Chair – Jenny Whitham
My mother was a beekeeper and my father bred butterflies so insects were always part of my youth. But it was only about nine years ago that I ventured into the world of beekeeping for myself.
I currently have eight colonies. I think the most I’ve ever had is twelve and the least, since that nervous first winter with one colony, is four.
I keep all my colonies in National hives with Happy Keeper floors. I entertained brood and a half for a couple of years but have now gone back to single brood box.
My home apiary is 1100ft above sea level on the edge of a heather moor in Llandegla. I also have an apiary in Ruthin at my business, Patchwork Traditional Foods.
Although I started Patchwork with my partner, Margaret back in 1982, I haven’t always worked full time in the business and since studying Psychology at Bangor University, I have had a number of occupations from making falconry hoods to musical instrument repair, which I studied at a college in Edinburgh.
I had a brief career as a seasonal bee inspector but after 35 years of being self-employed in the private sector it wasn’t long before I realised that a public sector job wasn’t for me!
Apart from bees I keep chickens, horses and occasionally pigs and sheep. I grow vegetables and enjoy fly fishing.
President – Frank Brown
I have been the President for several years, and will be standing down at the next AGM. I have both qualifications for this role – I am old, and have kept bees for a long time – nearly 40 years. You will notice that being an expert is not a requirement – I am still a poor beekeeper! I have always stayed at the hobbyist level – from 1 to 5 colonies.
I started when a neighbour moved away, and took his hive with him, so I thought [in my ignorance] that I needed more bees to pollinate my garden plants. Luckily, one of my uncles had just given up the craft, after many years – mainly on the heather in the New Forest so he gave me all his equipment.
I have thoroughly enjoyed all aspects of beekeeping – the nature study, the contact with other beekeepers, the honey and other products like wax, plus trying to recall my school woodworking skills when making National hives, largely out of scraps and off-cuts – some from the new floor of the village school!
Somehow [I am not sure how], I began to exhibit at the Royal Welsh Show – honey products such as cake, biscuits and preserves, and then mead which I made when there was a glut of honey. [Yes, there were good old days!]. I have had considerable success there, especially with the mead, becoming Welsh Mead Maker of the Year several times. My main rival was another member of South Clwyd, Dave Culshaw, but our rivalry was good-natured, and he brought back my exhibits for years, with no sabotage, although some honey fudge did go missing on one occasion!!
I still enjoy our meetings, and would encourage others to go to the WBKA Convention day at the end of March, and also the Royal Welsh Show – perhaps even competing there – who knows, you might also become addicted!
Vice Chair – Carol Demmer
Back in 2010 I was spending a little too much of my spare time shooting birds out of the sky and hoicking fish out of the river. I needed to redress the balance so naively I thought I’d become a bee keeper; you know, a beekeeper with one hive at the bottom of the garden producing enough honey to cover the cost of equipment and supply family, friends and my own modest needs – yes that naïve.
A few years on and my other 16 hives which are spread over 5 apiaries between Llandrillo and Llangollen are not the result of promiscuity on the part of beekeeper or bees, more the product of a growing passion for rearing native bees, which I keep in Nationals because they are ideal for ladies of a certain age.
Having retired from a working life spent in computing and manufacturing, I enjoy my garden and my house, built in 1580 but not yet finished.
Photography, golf, playing bridge, rearing pigs and chickens, cider making and being a coffee nut all have to be squeezed in around the bees and whilst I do, still, hold a firearms certificate I am happy to shoot at paper targets and catch and release the trout in the Dee.
Membership Secretary – Julian Hunter
During my working life I spent the first 7 years training as an Industrial Research Chemist, something which left me with a distrust of the potential dangers and aftermath of chemical treatments. I quickly changed career moving into IT where I worked in many roles from Programmer to Project Manager / IT Consultant before finally taking the opportunity to retire and spend more time concentrating on my hobbies.
I first started keeping bees over 20 years ago when we moved into a local smallholding, something I had planned to do for many years. I was lucky to have among my early mentors Wynne Jones of ‘C Wynne Jones Beekeeping Supplies’ and Richard Jones (then the local bee inspector). In a short course of time I was keeping up to 13 hives, and after evaluating options I moved quickly towards keeping them all on 12 * 14 brood boxes (pretty novel at that time). More recently I have been experimenting with Warre hives and now, new for 2017, and in the cause of research, another variety of top bar hive, an African hive has been added to my apiary – ‘God forgive Monty Don’ 🙂
I also practise forms of natural beekeeping and whilst for a number of years I initially started to slowly reduce the volume of chemical treatments, for the last 3 years I have used only natural treatments on my bees. At the same time I regularly monitor the varroa counts ensuring that they are maintained at a safe level. So perhaps not the norm for a beekeeper but some of these less orthodox activities provoke a lot of opportunity for discussion and are most certainly increasing in popularity 🙂
Programme Secretary – Caroline Mullinex
I took the plunge in 2011 and enrolled on a South Clwyd beginner course. I quickly became hooked (if not a little overwhelmed by all there was to learn). I came to realise quite soon that the learning just continues and even those who have kept bees for decades still come across new information and ideas!
I have been really fortunate to have had some great help and support from South Clwyd members (some of whom have probably forgotten more than I will ever learn)! One of the great joys of beekeeping for me, apart from the bees themselves, is the diversity of the people involved. It is fantastic to be involved with such an interesting, and interested, group of people.
A beekeeping convention is my idea of heaven and I take every possible opportunity to learn more and firmly believe that a mix of practical and theoretical learning are complimentary. I sat BBKA Module 1 last year and plan to continue module study but would also like, at some point to consider the General Husbandry Assessment. (I will probably need to retire to get ready for this)!
I recently took on the role of WBKA Exam Secretary in order to encourage others to use the beekeeping qualification system to improve their knowledge and practical skills.
Native Bee Champion – Steve Rose
I was born in South Wales and gained an honours degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Bath in 1974. I subsequently worked as a professional engineer in the East Midlands and started beekeeping in 2001.
As a member of Derbyshire Beekeepers Association I was an active committee member and held the post of show secretary for 6 years. Despite my commitment to showing my main interest was in queen rearing and preserving my near native bees that I had obtained locally from stocks originally sourced by Beowulf Cooper, the founder of BIBBA. The importance and advantages of maintaining the purity of the race soon became apparent and my resolve to work towards the conservation of Apis mellifera mellifera has never diminished. During my time in Derbyshire I organized several training events for new members and became proficient in queen rearing.
In 2008 I moved with my wife, Lynn, to a small holding near Corwen where I have concentrated on bee improvement and queen rearing. I am a trustee of BIBBA (www.bibba.com) and hold the post of North Wales Groups Coordinator. The groups meet at intervals and compare stock records, organise joint initiatives and swap genetic material. This has enabled me to build up to around 40 colonies from mostly locally selected stock and to take particular interest in the range of behavioural traits of bees and environmental pressures encountered even within a relatively small geographical area.
I currently teach South Clwyd’s intermediate course and represent the association at the Welsh Beekeepers Association.
Nuc Co-ordinator – Dave Roberts
How do you become a beekeeper? You start off with a pocket full of marbles. Every time you think of beekeeping, you throw away a marble and when you have lost them all …….!
I first got involved in beekeeping at school (1959) but continued thinking about bees after I left. I read all the books I could get hold of and kept thinking “shall I” then “maybe not”.
I started work but kept an interest in bees whenever possible but never took that final step. I was a forestry contractor all my working life which involved working all over the UK and Southern Ireland so there was no time for beekeeping until I packed in that side of the business.
I still found beekeeping books to read and the internet helped me to find out more about bees and keeping them. One evening I stumbled upon the SCBKA website and spotted the beginner’s course. I told my wife I was going on the course to either get it out of my system or become a beekeeper.
I am now a beekeeper and love it. I should have done it years before! I have 4 colonies but very little interest in producing a large crop of honey to sell. Just enough for the bees and me is fine. Happiness is seeing the bees emerge (from a WBC) in spring having made it through the winter.
In my nuc co-ordinator role, I try really hard to keep our bees local by linking those looking for bees with nearby sellers.
I try not to cause too much mayhem as a committee member, still do a bit of firewood selling, and am the local mole catcher in the summer months.
Honey Show Secretary – Dennis Pugh
I have kept bees for the last four years, though I have wanted to do so for decades. With retirement from over thirty years of teaching and seven of festival catering, came my chance. The fact that there was a beekeeper in the village made my transition to becoming a beekeeper even easier and I am grateful to Carol Demmer and the rest of SCBKA for making that transition painless and very, very quick.
I have currently four colonies, two in Nationals, two in WBC (more from circumstance than choice) but all on single 14 x 12 brood-boxes, as I feel they allow the colony to form a more natural Rugby-ball shape than a Soccer-ball one…personal preference as an ex-Rugby player!
As the Honey Show secretary, I coordinate Judges, stewards and helpers for our annual Show, so will be asking you all for help come October! I also am the Association microscopist, so if you need help in identifying pollens or Nosema, please get in touch.
What little time away from beekeeping I spend in gardening, baking, fly-fishing, keeping assorted poultry…too many things to mention but I generally have no problems in falling asleep.
Minutes and Education Secretary – Christine Finegan
I have been keeping bees for 3 years and have 5 colonies at the moment. My partner has kept bees for many years and he has been my mentor. All my hives are Paynes polystyrene nationals and my bees are all native black bees. I enjoy queen breeding, but also enjoy getting a good honey harvest, so there is my dilemma! I am very interested in learning about the ‘hygienic bee’ and the research that LASI (Laboratory of Apiculture and Social Insects) at Sussex University are undertaking.
I have just taken on the role of Minutes Secretary, mainly because I love admin jobs that others hate.
I am also Education Secretary, so I shall be looking after the Beginners Course admin, as well as anything else that crops up.
Away from bees, I am a part time bookkeeper and am currently studying for my AAT exams. I am passionate about knitting and crochet and belong to the Loving Hands group – a UK wide group that knits, sews and crochets for any charity that requests support, whether it be local, national or international. I enjoy table tennis, reading historical novels and walking. I also enjoy watching (not playing!!) rugby league and support St. Helens. We have a caravan and love spending time away in it with our miniature poodle – queen breeding permitting, of course
Pollinator Garden – John Beavan
I have always been a gardener, it runs in my blood and has always been my career in one way or another. Within gardening I’ve always felt a natural pull towards the food producing plants and it was through growing food that I discovered beekeeping. Since starting properly with bees in 2000 I’ve always kept upwards of 10 hives, spent years working for the NBU, travelled to a lot of European beekeeping facilities and developed a passion for teaching beekeeping to young people. I’ve worked with the SCBKA committee over the last few years to transform the teaching apiary and develop the pollinators garden at the Llysfasi site and I look forward to all we can achieve over the coming years.
Apiary Manager – Keith (Kipper) Davies
Kipper is not only on the committee for SCBKA but also the Chair of Flintshire Beekeepers Association. This year he has also taken over the role of apiary manager for SCBKA.
He has been keeping bees for over 30 years and currently manages between 25 and 30 colonies all in National boxes with brood and a half being his preferred style of management.
He is an amateur naturalist and leads walks for the Wildlife Trust. He is a licence trainer for bats.
He also owns the Coronation meadow for Flintshire. The concept of the Coronation Meadows was an idea of HRH the Prince of Wales to celebrate the 60th anniversary of his mother’s Coronation. There is one in each county in the UK.
Treasurer – David Spalding
In my professional life I am a lawyer with a special interest in land law and its many complexities which have to be resolved in my daily work but which, in theory at least, is now part-time.
My family, beekeeping, gardening and many other interests keep me fully occupied.