On Sunday 2nd July about 25 members of FBA and DWFBA arrived at Murray Macgregor’s queen rearing unit near Blairgowrie. There was lots of car-sharing and I was lucky enough to have a lift in Stewart Kerr’s open-topped sports car which made the trip even more enjoyable!
We parked our cars near the loch and ate the picnics we had brought while looking in astonishment at the many, many nucs, mini nucs and full hives, and Murray’s assistants Jolanta and Saskia, both from Poland, finishing off their morning’s work among them.
Then we got into our bee suits and gathered around Murray, who gave a general introduction to all they did there. Rearing their own (and for sale) queens had started about 2004, when Jolanta produced 170 new queens. They now produce about 2,000 each year. Always selecting the best queens to breed from, they have produced bees which are gentle, productive and even chalk-brood free. Any colony which produces even one cell of chalk brood is removed from the site and put to work in his other apiaries. We were divided into three groups, and each group had a session with Murray sitting on a nuc with no veil or gloves, demonstrating how gentle the bees were and how youthful even 4-year-old queens were, as his system prevented them from laying too many eggs. The breeder nucs were regularly emptied of some of the brood (used for grafting etc and building other nucs) and given fresh foundation to draw out.
On a very cold and rainy day in March some of the FBA Committee Members got together to clean out and tidy up the container/store at Fairmont Hotel in St Andrews.
The store holds not only all of the items we sell to our members (frames, foundation, jars, fondant and syrup) but also the extractors that we hire out to members plus lots of miscellaneous items such as display material for country shows and some old beekeeping equipment people donate to the association.
As another year of beekeeping begins we felt it was time for a good sort out, a good tidy up and a good clean up too. They say ‘many hands make light work’ and it proved just so: we soon emptied out all of the old boxes for recycling, did in an inventory of all our equipment and generally got the container looking much tidier and ship shape.
Do remember that if you join one of the Fife Beekeeping Associations we sell to our members at cost price, so you can save yourself a lot of money on basic beekeeping equipment like foundation, frames, fondant, jars etc…..another great reason to join your local association!
Each March both of our associations (DWFBA and FBA) hold their AGMs, which are a vital part of the year for the associations. They are also a great opportunity for members of the associations to get together for a social evening. In the past the social part of the evening has been either a very interesting talk by a fellow beekeeper/expert, a quiz or a cheese and wine buffet. This year it was decided that a Honey Cake Bake Off would be a great way to celebrate us all being able to meet in person for the AGMs.
So lots of our fellow beekeepers got out their cooking aprons and set about making delicious Honey Cakes. Each cake was sampled by fellow association members and then they were able to vote for their favourite Honey Cake.
The winner of the DWFBA Honey Cake Bake Off was John Tulloch with his Russian Honey Cake and the winner in FBA was Joan Sneddon with her Honey Ginger Cake with Lemon Filling. Congratulations to both John and Joan!
Below are a few photographs taken at each AGM together with the recipes for these two delicious winning Honey Cakes.
For the first time both Fife associations hosted the Scottish Beekeepers conference on 30th September and 1st October, at Kinross Community Campus. Also for the first time the Scottish National Honey Show (SNHS) was part of the conference. I really didn’t know how many exhibits to expect and was very pleased with the response. We had 47 exhibitors and 263 entries. A record for the SNHS
After a break of two years, due to the Covid 19 pandemic, the Fife Show was finally able to go ahead in May 2022. The event was a ticketed event, which enabled the organisers to gauge the number of people attending and thus ensure there was ample space for a socially distanced event. This didn’t seem to deter anybody from attending and the show was very busy all day.
It was so lovely to actually be at a ‘live’ event again. engaging with members of the public and talking to interested parties about everything related to bees.
The observation hive proved a great hit with both children and adults alike, children are so fascinated to see live bees and they ask great questions too. Children are now being taught about bees and their importance to our environment and the effective production of food in school lessons, this is great news.
Not only was it great to engage with the public again, it was also lovely to see fellow beekeepers ‘in the flesh’, after a very long time only seeing them virtually!
The Fife Beekeepers Stand was busy all day, with lots of information and displays for everyone to read. Thank you to everyone who visited the stand and a big thank you to all those members who gave up their time to man the stand and also to Enid for providing the observation hive.
The National Honey Show was held 21st to 23rd November at Sandown Park Racecourse, Esher, Surrey. There were just over 1400 entries, which is down by about 1000 from 2019, but everyone was delighted to be back and good to catch up socially. My position there is Judges Referee and this involves appointing the judges, allocating the classes they have to judge and being available to sort out any problems. Fortunately, all were easy to remedy. It’s not just a honey show, there are lots of trade stands, lectures and workshops. I’ve posted a few photos below which might encourage some members to attend next year.
The Fife Honey Show (which is part of the Fife Flower Show) took place this year, at Leven Parish Church Hall, Durie St, Leven, KY8 4HA, on Saturday 18th September and Sunday 19th September.
The aim of the Fife Flower Show is to encourage gardeners in and around Fife and beyond, to exhibit their plants, flowers, vegetables, wine, floral art, honey and more. It’s a small show and needs support to keep it going.
Entering the Honey Show is the best way to learn and an excellent opportunity to exhibit your honey and honey products and to have them judged by a renowned honey judge (our very own Enid Brown).