Webinars – Season Two

Tuesday 18th August 7:30pm – Roger Patterson – “Dead Bees Don’t Buzz – Surviving the Winter “

Roger Patterson started beekeeping as a teenager in his native West Sussex in 1963, at one stage having 130 colonies. Although he had a short work related break without bees, he continued teaching and demonstrating. On returning, he discovered there were widespread problems with queens that he has publicised widely. He is a prolific writer, speaker and demonstrator of practical beekeeping, where his down to earth approach gained by observation, lateral thinking and being taught by many colonies of honey bees for over 50 years is appreciated.

His travels have allowed him to see different bees being kept in different conditions by different beekeepers, so increasing his knowledge, that he freely passes onto others. He is Apiary Manager of the Wisborough Green BKA.

Roger is passionate about the craft, encouraging beekeepers to learn the “basics” well, so they can understand how to solve their own problems, rather than consult sources that may be unreliable, as many are. He owns and manages Dave Cushman’s website www.dave-cushman.net, that is accepted as one of the world’s most comprehensive beekeeping websites.

Presentation:  “Dead Bees Don’t Buzz – Surviving the Winter “

This talk could have simply been called “Wintering”, but so many speakers have that title, often just giving the impression that wintering is something you don’t think about until the autumn. Bees are preparing well before winter and this presentation encourages beekeepers to do the same, but from a position of understanding how a wild colony does it. Before varroa, bees survived the winters very well. They had to, as the survival of the species depended on minimal winter losses.

In managed colonies, winter losses are much higher than they should be. Why is that? Are beekeepers doing something wrong? Are their bees unsuited to our conditions? Are they neglected? Are they misunderstood? Are they unhealthy? What can we do to lessen the chances of losses without “mollycoddling”? Should we try to reduce losses? Are losses a good thing? These are all questions that successful beekeepers should be asking themselves.

There are many things beekeepers can do to help the colony survive into spring, some are mentioned in this thought provoking presentation.

Tuesday 25th August 7:30pm – Lynfa Davies – “The Mystery of Mating”

Lynfa Davies lives in Aberystwyth and has kept bees with her husband, Rob, for 15 years. During this time she has worked her way through the BBKA assessments to become a Master Beekeeper and in 2019 gained the National Diploma in Beekeeping (NDB) which is the highest beekeeping qualification in the UK. She now enjoys sharing the information she has learned with other beekeepers and takes an active role in teaching new beekeepers in her local association and more widely across Wales.

Lynfa is a regular examiner for the BBKA and WBKA and sits on the WBKA Learning and Development Committee.

Lynfa currently has approximately 25 colonies which she mainly manages for honey production, something which often proves challenging in a wet West Wales! In addition she raises her own queens and uses these to produce nucleus colonies and to replace her own stock.

Presentation:  “The Mystery of Mating”.

Mated queens are something we tend to take for granted without giving too much thought as to how this ‘magic’ happens. Understanding when queens are ready for mating and where the action takes place is essential if we want to progress to queen rearing and bee breeding.

In addition the role of the drone is often overlooked and little consideration is given to them. This talk will not cover the complexities of bee breeding but instead will set the scene and describe what happens, where it happens and how we can influence it for our needs.

Tuesday 1st September 7:30pm – Roger Patterson – “Challenge what you are told……….”

In beekeeping, there are a lot of people who are eager to give information and advice, whether it is verbally or the written word in the form of books, leaflets, newsletters or screen. There are lots of myths and misinformation, often “cut and pasted” from other sources, which may simply be copying someone else’s mistake, who copied someone else’s mistake and so on. The same thing is then seen in many places and because it’s in print it’s believed to be reliable, but is it?

Inexperienced beekeepers may have difficulty separating the wheat from the chaff, but the more experienced a beekeeper gets, the more they realise that some of what they have been told, sometimes quite forcibly, may need reviewing. This presentation highlights a few topics that may not always be as we are told. It doesn’t rubbish the “standard information”, but gives reasons based on experiences that have been acquired during over half a century of practical beekeeping.

Tuesday 8th September 7:30pm – Peter Jenkins – “The KISS Approach”

Peter Jenkins has kept bees since the age of 14, a period of over 50 years. He now keeps around 50 colonies of near native bees in and around the marginal areas of Cardiganshire. Having spent most of his working life as a Chartered Engineer working around the world on marine and naval projects has meant that, for many years, he had little time for regular 7 day hive inspections as advised in text books. Nevertheless he has harvested at least average crops of honey year on year using bees improved over lifetime by his father, a process he is now continuing following his father’s death in 2009.

Many problems in beekeeping are caused by beekeepers reading books and listening to other people who read books, then rigidly following what they are told without understanding what the bees are trying to do. When things go wrong, as they often do in beekeeping, they blame the bees for not reading the book! With a little experience the more astute beekeeper will soon realise that much of what they have been taught in their early days of beekeeping as “fact” may not always be so.

“The KISS Approach” has been developed over many years of finding practical solutions on the hoof to some of the many beekeeping problems that all beekeepers face. Following the books often gets you into trouble but they aren’t very good at getting you out of it. Things that can work or get you out of trouble are rarely covered in standard books, so you have to work solutions out for yourself, but you need knowledge and experience to do it. In short, this presentation is about how to achieve maximum output for minimum input.