For the second year running our members have been reporting a dearth of honey and we have not had any honey to sell this year. Any honey in the hives is now needed to feed the colonies to give them the best chance of survival through the winter months.
This year was the first time that the Cooperative entered the Commercial Class. We were delighted to receive a HIGHLY COMMENDED certificate
Gower Honey from our members’ hives is now on sale at Health & Herbs in Picton Arcade, Swansea.
We will be taking a delivery of Ambrosia Syrup in 12.5kg plastic cans in the next week. These will cost £15 to coop members. Collection only from Woodbine Cottage, Landimore. e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your order. Ring 390043 to check someone at home before you travel. Membership of the coop is still free.
The Co-op is planning a group purchase of beeswax foundation for BS frames (both deep and shallow. If you are interested in buying some foundation please contact email@example.com or complete the order form.
We should be able to achieve a discount of 15-25% and make a saving on delivery costs.
Honey Room Equipment
Better late than never. We have now taken delivery of our honey ripener and heated decapping tray. The cooperative is now well equipped to deliver a professional extraction and bottling service to its members.
This year we have enough honey to start selling jars outside of family and friends!
We will be at the St.Madoc’s APPLE DAY on Sunday 13th October from 2pm to 5pm.
The St.Madoc’s Centre is in Llanmadoc, Gower. See http://www.stmadoc.co.uk/
March 2013 Starvation Risk. Important Information from NBU about Colony Food Levels.
With the continued poor weather looking to persist through to the end of March, colonies may be starting to run out of food (if they haven’t already). It would be advisable to check the food levels by opening the hive and making a very quick observation on their store levels. Key points to remember are:
• The colony may still have stores available which are at the other end of the brood chamber to the cluster of bees. If there are ‘empty’ frames between the two then the bees could still starve, despite food being in the chamber. Move the frames of food directly next to the outer frame where the cluster resides, ensuring that you score each frame of food (not excessively, but enough to stimulate feeding). Be sure not to knock or roll the bees when doing this and to be as quick as possible.
• If the colony has little or no frames of food then give them a block of candy or fondant. You want to aim for about 2.5 kg per hive and although this may seem to be a great expense, it is far less than the money you will have wasted should the bees die.
• Mini plastic bags that are used to store loose fruit in from the supermarket are perfectly acceptable for holding the fondant and cost nothing. Pack the candy in the bag and then pierce holes in the appropriate place once you get to the hive. If the bag seems fragile then you can double bag it (just be sure to pierce both bags).
• At this time of the year we would usually start feeding sugar syrup but with these temperatures it is still too cold. Place the fondant directly above the bees, turning the crownboard if necessary so that one of the porter bee escape holes is above the cluster.
Please be aware that this should be done as quickly and carefully as possible and although it may seem too cold to open the hive now, it is far better to do so knowing the bees are ok than not to and find later that they have died.
COOP MEMBERSHIP GROWS
The Cooperative continues to grow with three new members in the last week attracted by our stores of Ambrosia!
Progress in building the clean room for honey extraction has been slow but then the demand for its use has been small because of the very poor honey harvest this year. Everyone is reporting very low yields and small colonies struggling to survive. The colony we established at Weobley Castle appears to have absconded though there is still a lot of activity in the ivy clad stone walls of the farm.
COOP DRIVES DOWN COSTS
The Cooperative has ordered 60 jerry cans of Ambrosia syrup for its members. Each can weighs 12.5kg and cost £15 – less 10% for cooperative members – that’s just £13.50. Compare that with the Maisemore catalogue price of £28.08 – with delivery to be added on. This is just one way that cooperation works to keep the costs of beekeeping down to a minimum.
The ready made syrup comes from Denmark so much of the cost
is in the storage and transport of the product. By shopping around and buying in bulk the Cooperative has been able to keep the cost to its members as low as possible.
Ambrosia contains three types of sugar- sucrose, glucose and fructose. The manufacturers claim that it is a balanced liquid for bee nutrition helpful to create healthy, strong colonies.
B FORUM: Native Bees
Matt Carroll told the meeting about his approach to breeding Queens tolerant of the Welsh weather. He is not a purist aiming to reintroduce the native bee to Wales.But he aspires to a breed which is as tough and versatile as the native bee. By flooding an area with his black queens he hopes that local bee stocks will gradually show the characteristics that he is seeking. In cooperation with the West Glamorgan Beekeepers’ Association bee rearing equipment has been obtained and Matt now has the software on his computer to measure bee wing attributes so that genus of bees can be accurately recorded. The B Forum will meet in October to do some practical work and Matt will measure wing samples. Follow Matt’s progress on the West Glam website.
A SWARM IN JUNE IS WORTH A SILVER SPOON
The e-mails have been buzzing with news of local swarms and we had anticipated our own bees swarming as there were sure signs in the hives of their intentions. The month started with two swarms on the same day and this enabled us to hive one in the Llanmadoc out-apiary.
COOP MOVES TO NEXT STAGE IN ITS DEVELOPMENT
The Coop has this week marked the next stage in its development with the delivery of its honey extractor and the siting of its first out-apiary in Llanmadoc. Once the honey extraction plant is commissioned the cooperative will be able to offer its services to beekeepers across Gower who do not have their own facilities for the extraction and bottling of honey. The out apiary supports the cooperative’s objective for greater local community involvement.
Four of our beekeeping members took an active part in the first meeting of the B FORUM which has been organised by Eironwy Davies of Rural Action Swansea. She says:
Thank you for turning out on a cold night to come and meet us last night. From the comments we had back it seems as though everyone enjoyed the meeting. Sian and I did and we are looking forward to the next meeting, which we will try to arrange for the middle of June, this time probably in Penclawdd. Mr Matt Carroll has offered to do a short presentation for us on ‘Queen rearing’.We will also make time to catch up on news and if anyone would like to raise a topic or if you have something you would like to have discussed, let us know before hand and we can sort time out in the meeting to exchange views and talk over.
Through the post today came our membership of Cooperatives UK. We now have full recognition of our cooperative status and access to legal advice and other help provided by this national body.
BEESWAX PROVIDED TO COEDAN FACH
We were approached through Rural Action Swansea about supplying beeswax to a local community interest group Coeden Fach which runs a community tree nursery project based in Bishopston. They were trying to find a source of beeswax for grafting trees. We were pleased to make a small donation of unpurified beeswax to this worthy cause.
The co-operative now has supplies to make up 5 starter hives for newcomers to beekeeping on Gower. Members were able to save on delivery charges by adding their needs to the order.
The co-operative held its inaugural general meeting in Landimore on Saturday 7th January. We started with a social get together hosted by Lis O’Carroll, who provided beer and sandwiches, where new members could get to know other members. Before very long we realised that we had just about covered half of the meeting agenda informally.
Having discussed the name of the organisation we decided that the Gower Honey Co-operative more accurately summed up our purpose and the draft constitution was quickly amended before it was signed by all six founding members. David O’Carroll was confirmed as Chairperson, John White secretary and Lis O’Carroll as Treasurer. The remaining three members to constitute the rest of the management committee until the first AGM.
On conclusion of the meeting we visited the apiary site and the honey extraction shed.
TAMAR GROW LOCAL Beekeeping Cooperative
We have been busy making links with like-minded organisations. Grow Local has set up an apiary in Drakewalls in the Tamar Valley watershed to train new and novice bee keepers. The training will be done by a local bee inspector and has an emphasis on practical bee handling.
The apiary site will also be home to the Tamar Grow Local bee keeping co-operative. The cooperative will provide access to equipment and facilities for a small membership fee, reducing the initial costs of keeping bees. It will also help to market members’ honey under the bee keeping co-operative brand. In the longer term the cooperative intends to provide clean room and other facilities for bottling or use of the wax. By providing access to equipment required for extraction, and helping members to sell their honey the cooperative hopes to support the local beekeeping community and to increase the number of bees (and bee keepers) in the TamarValley.
We hope to keep in close contact with this group to exchange ideas and developments.
FINANCIAL BACKING FOR WEST GOWER BEEKEEPERS COOPERATIVE
The project to set up The West Gower Beekeepers Cooperative has been given official recognition. The project is now being part funded by the Welsh Assembly Government’s Sustainable Development Fund. This means that we can now go ahead with the refurbishment of an agricultural shed to become our honey extraction plant and honey packaging facility. Our plans will mean that everything will be ready for the honey flow of 2012.