The MUBKA meets on the second Friday of every month at 8.00pm in Loughry college


If you have ever been interested in keeping bees or you are curious to see what goes on inside a hive, get in touch via the contact us page


2013 Honey Bee Husbandry Survey

Please take a few minutes to complete the AFBI survey 


Queen Rearing Lecture

Mrs Ethel Irvine spoke about large loses of bee colonies in Fermanagh and throughout Ireland this Spring and attributed this to last year's bad weather which resulted in Queens not having been mated properly.


She told us that Queen Rearing was not difficult - getting Queens mated was! Mrs Irvine then gave reasons for rearing our own queens.

Mainly for good temper, laying qualities, expansion of colony numbers, optimising honey production, need to re-queen if no queen or faulty queen and lastly because a young queen is needed for overwintering every 2 years.The best time to rear queens is when the colony is crowded, normal swarming weather with plenty of pollen.

Mrs Irvine explained the process of getting eggs/larvae and showed members tools which she used. She had very kindly made out a written "Queen Rearing Timetable" and members were given a copy to keep. She ended her presentation by giving different methods of introducing the Queen.


MUBKA 2013 Honey Show

The MUBKA Honey show was held at Loughry college this year and was judged by Mr Cecil McMullan ably assisted by James Crawford.

A big thank you to everyone who exhibited which in light of the poor year was an extremely good turnout.

Highly deserved congratulations go to Alan Abraham for winning 'The Supreme Honey Award' and 'Best Exhibit in Show'. Congratulations also go to William Haffey for overall show winner with most points. Many thanks go to all members who exhibited and again improved the overall standard of competition.



Alan Abraham and his haul of winning trophies.






                                          The proud winners of the Honey Show 2013

Honey show results 2013. The full list of category winners can be downloaded here 



Home made Creams

Mrs Kathleen Hughes spoke at the September MUBKA meeting on the subject of home made creams and soaps using products from the beehive. Kathleen described how each of creams was made using a wide variety of common and less well known ingredients. From simple hair treatments consisting of only a mixture of honey and olive oil to revitalising face masks and dry skin treatments using essential oils, cucumber, grated beeswax and various seed oils.

Kathleen encouraged the audience to try the mixtures for themselves as they had taken the place of commercial soaps and creams in her home with great success. Recipes can be obtained by contacting the club. 








Honey Harvest

 If you are lucky enough to have taken surplus honey from your bees this year you will need an extractor like the one pictured here owned by our club. This machine spins the comb at high speed causing the honey to run out of the comb and collect at the bottom of the machine. The honey is then filtered and jarred. All the fine flavours and local pollens are retained giving local honey its unique taste and health benefits. 






Bayvarol and Apistan ResistantVarroa 

Are you still using Bayvarol or Apistan as your sole means of Varroa treatment? Have you checked for resistance?  

Varroa destructor mites are a widespread parasite of the Honey bee having been found in the UK since 1992. They weaken bees in development by feeding on their haemolymph leaving malformed bees. They have also been implicated in numerous viral diseases of the honey bee.

Varroa mites are known to show resistance to the active ingredients in the two registered pyrethroid treatments Flumethrin (Bayvarol) and Fluvalinate (Apistan). Resistant mites have been known to exist in England since 2002 (Thompson et al. 2002). However, their presence was only confirmed in Northern Ireland in 2011 by AFBI. Annual honey bee husbandry results from that year indicated that 92% of beekeepers in N.I. had not checked for pyrethroid resistance (AFBINI 2011 report).

Resistance can arise from the misuse of pyrethroid treatments such as long term continual use or overdosing. It can be identified by reduced mite fall and therefore the presence of high numbers of mites weakening the colony at its most susceptible time going through winter.

Testing honey bees for resistance is therefore critical if you use pyrethroids and is carried out by AFBI. The lab requires a sample of 200 live bees with known Varroa infestation to be sent to Sam Clawson, Entomology Laboratory, Newforge Lane, Belfast BT9 5PX. The bees must arrive alive to the lab within 24 hours of collection. You can deliver in person or send by first class post. It would be best to have them well parcelled to minimise buzzing and so avoid rejection by postal workers.

If you have any queries, please contact John Hill (Tel. 07741222662 or 02894453892).


Making Beeswax Candles
John Ross demonstrated at the April meeting how to make a simple beewax candle from filtered wax cappings he collected during the previous year. An ingenious wax melter/pourer fashioned from a honey jar (which he assured us could be used left or right handed) held the pieces of wax before melting in a water bath. Keeping the temperature to around 70oC he poured the wax into molds sprayed with silicone grease to allow easy removal of the candle. It is important not to heat the wax higher than this temperature or the wax may crack when it cools - or you can start a fire!


John mentioned the importance of using the correct diameter of wick for the size of candle you are making - too thick and the wax flows down the sides whilst too thin the candle will burn down the middle leaving a ridge of wax.



Whilst the candles were cooling Ernie Watterson provided us with a short talk on queen rearing using the Cupkit system. Although the system appears straightforward, grafting larvae into the cell holders may be the quickest and least invasive way to start queen cells. Plans are being made to demonstrate grafting in early summer - watch this space.  


  • The Food Standards Agency has released an update on honey regulations in N. Ireland read it here. 
  • Thornes announces a batch of orange plastic queen excluders purchased in the past 6 months may be defective; check if using that bees are not getting stuck.
  • Please fill out the 2012 AFBI Honeybee husbandry survey here.  


Winter Oxalic Acid Treatment


Around Christmas is an ideal time to treat your bees with Oxalic Acid. The safest and most effective method is to use the dribble application where a solution of Oxalic Acid is applied along each seam of bees in the winter cluster. Typically 3-3.5ml (National frames) is dribbled between the frames where bees are located up to a maximum of 35ml. As there should be little or no brood in the hive the phoretic mites will be killed by contact with the acid. Providing the solution is prepared accurately the acid should not damage the bees. The treatment should only be applied annually to the bees and is only effective at the coldest time of the year when brood rearing is not taking place.
The correct recipe for preparing the treatment is as follows, please remember to warm the sugar solution before application!
100g sugar added to 100ml water is allowed to dissolve before adding 7.5g of Oxalic Acid Dihydrate.
= 3.2% Oxalic Acid final solution 
This will be sufficient to treat roughly 3-4 hives.


Preparing your hive for winter


By the end of autumn you should have been feeding copious amounts of heavy syrup (2kg sugar dissolved in 1L water). Feeding syrup should cease before temperatures drop too far - October at the latest. If syrup is fed after this point the bees will struggle to reduce the water content of the syrup resulting in fermented stores and ultimately a danger of dysentery in the bees.


If you are worried that the hive is still light on stores then fondant can be placed above the feedhole in a clear plastic container with a hole cut for access in the lid. Fondant placed directly on top of the feedhole or the frames can run between the frames leaving a sticky mess. 


Insulation should be placed above the crownboard so that this area remains warm. When moisture in the air moves through a convection current it will condense on the coldest part of the hive.


You want this to be the walls where it can run down away from the bees and not the roof where it would drip onto the bees below. If you use an open mesh floor it is advisable to leave the insert out over winter so that moisture can escape from the hive and wax debris does not build up.
To prevent strong winds knocking over the hives, either weigh them down or strap the boxes together so that in the event of falling over the hive remains closed.
Don't forget a mouseguard. Fit one over the entrance when temperatures drop. A mouse can cause severe damage to the inside of the hive.



Buying a Nucleus Hive


After learning the basics of beekeeping and purchasing the necessary equipment (see our getting started page) you will be ready to populate your hive with bees! This is usually through the purchase of a nucleus hive a.k.a nuc. As always it is buyer beware as there are minimum standards you should expect. It is advisable to inspect the nuc before purchasing to check for the following:
 5 reasonably new, deep-brood frames consisting of 3 with brood (eggs, larvae and sealed) all from the resident queen and the remaining 2 containing sufficient stores of honey and pollen
 A laying queen (marked) of course of known age and origin displaying a good brood pattern along with
 details of any Varroa treatment used that year and any other medications which have been used.
 The Nuc box is usually returned to the seller after the bees have been transferred
 Cost - this varies depending on the time of year but expect to pay £90-£130







Spring clean up!
To reduce disease build up in your hive it is good practice to clean up any equipment you use. Hive tools should be cleaned in a solution of soda crystals. Floors and other hive parts should be exchanged for clean items (just scorch with a blow torch). Don't forget to wash your beesuit as well!  
You can also sterilise any old frames you intend to use this year using a solution of 80% acetic acid in water. A plastic tub is filled with a couple of pieces of kitchen roll and around 200mls of acid is poured in. The tub is placed on top of the frames and the boxes enclosed in a bin liner for at least one week. A further week is needed to allow the frames to air before they can be used. Take care not to breath in the fumes and wear gloves. 


 Spring  Management and Pollen
Tom Canning spoke on friday 12/02/10 about spring management techniques. Important temperatures were noted such as minimum to open hives (15oC) and temperatures when bees collect nectar (17-18oC).
Pollen is important at this time of year in order to rear brood. If bees have no pollen a substitute can be fed consisting of 3 parts fat free soya flour, 1 part bakers yeast and 1 part skimmed milk powder. A small amount of vitamin C is added and a patty formed by mixing the powder with sugar syrup.
The best pollen though is natures own, the photo on the left shows a honeybee collecting snowdrop pollen a day after Tom's talk. On the right a honeybee collects Gorse pollen.



Save the Honeybees
The recent high publicity surrounding honeybees worldwide is not without cause. Recent losses particularly in America are unprecedented. A range of parasites and disease have largely erradicated the feral honeybee from the UK. More importantly than ever the importance of the honeybee not just for the production of honey but also the pollination industry is being felt. 
By supporting your local beekeeping club you can do your part to promote responsible beekeeping in this country.  
We Offer 
If you don't have room at home to keep bees we can offer a site at our Loughry Campus (places limited). A full range of facilities are available to members with membership costing only £15 per year (including insurance). 
We have a new show tent available for local shows, please use the 'contact us' form to enquire