprisingly by expressing worries about the hive beetle that has become established in the USA. Will it be the next threat to beekeeping to arrive on our shores? This beetle is about the size of a ladybird and breeds in the hive eating bee larvae. Any honey in the hive is rendered useless and eventually the bees abandon the hive. There is no simple treatment to control this pest. Let us hope that it does not become established here.


With the use of excellent slides Ken talked about beekeeping for about 45 minutes. He started on the subject of apiary hygiene. Keeping everything clean made working with the bees easier and there was less chance of disease getting a hold. Keep the frames of honeycomb clean by scraping off any excess wax or propolis on a regular basis. A blowtorch can be used to sterilise the boxes when being prepared for the apiary. When working on a hive try not to squash bees.


Ken is a great advocate of mesh floors. The normal wooden floor is replaced by a mesh (8 holes to the inch) and this allows for plenty of ventilation, and lets debris and varroa mites fall to the ground. If  the bees did not like a floor like this they would seal the holes with propolis. This does not happen.


Use less or no smoke. When opening the hive make an assessment of what is happening. Keep records. The speaker as well as many beekeepers has lapses here, but good records give the progress of that hive which is useful for making future decisions.

Ken showed slides of  honey collection and preparation in Mexico, much of which is exported. All I will say is that I would not touch it with a barge pole!

On a final note the question was posed ‘Why destroy queen cells?’ This is done sometimes to reduce swarming. A hive has 20,000+ workers and 1 queen. Why not put frames in a nucleus box and start another colony with the queen cell.

If you would like to know more about the Gwent Beekeepers Association then give me a call on 01495 762827 or see our web site at  http://www.gbka.org.uk/



Today's Date 31st March

Gwent Beekeepers Association 

Twenty plus people, including three studying the basic beekeeping course, attended the talk at Goytre Village Hall on Thursday where Len Dixon gave a talk with the enigmatic title ‘ Messengers of the Gods’. Bees developed in conjunction with flowering plants about 50 million years ago, and specimens found in amber confirm that there has been little change to the bees we have today. Spanish cave paintings from 6000BC show people climbing cliffs to collect honey. Also in India there are pictures from 5000BC showing the collection of honey. This association of man with bees has led to bees being associated with the gods. You may remember that the Greek gods drank nectar. Honey was very highly prized as was beeswax. In Egypt honey was used in embalming. and a bee is a sign of the pharoah. In Christianity there has been an association with the bee. For example, Moses led his people to the land of milk and honey and when John the Baptist was in the desert he lived on honey and locusts. The monks kept bees to provide beeswax to make candles for the church. The Roman Church looked at bees as an example of godliness, and talked of the ‘purity of wax’. There is also the association of monks with mead, and the word honeymoon comes from eating honey for a month after being married. This applied to the rich only of course.

There was a move from honey hunting, although this is still done in some parts of the world, to keeping bees in straw baskets called skeps. The doomsday book recorded skeps and at that time the Mead brewer had special protection.

Myth has played an important role in folklore. One Welsh myth said that bees announced the coming of St. David before he was born. Even now, if there is a death in the family someone has to go and tell the bees. Bees have been called the winged messengers of the gods, letting them know what is happening on earth.

Even now people feel that there is a mystique with bees and the products they produce. Even now honey is being used in the University of Wales Hospital to successfully treat skin conditions such as ulcers where other therapies have failed. Propolis, the glue that bees produce, has antiseptic properties, and beeswax is used in face creams. Royal jelly is supposed to have beneficial properties, and bee stings have been used to treat arthritis.

So you can see that the association of man with bees has been going on for at least 8000 years and will no doubt continue long into the future.

If you have an interest in this aspect of bees then the book ‘The Sacred Bee’ by Ransome can be bought from Northern Bee Books tel: 01422 882751, Tell them you learned about it from http://www.gbka.org.uk 


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