Welcome to Sue and Mick's Natural Beekeeping blog.

Sue started beekeeping with our neighbour, Jim in this beautiful coastal village of Welcombe on the North Devon/Cornwall border. They both decided to start beekeeping in 2009 and began to attend apiary meetings of the Holsworthy Beekeepers Association. They signed up for the course they were running over the winter and started this, along with another neighbour, Richard, in January 2010.
It was a very good course, but they were all uncomfortable with some aspects of conventional beekeeping. They then came across Phil Chandler and his Barefoot Beekeeper book and website. This way of beekeeping uses Top Bar Hives which are the type used all over Africa, The Caribbean and many other places in the world. They predate the conventional hives that are used in most developed countries by hundreds of years. The bees build natural comb onto top bars and are managed with as little intervention as possible.
Sue and Jim realised that The Yarner Trust, in our own village, was running a Natural Beekeeping course, with Phil as tutor, in April 2010, what a coincidence ( or is it synchronicity? ). Anyway they both signed up and Yarner asked if they would be prepared to look after the bees for the courses and house them in Sue's field. Jim and Sue decided to say yes and the hunt was on for a nucleus of bees that would be ready in time for the course.
This was not an easy task. No one knew, at that stage, how their colonies had fared over the severe winter and most people had a long list of people already for their nucleii. Beekeeping has become very popular recently with many people realising that bees are in trouble and need our help. Also, as they learned more, they realised that there was a lot of prejudice amongst some conventional beekeepers against Top Bar Beekeeping. Oh dear 'politics', even in beekeeping! This, unfortunately, meant that some beekeepers said they wouldn't sell bees to go in a Top Bar Hive. They also needed a couple of hives to start the apiary off.
After a couple of months of phone calls and headaches Phil managed to source a nucleus of bees and Dave Baker, one of the Yarner Trustees, made 2 Top Bar Hives. So, they were off!
The weekend course with Phil went ahead and was great. Sue & Jim were now very 'green' beekeepers. They had quite a lot of problems over the first 2 months, mostly to do with the fact the bees were in conversion from 1/2 Dadant frames to Top Bars. They then got a second nucleus, which were on Top Bars already. These came from Heather Bell bees on the Lizard.
They began keeping a small book, with notes to each other, in the hive. It served as a record of everything they did and how the bees were doing. Unfortunately there was a leak in the roof of one of the hives and the book got wet. Hence the birth of this blog. They added all the notes from the book on here and have since used this as the record of the progress of the apiary.
In May 2013 Jim moved to Herefordshire and we agreed to change the name of the blog to Sue and Mick's Natural Beekeeping as, over the past year, Mick has become more and more interested in and involved with the bees.

Phil Chandler (The Barefoot Beekeeper) website which has links to UK courses and Phil's books etc:

Heather Bell bees - source of Top Bar nucleii although very expensive. It's probably better to try and catch a swarm locally:

Black Native Queens:

Varroa Mesh:
Flash band for hive roof:

Shellac flakes or buttons, they also sell thinner:

Shellac thinner for making up a shellac coating for the inside of a hive, they also sell shellac:

Good quality affordable suits and equipment:

Top Bar hive tools:

Top Bar Hives and Nucleus Boxes:

Paul Holdaway, in our village, makes the hives and nucleus boxes shown in our blog post of 24th March 2017 - the picture taken in the hall. His phone number is 01288 331252

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Atlantic Coast Friends of the Bees Newsletter June 2013

Here is our latest newsletter. If anyone, who is not part of the group yet, plans to come to any of our meetings, please contact me first in case of any changes.

Atlantic Coast Friends of the Bees Newsletter June 2013

The local TBHs seem to have come through the winter very well in comparison to most bees in the area. We know of 7 hives in our group and out of those, it seems, only one has been lost. That was one of our hives. However, our remaining hive swarmed this week and we caught them, so we are back up to 2 hives again. We're getting better at catching swarms and would be very happy to come and assist if you come across any swarms, or hear of any, providing it's a convenient time.
Here is the video of our recent escapade:
Next Meeting
Saturday 31st August at 3.30pm
Our next meeting will be at Essie & Richard Nichols home, Shernick Lodge, Red Post, between Holsworthy and Bude on the A3072: http://www.seasonsharvest.co.uk/. On Google maps it's marked as 'Season's Harvest': http://goo.gl/maps/FvbG3
They have a very nice 5 acre smallholding with chickens and 2 TBHs. They might possibly have some vegetables/eggs for sale.
Members List
As requested at the last meeting, I have attached a list of members with location, email address and phone number, where I have it. Please check your entry and let me know if there are any errors, or omissions.
Meeting with Phil Chandler, The Barefoot Beekeeper
At 6pm on Sunday 6th October at The Old Smithy Inn
Another request at the last meeting was to ask Phil if we could meet up with him during the next course in October. I put it to him and he said yes. So we will meet upstairs at The Old Smithy Inn for a fairly informal question and answer session. Nearer the time I will need to know numbers and if you intend to eat at the pub after the meeting. Phil will be staying on an extra night in Welcombe, especially to meet up with us and give us the benefit of his vast knowledge on the subject of Natural Beekeeping, so please make an effort to come. I also thought it would be nice if we all contributed perhaps £2 - £3 each household for his meal and drinks that evening.
Jim Morrison and his family are settling down in Herefordshire. We are going to miss them terribly, both as neighbours and Jim as fellow beekeeper. He's gone off with the super hive he made with Mick and hopes to get set up there soon. Since we caught the swarm last year, Mick has got more and more interested in beekeeping and so is now my new bee buddy.
We have now changed the name of our blog to: http://suenmicksnaturalbeekeeping.blogspot.co.uk/
Perone Hives
I thought you might be interested in these hives that are used a lot in South America. There are some people experimenting with them here and it will be interesting to see how they fare in this country: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7n3bEZgo6qU
Friends of the Bees unConvention
Is anyone interested in going to this on 9th - 11th August nr Worcester, I think there are still places? It looks great. I would love to go, but I doubt we are likely to: http://www.biobees.com/unconvention.php
Sue Dollimore

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