2012 Autumn Gathering


Saturday, 13th October 2012 at Stewkley, near Leighton Buzzard.

Key note speaker: Dinah Sweet, “The Future of Beekeeping”

I am delighted to be writing to you about our Autumn Gathering. We hope you will make a special effort to come as an action-packed day of activities has been planned for you. So, what is on offer?

Autumn Gathering Publicity Flyer

Autumn Gathering Publicity Flyer

Getting you to Stewkley

Click on the map to open in Google Maps


Let’s start by directing you to the venue, Stewkley Village Hall.

Stewkley is on the B4032 about 4 miles west of Leighton Buzzard, and 2 miles north of Wing, SatNav postcode reference is LU7 0EZ. From whatever direction you travel, you inevitably reach the High Street (the longest in Britain?) Make your way to High Street North, that is, north of the War Memorial, and, as you travel north, the Village Hall is on the right, opposite the Swan pub.

Good weather permitting, (we hope) you can park your car on the field behind the Village Hall. Passengers can be dropped off at the Village Hall main entrance.  The Swan pub above on the left comes with very high recommendations from Andrew, and he knows what it takes to keep a good Beer.  Details for reaching Karen and her team at The Swan are provided below.

Now, what is on offer?

The purpose of the Gathering is, as already indicated, to offer you a fulfilling day of activity. First, you have the chance to enter your honey/bee/hive products into the North Bucks BKA and Bucks County BKA Honey Show. Then, when judging for the show begins at 10.00 a.m. you can choose between joining one of three courses. Firstly, the Skep-making course, led by Ray Smith; second, the Hygiene course, led by Roger Partis, and, finally, the Education course, covering a range of beekeeping topics we believe may be of particular interest to beekeepers. The cost of the Skep course is £30 (but it covers all materials, and at the end you should have a skep which you can complete at home). The Hygiene course costs a much subsidised £5.00 and successful applicants will later receive a certificate. The Education course is free.

Each course will end at lunchtime. Lunch will be taken in the Village Hall Main Hall.
At 2.00 p.m. Dinah Sweet, Chair of the Cardiff BKA and President of Welsh BKA and Secretary of BIBBA, will make a keynote speech. This will be followed by the presentation of certificates to the successful BBKA candidates and of the cups to the Honey Show winners.

Later, we will take tea. We hope you will make this particularly memorable with the many cakes and sandwiches we ask you to bring and share, please. Drinks will be provided.

Finally, we will wind up the formal proceedings with the Bucks County AGM, after which there will be time for a well-earned pint (or two) at the Swan Public House, just over the road from the Village Hall. The Swan is supporting the Gathering in lots of ways and there can be no nicer way of bringing a rather unsuccessful beekeeping year to a close on a note of cheer!

The Swan Pub at Stewkley – Click to open their facebook page

Yet more attractions.

Bring & Buy.

Do you have any equipment which you no longer need? What equipment are you short of? Visit the Bring & Buy Stall to see how you can help yourself and help others. Clean equipment only, please.

Trade Stands

I can reliably confirm that E H Thorne (and like bodies) will not have a trade stand but we
will have some space for stalls, etc. Contact me, Andrew Beer if you wish to follow up.         Telephone 01525 240235.

Other activities which might add to the fun:

We are open to suggestions, anything with some connection to bees or beekeeping. Again, follow up with Andrew Beer.

What to do next:

  1.  To attend the Gathering: please register by simply completing the Gathering Registration Form, indicating the course you wish to attend and sending it back to me, by post, with your cheque for the appropriate amount, made payable to North Bucks BKA. We will need to tell the Swan Pub the numbers for lunch by 6th October. Forms received after that, may result in a less substantial lunch, though we will do our best to feed you.


  2. To take part in the Honey Show (which we very much hope you will do, because it would be marvellous to have a Show stuffed with entries) simply complete and despatch the Honey Show entry form, completed as appropriate, and send it to Nicola Smith, as directed.




May I endorse Nicola’s note about timings; it really is critical because of the tight timetable, to have all Honey Show entries/exhibits in place ready for the judges by 10.00 a.m. We earnestly ask you to register your entries with Nicola at least 5 days before the Show. Entries may be accepted on the day, time permitting. This request is to help the judges as much as those entering the Show.

The Courses, in more detail:

1. Skep-making course – cost, including materials, £30.00

This will be led by Ray Smith, a pre-eminent UK skep-maker, and if Ray will allow me to say, one always dressed for the part. Ray will provide materials and tuition and at the end of the course you should have, for a modest cost, a substantially completed skep to take home. It may be sensible to bring overalls. NOTE: the skep course is limited to 18 people.

2. Hygiene course – cost, £5.00 per person

Food hygiene is a concern for all beekeepers and the relevant legislation is complex and often, it would seem, neither fully understood nor complied with. So we have asked Roger Partis to run a course which we call “Food Safety for Beekeepers” which ought to tell beekeepers all they need to know. Roger is a retired Environmental Officer, and very experienced beekeeper.

3. Education course – entry FREE!

This course is for those not attending the two courses above. The Education course will cover a range of topics which we believe will be of interest to all beekeepers, regardless of the number of years they have kept bees, their experience, or the number of hives they have. The following is a list of subjects which may be covered. If there is anything you would like to see included, please advise us as soon as possible and we will try to accommodate you.

Provisional list:

Bees and Stress.
Wax products; wax rendering.
Food safety.
Beekeeping in New Zealand.
Disease update.
Bees and the Law.
Sterilisation, repair and renewal of equipment.

The Programme – What and When:

9.00 a.m. Doors open; tea, coffee, soft drinks, biscuits served throughout
the day.
9.00 – 9.45 a.m. Entries to the Honey Show accepted. We regret we will not
be able to accept entries after 9.45 a.m. due to the tight timetable.
10.00 a.m. Judging begins.
10.00 a.m. Welcome to all members and guests in the Main Hall, Village
10.05 a.m. Select ONE of the courses (No.s 1 and 2 require booking in
1. Skep-making course: attendees with Ray Smith disperse to
the marquee in the garden of the Swan Pub, across the road.
2. Food course starts – class disperses to the bar at
the Swan with Roger Partis.
3. Education course begins in the Main Hall.
12.45 p.m. All convene in Village Hall and lunch – Shepherd’s
Pie and Fruit Salad (Veggie food choice available if requested)
2.00 p.m. Main Hall, talk by Dinah Sweet: The Future of Beekeeping.
3.00 p.m. Award of BBKA Examination certificates.
3.10 p.m. Honey Show awards.
3.30 p.m. Tea; tea, sandwiches and cakes are a fundamental feature of
any meeting where beekeepers gather. Please help make tea time memorable
by bringing some cakes with you to share, or some sandwiches, if you prefer.
4.00 p.m. Bucks County AGM
5.00 p.m. Gathering ends; removal of exhibits. Karen and her team at
The Swan Public House are helping us in numerous ways to bring about a successful
and enjoyable meeting. To show our appreciation, what could be nicer than
to repair to the Swan afterwards for a drink with friends and friends anew
and to wind down the season, albeit a disappointing one, in style.

NOTE; Timings are approximate; if we can advance the programme, we will.


The cost per person is £12.00, to include tea, coffee, and lunch.

What we would ask you to do now, please:

Please complete:
1. The Gathering Registration Form and send it to me, Andrew Beer by 6th October.


2. The North Bucks Honey Show and Bucks County BKA entry form and send it to Nicola Smith, again, by 6th October.



Just to remind you – If you are attending the Gathering but joining neither the Skep-making course, nor the Hygiene courses, the cost is £12 per person.

If you are attending the Gathering and joining the Skep-making course, the cost is £42.00 – £12 entry fee and £30 for the Skep course.

If you are attending the Gathering and joining the Hygiene course, the cost is £17.00 – £12 entry fee and £5.00 for the course.

Wax for Re-cycling

Do you have wax cappings or other wax for recycling but do not have suitable facilities? If so, would you care to bring it to the Gathering for re-cycling here in Stewkley, proceeds to go to Bees Abroad.

Invitation to Stewkley Villagers

Stewkley is awaiting our visit with enthusiasm and perhaps with a touch of trepidation. My name has inevitably become linked to any local bee incident over the years, the usual culprits being wasps and sometimes bumblebees and, yes, just occasionally, honey bees which, of course, are always mine (they say!) Anyway, I am hoping curious villagers will join us once the judging is finished and I trust I can ask you to make them welcome.

And finally:

If you have ANY questions about the Honey Show then please contact Nicola Smith on 01280 860102.

For anything else, call me, Andrew Beer on 01525 240235.

Many thanks.

Let’s make this a day to remember!