We met for the first time this evening; in some cases it was our first opportunity to put faces to names. There were five of us: John Chittenden, who hosted the meeting in his company’s office, his son, James, Bryn House, Liz Rescorla and me. Manda wasn’t able to be with us because of health problems and poor Sarah had suffered from a diary malfunction, a problem with which I can sympathise as I need a secretary.
We spent about an hour nattering about what we’re going to do, why and how. If my computer had been on speaking terms with my printer I’d have taken along a small scale map so we could plot our apiaries and assess where drone ranges overlap and thus select mating sites. That’s now on my ‘to do’ list.
The objectives of the group (subject to modification) are to obtain year on year improvement to our bees, producing a strain appropriate to the local environment.
The qualities to be sought, again subject to modification, include low temperature working, frugality, productivity, hygiene (varroa and chalk brood) and temperament (non following and not agressive).
I had brought along my record cards, which I have used for about 20 years and are available to copy from Dave Cushman’s website: Beekeeping and Bee Breeding and I talked the group through them. Liz has her own cards, recording slightly different criteria but we didn’t go into details. We, as a group, will have to devise a separate record card to record criteria to be agreed.
They seem keen to start queen rearing with mini-nuclei this season and John and Bryn went into details of making stands for them while Liz suggested that the site should be shaded to reduce the chances of overheating in the summer sun. She is going to the equipment sale at Stoneleigh and may obtain some mini-nuclei at reduced cost. I have a few that I am happy to share although some are mouse damaged.
There is to be a ‘Bee Improvement for All’ day over the boundary in darkest Somerset on the equinox and some of us might go to it. I wrote a note on the back of my hand and so will try to book a place for myself as soon as I have finished this blog.
We arranged to meet again on 26th February, hopefully with a full complement. There’s room for a few more so, if you’re within range and you’d like to come and play with us, please make contact and come along.