July’s News

The beekeepers met on a sunny Sunday at the beginning of July in Whithorn. The subject for the day was beeswax.

Wax is a by-product of beekeeping – the bees produce wax to form comb for brood rearing and for honey and pollen storage. Wax cannot be re-used by the bees if it is not in the form of comb, so beekeepers look after their wax comb to save the bees the energy of making more – the reason honey is usually spun out of the wax comb.

However there are times when wax is taken from the bees (e.g. cappings from honeycomb, brace comb, irregular comb) and it can be used by the beekeeper to make all sorts of things from candles to polishes, lip balms to skin products and by artists for batik, for example.

Firstly the beekeepers learned how they can recover wax using a steam wax extractor (cleverly fashioned from a wallpaper stripper!) – this can also be done using a solar wax extractor. Then the wax requires to be filtered to remove any debris before it can be used.

Examples of candle moulds were shared and candles were made from rolled wax foundation. Some of the new beekeepers practised constructing hive frames, ready to insert wax foundation.

A great day was had by all.

The next event will be the Wonder of Honeybees, an event open to locals and visitors alike – there will be no admission fee. This is the opportunity for the general public to find out all about bees and beekeeping, the importance bees are to the food we consume, what flowers bees like, buy local honey and other bee products, see our Royal Highland Show prize exhibits and, if you are interested in becoming  a beekeeper, some information about beekeeping courses.

If you miss the Wonder of Honeybees, you will find us at Wigtown Show on Wednesday 1st August.

The Wonder of Honeybees will be held on Sunday 22nd July, 11am – 4pm, at Glen of Luce Hall, Auchenmalg.

Royal Highland Show News from Mary Pattison, Chair

Well done to our entrants. We had 14 entries and picked up 8 tickets – a fantastic achievement!

Congratulations to:

Linda Robertson

1st – 2 jars light honey
2nd – 2 jars soft set blossom honey
2nd – honey tablet
3rd – 2 jars medium honey

Shivani Rinck

3rd – 2 rolled decorated candles
3rd – needlework/artistic/decorative exhibit relating to beekeeping

George Smith

3rd – model or sculpture made from beeswax

Western Galloway Beekeepers’ Association

3rd – local association display of honey, beeswax, home produced products containing honey and/or beeswax – the theme was Ancient Egypt

Bearing in mind that we are a small association competing with others with far more experience of Royal Highland Show competitions we can be very proud of ourselves.

Thanks to all involved for great ideas, hard work and, above all, FUN.

Thanks to everyone who gave it a go.

The exhibits will be on display at our Open Day – The Wonder of Honeybees – on Sunday 22nd July at Glen of Luce Hall, Auchenmalg. Put the date in your diary and watch out for more details – all welcome!

Spring Post

CALLING ALL BEEKEEPERS – please be aware that there has been an outbreak of European Foulbrood in Dumfries. EFB is a notifiable disease and if it is suspected in a hive the beekeeper is legally obliged to report to this to the Bee Inspector.

In light of this outbreak, WGBA has organised a Pest and Diseases session which will be open to ALL BEEKEEPERS with the objective of ensuring we all know what to look for, how to treat and what our legal responsibilities are. This way we can help protect our bees, who need all the help we can give them this year in particular.

The session will be held on Sunday 3rd June at Glen of Luce Hall, Auchenmalg, 11am – 2pm. There will be no charge although there will be then opportunity to make a donation to cover the costs.

On top of that the beekeeping year has been slow to start and losses appear to have been higher than usual – so a tough time for the bees and beekeepers.

In March the winter programme finished with a session on microscopy – an opportunity to see bees under the microscope, and also to spot the signs of diseases such as Acarine and Nosema. There has been discussion about obtaining a microscope for members to use after some training.

The summer apiary visits started at the end of April on a lovely sunny Sunday in the South Rhins. 15 beekeepers gathered outdoors in the sunshine to discuss prevention and control of swarming. In particular the use of bait hives, the nucleus method of swarm control and the Snelgrove method of swarm control, what not to do! and finally swarms and the law. A great session which was followed by lunch and a peek at some bees.

Most of the new beekeepers who attended the winter study group are now working with their mentors and are excited to be working with bees for the first time. The mentors provide fantastic support and help put the theory in to practice.

Plans are formulating for the Local Association entry for the Royal Highland Show honey tent – the 1st prize came to Western Galloway in 2017 so no pressure! Fingers are crossed for that entry and the individual entries that will make their way to Ingliston on 20th June.

The next meeting will be on 3rd June for the Pests and Diseases session

February’s News

The Beekeepers meeting in January was a Beekeepers Question Time with a panel of experts answering questions from the members.

Mary Pattison, Chair, welcomed Julian Stanley, from Ayr Beekeepers, who joined Fiona Keith, from Western Galloway Beekeepers, on the panel. The questions from the members were many and varied and covered topics such as new beekeepers, varroa, overwintering, queens and swarming. Julian and Fiona demonstrated their knowledge of beekeeping by answering all questions put to them.

The panel members also gave a short talk on a subject of their choice. Julian’s topic was “Fortress Hive” and he made a great analogy with Edinburgh Castle to demonstrate how the colony keeps the queen safe. Fiona’s topic was “Propolis”, which is collected from trees and buds and is used by the bees as an antibacterial as well as to stop draughts in the hive. Propolis is also used in health foods.

Another great beekeepers question time! Mary thanked Julian and Fiona for sharing their knowledge.

The study groups are up and running with a total of 18 beekeepers covering “Introduction to Beekeeping” over 8 weekly sessions. In addition some of the more experienced beekeepers are studying for exams in March. Lots more knowledge to help us look after our bees this summer – all that is now required is some warm and dry weather!

A programme of apiary visits is planned for the summer and each meeting will have a topic, from pests and diseases to skep making. The summer meetings are open to members only, so if you are not a member and would like to be involved, please contact the Association via the website – Contact Us

The next meeting will be on Monday 26th February at Glenluce Bowling Club starting at 7pm. Dru Hatcher and George Pattison will remind the members how they should be preparing for the first inspection of their bees in the spring.

January’s News

Beekeepers gathered before Christmas for their Christmas social.


Before tucking in to some lovely treats (mostly made with honey) and some bee chat, Mary and George Pattison did a demonstration of how to make Waxed Fabric Food Wraps – a brilliant alternative to cling film for wrapping sandwiches etc.


The equipment was set up – squares of cotton/linen fabric, beeswax, a baking sheet, paintbrush, a heavy iron, baking parchment. George demonstrated how to use the warm iron to melt the wax in to the fabric, then the members each made their own waxed fabric food wrap – yet another byproduct of beekeeping!


Mary and George were thanked and the socialising continued.


2018 got off to a busy start with the Introduction to Beekeeping Study Group, a course of 8 weekly sessions designed with newcomers/novices in mind. The new beekeepers have started out very enthusiastically and will be well prepared for their first apiary visit in the spring.


The next meeting will be Beekeepers Question Time on Monday 29th January at Glenluce Bowling Club starting at 7pm. The panel of experienced beekeepers will answer questions from the audience, and the panel members will also give a 5 minute talk on a subject of their choice. This will be an interesting evening suitable for beekeepers of all experience – please come along if you are a beekeeper or if you are interested in beekeeping.

November’s News – Honey Show Results

Results of the annual Honey Show which took place on 27th November. The judge was Alan Riach, President of Scottish Beekeepers Association

Light Honey – 1 Jim McColm, 2  Linda Robertson

Medium Honey – 1  Fiona Keith, 2  Linda Robertson,  3  Jim McColm

Creamed/Soft Set Honey – 1  John Rennie, 2  Linda Robertson

Naturally Set Honey – 1  Dru Hatcher, 2  Jim McColm, 3  Kathy Scrivens

Chunk Honey – 1  John Rennie

Heather/Heather Blend Honey – 1 Linda Robertson, 2  John Rennie

Honey judged on aroma and taste – 1  John  Rennie, 2  George Pattison, 3  Michael McCabe

Frame of Honey – 1  John Rennie, 2  Jim McColm

Honey Gingerbread – 1 Mary Pattison, 2  Fiona Keith, 3  Kathy Scrivens

Photographic Print – 1  Susan Dempster, 2  John Rennie, 3  Fiona Keith

Home Made Item of Beekeeping Equipment: 1  Dru Hatcher, 2 Mark Mitchell, 3  Linda Robertson

4 Candles – 1  Dru Hatcher, 2  Mark Mitchell. 3  John Rennie

Gift Item – 1  Younus Nur, 2   George Smith, 3  Dru Hatcher

Trophies were presented by Alan

Points Cup for exhibitor with most points scored across all classes: John Rennie

Jim McColm Cup for best honey exhibit in show: Fiona Keith

Newton Stewart Cup for Novice with most points across all classes: George Pattison

Tankard for winner of photographic class: Susan Dempster

Glenrazie Shield for Best exhibit in show: Susan Dempster

Congratulations to all prize winners

Alan commented on the high standard of the exhibits and encouraged the members to enter the Royal Highland Show and Scottish Honey Show in 2018. Mary Pattison, Chair, thanked Alan for travelling to Western Galloway and for sharing his hints and tips on how to prepare the perfect exhibit

The next meeting will be the Christmas social, which will include a demonstration of how to make wax fabric food wraps, using beeswax, and will be on Monday 18th December at Glenluce Bowling Club starting at 7pm

October’s News

The winter programme of meetings started on Sunday 8th October when the Scottish Beekeepers Association touring lecture was given by Tony Harris, NBD, a bee farmer based on the Moray coast where he manages 150 hives for honey production and the sale of queens and nuclei.

Dru Hatcher, Chair, welcomed Tony, members and their friends along with members from Ayr Beekeepers and South of Scotland Beekeepers. It was great to see such a good turnout.

Tony’s topic was Queen Rearing and Selection. He has been selecting and rearing local queens on the Moray coast for several years and shared, in some detail, his experience in selecting queens to breed from, his queen rearing set up and the use of mini mating hives. Tony also emphasised the importance of healthy drones in the equation. There were lots of questions which demonstrated an interest in this topic which is important to all beekeepers.

Mary Pattison, Vice Chair, thanked Tony for sharing his experience and the beekeepers who had travelled a distance to support the lecture.

There was an opportunity for lots of “bee chat” over a cuppa and a beautiful spread laid on by the members.

The next meeting will be on Monday 30th October at Glenluce Bowling Club starting at 7pm. This will be the AGM, which will include a summary of the year past and plans for the year ahead, and all members and anyone interested in beekeeping will be welcomed. This will be followed by a talk by Martin Donaldson on how technology can be used to monitor beehives.


Autumn/ Winter Schedule 17/18

Autumn/Winter 2017/2018 – dates for your diary

Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th September – Scottish Beekeepers Convention – Ayr Racecourse

Not to be missed!!  For more information see              info@sbaconvention.co.uk

Sunday 17th September – deadline for applications for SBA module exams

Sunday 8th October at 7pm, Glenluce Bowling Club – SBA Lecture Tour Speaker

Speaker – Tony Harris, NDB, a bee farmer based on the Moray coast in Scotland, UK, where he manages 150 hives for honey production and the sale of queens and nuclei.  Tony is a Scottish Expert Beemaster and he holds the National Diploma in Beekeeping (NDB) qualification. He teaches beekeeping at all levels and gives presentations and lectures to community and beekeeping groups on all matters relating to bees, beekeeping and the environment. He is a previous secretary of the Scottish Beekeepers Association (SBA), a qualified Scottish Honey Judge, a British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) Correspondence Course tutor and a regular contributor to beekeeping publications in the UK and abroad.

Tony’s topic – Queen Rearing and Selection

Tony has been selecting and rearing local queens on the Moray coast for several years and he will share his experience in selecting queens to breed from, his queen rearing set up and the use of mini mating hives.   

Monday 30th October at 7pm, Glenluce Bowling Club


followed by WGBA member Martin Donaldson who will tell us about hive monitoring using technology

Monday 6th November – closing date for Honey Show entries – there’s something for everyone!

Saturday 11th November  SBA module exams

Monday 27th November at 7pm (entries to be in place between 6.00pm and 6.30 pm), Glenluce Bowling Club

WGBA Honey Show. Schedule available from any committee member.

Honey judge – Alan Riach, SBA President

Monday 18th December at 7pm, Glenluce Bowling Club

Speaker – Margaret Adams – All Things Pollen                              

and Christmas Social

Mid January – mid March (one evening session per week)

Study groups – SBA Basic Beekeeper and SBA modules

Dates to be arranged depending on demand            

Monday 29th January at 7pm, Glenluce Bowling Club

Hopefully Beekeepers Question time                     

Monday 26th February at 7pm, Glenluce Bowling Club

Speaker to be arranged                                                                       

Monday 26th March at 7pm, Glenluce Bowling Club


Speaker to be arranged                               

Autumn News

The summer is well and truly over and it is time to put the bees to bed for the winter. The summer was not kind to the bees, mainly due to the inclement weather much reducing their foraging opportunities. The Rosebay Willowherb was early and passed quickly, then the heather blossomed in the rain! The saving grace might just have been the Himalayan Balsam which is still coming in, and hopefully there will be some good weather for the ivy, the final crop of the season. The bees have managed to bring in some stores but beekeepers will need to ensure that their bees have sufficient stores to see them through the winter – a standard colony requires around 35lb of honey to ensure the survive through to the spring blossoms. Early autumn is a good time to treat Varroa mites to ensure that the mite population is low over the winter.

The beekeepers were delighted to be involved in the RHET Food and Farming days at Lochinch 21st and 22nd September. Around 250 youngsters from Stranraer Academy and Douglas Ewart High School, along with teachers and RHET volunteers, heard all about bees, the beehive, pollination and the waggle dance (and a few joined in the waggle dance!), honey and honey tasting. A brilliant couple of days and a great opportunity to spread the word about how important bees are for the environment and our food supply.

The winter programme of meetings starts Sunday 8th October when the Scottish Beekeepers Association touring lecture will be given by Tony Harris, NBD, a bee farmer based on the Moray coast where he manages 150 hives for honey production and the sale of queens and nuclei.  Tony’s topic will be Queen Rearing and Selection. He has been selecting and rearing local queens on the Moray coast for several years and he will share his experience in selecting queens to breed from, his queen rearing set up and the use of mini mating hives.

This meeting is open to all beekeepers and anyone interested in bees and beekeeping. Glenluce Bowling Club, Glenluce, Sunday 8th October starting at 7pm. All welcome.

August News

It’s been another busy summer for the bees and the beekeepers

The good spring weather gave the bees a good start to the season and nectar and pollen were plentiful, but that did result in more phone calls from the public about swarms – these swarms were dealt with by the members where possible. The summer crop was mixed, again due to the weather, as the bees had good days to forage for nectar, but as many wet days when they are confined to the hive and eat the stores!

As well as looking after their bees, the beekeepers have had a busy programme of events

Monthly apiary visits were well attended. New and experienced beekeepers always learn something from these meetings which are an opportunity to chat about what’s been happening with the bees and what to plan for over the coming month

Some new beekeepers worked with their mentors over the summer – this is the best way to learn as the bees don’t read the books!

Royal Highland Show Honey tent saw 1st prize success in the Local Association class and a 2nd and 3rd for two of the members

An information display at Wigtown Show was a new venture this year and, despite the weather, the beekeepers were kept busy with lots of good enquiries, especially from the youngsters, many of whom have recently done projects about bees at school

The Wonder of Honeybees at Castle Kennedy Gardens saw a great display of information about bees and beekeeping, honey and other products of the hive, pollination, bee friendly plants and beekeeping equipment. The stars of the show however were the bees in the observation hive – it’s great to get a wee peek in to a hive to see the bees at work. The beekeeper guest scarecrow this year was “The Donald”

Plans for the autumn/ winter are under way with guest speakers, the Honey Show and study groups for both beginners and experienced beekeepers to be organised. We hope to see a few new faces at these meetings, from the enquiries made at Wigtown Show and Castle Kennedy. There will be a great opportunity to work with RHET who are organising “Food and Farming” days for local school pupils during September

If you would like to become a beekeepers, please come along to the autumn/ winter meetings and study group so that you can then be ready to work with a mentor next season. Find out more and contact us via our website  www.wgba.co.uk