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.
Cadeirydd / Chairperson: – 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 – Lindsay Hughes
Lindsay is creative designer at Willow and Stag jewellery studio. Formerly she worked in Education and as an acupuncturist and Traditional medicine practitioner, where she spent a number of years working at sea and travelling the world on luxury yachts and cruise ships.
Upon return to the UK Lindsay was ready for her next challenge and started keeping Honey bees under the guidance of the SCBKA mentorship scheme. She also keeps a small menagerie of pets, including horses, chickens, runner duck and a cat named Merlin- after the Welsh wizard from the tales of King Arthur and Camelot.
Lindsay has been Secretary for SCBKA since 2018.
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 – Jacqui Cliff
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.
Acting Apiary Manager – Julian Hunter
During my working life I spent the first 7 years training as an Industrial Research Chemist, something which left me with both a dislike and 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 14 * 12 brood boxes (pretty novel at that time). More recently I have been experimenting with Warre hives and in the cause of research, another variety of top bar hive, an African hive was added to my apiary – ‘God forgive Monty Don’ 🙂 . In 2018 I built two log hives. I populated one with a small cast at the end of 2019 and left the other as a bait hive. In 2020 I added 2 WBC’s. The plan is to try to compare all the hive types against each other for such things as ease of management, bee health and survival of the bees then I can at least give a first-hand opinion without just requoting others. I have already had 3 colonies abscond from the African hive and choose bait hives elsewhere J
I now have a second Apiary at the Brymbo Heritage Trust site, and this has training facilities which are at the disposal of SCBKA (subject of course to booking with the Trust).
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 5 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, and to date they are! So perhaps not the norm for a beekeeper but some of these less orthodox activities provoke a lot of opportunity for both learning and lively discussion, and they are most certainly increasing in popularity.
Book a visit to my apiary and decide for yourselves 🙂
Trysorydd / Treasurer – Barry Hayes
In 2014 I rowed across the Pacific Ocean unsupported as part of the world’s first human-
powered race across that ocean. As a post room worker in a bank with no prior rowing experience and no money, this leap of faith changed my world and it sparked a life of adventure. I love taking on these expeditions, however I discovered that when I returned to the UK from the longer trips, I struggled to adjust to normality and found I was having problems with my mental health, which developed into full blown depression. That is, until I found beekeeping.
I started helping out at a local apiary in 2019 with SCBKA Trustee Julian Hunter as my mentor. I started for no other reason than to support a local project – what I got was a place of solace, and a practice that cleared my black cloud and allowed me to focus. Those funny little black bees seem to keep me calm, even if they sting me!
As a new beekeeper I’m limited in my beekeeping knowledge and my beekeeping beliefs are still at the formative stage, however so far I am firmly coming down on the side of a synthetically chemical-free approach to looking after the bees wherever possible. It seems as beekeepers we are constantly learning and evolving and I have loved the process and my short journey so far.
Outside of Beekeeping I am a motivational speaker, and have recently helped to build an adventure business that we hope will allow people with various health problems to take on some of the most extreme adventures known to man.
Minutes Secretary – Cathy Williams
Beekeeping has been in my father’s family for generations and I spent many summer holidays as a child in a fragrant haze of honey and beeswax helping my aunt to extract her harvest. When she gave up beekeeping after more than 60 years, and no-one else in the family was taking it on, I decided my turn had come. Keeping bees in the flatlands of Norfolk where my aunt lived is very different from keeping them in the hills of North Wales, so I joined SBCKA and took a Beginners’ Course before acquiring my first colony in 2013. I now have a small apiary in the back garden, overlooking Moss Valley Country Park. On a sunny day can watch my bees from the kitchen window.
I usually maintain four colonies on double brood over winter and they proliferate at a great rate in spring and summer, with a good range of forage from winter heather and willow early in the year through to ivy in late autumn. Although I would like to raise AMM bees I live in an area where there are other beekeepers with different approaches to mine and my queens fly off and consort with all kinds of unsavoury types, so at the end of the season I select and keep the best queens and dispatch the rest. My bees are flourishing, giving me plenty of honey and a great deal of pleasure. I’m married to John, who is an Associate Member, and we have five adult children and a growing tribe of grandchildren. In between times I work for an educational charity and I’m a part-time chaplain at Coleg Cambria.
WBKA Representative – Caroline Mullinex
I have been keeping bees for 9 years and live in Llangollen. I currently run 12-14 colonies in various out apiaries and, when time allows, I am studying for the BBKA Modules.
I have served on the South Clwyd committee since 2012 and have previously served as both minute secretary and programme secretary.
I am now one of the Association’s WBKA delegates, attending WBKA Council meetings to represent South Clwyd, and vote on matters appropriate to Council.
I am also the WBKA Exam Secretary, with responsibility for modules and higher practical assessments in Wales, and have just been elected as a WBKA Trustee and as their Learning & Development Committee Lead.
Looking forward to retirement and having more time!