New amongst these services was a bulk frame cleaning tank. Fabricated from stainless steel and heated by 2 industrial immersion heaters, this enabled 10-15 frames to be cleaned at the same time and proved very popular with members. Similarly popular was the sale of surplus equipment staged by the branch.
In 2020 the Covid 19 pandemic struck the nation and national restrictions on movement and association impacted significantly on society although with honey bees being classed as “livestock”, beekeepers were permitted to tend to their hives providing some relief from the lockdown imposed on the wider public. Because of this relaxation, a trip to the heather still went ahead as did swarm collection.
The Introduction to Beekeeping course, which had been oversubscribed, was abandoned after the first session and fees refunded. Apiary training ceased and the colonies distributed amongst the training team’s apiaries for the duration of the winter. Committee meetings were held via the internet using the Zoom platform. Public displays were cancelled although, during one of the restriction relaxations, the Branch attended the Hill Close Gardens Apple Day in October.
Things relaxed a little in the spring of 2021 sufficient to allow the Introductory Course to be held albeit with reduced numbers and delegates socially distanced. The course was held over a single weekend rather than the usual weekly evening sessions over 6 weeks. Apiary training was again abandoned following a county wide outbreak of EFB. The BBKA apiary, and several members apiaries were affected as was our training apiary. One colony was infected and incinerated under the direction of the Bee Inspector. Scorching and shook swarms were undertaken on all the remaining hives. The financial loss was mitigated by a successful BDI claim.
Many public displays were cancelled as the uncertainty and late relaxation of Covid restrictions impacted on their planning, but the branch still managed to attend 8 shows in the latter half of the summer. Two Taster days were held in the autumn and even a face-to-face members’ meeting although these reverted to virtual meetings due to a surge in the pandemic.
Membership fell from 282 in 2019 to 252 in 2020 but recovered to 272 in August 2021.
The year ended with signs that the pandemic was beginning to subside.