Honeybees at Royal Welsh Spring Festival

12 April 2013

Bees are a vital link in the food chain. They pollinate our crops and wild flowers, so enhancing the bounty and the beauty of the countryside. But the extended winter, with its freezing temperatures and bitter winds following on last year’s wet summer and autumn, have led to tough conditions for bees resulting in a possible shortage of honey and, worse, a dearth of healthy young stock.

How to deal with the aftermath of the prolonged bad weather will be among the topics for discussion and advice for beekeepers at next month’s Royal Welsh Spring Festival.

The Welsh Beekeepers Association to which 19 local independent beekeeing associations are affiliated, will be present at the event and is urging beekeepers, especially newcomers to the craft, to raise their own bees rather than import new ones from elsewhere because home-produced bees are more likely to survive and thrive when conditions turn hostile.

“We want locally adapted bees – those that have survived in their local areas – and this is very important,” said Mr Wally Shaw, the WBKA’s Technical Officer.

“We are trying to train new beekeepers to do this and to become self-sufficient. It’s not rocket science and beekeepers will have better bees and save money as well.”

The Spring Festival has helped to foster interest in beekeeping through demonstrations and talks on the subject and visitors to next month’s two-day event which takes place at Llanelwedd, Builth Wells, over the weekend of May 18 and 19, can find out all about keeping bees and how to get started at the WBKA stand in the Royal Welsh showground’s Floral Hall.

They can also peep into a hive and watch the fascinating bees at work in the Bee Tent operated by the Swansea & District Beekeepers Association which will be located in the Forestry Area.

A member of the Swansea & District Association, David Salkilld, a beekeeper for many years, will also give a talk on the craft of beekeeping on the opening day of the Festival in the showground’s South Glamorgan Exhibition Hall.

“My talk will be backed up with some powerpoint slides showing bees, hives, hive components and bee produce, and will take the form of an introduction for those thinking about taking up the craft. I also mention joining an association,” said Mr Salkilld. “Things like costs, disease, types of hive, protective equipment and, of course honey, are covered in the talk and at the end I always leave time for questions.”