Can you recommend somewhere I could buy local honey from?

Although many of our members sell honey locally, we are unable to recommend a specific outlet for purchase of local honey. Most UK beekeepers are very small-scale producers, usually operating non-commercially. Our association, the Oxfordshire Beekeepers Association, is an educational charity which aims to promote knowledge of bees among the public and within the beekeeping community and improve the welfare of bees. While some of our members sell honey, that is done privately outside the association. As a charity, we cannot operate as, for example, a co-operative or agent selling honey on behalf of our members. As a result, we have no information on where local beekeepers sell their honey.

 

All honey sold in the UK must give the name of the producer, the address, the country of origin, the nett weight and, possibly, indicate the type of honey. Expect to pay anywhere between £4.00 and £10.00 for a one pound jar of locally produced honey.

 

Possible outlets for local honey include specialist food shops, farm shops, the Oxford Covered Market and some visitor attractions, especially National Trust properties.

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Where can I find information about any training courses you might run?

We run a Beginners Course, designed to teach new beekeepers how to look after honey bees. For those who are not quite sure if they want to commit to the Beginners course we also run a Taster day. Information on both of these is on the Learning about Beekeeping section of this website.

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Where can I find information about having a swarm of bees removed?

We have a lot of information about swarms on our dedicated Swarms Page, including further FAQs..

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Bees in a chimney / roof space / under cladding / in property

 

You should be aware that removing bees from a building structure is especially difficult and may not be successful. If the bees are honey bees they should be removed because the nest site is permanent and can become very large. For other bee species and wasps this may not be necessary because the nest is small and they occupy the site for one season and then die.

 

 

To provide advice we need to determine if the bees are honey bees:

 

  1. The BBKA.org.uk website gives advice on identifying bees under their swarm page. However, if the bees cannot be seen close-up, it may not be possible to identify them visually.

  2. If the bees arrived recently and they were seen to arrive did they appear as a swarm with thousands of bees? If so , they probably are honey bees.

  3. Can you see bees entering and leaving? Roughly, on a warm and sunny afternoon, how many are leaving and entering each minute, e.g. 1 per minute, 10 per minute (easily counted), 100 per minute (too many to count)? High numbers suggest honey bees; low numbers, other bee species.

 

 

If you are sure the bees are honey bees they should be removed. Most swarm collectors associated with OBKA or other beekepeing organisations are not able to work at height or dismantle building structures due to insurance restrictions. We therfore recommend you contact a specialist pest controller. Our beekeepers may be able to assist, for example by offering to rehouse a recovered colony. Please discuss this with the pest controller.

 

 

If you are sure the bees are not honey bees, we suggest leaving them alone. The colony will die in autumn. Before doing this they make several queens that hibernate over winter and start a new colony in the spring in a new location.

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Would OBKA host a stand at our show / event

We have a form dedicated to these types of request on this page on the website. More details are on the page with the form.

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Could a beekeeper come and give a talk to our WI / U3A / social etc. group?

We do have a number of members who are prepared to give talks to various groups. However their availability and the distance they are prepared to travel to give a talk are very much up to them.

 

If you give us some details (see below) we will contact our members to see if anyone is prepared to give the talk you are requesting and if they are, we will ask the member to contact you directly. We cannot of course guarantee that anyone will respond to your request.

 

You can either use the Contact Us form or email the OBKA secretary directly at secretary@obka.org.uk.

 

Please include the location / dates and time of when you would like the talk with your request.

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I’m a teacher and would like a beekeeper to come to talk to the students about beekeeping

We do have a number of members who are prepared to give talks to schools. However their availability and the age groups they are prepared to talk to are very much up to them.

 

If you give us some details (see below) we will contact our members to see if anyone is prepared to give the talk you are requesting and if they are, we will ask the member to contact you directly. We cannot of course guarantee that anyone will respond to your request.

 

You can either use the Contact Us form or email the OBKA secretary directly at secretary@obka.org.uk.

 

Please include the following details with your request:

 

 

 

  • Age of children / school year / number in group / interest of group

  • Address / name of school / group etc.

  • Your name and contact details

  • Proposed dates and times.

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I would like to buy some local honey; can you recommend an outlet?

Although several of our members sell honey locally we are unable to recommend a specific individual or outlet for the purchase of local honey. While some of our members do sell honey that is done privately outside the Association. As a charity we cannot operate as an agent selling honey on behalf of our members.

 

Having said that during the summer Oxfordshire BKA and other local beekeeping associations often have stands at local (Oxfordshire, Warwickshire) village shows (e.g. Blenheim Flower Show and Brailes, Tysoe, Morton-in-the-Marsh village shows and at the Shipston Wool Fair) where members do sell their honey.

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I would like OBKA to advertise our beekeeping-related event.

OBKA is happy to promote any relevant beekeeping event, for example a talk or a training session, run by a non-commercial organisation. We make no change for this. As a registered charity, we are unwilling to promote beekeeping events run solely as a commercial venture.

 

We will place you advertisement on our website based on text you supply. If you use the Contact Us form (found here) there is a limit on the form of 150 words; if this is insufficient then please send an email with all the relevant details of the event to the OBKA Webmaster.

 

If appropriate we will also include the same advert in our monthly Newsletter which is issued at the start of each month.

 

We rely on volunteers to edit the website and the newsletter and cannot guarantee that your advertisement will appear on a particular date.

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We have a garden / plot of land we would like to offer for someone to keep bees on

 

 

Beekeepers always welcome the opportunities for new apiary sites.
What we can do on your behalf is to place an advert in our monthly Newsletter (we publish at the start of each month) and on our website. We have over 200 members across Oxfordshire so it is likely someone will express an interest.


Please tell us where the land is, for example the nearest village or town, and whether there are any restrictions on the use of the land, for example times when access would not be permitted.


If you are content for your contact details to be made available to all our members, we will include them in the advert. If you would prefer to keep your details confidential, we can ask our members to use our secretary as an intermediary. Please state which option you would prefer.

To advertise your potential apiary site on our website and in our newsletter please either complete the Contact Us form here with your relevant details or contact our Secretary directly at secretary@obka.org.uk

 

What makes a good apiary site?

 

Please be aware that when a beekeeper is looking for an apiary away from their home (we call them ‘out-apiaries’) they will need to consider a number of factors to decide if the location is suitable to keep bees. These factors include:

 

  • General suitability of the site, for example is it near near a public road or footpath where people might be disturbed by (or disturb) the bees

  • Access – is it possible to drive a  car to reasonably near to where the hives will be located.  There can be a lot of heavy equipment that the beekeeper needs to move to and from the site at different times of the year. More generally will there be any restrictions when the beekeeper can access the site.

  • The number of hives that can be kept on the site. This number can suddenly increase if the beekeeper needs to ‘split’ one or more hives to prevent the bees swarming.

  • The security of site – for example is there a locked gate to the area where the hives will be located.

  • Protection of hives from damage by farm animals. Cattle proof fencing may be required if there are horses or cattle in neighbouring fields.

  • Is there any likelihood that crops in adjacent fields could be sprayed and if so, would htere be a mechanism to alert the beekeeper.

  • The nature of any payment for the apiary site – typically, beekeepers pay in jars of honey!

  • Termination of arrangement

  • Insurance

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We have a nest of bees under our garden shed. Can you move them for me?

With high certainty, bees nesting under a shed or on the ground will be a type of bumble bee and not a honey bee. Beekeepers are only able to assist with the removal of honey bees. If you have any doubts on identification, please examine the swarm page on the BBKA website:

 

Swarm removal | British Beekeepers Association

 

If the bees are not causing a problem, I would suggest leaving them alone as they are valuable pollinators. Bumble bees occupy a nest for one summer and then die, leaving a few queens that hibernate to start a new nest next spring. By the end of the year they will have gone. Generally, bumble bees will not sting unless they are provoked, for example by trying to remove or destroy the nest.

If you feel that they must be removed you will have to contact a pest control company. They will destroy them rather than attempt to relocate them.

 

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We have bees in a bird box. Can they be removed as they are causing a nuisance?

With high certainty, bees in a bird box will be a type of bumblebee, rather than a honey bee (the bees kept by beekeepers that make honey). Beekeepers can only help with the removal of honey bees. A bird box is too small for a honey bee colony and is very unlikely to have been selected by honey bees as a nest site as the space is just too small for a honey bee colony.

 

To determine if the bees if the bees are honey bees there is identification information on the British Beekeepers Association website at

 

Swarm removal | British Beekeepers Association

 

What can be done about them?

 

That depends on whether they are a nuisance. If people are getting stung, you may need to consider removal. OBKA may be able to help remove honey bees but not bumble bees. However, if the bees are not causing a problem, we advise leaving them alone as they are valuable pollinators. Bumble bees occupy a nest for one summer and then die. By the end of the year they will have gone.

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I have bees in a wall in my house that seem to be in the mortar.

There are several UK bee species that burrow into walls, such as the red mason bee (Osmia bicornis). These bees are excellent pollinators for many crops and are under threat from habitat loss, inappropriate insecticide use and changes to climate. Generally, they will not sting unless severely provoked and they don’t burrow deeply.

 

Beekeepers look after a different species, the honey bee (Apis melliferia) and are unable to help people affected by other bee species, wasps or hornets. As a bee charity, we have a policy of not harming any type of bee where practicable.

 

There are several helpful web articles on mason bees which should help you understand their benefits, life cycle and threat to both your property and to people. At the end of summer, the bee raises new queens and the bees will stop using their current nest site. The new queens hibernate to start a new colony next spring.

 

Relocation is not a practical option. If you still wish to destroy them, we suggest contacting a pest control company.

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We have just discovered a honey bee swarm in our garden. Do you know any beekeepers who might be able to remove it?

If you go to the following webpage you will find information on honey bee swarms and a map with swarm collectors in your area.

BBKA Swarm removal page

Before you call, please check the BBKA website which will help you differentiate between honey bee swarms and other types of bees/wasps/hornets. Please note that beekeepers can only deal with honey bees and, as we are a charity run by volunteers, we cannot guarantee a response.

Swarms are generally harmless, i.e. they will not sting you, unless they are provoked. Please leave it alone until contacted by a swarm collector. Do not let children or pets interfere with it. Generally, swarms collect in one place for a day or so while they find a suitable new home. Once they have decided where to live, they will leave quickly in a large swarm cloud. This is not dangerous but is best avoided.

If the swarm does not move for several days, the bees may become more aggressive as they run out of food.

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