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Sitting here with the rain drumming on the window it is difficult to think ahead to an active beekeeping season - but that is what we must do.

The first event which you need to know about is the Asian Hornet Workshop to be held at the Sunninghill Community Hall, Culliford Road in Dorchester. The event is on this Sunday the 18th February from 2:00pm to 5:00pm and includes:

  • Update on the Asian Hornet situation in the County from Mark White
  • Tea and Cakes
  • Talk by Pollenize on using AI for Asian Hornet detection.
  • There will be local and regional experts there with an opportunity for questions.

We were hoping to give out some Trappit but at the moment it is impossible to get hold of. There will be recipes for making your own.

I have received the following email from Amie

Hi, I am Amie a 3rd-year university student at Royal Holloway, University of London. I am writing to all Beekeeping associations within the UK to conduct a study for my final year undergraduate project. As I aim to survey beekeepers, I hope that you will be able to assist me.

My project aims to investigate Beekeeper practices within the UK and attitudes held towards wild bee species. I conducted a previous survey at the National Honey Show in October 2023 and now have a revised survey based on the responses from that.

The research project is a core component of my course and thus I would be extremely grateful if you could aid me. My survey takes about 4-5 minutes. 

 As it is on Google Forms, all answers are anonymous and no personal data is collected (including emails and phone numbers).

The link to the form is 


This is an easy survey taking only a few minutes and does make you ask yourself why you keep bees. It is worth doing if it will aid research into attitudes of beekeepers to the environment.

And don't forget our upcoming AGM:

The AGM of the Dorset Beekeepers' Association will be held on Saturday 16th March at 2:30pm at the Colliton Club in Dorchester.

The AGM is open to all members of Dorset Beekeepers and that includes all those who are members of any of the Dorset Associations.

The AGM is your opportunity to take part in the direction which Dorset Beekeepers may take over the next year. There are also vacancies for for several roles on the Council.

This is your chance to make a change.

This year two nests of Asian Hornet were found in Dorset and destroyed.

How many did we miss?

How many Queens are out there hibernating ready to start again in the Spring?

It is with these questions in mind that the South West Beekeepers Forum is organising an Asian Hornet Conference in January 2024 in Bridgwater.

  • The list of speakers is on the web and is impressive including
    • Megan Seymour - from the NBU
    • Alistair Christie - from Jersey where they have loads of experience
    • Dr. Peter Kennedy - from Exeter University
    • Dr. Sandra Rojas Nossa- on the impact of Asian Hornet on biodiversity
    • Quentin Rome - on the impact of Asian Hornet in France
    • Bob Hogge - on the impact of Asian Hornet on beekeepers.
  • The conference is in Bridgwater TA6 6LQ
  • The cost to participate in the workshops is £10
  • The date of the event is the 6th January 2024
  • Full details are here.
  • Tickets are selling well and with just 300 places available I suggest booking early.

This week I was at the Dorchester and Weymouth Beekeepers AGM. Now an AGM is not something you normally enjoy but I must say it was great fun. This is often the case when beekeepers get together.

There is another chance this month for beekeepers to get together and that is the Dorset Beekeepers Convention at the end of this month. There are some excellent speakers and there will also be opportunities for you to chat to other beekeepers and swap tales. I do hope you will be able to attend - it should be a very worthwhile day.

  • When? Sunday 29th October 09:30 to 17:00
  • Where? Blandford School DT11 7SQ
  • Who?
    • Stephen Fleming on Drone CAs
    • Margaret Murdin on Bee Genetics
    • Anne Rowberry on BBKA Trustees
    • Robert Whittick on Bee Keeper to Bee Farmer
    • Kevin Pope on the Asian Hornet situation
  • Extras: Thornes, Northern Bee Books, Vita, Dorset Wildlife Trust, 
  • More Extras: Tea and Coffee
  • Cost: £8 to DBKA members and £10 to all others.
  • Tickets: from here.

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 Fleming 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
Kevin Pope on An Update to the Asian Hornet Invasion
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.