Jon Reese: Beekeeping in Scotland

(NOTE: Thank you to LACBA President, Jon Reese, for sharing his visit with members of the Newbattle Abbey Beekeeping Association, his visit to their apiary, and meeting the honey bees of Edinburgh, Scotland.)

Friday May 4, 2018

Kim and Jubin (Credit: Jon Reese)Bonnie and I ended our April vacation in Edinburgh, Scotland. I found there was a bee club in Edinburgh and Emailed them.  Kimberley Moore Ede responded to my email. She and Jubin Santra came and picked me up at my hotel in the Grass market square area and we went to their apiary that was a local churches property that also provides grounds for a local flower shop to grow flowers for use in their business.  Their apiary is in an out building with mail slots (3) for the bees access to the landing boards as in the picture following.  We got to open their two hives and find one queen and evidence of another.  Spring buildup is just starting.  Their bees are the dark gentle European/German bee or possibly a cross with the Scottish Black Bee.  A Candid shot of Kim & Jubin.

Then we went to their club apiary (Newbattle Abbey Beekeeping Association) which has the 4 slot apiary building above with outside hives also, the last picture.  I met their president Myriam Baete, and members David Hennessey and Malcolm Evans. Their 5 members and I sat down and had an exchange of bee customs, practices and procedures of our two clubs.  We had coffee tea and cookies which seem to be universal.

Bee Equipment storage. (Credit: Jon Reese)

Bee Equipment Storage (Credit: Jon Reese)

Bee suit room. (Credit: Jon Reese)

Their club offers bee classes.  The fee for the year-long course is £270/year and that includes one ‘foster’ hive to manage with a mentor, use all the equipment, suit, gloves, hive tools, smoker but not boots they use wellies or the rubber high top boots as it can be wet in Edinburgh.  The student is taken through a year of beekeeping and at the end a pretty rigorous test (Basic Beemaster).  All members have passed with distinction, the youngest of whom was 10.  Annual fees for the club are £10/year.

We compared the number of club members 40 and 400 and all of us were awed at the thought of being in that position.  EBC can and does teach queen rearing as one of the skills in the first year class.  I remarked, I wish we could and went on to tell of our Africanized condition of our feral colonies and the low percentage of gentle queens that would be the result of mating in our area.

We spoke a lot of varroa and their treatments are the same as ours.  They have screened bottom boards that can be closed off and make use of sticky boards or unsticky to count mite drop for mite monitoring.   

I had a great time and thanks to Kim and Jubin for taking the time to pick me up and escort me around and the others for their time.  They have a solid program.  They rent a building and the outside space you see from Newbattle Abbey College for one pound a year on a ten year lease and their new Bee Academy opens soon.  They are working on incorporating their beekeeping classes into a curriculum at the college and like Mark Haag and Pomona and Mark at Pierce College, they have an inside professor to open doors for this to happen. 

Myriam and David working hives in Edinburgh Club Bee yard moderately gentle black/brown bees…well just one chased us.  Malcolm was the only one hard at work on the scheduled tasks, weeding and cleaning up the grounds (sorry Malcolm, no pictorial evidence).   Again, that you to the Newbattle Bee Association Malcolm, David, Myriam Kimberly and Jubin for their time and effort.  Edinburgh is in good hands.

Jon and Jeremy Go to the Almonds

Jon Reese (2018 LACBA President) and Jeremy Jensen (2017 LACBA President), commercial beekeepers, checking their bees in the California Almond Orchards. (Photos by Jeremy & Jon)

Mornings in the California almond orchards.

Jon and Jeremy arrive at their first honey bee hive location.

A look in the hive.A closer look in the hive.

Jon's pensive look in the hive.

A growing colony.Almond blossoms.There's bees in these blossoms.All's well! Heading home!