Western Galloway Beekeepers Association

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The first meeting of 2015 for the Western Galloway Beekeepers Association was held at the end of January.

Members gathered to hear the guest speaker, John Vendy who is a natural beekeeper in Lancaster. Thankfully the weather was kind to him for travelling such a distance.

John explained the natural beekeeping philosophy – more natural for bees than traditional beekeeping, with healthy bees a priority – emphasis on healthy bees rather than honey production

A few of his tips

Leave honey with the bees for the winter – they’ll eat what they need, then any surplus can be removed in the spring

Interfere as little as possible with the natural lives of the bees

Put nothing in to the hive that could be harmful to bees, to us or to the wider environment. For example use ground sugar to treat Varroa mites

Consider the welfare of other pollinators – don’t have too many bees in one place

Avoid the use of sheets of foundation for wax production – foundation strips are sufficient. Bees need to make wax and foundation can become contaminated over time

Disturbance free inspections – observe the hive entrance and/or use an observation window rather than disturbing the bees

John uses Horizontal Top Bar hives, which are quite different from the traditional beehive.

Pro’s – no heavy boxes to lift, everything is at the same working height, they are easy and cheap to make, less disturbance to bees when inspecting, they deter thieves

Con’s – more difficult to move, no standard design, few commercially available, less honey stored above the winter cluster can lead to isolation starvation, comb not wired so not suitable for spinning to extract honey

John had brought along an example of a top bar hive for the members to have a look at – this prompted lots of discussion, and John was able to answer questions from the members

Dru Hatcher, chair, thanked John for his informative talk and for making the journey to Galloway

The next meeting will be on Monday 23rd February at Glenluce Bowling Club, starting g at 7pm – visitors will be made welcome. The speaker will be Julie McGlashan who will share her knowledge of Manuka honey, as well as the medicinal uses for honey. The newly created library box will be unveiled and the members will be encouraged to make preparations for showing their produce at the Royal Highland Show in June