Skip to content

A chance to get together and meet Dorset Beekeepers and hear some inspiring speakers. I suggest getting your tickets as soon as possible.

When?: Sunday 29th October from 09:30 to 17:00 - a full day of interest.

Where?: Blandford School, Milldown Road, Blandford Forum DT11 7SQ

Why?: Stephen Flemming will talk on Drone CAs
Margaret Murdin will be talking on "Bee Genetics Made Simple",
Anne Rowberry on "What We Can Expect From Our Dedicated BBKA Trustee
Robert Whittick on "From Beekeeper to Bee Farmer.

And Exhibitors?: Northern Bee Books, Thornes, Vita, an Asian Hornet Stand, Dorset Wildlife Trust

What about refreshments? Tea and Coffee on arrival, Afternoon Tea, but bring your own lunch.

The cost? It costs £8.00 for Dorset BKA members and £10 for non-members.

Tickets?: These can now be obtained from Ticket Tailor at Dorset Beekeeping Convention.

The Asian Hornet is here in Dorset as well as other parts of the UK.

Why does this matter? - The Asian Hornet can destroy a hive very quickly.

What do they do? - They hover, called hawking, outside the hive entrance. They will grab a honey bee near the hive. They rip of the wings and eat the body -a useful bag of protein.

How does this affect the hive? - Firstly the Asian Hornet is eating foraging bees. The colony soon becomes aware of this threat and they will not leave the hive. The result is the hive could starve.

But why target bees? - Well a honey bee is a social insect and a colony will have many thousand flying bees. Once an Asian Hornet finds a hive it has found a ready supply of food. Much easier to hawk outside a hive rather than go hunting for solitary bees or bumble bees.

What can we do to stop them? - Learn what an Asian Hornet looks like. Look for them if you are out walking. Some have been spotted by people dog walking and others whilst sitting in the garden.

How do I recognise one? - They are bigger than a wasp but smaller than a European Hornet. They have yellow legs, an orange face and a single yellow band across their abdomen.

And if I see one? - If you have a Smart phone then download the "Asian Hornet Watch App" for iPhone or Android from your usual app store. That has pictures of the Asian Hornet and other insects with which it can be confused.

What else can I do with the app?- If you can get a photo of it then the app can send that off along with your location and time you took the photo. If it confirmed as an Asian Hornet things will happen.

But I don't have a smart phone. Then there is an online reporting tool here.

What things will happen?- DEFRA will be alerted and they will send a team to track down the nest and destroy it. They then analyse the nest to see if it is an isolated nest or one of several in the area.

Is the Asian Hornet dangerous to humans? - Like many insects their aim is to survive and they only get aggressive if you are threatening them or their nest. They are bigger than bees or wasps so they carry more sting venom. If they are threatened they may group together and attack on you - beware.

What about the nests? - The nest looks like a wasp nest. If you do spot one then make a note of where it is and move away. Report it using the app and let professionals deal with it.

Any other tips? - I have been called out several times to suspected sightings. They often fly too fast to see clearly. Take a video of them flying then go through it frame at a time. That helps.

Can't we just ignore them? No. They will start by killing many of our honey bees and without local honey bees where will you be able to get pure local honey.

Where can I find out more?- Beebase is useful as is the BBKA

As beekeepers we do not have the time to sit back and enjoy the view like some do.

Highland Cow in Portmerion

This is a busy time of year for us and for many of us life just got even busier.

Today Dorchester and Weymouth Beekeepers Association released the Show Schedule and Entry Form for the Honey Show they are holding as part of the Dorset County Show.

There are over 40 classes which can be entered and some are specifically for the novice beekeeper. Well worth having a look and entering a class gives you an opportunity to see what others do in that class as well as giving you the chance to improve your bee product - another chance to raise your game.

If you are interested then head over to the Dorchester and Weymouth Beekeepers site and get yourself a show schedule.

Learn More
The bee season is well underway and hopefully beginners of all levels are enjoying opening the hive.
Are you also fascinated seeing the bees at work?
Would you like to know more but don't know where to start?
Perhaps now is the time to consider taking your beekeeping to a new level.
Perhaps now is the time to think about increasing your knowledge of what the bees do and why.
Time to improve your understanding of beekeeping?

Follow a guide
If you want to learn more the best way is to follow a structure - a syllabus.
The BBKA offer a series of syllabi which you can follow to improve your understanding of bees.
The first is the "Basic Assessment" and if you have kept bees for a year then you will already have covered most of it.

Probably there are still gaps in your knowledge:
Can you recognise a drone laying queen?
Can you recognise laying workers?
Do you know what to do if this happens to your colony?

You could use the Basic Assessment syllabus to guide your study.
You could use the Basic Assessment reading list to guide your reading.
There is even a correspondence course.
Having done the reading do you want to take the exam - it is only an hour long?

So how about an exam?
The exam is not the most onerous and beekeepers to whom I have spoken have all said how much studying for it has helped their beekeeping. The pass mark is just 50% -though you do have to pass all sections to achieve an overall pass.
The four sections are:

Manipulation and equipment - this is the practical section of the exam,
Oral questions of natural history and beekeeping,
Oral questions of swarming, swarm control and the effects of swarming,
Oral questions of pests and diseases.

You may have noticed there is no mention of written answers or a silent exam hall. This exam is a practical test with some oral questions.

So do you want to do the exam?

Have you kept bees for at least 12 continuous months?

If the answer is yes then you are ready for the exam - but not this year. It takes time to organise an assessor and a site where you can demonstrate your expertise in handling bees. For this reason it is best if you apply to take the exam before the end of May. However that is not to say that you cannot apply now for the 2024 season. Seems like a long time away but it will come quicker than you think.

If you have not yet kept bees continuously for 12 months then you will have to wait but you could still study whilst waiting. Hopefully you will have kept a colony right through the winter by Spring of 2024.

Once you are ready to take the next step then contact your local exam secretary. In the case of Dorset Beekeepers it is our local Examinations SecretaryTerry Payne who is on

I hope this helps - and even if you don't like exams reading about bees is fascinating.

Just a reminder that the Annual General Meeting of the Dorset Beekeepers' Association is on the 11th March at the Colliton Club in Dorchester at 2:00pm.

This is the paragraph I did not expect to write - but these days little comes as a surprise. In the event of significant snow the meeting will be moved to a Zoom meeting and the link will be sent once we know that it has to be Zoom.

All Dorset BKA members who have paid their subscriptions should by now have received the documents for the meeting. If you have not then contact your secretary who will have copies.

Whilst I have your attention - don't forget that if this weather feels cold for you imagine what it is like in a hive where you may have a lot of larvae after the recent warmer spell. Do check them for stores and top up if necessary.

Just an update to let you all know that Kevin Pope, our Seasonal Bee Inspector, will be giving a talk on 17th January at 19:30 at the Mill Farm in Bradford Abbas DT9 6RE

If you wonder why on earth your bees did what they did last year then this is the talk to hear from a man with a wealth of experience and plenty of stories to tell.

As I write this there is just a week to go before Christmas will all be over!

This is an update on what is going on around here. We have a Dorset Beekeepers Committee meeting at the start of January. This is when we discuss what we are going to do in the coming few months and this time we are also going to be organising the AGM to be held in the Spring.

So why am I telling you this? Well if you are a member of any of the Dorset Beekeepers Branches then you are a member of Dorset Beekeepers and beyond that you are also a member of the BBKA. It is your organisation and we are here to consider your wishes.

If you have anything that you wish us to discuss at the next meeting in January then do let me know by email.

One of the important considerations is finding a new editor for our magazine Honeycraft. Tim has done a sterling job as editor but feels it is now time for a new editor. If there is anyone out there who would like the role then do let me know. Tim assures me it is not arduous - in fact it is fun! If you are interested then let me know by email.

I have also added a new page on the BeeInfo area of the site. Many beginners have problems finding a suitable apiary site and may be considering using their allotment. This page shows the pitfalls and benefits of using your allotment.

Working worker.

Busy few days - but not with the bees. By now the bees should be fairly dormant much of the time - but not at the moment. We have had such warm temperatures that the bees are still active. They are bringing back some pollen but this is not a good time for bees to be so active. We will have to keep a close eye on food levels over the next few months.

So what have I been doing?

Over the past few months I have received a lot of compliments regarding the BeeInfo web site hosted on this site. As a result I have revamped much of it in light of observations I have received. The site is now somewhat bigger than it was - and it is my intention to increase it by a lot more in the next few months. Do have a look and let me know what you think - both positive and negative comments gladly received as long as they are constructive. There is also a link to the BeeInfo area at the top of the Dorset Beekeepers website.

Dorchester and Weymouth Display at County Show
Dorchester and Weymouth Beekeepers

Time to be thinking about entering something for the Dorset County Show. It is not just honey. There are other bee products you can enter. The full schedule is attached. 

All Dorset Beekeepers Association members are invited to enter their honey and hive products in the Dorset County Show.  A printed copy and entry form is available on request from

An entry form is available here.

    All entries must  to be staged by 8.15am or on Friday by arrangement.  Entries may be collected after 6.00 pm Saturday or any time Sunday by arrangement. Plenty of help and advice is available.  Just ask.

The image above shows a case for the Frame of Comb for Extraction  class.  We have a couple of these cases (national and and commercial) available to borrow for the show. (Frame of honey not included.)

Seems like ages since I was able to tell you about competitions but there are two coming up - one out of County and one in County.

Somerset County Show
The Somerset County Show is to be held in Vivary Park, Taunton TA1 3SX on 5th and 6th August under the umbrella of the Taunton Flower Show. I have attached the Somerset County Honey Show Schedule 2022 just here. I am assured that members of the Dorset BKA are welcome to submit entries.

Dorset County Show
The Dorset County Show is to be held in Dorchester on the 3rd and 4th September at the County Showground in Dorchester. The Honey Show Schedule is not yet available but in the meantime you can check out the programme here.