Members Meeting Reminder:

Members Meeting Reminder: This is a reminder that we will be holding a member’s meeting on Friday 23 March at East Challow Village Hall starting at 7.30, the speaker is Chris Park and the topic is Making Mead and Traditional Honey drinks.


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Asian Hornet Update:

Asian Hornet Update: The experience of Martyn Hocking, the Woolacombe beekeeper who correctly identified the Asian Hornet last year, led to an event in Devon which was attended by local beekeepers and members of the NBU. Here we show you the video of Martyn Hocking’s talk at Harberton Village Hall

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Next Beginners Evening Class

New Beginners Evening Class: Introduction to Beekeeping

Vale and Downland Beekeepers Association is pleased to announce that their well established and highly informative evening classes for Beginners will be starting again on Thursday 11 January 2018. The course includes:

Membership to the association
Tuition on the theory of beekeeping
1 day practical workshop on making up your equipment
Mentoring through your first season with bees
Weekly practical sessions of handling bees at our association apiary.

Numbers are limited, please contact Lilian Valentine by email or tel: 01235 767524 for more information and registration details.

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Our Annual General Meeting, will be held on 20th October 2017, at 7.30pm, in East Challow Village Hall, Main Street, East Challow, OX12 9SR. This is your Association. It can only keep running if people are willing to volunteer a little of their time to be involved. The main business of the evening will be voting on your new committee followed by a talk by Samantha Chapman on ‘Demystifying the Modules’ where she will explain how the theoretical exams in beekeeping are organised.

Our final Association meeting for the year will be on November 24th at East Challow Village Hall, at 7.30pm, where Lilian Valentine and Michael Havard-Bilton will be doing a double act, talking about the manufacture of various cosmetics. This promises to be a very entertaining evening with practical demonstrations.Sadly, we have lost our normal venue for meetings for the foreseeable future, so the AGM will be held on 20th October 2017, at 7.30pm, in East Challow Village Hall, Main Street, East Challow, OX12 9SR. Our November meeting on 24th November will be held at the same venue.

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Reminder from the VDBKA Librarian

Reminder from the VDBKA Librarian – Samantha Chapman

As the darker evenings start to creep in on us and the practical beekeeping starts to wind down for the winter, don’t forget the wealth of material we have in the VDBKA library. Winter is a great time to catch up on your bee-related reading, and learn a few new things whether for interest or to prepare for one of the BBKA practical/theory exams.

The list of books is available on the website -

- a few books have been added over the last couple of years to bring the selection in line with the recommended reading on the BBKA booklist. I will be bringing a selection of books to most of the winter association meetings, starting with the AGM on 20 October.

If there is a specific book you wish to borrow, then let me know – Email me – and I can reserve it and bring it along to that meeting, or future ones. Books are free for members to borrow, and there is no time limit on the borrowing of books (within reason).

Finally, a reminder to those members who currently have books on loan from last winter – please could you return them, either at the next winter association meeting or by arrangement with me, so that they are available for others.

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Fun Honey Show

Dear member

It’s not long now until this year’s Fun Honey Show, at Stonehill Barn in Abingdon, on 7th October 2017. Just a reminder that all exhibits must be in place so that judging can start at 3.30pm so doors will be open at 2.30 to receive exhibits.   This year our expert judges will be Mr and Mrs Jon Davey.  This is always a great day out for all the family, and everyone is welcome.  It costs nothing to attend, or to enter into the show.

As usual there will be lovely food available, and we have also arranged for a visit by The Piggy Squire who will be offering a range of barbeque foods, including a vegetarian option.  This costs £5.00 a head, and we would be grateful if you could order and pay for this in advance,  so that he knows how many to cater for.   We will be subsidising this out of our Social Fund.  Please send a cheque to for the number you require, made out to Vale and Downland Beekeepers’ Association Social Fund  by 1st October 2017.   As usual,  we would love for members to bring and share any salads or desserts they would like,  please inform Lilian of any dish that you decide to bring, in order that we do not have too many duplicate dishes.

We are all looking forward to seeing you with your exhibits.


From your Committee

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NBU Update – Asian Hornet Identified in North Devon

October 2017 – Asian Hornet Identified in North Devon

Please be aware that we are experiencing a high volume of calls so please use the below guidance for all enquiries relating to Asian hornet sightings.

The National Bee Unit has confirmed a sighting of the Asian hornet in North Devon which was spotted by a beekeeper in their apiary on the 18th September 2017. The contingency response has been initiated and a press release has been issued by Defra.

Beekeepers within the area of the outbreak will be contacted by Bee Inspectors in order to carry out apiary inspections and to hang out traps and we ask for full your co-operation during these visits.

About the Asian hornet

The Asian hornet is smaller than our native hornet and poses no greater risk to human health than a bee. However, they do pose a risk to honey bees.

Work to identify, destroy and remove any nests is already underway, which includes:

• opening a local control center to coordinate the response;

• deploying bee inspectors across the area, and;

• readying nest disposal experts who will use pesticides to kill the hornets and destroy any nests.

Further guidance on the Asian hornet can be found on the Asian hornet pages of BeeBase where you will find a very useful Asian hornet ID sheet and Asian hornet poster which is available for identification purposes.

Our best defence against the Asian hornet is to quickly detect any arrivals and prevent them from establishing and traps are the best way to help aid detection. When monitoring for the hornet, please use both sweet and protein based baits in separate traps as the nest may still be expanding and requiring protein to feed it’s young. We have designed A simple monitoring trap for the Asian hornet and an Asian hornet trap making video to help assist you in doing this.

You can now report sightings with your smart phone or tablet, by using the ‘Asian hornet Watch’ app for Androids and iOS. The app also uses GPS which allows the user to submit the exact location of their finding, allowing any confirmed sightings to be followed up quickly and efficiently.

Alternatively, you can submit your sighting by email. When doing so, please include as much information as possible, including where you saw the sighting, name, contact number/ address and if possible an image. Send your sightings to:

All records received are reviewed by entomologists at Centre of Ecology and Hydrology and credible records passed on to us at the NBU for further investigation.

Finally you can also use the online recording form which can be found at

Please could all media enquiries be directed to the Defra press Office: 0208 225 7510

We thank you in advance for your co-operation.

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AGM – Venue Update

Sadly, we have lost our normal venue for meetings for the foreseeable future, so the AGM will be held on 20th October 2017, at 7.30pm, in East Challow Village Hall, Main Street, East Challow, OX12 9SR. Our November meeting on 24th November will be held at the same venue.

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NBU Update – High Mite Levels in Colonies

June 2017 – High Mite Levels in Colonies

In some regions of the UK, colonies are starting to show symptoms of high levels of Varroa mites, for example wing deformities and perforated cappings. Therefore, it might be prudent to start monitoring colony mite populations and information on how to do this can be found on page 15 of the Managing Varroa booklet. Also, the Varroa calculator can be used to help calculate your estimated mite population in your colonies:

If your colonies have a high amount of Varroa, i.e 1000 mites after calculating it from the average drop, you may want to treat them with a registered varroacide. Suitable treatments where brood is present would include:

Apilife Var;
Mite Away Quick Strips (MAQS) and;

If you wish to use an oxalic acid based product then a broodless condition should be created first. Additionally, if you have honey for human consumption on the hives, remember that MAQs is currently the only registered product which can be used. When using any medicines it is important to remember to always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

*Mite resistance to these products have been recorded and so a resistance test (the Beltsville test) should be carried out before using the product.

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Evening Summer Meetings 2017.

Evening Summer Meetings for anyone interested in keeping bees.
The Vale & Downland Beekeepers’ Association will once again hold 4 evening meetings during the season for beginners and the public. If you are interested in beekeeping this is your chance to come along and have a chat with one of our experienced beekeepers. These meetings will be held on Wednesday 3 May, Wednesday 7 June, Wednesday 5 July and Wednesday 2 August, all starting at 19:00.  If you know of anyone who would be interested in attending any of these meetings please contact Lilian Valentine on 01235 767524 or email  Venues for these meetings will be decided upon nearer  the time. If you cannot make a Wednesday evening please contact Lilian and we will see if we can arrange another evening.

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