Category: Birmingham Bees

Bumble Bee Conservation Trust

As always, a HUGE Thank You to the Birmingham and District Beekeepers Association for making us so welcome at the Birmingham Honey Show.

Special Thanks also to our 2 Bee Inspired Walsall volunteers for their amazing help on Saturday.

So, we engaged with well over 300 people.

We raised £159.50.

We possibly have 4 new members for BBCT.

We met some great people.

We were overwhelmed with the rise in pollinator awareness, so many people of all ages turning their gardens in to havens for bumblebees.

The weekend left us filled with optimism and hope for the future, we had a lot of fun and talked so much we had sore throats.

We left tired but very happy, calling at a flower known in Stafford known as the Greyhound. A sure source of nectar for thirsty bees!

Ron Rock

Bumble Bee Conversation Trust


I was approached by Rob the manager of Dorothy Parkes Centre in Smethwick asking if I could run a class about Beekeeping on 2nd Sept for their Nature Buddies students and parents.
I agreed to help out as it was for a good cause. Many thanks to Sam who helped me immensely with honey bee paraphernalia, a virtual hive and other bits and pieces which all came in handy.
The children liked the Bee toys immensely which they could touch and play with.
Finally, everyone thoroughly enjoyed and commended the taste of my honey being way better tasting than any shop bought honey.
Rob contacted me today and commented how well received my class was by all and they would like me to host more classes in the coming weeks. Some local schools have since got in touch with Rob to attend the Beekeeping classes in Sept and Oct.
It seems in the coming weeks and months I’ll be kept busy!

Abid Hussain

Marsh Hill Allotment Open Day

The annual open day was on the 12th August. Due to the fact the allotment had its own apiary they have a stall displaying an observation hive and information for visitors. Also there was a small quantity of honey for sale, unfortunately the honey wasn’t produced from the allotment apiary as the 2 colonies didn’t come through the winter, and the area where the apiary was  before was being developed as below. So there were no colonies on site.
The allotment Committee has gained funding to create a wildflower area with a pond and has given an area to site the new apiary, currently there are 2 colonies but there is space for a total of 6 colonies.
I was there to explain the structure of the colony, the process of honey production and extraction.
Although it was a small affair I had about 15 visitors who were interested in learning more about the honey bee. Amongst the 15 visitors there were about 6 young people who were willing to learn about the bees.
Going forward the committee are looking at having more structured meetings and getting the plot holders more involved. Any honey produced is sold to the plot holders
By Roger Peczek

A Day using an Observation hive at St John,s Church Halesowen

In 2015 the theme for the RHS Britain in Bloom Competition was Pollinators. Being part of the Halesowen in Bloom committee, it seemed a readymade opportunity to take up beekeeping. Visits to Highbury Park, joining the B&DBKA and going to Winterbourne Gardens followed. A hive was purchased from a retiring beekeeper and was set up in a fairly remote and unused church hall walled garden. A local beekeeper offered a six frame NUC of bees, having first inspected the hive and location. So in June 2015 everything was up and running!

The Local Primary School had shown an interest, but the best I could offer was to show them the working hive, from a distance and the safety of the back door to the hall. The following year I gained a lot more experience from working with the bees and beekeepers and I discovered the Observation Hive. This enabled the bees to be shown up close. My talk still consists of a short DVD on the History of the Honey Bee and the Working of the Hive followed by making up a basic hive from the various individual parts. Then all we need are some bees and the front plywood panel of the Observation Hive is taken off. The surprised look on the faces of the children and adults together with their questions is worth getting up early to sort out a frame of brood in all stages and the marked queen. Two frames of stores with open nectar and sealed honey complete the Observation Hive. The Halesowen in Bloom RHS Judging Day takes place every July in St John’s Church, an 11th Century Grade 1 Listed Building. The location of the hives moved to Leasowes Walled Garden some years ago, but the Observation Hive is as popular as ever with children and adults alike.


By Ken Rudge

School Visit

One of the aims of our association is to ‘advance the education of the public in the importance of bees in the environment.’ Children and young people are fascinated by bees so surely taking an observation hive full of bees into a school is a good idea?
Two of our members, Jan and Jane, visited Lindsworth School (at the end of June 2023) a specialist school in south Birmingham. The 20 youngsters who took part in the visit were really knowledgeable about bees and enjoyed rolling candles, tasting honey and meeting the queen and her entourage.
The staff enjoyed the visit as well and couldn’t help trying on the bee suits and buzzing around the playground

Gardeners World Live 15/6/23

I was recently asked to attend Gardeners world live as a bee steward.I arrived at the BBKA stand at 9 am for a four hour slot.Their stand was very impressive with lots of information about bees. There was a chance to look at bees and pollen through a microscope and a chance to spot the queen in an observation hive.

Once the public stampeded into the show there was a lot of attention at the stand and a quick chance to try various types of honey(not the mead unfortunately!)


The Gardeners world presenters were filming throughout the day but sadly they didnt come and say hello. It amazed me how many people were needed to do the filming.

At the end of my 4 hours I was free to walk around the show and enjoy the wonderful gardens and plants.

Richard James

Swarm Management training day 8/7/23

Yes, why bees swarm, what to look for before they swarm, how to recognise when they are in a swarming mood. How to perform a pagden Artificial swarm split

  • When the queen is found
  • When she is not found

How to perform a split using a Nuc. Equipment needed to catch a swarm, how to collect a swarm, and how to hive it. All the techniques on swarm control were demonstrated using modified national and nucleus hives without bees.

Handouts were produced and distributed to the members who attended. They seemed to enjoy it and found it useful despite the threat of thunder storms, we then visited the apiary  where  I examined and manipulated three colonies.

Colin Overton

Spring Beekeeping Shows in 2023

British Beekeeping Show

This is at Stoneleigh Park on 4th February 2023.  This is a far smaller show than the old Tradex at Stoneleigh.


The Beekeeping Show

This is a new show on the 25th February 2023 @ Telford.  This has more of the big names that you would expect and looks a lot more like the old Tradex.

Note that neither of these shows are anything to do with the BBKA so don’t confuse their names with anything to do with the BBKA.


The BBKA Spring Convention

The BBKA’s annual spring show and convention is on 21st – 23rd April @ Harper Adams college.  They start to advertise & start ticket sales at the end of Jan so I would expect more details available then.  There is a trade show as well as many education talks that might be of interest.  The trade exhibition is usually fairly large and the educational programme is designed to support all levels and a broad range of interests.

The dark side of the hive

2020 has been an unusual year for beekeepers, and bees in so many ways.  One surprise was dark honey flowing into hives across Birmingham in the late summer. But what was the source?  Local beekeeper John Gale has been investigating and has come up with three possibilities.

Checking his pollen identification charts, John thinks his source is likely to be the majestic white and red horse chestnuts in his area.

A second option is that the dark nectar is in fact honeydew from the local lime/fir trees.  Honeydew usually contains a higher antioxidant, antibacterial activity level, and mineral content than regular nectar honeys and is much prized in many parts of the world.  However, for those of you who are squeamish look away now. The source of honeydew is essentially aphid poo.  Yes you read that correctly as aphids feeding the sap of lime/fir trees extrude a sweet substance on which honey bees feed. Nice!

There is a third possibility.  That the dark crop could result from the bees collecting acorn sap. This is similar to honeydew as it results from a weevil eating through the skin of the acorn and secreting a sweet substance which the bees then collect and process.

To help solve the conundrum John has sent samples of his honey off to the National Honey Monitoring Scheme. The aim of the scheme is to understand national scale patterns in the way honeybees exploit the natural environment.  They undertake DNA analysis and provide both sugar/water concentrations as well as data on the habitats surrounding hives. If the dark honey is from chestnut trees the pollen will show up in John’s samples.  If either the aphids or acorn weevil are responsible there won’t be any pollen.

Whatever the source, across the city we are savouring this very special honey which is silky smooth with a deep and delicious caramel taste.



This cake recipe for you to try is probably a LOT more appealing than the name suggests …Bee Sting (Bienenstich) Cake!

Bee Sting Cake (Bienenstich)

Bee Sting Cake or Bienenstich is a German Custard Cake made of honey and almonds with a vanilla custard or buttercream/cream filling to suit.

Rumour has it, (or Wikipedia, rather!) there is a legend of 15th century German Bakers throwing beehives (poor bees!!!) at raiders from a village nearby. This worked as a successful deterrent and the bees were celebrated for their sacrifice, with this cake!

Feel free to celebrate the bees and maybe even this years successful honey crop, by giving the recipe below a try:-



For the cake mix:

4 eggs

150g caster sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla sugar

125g plain flour

2 level teaspoons baking powder

50g ground almonds


For the topping:

50g unsalted butter

50g sugar

4tbsp honey

Pinch of salt

50g sliced almonds


For the custard filling:

400ml double cream

1 (75g) sachet instant custard powder




Prep: 15 min > Cook 30 min


    1. For the pastry, add eggs to a bowl and beat until pale and fluffy (for about 6 minutes) Gradually add sugar and vanilla sugar whist beating.
    2. Preheat oven to 170 C / Gas Mark 3-4
    3. In another bowl, mix flour and baking powder and fold into egg mixture. Fold in ground almonds last.
    4. Grease a 26cm springform tin and dust with flour. Spread mixture in tin.
    5. For the topping: Put the butter, sugar, honey and salt into a saucepan and bring to a gentle boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the sliced almonds. Evenly spread this over the cake mixture.
    6. Bake in a preheated oven until golden brown for about 30 mins and let cool for at least 2 hours.
    7. Prepare the custard following the packet instructions, replacing boiling water with the double cream.
    8. Slice cake in half horizontally and spread filling.
    9. Refrigerate until serving.


Please feel free to comment and let us know if it tastes as good as it looks!