Dear Members,

First, let me try to get up to date! I’ve been busy revising for the BBKA Pests and Diseases Module 3 in March and have let other responsibilities slide!

The February meeting was well attended and most enjoyable.

 Steve Wilson showed us how to make wax foundation using the FDBKA kit. Steve is the guardian of the equipment and uses it to demonstrate at Manor Farm. If you fancy having a go yourself, contact him to arrange the loan of the equipment.

Greg Young demonstrated the making of lip-balm from beeswax and gave out samples in tiny individual tins, which were much appreciated. The process is straightforward but the regulations that need to be followed if you want to sell products like these are not, so be warned!

Paula Little ( I) talked briefly about how mead making can use up every tiny smear of honey from your extractor and cappings tray, if only you have the energy to start a new project after a busy day extracting your honey crop. I have to admit that I also receive donations of heather honey with” too high a water content from Mike Holloway and Greg Young, which turn up in lovely little buckets and are no where near the trouble. Mead made with apple juice is called Cyser, mead spiced with herbs is Metheglin. Show or Traditional mead is made with water and no additives except the necessary to get a ferment. Tiny tasters were supplied of each type and seemed to go down well.

The HBA had it’s AGM. Janelle is retiring as secretary and we wish her well in her new life in Hertfordshire. She will be missed by Romsey BKA and HBA. I’ll give a full report to the committee and post it here after our next meeting when a few details have been confirmed. Thank you to Mike Smith, Chrissie Day and Alan Baxter for attending and representing us at there.

The March meeting was a talk by John Hoar. As many of us know, John is passionate about Neonics. He had prepared a really fascinating talk, looking at the history of it all and explaining how misrepresentations and unfounded claims have been used throughout to justify their use in the face of evidence. The sheer volume of information that John has analysed and distilled, and is able to explain in an interesting and lively manor is awe inspiring.

 The early part of the meeting had some important matters to share with members and so John was only able to give half of his talk. We are hoping to find a place in the autumn for that.

The matters were:

Jan Lethbridge gave an update on the mentoring scheme. E-mails have been sent to all involved. We seem to have matched up most of those requesting a mentor. Jan has been very careful to try and match people who live close to each other, to make it easier for those involved.. There are still one or two areas in our large catchment that are not well covered, so if you feel you could pass on a few words of wisdom to a new Beekeeper please let her know. A big thank-you to all involved so far.

The Asian Hornet in Portsmouth. John Geden our new regional Bee Inspector spoke at Portsmouth BKA on the Tuesday before our meeting. He got in touch as he would like to talk to FDBKA but his other commitments would not allow him to. He has therefore set up a Zoom meeting on 12 APRIL at 7:30. ( his invitation will be forwarded separately)  The Asian Hornet has been on the agenda for so long it seems it will never get here. Sadly, that situation is changing. The queen found this early in the year may indicate that a mated queen went into hibernation last autumn, and if that is the case we will be hearing a lot more about this very, very soon. I recommend the web page Andrew Durham of Cambridge BKA has on the subject. He covers what we can learn from the French bee keepers and is really useful. https://www.wbka.uk/hornet.php?status=0Happy Beekeeping, almost time for the first spring  inspections. I have it on good authority there has already been a swarm!

Paula