Llywdd / President and 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.
Trustee: – Carol Demmer
Back in 2010 I was keen on fly fishing and game shooting and wondered what I might do to redress the balance of nature. Beekeeping I thought naively. I imagined myself as 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.
Nearly 10 years on and my other 30 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.
Ysgrifennydd / General Secretary – Jayne Farrell
Cadeirydd / Chairperson
Ysgrifennydd Aelodaeth / Membership Secretary – Trish Calderbank
In 2010 we began living in North Wales near Llangwm. As we were still working up north in Bolton we initially shared our time between there and here. I am an avid gardener and am keen on being as self sufficient in vegetables and fruit as I can be. I discovered that by planting lots of pollinating plants and shrubs that the native honey bees were staying and increasing. This vastly improved productivity on my plot. By then I had developed an ambition to keep honey bees and through a friend discovered South Clwyd Bee Keepers Association. I completed the basic course in 2016 and got my first colony. Oh the worry that first winter. I am very much a hobby keeper more interested in the bees themselves than their produce and usually have about 4 colonies. However that didn’t stop me being very excited when I got my first crop in summer 2018. I harvested 9 jars! I am not a very good bee keeper and make lots of mistakes, hopefully I will continue to learn though and get better. My bees are all kept in National Hives on single brood as its easier for a lady of my stature to manage them.
Having retired in February 2018 I now also keep ducks and chickens peafowl and emus. I also like to spend time visiting my two sons, their wives and four grandchildren.
Programme Secretary – Glynis Knifton-Reed
Trysorydd / Treasurer -Peter Overmeer
Typical of the generosity and friendliness of the beekeepers of South Clwyd that they shouldask an Englisman
to be their Treasurer or was it just that I was the last person standing after the rest left for the hills! Whatever, I am happy to give something back for all the help and guidance I have received over the years.
I was introduced to beekeeping when I was given a taster day as a present. That was about 10 years ago and I have no regrets. Like all beekeepers I’ve cocked things up and made mistakes but bees are very forgiving and soon put things right. On the other hand I must be doing something right having never lost a hive over winter and won prizes for my honey in my first two years. Haven’t tried since on the principle of quitting while ahead!
Yes I do live in England, just, and am a member of Cheshire BKA as well as South Clwyd. I was a banker by profession but managed a large firm of lawyers in my later years. Believe me bees are far easier to manage and organise than lawyers. I keep my bees in National hives and in the winter months love pottering in my outbuildings, listening to the radio, making my own hives and nucs from timber I have accumulated over the years. I think it’s called ‘therapy’.
For beginners and newcomers to beekeeping never be afraid to ask questions. There is no such thing as a silly question especially in beekeeping and no one is more willing to help than another beekeeper, they have been through the same experience. Come to the meetings, even now I am disappointed if I haven’t picked up another tip and if you are stuck get in touch.
Enjoy your bees
WBKA Representative – Nan Thornley
We moved to Penley in 2014. In 2017 over a glass of wine or 2 with our neighbours , Paul and I agreed to go on a beginners beekeeping course and we found the south clwyd beekeepers one. We got our first nuc in July that year and were glad to get it through the winter alive. Paul and I now have 9 hives, a mixture of WBC and nationals. Last year was my favourite as we had 2 harvests, one from Penley in July and then we took 2 hives to the heather in August and September . We had a small harvest of mixed heather honey, which is my favourite tasting honey.
Harvesting heather honey is a challenge and we learnt a lot , like using unwired comb next time. That sums up my beekeeping, that it has been learnt by my mistakes and there are highs and lows . Recently I have been developing our cottage garden with an emphasis on pollinator plants and take great joy spotting one of our bees.
WBKA Representative – Gareth Newns
I grew up on a Farm in North Wales where I spent most of my time Fishing, Shooting, Ferreting and generally wandering the woods and fields exploring. I’ve always had a great passion for the country side and what it offers but then life happened and I got stuck in the Rat race moving from one part of the UK to the next and travelling with work.
I always had a dream of keeping Bees but my life would never realistically allow it. I moved back to North Wales, bought a small holding on the side of my Dads farm with my Wife and family and now keep Bees.
I started out with an online course but as soon as I could I took the Beginners and improvers courses with SCBKA which fast tracked me with an awesome amount of knowledge and practice. I currently have 8 Colonies which will grow year on year until I feel I have enough…
I’ve grown a pasion for AMM Bees and keep them mostly in Poly Hives but as I’m currently studying for Theory Modules and General Husbandry in Beekeeping I’ve a Warre, a WBC and a wooden National to start varying my practice and gain wider understanding of alternatives. I have sensors in most of my Hives collecting data which as a IT consultant I find fascinating and always happy to show people what the Bees are up to.
Education Secretary – Huw Evans
I have been a head gamekeeper for over 35 years, with much emphasis on conservation, wildlife and habitat control. Although my interest in bees started during my school days, like many other beekeepers it took me a long time before I ventured into keeping my own bees, in fact it was the bees that came to me. During the summer of 2011 a swarm of bees moved into a cavity under the roof of my bay window. A friendly neighbour and a local beekeeper helped me to re house them into a borrowed hive, and my bee keeping journey had begun.
Desperate to gain knowledge quickly I watched some videos on “you tube “of beekeepers inspecting their hives, wearing nothing more than flip flops a pair of shorts and a sweatband, and thought to myself, this is definitely for me, after all my bees were so friendly they followed me everywhere !! Well, after several stings and a quick dash to the doctors’ surgery to remove a bee sting from under my eyelid, before my eye completely closed up. It was several days later when 20-20 vision finally returned, and I made another journey, this time over to Wynne Jones’ to buy myself a bee suit. All this happened at a time when I was due to fly to Ireland to compete as captain of the Wales clay target shooting team.
Today I have 15 colonies of gentle, dark AMM bees kept in 3 different apiaries, two of which are at 1000ft above sea level and also above the local snow line, which makes the winters challenging for both myself and the bees. All of my colonies are kept in national hives on a brood and a half, I like the versatility this system offers me. Young queens are bred by myself, selected from suitable stock. I am not a scientist, although I do have a science degree, ( B.Sc pure mathematics ) which I found useful when trying to understand and decipher the fiercely challenging topic of bee genetics.
When I’m not attending to one of my apiaries, you’ll find me dressed in my tweeds, contently working my beloved cocker spaniels,……..old habits die hard !
Honey Show Secretary – Paul Huxley
Sharon Parry – Trustee
I grew up in Bala and spent most of my childhood hanging out of trees, hunting with my brother and cousin and fishing the local rivers and lake with my Dad for trout. I spent many a long summers day in the fields in Bala catching grasshoppers, ladybirds and Butterflies.. pending on the seasons I was always picking fruit or flowers in the local area, blackberries and hazelnuts in the autumn, daffodils in the spring and wild strawberries along the old railway line in the summer. I was at my happiest when outdoors.
I am still the same today (but a lot older) at my happiest outdoors in my wellies. I have a love for gardening and grow my own vegetables and flowers. I specifically like to grow plants for pollinators. I think bee keeping was a natural progression as I was always interested in insects specifically bees and pollinators.
I took the beginners course with SCBKA in 2016 and got my first colony. This one colony soon progressed to two then three then four and so on. I soon realised that this was an expensive but addictive hobby and quickly understood why so many experienced bee keepers have so many hives.
I took the Improver course in 2022 and I also sat the basic assessment and was so happy when I received a distinction.