Chair’s AGM Report 2021

This is essentially an overview of 2021 for the HWBKA picking out some of the highlights … and lowlights. More detail can be found in each of the committee members reports which you also have received.

Starting with the ‘lowlights’ we are obviously still being impacted by COVID although not as severely as in 2020 when almost everything stopped.

On more positive notes the Association continues strongly with 247 members, only one down on last year.

Finances are still strong with a healthy balance of ≈£21k although this would have been even greater had we been able to run the course last year in 2020. It is still our hope and intention to be able to fund an Apiary with a permanent Club House and we are slowly building funds to accomplish that.

Despite the BBKA increasing their charges last year, when we had to absorb the cost as we could not do anything about it until the following AGM, we have decided again to maintain our current level of subscriptions and absorb that cost increase once more. Most of your dues do go to the BBKA and for BDI as can see in Peter Halford’s and Rob’s reports. It was for this reason that we changed our rules and constitution to enable us to increase dues by whatever the BBKA impose should we need to, without having to wait for the following years AGM to pass a resolution or hold an EGM.

At the beginning of 2021 it was not at all certain we would be able to run the Beginner’s Course. It represents a major revenue for the Association both financially and in terms of new members. In anticipation of future difficulties, we setup an education sub-committee, an objective for which would be the generation of a comprehensive course manual, and this was completed during the bleak mid-winter and early spring.  Armed with this document we felt that in the worst case we might be able to run the course on a one-to-one basis or in much smaller groups depending on prevailing lockdown criteria at the time. This would of course require a greater number of tutors who may well need the manual for reference. In the event the first 2 classroom-based sessions were held on Zoom and the initial ‘in-the-field’ events one to one with the very much increased number of tutors in their own apiaries. Our tutors did sterling work, and we are very appreciative of their efforts on behalf of the beginners. This all worked well and then in July we recommenced group events. The manual will stand us in good stead for the future and all new beekeepers on the course get a copy to keep so they get our association’s view and are not too confused by all the sometimes-conflicting advice they might get in books and on-line

We held the Taster Day this year in June at my apiary and had a most enjoyable day with 11 participants, including Peter Halford and Talha Dinc who came long to help.

Following on from a laudable initiative from Malcolm 2 years earlier to encourage people through their Basic Assessment, we finally managed to hold the assessment, again in my apiary to better facilitate necessary teas, coffees, brandies etc. 5 people, 4 from HWBKA and one who came up from Hastings and Rother took part. Mike Cullen, a Master Beekeeper from Hastings took us through quite gently. My guilt at not doing it earlier in my beekeeping career finally got the better of me and I too took the test of ‘beekeeping manhood’.

In terms of other events held throughout year they have been quite severely curtailed. Committee Meetings have been held on Zoom as Peter Leswell has had to maintain a strict isolation regime. There were no country fayres we could attend. BeeBanter was off the menu until it re-commenced in the latter half of the year. Attendance at BeeBanters has been somewhat down compared to the past, no doubt because of people’s legitimate concerns over either getting infected or spreading infection. Last month Talha managed to organise a very successful wax workshop which Helen Hadley led, and Sandy Infield hosted in her spacious studio. On the 8th December he has organised our annual Christmas Dinner at the Middle House in Mayfield. We hope you will be able to attend.

Our Association Apiaries are in mostly good fettle, although it has been a tricky year for many beekeepers as indicated in Keith & Steve’s report about Slab Castle. We heard in Jonathan Coote’s Apiarist article about the winter losses. We had a warm February causing the colonies to build quickly and early, followed by a colder dry spell and then a colder wet spell and some colonies never really got up to speed. My own honey crop as with the Associations was less than half the usual.   

Nonetheless Slab Castle is going into the winter with 10 colonies and much work has been done over the year maintaining it and the equipment.

Our lease from WDC for the Horsted Green Apiary was increased to 12 colonies in exchange for which they wanted our assistance with promotion, and you may have seen articles in Ashdown Living Sussex Country Living. I took over from Steve running the Apiary mid-way through the year as the combination of running Slab Castle and Horsted with all the travel that entailed was getting too much. Steve was very largely responsible for setting up the splendid facilities at Horsted for which we owe him a debt of gratitude. There was a very successful queen rearing activity held at Horsted and led by Helen Hadley and Malcolm. We used a particularly vigorous colony of nice gentle bees and produced some 30 or so queens which were given out to various members. We plan to hold something similar next year with more emphasis on teaching the craft. We will also be raising 10 nucs of bees with the very generous assistance of John Miller, to supply future new beekeepers on the course. A small part we can play in reducing the need to import bees from abroad along with whatever plague they might bring in with them.

As mentioned above, it is an awful lot of work running the association apiaries and we hope next year to be able to enlist some permanent or semi-permanent assisting teams to help share the burden and perhaps as a teaching experience too for those less experienced, to learn from the likes of Steve and Keith. There will be a form sent out and at the AGM for those who would like to express interest.

The Apiarist is going out quarterly ‘jam packed’ thanks to the sterling work of Paul with his expertise in DTP

AHAT - fortunately there has been very little activity on the Asian Hornet front, due in no small part to the continuing vigilance of beekeepers nationwide and of course FERA.

The website continues to support our activities and membership very well. The advent of booking forms for events and the eR2 system making life much easier for our Membership Secretary Peter …although it is still a great deal of work he does behind the scenes to keep our Association running smoothly.

SBKA has been quiet and similarly impacted by CV-19 and holding meetings on Zoom. There was no Bee Market this year but the Autumn Convention which was a hybrid live /Zoom meeting had some interesting talks particularly from the folks at Buckfast Abbey.

Having overstayed my statutory three term year as Chair by one year in extremis to get through the COVID crisis this has been my last year …honest!

It’s been fun, an honour and a privilege. I will still be around, however, looking after the little darlings at our Horsted Apiary.

Ecological practices could boost farmers' profits, study says

29-Dec-21 – FarmingUK

Un-bee-lievable: Welsh bee farm scoops sustainability award for carbon neutral honey

17-Dec-21 – Nation Cymru

Vulture Bees Have A Taste for Meat

16-Dec-21 – University of Massachusetts

City allotments could be as productive as conventional farms, research finds

15-Dec-21 – The Guardian

A linguistic exploration of the name Propolis

15-Dec-21 – B2B Marketing

Parasitic honeybee mite uses vibrations to sense where it is in the hive – study

15-Dec-21 – Alloa Advertiser

The Scottish Bee Company promises to increase British bee population by 20 percent - one jar at a time

14-Dec-21 – ResponseSource

Global Royal Jelly (aka Honey Bee Milk, Bee Saliva, Royal Bee Jelly) Market 2021 Manufacturer Landscape, Revenue and Volume Analysis and Segment Information upto 2026

14-Dec-21 – The Galleon

Bees provide booming business to young Kashmiri who swears by the purity of his honey

12-Dec-21 – Kashmir Reader

AP PHOTOS: Nepal's cliff honey hunters risk their lives

08-Dec-21 – Yahoo News

Climate change could severely affect bees, says study

08-Dec-21 – KentLive

Defra may approve ‘devastating’ bee-killing pesticide, campaigners fear

07-Dec-21 – The Guardian

Are insects the future for animal feed on UK farms?

06-Dec-21 – FarmingUK

Study reveals honeybee venom can cure breast cancer

03-Dec-21 – TheBrighterSide

'Smart' food waste tags and brilliant bees: The best green innovations of November 2021

01-Dec-21 – edie

New monitoring device notifies land managers of tree pest levels

30-Nov-21 – FarmingUK

RSPB: thousands of miles of wildlife-rich hedgerows at risk from farming changes

26-Nov-21 – TheEveningStandard

Scientists perplexed by flesh-eating ‘vulture bees’ that have quit pollen to feed on dead bodies

25-Nov-21 – The Independent

Bee gold: Why honey is an insect superfood

25-Nov-21 – BBC

‘Superbloom’ field of flowers to surround Tower of London for Platinum Jubilee

23-Nov-21 – ITV News

Bees may take generations to recover from one exposure to insecticides

22-Nov-21 – TheGuardian

Revealed: Europe and the UK’s vast shipments of banned, bee-killing ‘neonics’

18-Nov-21 – Greenpeace

Woodland and hedgerow creation can play crucial role in action to reverse declines in pollinators

17-Nov-21 – PhysOrg

Reduced pesticides can lead to increase in bees visiting crops

14-Nov-21 – FarmWeek

Farms harness power of predatory insects to fight pests

12-Nov-21 – FarmingUK

Un-BEE-lievable! Thrilled beekeepers discover thousands of the insects SURVIVED being buried under volcanic ash for FIFTY days on La Palma

11-Nov-21 – DailyMail

‘No one knew they existed’: wild heirs of lost British honeybee found at Blenheim

07-Nov-21 – TheGuardian

Bees, sheep, crops: Solar developers tout multiple benefits

04-Nov-21 – ValueTheMarkets

Insect populations are dying out. Here’s why that doesn’t have to be the case

04-Nov-21 – Science Focus

Work begins to develop commercial lure to combat CSFB

02-Nov-21 – FarmingUK

Asian Hornet nest found in Portsmouth

01-Nov-21 – BBKA

Honeybees use social distancing to protect themselves against parasites

01-Nov-21 – UCL News

Bee1 Sends 20,000 Welsh Bees to London’s Pall Mall

26-Oct-21 – BusinessNews Wales

Environment Bill no vote for bees in Commons

21-Oct-21 – BugLife

Almond milk ad banned for claiming it's good for the planet


Asian hornet identified in Ascot

08-Oct-21 – The UK Government

Sales of Superfood Scottish Honey Expected to Soar This Christmas

07-Oct-21 – ResponseSource

Rural honeybees fly further for food, finds study

07-Oct-21 – Countryfile

Plant-topped bus shelters installed in Halesowen to attract bees and cut carbon

07-Oct-21 – Express and Star

Defra launches the Healthy Bees Plan 2030 to help protect honey bees

03-Oct-21 – The UK Government

Natural chemical may help honeybees infected with deformed wing virus

28-Sep-21 – The Times

New green rum uses honey from local bees in Manchester

27-Sep-21 – TheDrinksBusiness

Concern as Asian Hornet found nesting near homes in British Isles for first time

17-Sep-21 – EssexLive

Jeremy Clarkson calls on Government to defend UK food supplies

15-Sep-21 – Shropshire Star

Army veteran, 80, in stand-off with council after refusing to chop down wildflower garden

15-Sep-21 – The Telegraph

They're all buzzing about bees in Toxteth

14-Sep-21 – ITV News

The “Bees and Farmers” Tour Meets Pope Francis

14-Sep-21 – SlowFood

Celebrities you didn’t know were also beekeepers

09-Sep-21 – StarsInsider

On record: Autumnal ivy bees

08-Sep-21 – The Biologist

Making a beeline between coast and Downs

06-Sep-21 – W.Sussex CC

Flies like yellow, bees like blue: how flower colours cater to the taste of pollinating insects

02-Sep-21 – Reaction

Angelina Jolie Highlights Importance of Beekeeping in New Video as Insect Population Dwindles

01-Sep-21 – People


23-Aug-21 – University of Glasgow