News from NABK

What the club is up to and the gatherings we attend or organise.


  Complete the COLOSS Spring 2021 survey

Posted 22nd April 2021

In the last decade, mainly in Europe and North America, elevated losses of western honey bee colonies have been observed but the underlying causes still remain unclear. 

In 2008, European and USA honey bee experts formed a network called COLOSS which now has more than 1,000 scientists working together in specific working groups. An epidemiological working group within COLOSS has developed a standardised questionnaire to identify the underlying causal factors of colony losses and with the aim of providing beekeepers with sustainable management strategies.

You are invited to complete the 2021 questionnaire which you will [here]. This will enable the team at COLOSS to compare your answers with that of other beekeepers, and with that data estimate the relative risk of colony losses for beekeeping decisions such as Varroa treatment, migration of colonies and comb replacement. COLOSS also aims to identify the differences in relative mortality risk between regions, which will enable follow-up research projects in specific regions.

  Annual General Meeting - date confirmed

Posted 29th June 2020

A date has been set for NABK's 2020 AGM - Saturday 21st November 2020

In light of current Covid-19 movement restrictions, it will be necessary to hold this year's club gathering as a virtual rather than an in-person event. NABK committee members are in the process of confirming which messaging platform to utilise - more information including relevant member log-on details to follow.

  An update for members on BBKA insurance

Posted 29th June 2020

After an online meeting of the Devon Beekeepers' Association (DBKA) committee last Saturday, secretary Barry Neal has sent this latest guidance on insurance for members. Over the years a number of queries have arisen about the insurance cover that BBKA has arranged for its members, so the information available for download [here] has been designed to help members understand the cover they have.

As well is the information provided here, members can also find policy documents and certificates on the BBKA website at https://www.bbka.org.uk/.

Members are encouraged to spend some time familiarising themselves with the main points covered by this beekeeping insurance plan.

 Beekeeping webinars now available

Posted 10th June 2020

NABK and the Devon Beekeepers Association to which our branch belongs normally limits the promotion of third-party commercial interests; however, as the present situation restricts all of our beekeeping activities, we are making an exception to advertise Ken and Dan Basterfield’s series of on-line evening lectures throughout the rest of the beekeeping season, starting on 9th June.

Ken and Dan regularly give popular lectures on beekeeping topics across the UK and Ireland, from local association meetings to national and international conferences.

Topics are chosen to fit with the work in the apiary, aiming to be timely and thought-provoking to inspire all those 'thinking beekeepers' out there.

These are public webinars, open for anyone to sign up to. Titles of the events currently scheduled are:

  • Vertical Split Swarm Control
  • Queen Raising Overview
  • The Importance of Drones
  • Reading Bees
  • Queenright and Broodright?
  • Preparations for a Better Season?
  • Double Brood Chamber Working
  • Bees for Honey and Money
  • Tools and Tricks…
  • Wax Processing.

The full programme can be found  by clicking [here]. Courses cost £2.50.

 The Devon Beekeepers' Virtual Show

Posted 21st May 2020

A message from show secretary, Liz Wescott.

As I sit writing this piece it is the weekend of Devon County Show. The weather is perfect. I should be in a busy marquee, enjoying watching the judging and trying to guess which exhibits have won prizes. But the Covid-19 curse is upon us and that all exists in another dimension. We are in ‘lockdown’, confined to barracks and robbed of the pleasure of socialising with fellow beekeepers and enjoying our annual competition. In these austere and demanding times we need to learn to adapt, to modify our simple pleasures so that we are not completely denied normality and there is a semblance of order to our calendar. 

I am sure you are all aware that at first Devon County Show was cancelled and postponed until the end of August. Now, the end of August date has also been cancelled and the show will take place at the usual time next year: 20th, 21st, and 22nd May, 2021. Honiton Show has been cancelled. Okehampton Show has been cancelled. Which set me thinking. What about all those beekeepers who enjoy a little bit of healthy competition? Couldn’t we, in a very limited way, still have a competition on-line and have a little bit of fun with our beekeeping?

And so The Devon Beekeepers’ Virtual Show came into being. Of course, the judging of honey and wax is largely dependant on taste and aroma so we are restricted in the classes we can have; however, I hope you will find something of interest and will enjoy submitting an entry. The closing date is 30th June 2020

I have selected judges across the county who I think have a certain expertise or interest in the field they are judging. There are children’s classes for painting, poetry and photography. Please encourage your youngsters to have a go. My three year old granddaughter has her own camera and has a keen interest in the insect life in her garden. I am hoping she will be submitting a photo in the ‘8 and under’ photography class. Please state which branch you belong to when entering and we will have a certificate for the branch with the most points. Children, if not members, will accrue points for the branch to which their parents or grandparents belong. I hope you find something of interest which will inspire you to make an entry.

All the entries will be by way of a photograph/s and so it couldn’t be easier than to click and email to me - lizwestcott@me.com. Please put the class number in the email subject box and don’t forget to say which branch you belong to. All photographs will be displayed on the Devon Beekeepers website so you will be able to see the full class before judging. The results will be published in the August edition of the Devon Beekeeping magazine. A full round up of winners photos will be in the September edition.

Fortunately, this is one virus that does not affect our bees. They are still working hard in this beautiful weather, bringing in the nectar and making honey. I am selling a lot less honey this year and I think there may be quite a few beekeepers who will be happy to bring their honey to sell at Devon County Show next year! In the meantime, let’s make the best of these unfortunate times. I hope to hear from a lot of you - very soon!

Liz Westcott

 The Devon Beekeepers' Virtual Show

Posted 21st May 2020

This year's virtual show entries are as follows:

Class 1: A honey label designed by the beekeeper to comply with current regulations, judged for marketing appeal.  Judge: Jack Mummery.

Class 2: A display of four ornamental objects made of beeswax, colouring permitted, excluding candles.  Judge: Jack Mummery.

Class 3:  Photograph, subject of interest to beekeepers.  Black and white or coloured.  Judge: Chris Utting.

Class 4:  Children’s photography, subject of interest to beekeepers.  Black and white or coloured.  Children 8 years and under.  Judge: Chris Utting.

Class 5:  Children’s photography, subject of interest to beekeepers.  Black and white or coloured.  Children 9-16 years of age.  Judge: Chris Utting.

Class 6:  Technical photograph, subject of interest to beekeepers.  Black and white or coloured with appropriate information – camera type, lens/setting and any other relevant facts.  Judge: Chris Utting.

Class 7:  An item of beekeeping equipment which has been made, repaired or adapted by the exhibitor.  Up to three photos can be submitted of one entry, together with an explanation, if required.  Judge: Mike Ticehurst.

Class 8:  A painting or drawing using any medium, of interest to beekeepers.  Judges: Maggie and John Heal.

Class 9:  Children’s painting or drawing, using any medium, of interest to beekeepers.  Children 8 years and under.  Judges: Maggie and John Heal.

Class 10:  Children’s painting or drawing, using any medium, of interest to beekeepers.  Children 9-16 years of age.  Judges: Maggie and John Heal.

Class 11:  A 3D art object made by the exhibitor such as, but not restricted to, a model, sculpture or wood carving.  Up to three photos can be submitted of one entry, together with an explanation, if required.  Judges:  Maggie and John Heal.

Class 12:  An item of sewing or embroidery, subject of interest to beekeepers.  Judge: Viv Thorn.

Class 13:  A flower arrangement of traditional or humorous composition related to beekeeping.  Up to three photos can be submitted of one entry, together with an explanation, if required.  Judge: Wendy Ashley.

Class 14:  A decorated planter or wheelbarrow containing plants of interest or relevance to bees or beekeeping.  A list of plants to accompany the entry. Up to three photos can be submitted of one entry, together with an explanation, if required.  Judge: Wendy Ashley.

Class 15:  Poetry – subject of interest to beekeepers, the original work of the exhibitor.  Judge: Rachel West.

Class 16:  Children’s poetry, subject of interest to beekeepers, the original work of the exhibitor.  Children 8 years and under.  Judge: Rachel West.

Class 17:  Children’s poetry, subject of interest to beekeepers, the original work of the exhibitor. Children 9-16 years.  Judge: Rachel West.

Class 18: Decorated cupcake on the theme of beekeeping. Judge: Tony Lindsell.

Class 19:  a poster that promotes bees and shows their importance to the environment.  Judge: Lilah Killock.


Terms and conditions

Show Secretary: Liz Westcott

All entries are by photograph and to be submitted by email to: lizwestcott@me.com

Please put the class number in the email subject box and remember to say which branch you belong to.

Entries close 30th June, 2020

No entry fee, no prizes. Certificates for first, second and third places will be posted to the first three places. Certificate for the branch gaining the most points overall. Results will be published in the August edition of the Devon Beekeeping magazine and on the Devon website on 10th August. 

All photographs will be posted on the Devon Beekeepers’ website and the winners’ photos will be published in the Devon Beekeeping magazine. 

 COVID-19: notice of apiary closure

Posted 26th March 2020

The Devon Beekeepers Association has today released guidance for those looking after honey bees during the COVID-19 outbreak. A copy of these instructions can be downloaded by clicking [here]. The DBKA also recommends that members keep up to date with latest guidance issued by the government, as it will almost certainly be subject to regular change.

DEFRA asks you as beekeepers to be responsible and to ensure that you continue good beekeeping practices, effective stock management and health checks, whilst observing the government’s guidance on COVID-19.

You should follow Public Health guidance on social distancing. Everyone, including beekeepers, should avoid gatherings of more than two people and this includes around your hives. You should maintain a distance of two metres between yourself and others to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Further government guidance is available at www.gov.uk/coronavirus.

 COVID-19: advice to beekeepers

Posted 26th March 2020

The Devon Beekeepers Association has today released guidance for those looking after honey bees during the COVID-19 outbreak. A copy of these instructions can be downloaded by clicking [here]. The DBKA also recommends that members keep up to date with latest guidance issued by the government, as it will almost certainly be subject to regular change.

DEFRA asks you as beekeepers to be responsible and to ensure that you continue good beekeeping practices, effective stock management and health checks, whilst observing the government’s guidance on COVID-19.

You should follow Public Health guidance on social distancing. Everyone, including beekeepers, should avoid gatherings of more than two people and this includes around your hives. You should maintain a distance of two metres between yourself and others to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Further government guidance is available at www.gov.uk/coronavirus.

 COVID-19: branch activity suspended

Posted 19th March 2020

In light of the latest government advice about avoiding unnecessary social contact and non-essential travel, the Devon Beekeepers Association has advised all branches to suspend activities for the foreseeable future, including training courses, apiary meetings and committee meetings.

Throughout this period, apiary teams will obviously need to continue to check on the welfare of their bees on a regular basis.

Along with instructions to place both branch apiaries and clubhouses into 'lockdown' during the COVID-19 crisis, the DBKA's general secretary Barry Neal suggests that branches consider creating a network of volunteers to provide assistance to any member confined at home - also to help by checking on other members' bees if they are unable to do so.  

This is going to be an unusual beekeeping season, but if we all help each other then hopefully our bees will not suffer too much.

For ongoing news, watch the website or join the NABK Facebook group.

Annual Honey Show schedule now available

Posted 28th January 2020

NABK members wishing to help promote this year's South Devon Honey Show, to be hosted by our association at the Dartmoor Whisky Distillery in Bovey Tracey, can download an A4 flyer [here].

For those of you that are interested in entering one of our show categories, a full schedule for the day is available [here].

Categories will include honey & comb, beeswax, craft items, cookery and mead making, with separate classes for junior, novice and more experienced beekeepers, so there really will be something for everyone.

Download a copy of the schedule to find our delicious recipes for Hot Toddy Shortbread Cookies, Honey & Whisky Cake and Honey Fudge, give them a try and then put forward your creations for judgement on the day!

South Devon Honey Show announced

Posted: 2nd January 2020

This year's South Devon Honey show will be held on Saturday 14th March. NABK will be hosting the event which, for the first time, we will held at Bovey Tracey Town Hall, home of the Dartmoor Whisky Distillery.

If you intend to drive to the event, parking is available nearby on Mary Street (postcode for satnav is TQ13 9HE). You can also find out more about travelling to Bovey Tracey via public transport by clicking [here].

Come along and meet our members and find out more about the craft of beekeeping. Enjoy a slice of freshly baked honey cake and perhaps grab a jar of honey created locally at our apiary and clubhouse on Clay Lane.

Entrance is free and offers interested parties an ideal opportunity to find out more about how the club works and how to join.

Stay updated on the event's agenda and timing by following the event page or join our NABK Facebook group.

 Facebook group created

Posted: 19th November 2019

NABK Facebook group - join today!

As a part of the broader improvements that our committee aims to bring to club-wide communication in the coming months, we have recently launched a NABK Facebook group.

In time our aim is to see this social media space as the main driver for online conversation, with members being able to chat, post relevant images & content, sell surplus equipment and so forth. We also hope to use this group page as a recruiting ground for new members and generally extend the range of our online offering.

At present the group is private and so will require interested parties to sign-up for membership. The will allow us to monitor activity in the early stages, thereby ensuring that the new addition is actually adding value.

If you have any thoughts on the sort of content that we should be promoting via Facebook (and other social media) then feel free to join the group and start a conversation. Alternatively, you can drop a private line to the NABK webmaster by clicking [here].   

Join the NABK Facebook group today!