Annual General Meeting Report

Chairman’s Report 2023

Each year when I sit down to write this report I think to myself, all I need to do is get last year’s report out and change a few dates and names and that will be done.

And in some ways it is because we as an association are doing lots of things right. Our apiary and its management are the envy of other associations, our training is comprehensive and high quality, our social events have unprecedented numbers, our outreach events always engage the public and our honey is prized for its quality. However, when I start writing I realise we are not just replaying the previous year – we are constantly evolving, changing and trying to improve and react to the challenges we face.

We started the year with our 6-week classroom-based beginners’ course here at Langley. 16 people eager to learn about beekeeping signed up with many continuing their education later in the year on our 17-week summer course. These courses contribute greatly to our association’s funds. Our thanks go to Christine, Richard, Julia, Leonie, Steve, and Fiona for making the winter course such a success.

We continue to provide members with a winter programme of talks here at Langley. , Attendance continues to be high with over 30 people regularly attending. These talks are free and are given by experts in their field and help educate, inspire and promote thought. From lectures on microscopy to the threat of the Asian hornet, the bees and wasps of Sutton Park to food safety. Ultimately, they are here to entertain and possibly make us better beekeepers. Our thanks go to Janet who arranges all of the lectures. If you would like a talk on particular subjects or have any ideas for future speakers, please talk to Janet or any member of the committee and we can relay your thoughts to her.

2023 in the apiary was a great success with all of our colonies coming through the winter healthy and strong Lead by our team of Bob and Steve ably assisted by Alan our colonies thrived. On the whole our Tuesday meetings were not affected by weather or lack of tea and coffee, thanks go to Gary, and George who provided us with drinks and biscuits every meet. Unfortunately, due to illness Will has had to step down as assistant to Bob but I am pleased to say Alan who did a sterling job last year has kindly agreed to take on this role.

With healthy productive colonies our honey crop was good, and our thanks go to our apiary team for the management and Bernard for the extraction, filtering, bottling and labelling of our Sutton Park Honey. Having sold the apiary honey from our house since 2020 as the visitors centre stopped selling we are pleased to say we now have two cafes selling our honey. The bakehouse in Holland Road and the Bistro in Sutton Park. Both give us great feedback from their customers and are very happy to sell such a local product.

I am sure anyone who visited our apiary last year will have been very impressed by how well maintained the grounds have been kept. This is down to the efforts of our grounds staff of Will Van Der Merwe, Todd, Gary and George who have maintained the mower, cut the grass, strimmed the edges and generally kept the apiary looking fabulous. And with our newly purchased mower they have promised bowling green results Our thanks go to them all. Our thanks also go to our very own ‘Chippy Minton’, Simon who kindly takes on woodworking jobs for our association.

2023 saw our dedicated beginners training annex used for the third season. Sunday afternoons brought 14 new beekeepers in the making to our apiary. A series of topics were covered each week and our beginners were able to handle the bees in small groups. This continued throughout the year and midway through the season we encouraged them to also come along to our main Tuesday meetings and we are pleased to say some this group have now become a real part of our association. Thanks go to Jitesh, Julia, Steve and Phil.

Part of our association mission statement is to advance the education of beekeepers. To these ends 2023 was a resounding success. We are very fortunate to have one member who is fiercely passionate about education and works tirelessly facilitating and organising courses, modules and exams. Jitesh helped 5 members achieve basic assessment certificates. Congratulations go to

Juliet Fletcher

Charmaine Stint

Lee Greatorex

Leonie Williams

Simon Gniadowski

for attaining the basic BBKA accreditation. The assessments took place in Sutton Park and the examiners were not only impressed with the quality of candidates but also the apiary site.

The healthy bee certificate was new for this year with two assessors coming to test candidates on their knowledge and practical skills. I am please to say 3 members achieved this accreditation – Will, Julia and Richard. In addition, members also took the BBKA modules number 3 disease with distinction going to Richard and a credit to Julia. Well done to all.

Our association BBQ took place on Thursday 20th July with 75 Sutton beekeeping members, friends, family and invited guests attending the social event of the year. With record numbers Bob and Diane were kept constantly busy cooking throughout the evening, and with help from Leonie serving, everyone enjoyed a fabulous meal of burgers, hotdogs, chicken and salads. The culinary delights didn’t stop there, with homemade desserts, cakes and of course strawberries and cream to follow. Entertainment was provided by a singing quartet performing a number of songs with the ever popular ‘It’s a wonderful world’ being a particular favourite. Our raffle proved a great success with over £100 raised – Bees Abroad will benefit from the generosity of those in attendance. Our association is not just about beekeeping, it’s also about making friends, enjoying a shared passion and helping each other. Friends new and old chatted, children played and laughter echoed across a very special corner of Sutton Park. This evening could not take place without a lot of people giving up their time and our thanks go to all those who attended, provided food, donated to the raffle and tidied up. And most importantly Bob and Diane who once again, after more years than they care to remember, provided everyone with a fabulous meal.

Our branch honey show saw us once again returning to the beautiful setting of Middleton Hall. Our show judges were Peter Lewis and Dave Shannon from Yorkshire who commented on the high standard and number of exhibits. The show ran seamlessly and we’d like to thank our honey show secretary Fiona and the girls for all their hard work. Also, thanks go to Leonie, Todd and Julia who volunteered to steward for the day. We had 170 exhibits from 26 entrants with silverware going to Christine, Matthew, Julia, Lee, Leonie, Fiona and myself. Well done to those. A donation of £80 was made to St Giles Hospice from the sale of entries from the gift class.

Wishaw Country Sports club saw 48 people enjoy a fabulous meal in a relaxed atmosphere with great company. The event was thoroughly enjoyed by all and thanks go to Fiona for organising. I can confirm the same venue has been booked for our 2024 Christmas meal.

I hope you have all had a chance to see the photos on the white board before the AGM started. They are just a snapshot of our association throughout 2023. All of the photos were taken from reports on our website and I encourage everyone to visit as it has upcoming events and news which are updated regularly by Richard and our thanks go to him. New for 2024 is the association merchandise tab on the website where you can purchase cloth badges, sweatshirts, hoodies, polo shirts and zoodies in an array of sizes and colours. Our thanks go to Alison for organising this.

Outreach events attended by our association were

1st July…. Sutton Park again for the annual Bioblitz event where we supported the Sutton Park Rangers with a display, live bees and honey sales.

27th July…. Fort Shopping Centre, Ecofest, display, live bees and honey sales.

Gardeners World Live where members represented our association

We also attended schools, scout groups and other venues to talk about the importance of bees and other pollinating insects. Thanks go to all who help make these events so successful.

Tuesday 3rd October was our last meeting of the year at the apiary and also marked our annual conker competition. 20 beekeepers revisited their childhood and became children again– Roy was crowned 2023 champion – we are in the process of acquiring a trophy.

2023 also saw the return of the familiar phone call. It went something like this “I got your number off the beekeeping website and a load of waspy looking things have landed in my garden, up a tree, in my roof space, on a pub bench etc… can you come and get them?”

Thanks go to Owen, Steve, Bernard, Jitesh, Roy and Derek who have all volunteered to have their names and phone numbers on the BBKA swarm list and who during the season go out multiple times.

We as beekeepers now have a new threat to contend with in the shape of the Asian hornet. Please familiarise yourself as much as you can with this threat by attending lectures, reading up on it and engaging in any training on offer. If you have any questions please direct the to our Asian hornet co-ordinator, Richard Evans.

If I’ve missed thanking anyone who has helped out during the year I apologise, my only defence being that we have so many dedicated volunteers working for the benefit of the association that it’s hard to keep track! I have been told to mention (under pain of death) one particular young member who is always in the background ensuring we can get in and out of the building and the IT works – thanks Izzy.

We have a very successful, busy and friendly association and one of which we should be very proud. We are always looking for people to get involved so if you wish to do so, please chat to one of the committee members.

Read more news stories


Spring Convention visit

The British Beekeepers Association Spring Convention 2024 kicked off for the 46th year on Friday 12th April at Harper Adams University. This was during a

Read More »

Remembering Julian Routh…

Remembering Julian Routh… On Sunday 14th April, we gathered at our Apiary with some of Julian’s family to plant a commemorative apple tree. Our Association shared

Read More »

Apiary Opening

Our Apiary opened on Saturday 6th April for our first meet up and maintenance sessions. We split into a few groups and diligently undertook our

Read More »