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About Bees


Basic information about bees for those just curious, and more for those who already know…

Bees are a social insect and they live in a complex and well ordered social group called a “colony”. When humans adopt them (or at least try to!) they are placed in a structure called a “hive”; there are differing types of hive.

The hive has been designed to host the bee colony with the intention of harvesting the honey that the bees produce, and has to be dry enough, warm enough in winter and cool enough in summer for the bees to live comfortably.

The bees are not in any way domesticated and the beekeeper helps the bees by providing a suitable place for them to live, and providing food, water and help with controlling pests and diseases. The beekeeper may try and  manage the bees during the year, but the bees may not agree with their intentions and do something else instead.

The bee colony naturally expands and shrinks during the year and its success depends upon the weather and other factors that the beekeeper can help control. By doing certain things in a certain way the bee colony may choose to stay with the beekeeper, or they may not – they will generate a swarm as they leave their current home in search of a new one.

The most important bee in the colony is called a queen and she lays all the eggs for the colony for, in some cases, 3 years. She is looked after by the colony for without a queen the colony will die.

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The starting point for UK beekeeping, and one of the best resources in the world. A mine of useful information and support for beekeepers it provides information and practical guides on a wide variety of matters including disease prevention and equipment. Beebase:- The FERA National Bee Unit Website. A sample of Beebase Factsheets – The …

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Practical Guides

Quick links to practical guides on bee related things, please suggest links to be included! A Apis Melifera Honeybee information B Bailey Comb exchange Bailey Comb Exchange C D Dave Cushmans extraordinary website containing many things beekeeping related, old school with loks of references and drawings abut making your own equipment. HERE E F Feeding …

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Winter-proofing your hives

Hive types There are many types of Hive, made from an increasing variety of materials, Wood, Polystyrene and more recently Plastic. Most perform well all year round, protecting your bees from the weather and the damp; however sometimes either the weather is so wet and windy or the hive design needs a helping hand to stave …

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Reference Websites

These websites can help identify Bees wasps and other things, quickly identify that thing with wings you have just seen buzzing around the garden! Identify the Bumblebees in your garden A superb resource of all things that bite and sting… Is it an Asian hornet?! Asian Hornet Identification (Vespa velutina) Identify the common …

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Reference Publications

The Tavistock Beekeepers have the following books available for reference. As a member you can borrow the Branch books and videos free of charge, a modest fee is payable for the use of Branch equipment. Books Practical Beekeeping by de Bruyn Basic Beekeeping Study Notes by Yates (2 copies) Beekeeping Study Notes by Yates (modules …

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What is Honey

What is Honey? “What is honey?” is a question often asked; and the simple answer usually given is something like  “It is a complicated Sugar that the honeybees make and store for food, made from plant nectar.” In reality the answer is much more complex, as the Honeybee has had 100,000 years to develop the way in which the colonies …

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Bee related Blogs and forums and Wiki

Here is a small list of the available resources on the internet of individuals or groups of Beekeepers who have something to say about Bees! In no particular Order, if you think something should be on the list drop us a line from the contacts page. – WebBee “I keep bees in the Kingdom …

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Bee related publications

There are many bee related publications available, some national or international with a wide readership; others are local publications for local or regional members, all have a wealth of information for the beekeeper. As a member of Tavistock beekeepers you get both the Devon beekeepers journal and the national BBKA News as part of your …

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Wasps and Wasp Traps

Wasps and bees have been neighbours and enemies for a very long time, both are social insects, in that they live in social groups for their common benefit. The most common species of wasps in the UK are Vespula Germanica and Vespula Vulgaris Bees live all year in their colonies feeding on nectar and pollen, …

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Bee-friendly flowers

Here are some suggestions you might like to grow for your bees. We are looking for a green fingered beekeeper to write a few words on bee friendly flowers if you would like to contribute please get in touch via the contact page. WebBee Here are a few interesting websites you might consider visiting for bee planting …

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Skep and Skep making

A Skep is a traditional straw or reed bee-hive, like this example above made by Paul Johnson (TBKA). There are many types available worldwide using traditional methods, usually involving straw, rattan or willow. A lot of traditional Skeps were a seasonal way of keeping Bees for harvesting honey, at the end of the process the bees …

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