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Beekeepers News - September - Issue 84

Beekeepers News - September - Issue 84

The September 2023 edition of our newsletter

Beekeepers News Header

Issue No. 84


September 2023



As this month's newsletter is sent out we will be busy at our Windsor branch for their Sale Day. Following this event our next Sale Day will be at our Stockbridge branch on Saturday 16th September. You still have plenty of time to order to collect from Stockbridge, and all our remaining Sale Days, including the National Honey Show, just click the button below!


Don't worry if you can not make it to any of our Sales Days - we will be having an online sale starting the end of October for those that missed out. This online sale will run from Sunday 29th October to Monday 13th November.



Equipment Focus

Hand Heather Honey Loosener

This strong, stainless steel honey loosener is ideal for the small scale heather honey producer. The food grade plastic needles are spring loaded and can be worked into a comb of heather honey with relative ease. This action loosens and agitates the jelly like heather honey, enabling the frame to be extracted in the normal way (preferably tangential). Damage to the comb is minimal so the frames can soon be returned to the hive. Once uncapped and weighed, a heather honey frame yields 68.8% of its total weight in honey.


Hand Heather Honey Loosener


Below is a review of our latest looseners from a commercial beekeeper in North Yorkshire.

"The device works at its best if one frame lug is clamped to a wooden board.  Gently roll the loosener lengthwise, rather than ‘stabbing’ the comb. There will be honey left on the board which can be scraped off and filtered. It is quite messy but the combs are recoverable."



Ask the Expert

Under Floor Entrance

Ask any beekeeper what their main issue is in August and September, and this year, more than any other I can remember is wasps. Colonies came be completely robbed out and destroyed by wasp attacks in just a few days.

We have covered wasp deterrents and traps in previous newsletters and these are still valid and a great tool for all beekeepers subject to wasp attacks but is there anything else beekeepers can do which is a little more permanent and can help in the long term?



One answer may be the Underfloor entrance. This is a complete floor, available for the National hive only.

The legs lift the floor 150mm off the floor and in this design the bees enter the hive 75mm from the front, underneath the frames, giving them shelter on the landing board. This means the entrance is also completely dry and driving rain isn’t an issue. Wasps and other predator bees find the entrance difficult to negotiate and the bees find this type of entrance much easier to defend. Another bonus is that mice and other vermin cannot gain access - so no fiddly mouseguards to fit.

Our floors come either complete with legs or just the floor only. Made in Canadian Western Red Cedar with a ventilated mesh base and a removable varroa board.


Under Floor Entrance


Under Floor Entrance




Thorne Blog

July & August

You may have noticed we didn’t have a bee blog last month – we have just been too busy with the bees to stop and consider what we have achieved the last couple of months! As we are slowly starting to wind down now (a scary thought for the end of August), we have a little more time to reflect on our beekeeping antics.

After all the nucs had been taken off, the weather seemed to take a turn for the worse and we experienced weeks of bad weather here in Lincolnshire, as many other parts of the country did too. This meant that the bees could not get out to forage on what little food there was available at the time and so we ended up feeding quite a bit of fondant to tie them over. We decided to go with fondant at this point because we knew that wasp season was just around the corner and syrup can get very messy, attracting hundreds of wasps and robbing bees into the apiaries.

Once the rain had subsided somewhat and the sun finally came back out, the weeds went wild! We had quite the job to keep the hive entrances free from grass and other plants, simply because it was all just growing so quickly. Time for the strimmer to come out! The bees do not like this, however, we feel it is important, not just to look tidy but for the bees’ welfare. Long grass blocking entrances can slow foraging bees down and overgrown weeds can encourage damp conditions in the hive leading to problems such as chalkbrood. It is also much easier to walk around the hives when the area is strimmed back!

With the perhaps slightly earlier than anticipated Asian hornet incursion this year, we thought it would be a good idea to set up some new traps around the apiaries. In previous years the traps have felt somewhat precautionary, whereas this year we will be monitoring them very closely as the threat of the Asian hornet travelling up the country from the south coast now feels very real. You can see here that we have hung this one in a laurel bush, just to the edge of our lakes apiary and we have filled it with the attractant and some weak sugar syrup. Fingers crossed we don’t find anything untoward, however it is best to be prepared.

As we are not producing honey, after the bees have been taken off the hives for nucs, we have no reason not to treat for varroa at this time. We have no supers so there is no risk to anyone’s health and so this year we have treated with ApiLife Var.


Blog July & August

Blog July & August


We find this time of year to be of exponential growth in varroa numbers and so it is a good time for us to knock them back, especially as bees that will go into winter will be ‘made’ soon. ApiLife Var is a thymol treatment and as such is temperature dependant, normally most effective over 15 degrees. Very simply, one stick of ApiLife Var is split into four pieces, placed on each corner on top of the brood frames and left for a week. Repeat this for four weeks in total, using 4 sticks in total (2 yellow packs). Hopefully this will reduce the amount of varroa in the colonies so that the bees going into winter have the best chance to be as healthy as they can. 



National Honey Show

100 years for The National Honey Show 1923 - 2023

We have a spectacular show for you to celebrate our centenary, and you, the exhibitors make a significant contribution to the visual impact of the display of competitive entries. Check the schedule of classes to plan your entries, consult the rules and regulations, and ask the experts if you need help.


11th September 2023 is the firm deadline for completed entry forms for classes 95-109 inclusive and 315-316 and 318, i.e. essays, videos, microscope slides and photographs. The actual entries for these classes need to be with the appropriate convenor as directed by the entries secretary by 25th September. No late entries will be permitted for these classes.


7th September is the date the bookings open for workshops at the show. Click here to plan your visit.


We have much more for you at the show, check out our website www.honeyshow.co.uk, social media posts on Facebook, Instagram and more blog details on www.honeyshow.info.


See you there, Sandown Park Racecourse, Esher, Surrey, UK 26 to 28 October 2023

There are major roadworks at the M25-A3 junction and delays are likely. If your journey to Sandown Park takes you via this route, please allow extra time.
Esher is not impacted by the recently extended ULEZ, but please check your vehicle is compliant if you are travelling into London boroughs.



Bees for Development

Motorbikes for the Queens of Bees – campaign update

Bees for Development trainee Beekeeper Extension Agents Clara, Rejoice and Florence are acting as positive role models for women who want to gain independence and get their beekeeping ventures off the ground. They are helping disadvantaged women in rural homesteads to gain independence becoming self-sufficient, empowered beekeepers – you can read more here in their latest blog They need motorbikes so that they can more quickly and regularly reach the beekeepers they are supporting.  Lightweight, economic and rugged, the motorbikes are a lifeline for the team, enabling access to very remote areas. These bikes are essential for reaching and transforming the lives of the poorest people through beekeeping. Please help Bees for Development raise £10,000 to buy motorbikes for the Queens of Bees


Motorbikes for the Queens of Bees


Bees for Development


Bees for Development

This year, 2023, has witnessed the horrific impact of fire in the Mediterranean, Canada and USA, made worse undoubtedly by climate change. In many communities in sub-Saharan Africa beekeepers are un-acknowledged leaders and activists in the fight against bush fire and this is true in Zimbabwe where Bees for Development are working with their partner organisation to engage with local beekeeping communities, to build fire breaks around their apiaries and in the forest. Bees for Development colleague and partner Dr Robert Mtisi and his team are delivering fire awareness programmes, educating people living in and close to forest areas to use beekeeping as a tool to reduce forest fires. Image featured shows the paths created by the team to create a firebreak. To learn more about the work Bees for Development are doing please click here and for information about the organisation www.beesfordevelopment.org


Instagram – @beesfordevelopment

Facebook – @beesfordevelopment

Twitter – @BeesForDev

- Jenny Handley and the team at Bees for Development



Book Review

‘The Ethics of Beekeeping’

by John Whitaker


Published by Northern Bee Books, 2018

ISBN: 9781912271245

Paperback, 120 pages, £15



The Ethics of Beekeeping

This review taken from the Lune Valley Community Beekeepers Newsletter, June 2022

I recently, and entirely unintentionally, got involved in a group discussion about ethics. Things got complicated when one of the group started to use beekeeping as an example, especially as I was the only beekeeper present! His argument was that it was completely unethical to steal honey from bees and to keep bees for the purpose of stealing their honey was even worse! The counter argument was that God (Jewish, Christian, Islam) has given all creatures for the benefit of Mankind. Only Hinduism seems to regard human beings and animals as equal creatures upon earth.
I have often thought that some beekeeping practices, such as the clipping of queen bees’ wings were unethical but the more you think about ethics, the more complicated and clouded the situation seems to become.

One brave man, John M Whitaker, has made a bold attempt to sort things out for us. His recent book “The ethics of beekeeping” explores a diverse range of issues that face beekeepers and explores the various ethical perspectives on each. It is a fascinating but mildly disturbing read.

Thorne Upcoming Events

Saturday 16th September - Thorne of Stockbridge Sale Day


Saturday 23rd September - Thorne of Devon Sale Day


Saturday 7th October - Thorne Open and Sale Day at Lincolnshire Head Office & Factory


Thursday 26th - Saturday 28th October - National Honey Show - Sandown Park Racecourse, Esher, Surrey, KT10 9AJ


Sunday 29th October - Monday 13th November - Thorne Online Sale

O P E N I N G   H O U R S


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