Category Archives: News

Mark Chambers

It is with great sadness that I write to tell you that Epping Forest member Mark Chambers has passed away after a long struggle with cancer.

Mark was committed to improving knowledge among beekeepers and ensuring our training courses were of the highest standard. He made a big contribution during his tenure as Treasurer on our Committee and at County level as Divisional Voting Member on the CEC.

Mark’s passion was training and he would find ways to make the art of beekeeping understandable to everyone. His dedication was boundless and he continued to organise the Divisional extractor loan scheme from his hospital bed, up to the very last.

He will be greatly missed by all who knew him, and I am sure you will join us in sending our sympathies to his wife, Jenny, and his children Tom, Elizabeth and Harriet.

There is a justgiving page for his collection.

National Honey Show 2019 Winners

National Honey Show Results 2019


Pat Allen VHC Essex class 269

Mike Barke C World class 5
2nd Essex class 263rd
3rd Essex class 270
VHC Essex class 262

Clive De Bruyn 1st Open class 102

Jan French 3rd Essex class 262
C Essex Class 267
HC Essex class 268
HC Essex class 269
2nd Essex class 270
1st Essex class 271

Pam Hughes 3rd Open class 64

John Lacy 3rd Open class 46
C Open class 111
HC Open class 115
VHC Essex class 263rd
2nd Essex class 269
1st Essex class 270

Fillipo Negri 1st Open class 94

Jim McNeill 3rd Open class 64
HC Open class 111
2nd Essex class 262
3rd Essex class 263rd
3rd Essex class 265
C Essex class 269
1st Essex class 272
1st Essex class 274

Rossana Seels 1st Open class 89

Pauline Tidmas 3rd World class 4
HC Members class 151
1st Essex class 262
1st Essex class 269

Romford Division C Open class 32
1st Essex class 263
2nd Essex class 266
3rd Essex class 269

National Honey Show 2018 Winners

Results from the National Honey Show

It’s Official ESSEX Honey is the Best in the World… again.

Well done Mick Barke winning class 1 24 jars Honey & Pauline Tidmas winning class 4 12 jars as for sale both in the  open to the world classes. Pauline also won the Jean Baxland Prize (best Exhibit by a Lady) This year we had 17 members from Essex entering the NHS a record for Essex but when you think honey came from 18 countries & as far away as New Zealand & Australia we should try a bit harder although I had enough to take up and
get booked in. As you will see from the results we did very well, so well done all who took the time to enter Their was over 2000 ex-hibits so to get any award with that many exhibitors we all did very well.

Lets see if we can make 2019 another record breaker. It’s not
to early to start thinking about what you will enter next year

2018 NHS results (pdf)




Dick Thomas RIP: Obituary by Clive DeBruyn


9th September 1938 to 12th January 2018.

The sad news that Dick Thomas had died on Friday January 12th was announced at the BBKA annual delegates meeting on the following day. The ‘minute’s silence’ for Dick and the other beekeepers whose death in the last year had been announced was especially felt by all those who knew Dick.

Dick’s first introduction to Essex and beekeeping came at the age of 8 when he was sent to a Quaker boarding school in Saffron Waldon with his brother.  He was acquainted with bees by the science master who kept bees in the quad. Dick was able to help with the mead making.

After leaving school Dick spent a year in France and gained a Baccalaureate. He also did a mixed science BSc in chemistry, physics and maths at Bristol followed by a teaching certificate in Oxford. After Oxford he spent two years in Austria, first in Vienna then in Innsbruck working freelance on technical translations.  Dick’s knowledge and fluency in languages came to the fore when he was the Bee Farmers Association European rep at various times. I found him especially valuable on our visits to beekeepers in Europe.

1988: Dick (standing) with Margaret and the Clive de Bruyn the obituary author (backside view) working with Queen breeder John Kefuss in Toulouse, France. The gang were excavating the site for an Artificial Insemination building.

Dar es Salaam in Tanzania was Dick’s next port of call where he taught maths and science at an Anglican boarding school for four years.  In 1966 he met and married Margaret. Their first child Leonard (Lenny) was born during this time abroad. On the family’s return to England they settled in Thorpe Bay, Southend on Sea. At that time Dick had a job with Burroughs Computing. Their daughter Bridget (Biddy) was born in Essex.  

They were both interested in keeping bees and when in 1973 they approached the local equipment supplier, Geoff Bazin; he insisted they attend beekeeping classes before he sold them equipment. (How wise). Ted Hooper was, at that time, the County Beekeeping lecturer at Writtle College. It was under the guidance of Ted that Dick and Margaret were introduced to the fascinating world of bees. There is a record of Dick attending an outdoor Southend meeting at Rochford on the 18th of May 1974. Later that year, in July, the whole family attended a meeting at South Benfleet.


Beekeeping took up a lot of free time starting with a few hives and gradually increasing to 40 plus once the children left home. Dick and Margaret were active at the very epicentre of Southend and Essex Beekeeping educational and organisational activities. For many years Dick played various executive roles at both divisional and county level.  He became chairman of the Essex Beekeeping Association for a number of years and helped redraft the Essex constitution.

Dick was active at a national level on the BBKA executive committee and was party to rearranging the BBKA constitution. He was elected in 1986 to serve a three-year term and subsequently re-elected for a further three-year term in 1988, thus serving for six years in total.  Richard proved a very useful member of the executive, his skills, knowledge and contributions to debate making him a valuable participant. Dick also served on the Sprays and Pesticides committee, (1987 – 91), the Agenda and Standing Orders committee 1988 -1989 as well as chairing the Forward Planning Committee. Dick was always able to get on with things without the distracting strife that is now evident.  I very much enjoyed serving on various committees with Dick.

At the June meeting of Southend BKA, just before their departure to Scotland in 2009 Dick and Margaret were awarded the status of Honorary Life Membership for all they had done for the division over the last 35 years. In his appreciation the then president, Harry Stennett, said that the Thomas’s had made outstanding contributions to beekeeping in the county of Essex and nationally.  He went on to say that they were noteworthy in that they had both been successful in their chosen professions, Dick as a teacher and administrator and Margaret as a physiotherapist as well as remarkable beekeepers. Of Dick he quoted from Shakespeare’s ‘Twelfth Night’  “This fellow’s wise enough to play the fool and to do that well, craves wit”.

When Dick and Margaret moved to Scotland they were sorely missed. In 2011 Dick was diagnosed with vascular dementia.  Gradually this disease took away his language ability. I always knew that if I asked Dick to proof read anything or translate something for me the result would be first-rate. For someone like Dick who had a fantastic command of language this loss must have been a sad blow.

I have visited Dick and Margaret in Scotland annually. Last year we were able to go walking together. He was physically fit at that time after recovering from a chest infection. He had then lost the ability to do Sudoku, a last remaining skill. He must have found  this and dependence on others  hard. In his own words he always “loved words and numbers”.

Margaret, Dick and the author out walking last year

There will be a private family cremation but Margaret, with her son and daughter Lenny and Biddy, will hope to have a celebration of Dick’s life later in the year.

I once more quote Dicks words

“Love to you all and remember me as whole

Clive de Bruyn.


Essex Beekeepers’ Association Conference 2017

Photographs and report by Paul F Abbott
Chairman to Southend beekeepers.

On the bright autumnal day that was Saturday 21 October 2017, a retinue of 100 attentive apiarists gathered expectantly in the Holiday Inn near Colchester for the annual conference and prize-giving of the Essex Beekeepers’ Association.

They were given a royal welcome by Colchester’s Divisional President and veteran beekeeper Ian Milligan. By rotation it was Colchester’s turn to host the event this year, and the theme of the day was the “Future challenges and opportunities in beekeeping”.

Three speakers of international repute had been invited to address the eager delegates who represented beekeeping divisions throughout Essex. The lecturers were Martin Benczik, Margaret Ginman, and Norman Carreck.
Colchester’s Barbara Sharp introduced the speakers and controlled proceedings with her enthusiastic flare and panache.

Martin Benczic from Nottingham Trent University spoke eloquently about his research into automated beehive condition monitoring using audio and other sensors. He described how measurements of vibrations within the beehive indicate the activity of the colony. A lively question and answer session followed.

Margaret Ginman, General Secretary of the Bee Farmers Association gave a dynamic delivery concerning the apprentice scheme which encourages young beekeepers to make a living from the craft; and the need for proper business training. She also explained current European experiences and Brexit implications. Margaret stressed that we were a nation of honey lovers, but most of the honey consumed in this country is imported. The 465 bee farmers who derive their income partly or wholly from beekeeping hope to boost productivity on the home front. As a group they continue to make a significant contribution to crop pollination and honey production.
There followed a lunch break of trophallaxis, where delegates could mingle and cross pollinate with their ideas and beekeeping aspirations.

In the afternoon the final lecture was given by Norman Carreck who is the science director at the International Bee Research Association (IBRA). His talk was entitled “Science and the Thinking Beekeeper”. He gave a concise summary of the history of scientific beekeeping research. There was an account of the various Bee research journals and textbooks available, including projects which require international cooperation. Norman described a 2014/15 study undertaken by many European countries into pollen diversity. Continued trans-European scientific research and cooperation will be essential after Brexit. This Carreck tutorial certainly kept the Essex audience of apiarists thinking deeply after lunch, and no snoring was to be heard.

Next there followed the presentation of trophies from the Essex honey show held at Orsett in September 2017. Pat Allen President of the EBKA resplendent in her official chain of office performed this duty with style. The cups and trophies were shared out fairly evenly amongst members of the Divisions who had participated in the annual honey show.

Candidates who took recent BBKA examinations were then given their certificates by Pat Allen. Over 20 people had been successful in the basic assessment in 2017. Three of these were awarded the Miss Avey prize for the highest marks. Notably Marie McCulloch of Southend Division won both an Avey citation, plus the Devall award for the novice gaining the highest total number of points in the Essex honey show. A veritable double whammy. Richard Ridler was also delighted to gain his advanced husbandry certificate which together with having completed all the modular exams of the BBKA is now recognised as a Master Beekeeper; joining his wife Jane in possessing this sought-after qualification.

Finally, the fun continued with an extensive raffle of exotic prizes. A good time was had by all attendees, and Colchester are to be praised and thanked for arranging such a splendid conference. Colchester may indeed be the oldest recorded town, and the beekeepers from that area are abundant in their mellifluous hospitality.

May Day 2017: Epping Forest Beekeepers welcome Stuart Anderson, inventor of the Flow Hive to Essex

Article plus photographs by Paul F Abbott
Chairman to Southend on Sea Division of the Essex Beekeepers’ Association.



On Bank Holiday Monday 1st May a conglomeration of buzzing Beekeepers gathered at Epping Forest’s scenic Divisional out apiary for a dynamic talk and demonstration of the newly available UK National Super version of the Flow Hive. They travelled eagerly from London, Essex and beyond. This was part of a three-month promotional European Tour by inventor Stuart Anderson.
The Australian co-inventor of the Flow Hive Stuart, who collaborated with his son Cedar Anderson to produce the original concept gave the presentation. He spoke passionately about environmental issues, and with grateful thanks to the many people throughout the World who had crowd-funded this unique apiaristical development project.

Stuart said “A Flow Hive is our term for a standard beehive that has Flow frames in the honey storage part (super). A honeybee hive is usually made up of the brood box where the queen bee lays eggs, and the ‘supers’ with honeycomb for the storage of honey. A ‘Flow Super’ is a beehive box using Flow Frames that the bees store honey in. A Flow Hive allows you to harvest the honey by simply turning a handle which causes the plastic hexagons of the Frame to split, allowing the ripe liquid honey to flow down tubes through the collecting trough and into your jar. Flow frames are partially built honeycomb which the bees complete, fill with honey and cap with wax. They are made in Australia from high quality food grade plastic. With their clear end-frame view, beekeepers can easily see when the honey cells have been capped and when the honey is ready for harvest. A refractometer should be used to check the water content of the honey.”
Until recently the Flow Hive was only available as a complete beehive kit, based on the Langstroth pattern and dimensions. This hive is not popular in the UK, and hive parts are not interchangeable with British hives.

Stuart and Cedar Anderson are now producing a UK NATIONAL FLOW HIVE SUPER which is compatible with the UK National and Commercial sized hives. This innovation makes the cost much more attractive to British beekeepers, since the SUPER will fit above a standard brood box and queen excluder.

As with all beekeeping activity, success with the Flow Hive is dependent on sound husbandry, seasonal timing, disease control, and an awareness of what is going on in the brood chamber. It is not a recipe for leave alone beekeeping, but sound and skilful colony management.

Stuart Anderson spoke enthusiastically about the Flow Hive to the enchanted retinue of attentive Essex apiarists, and answered many searching questions in a frank and honest way. The demonstration enlightened this May Day Bank Holiday morning. It really was the Bees Knees.

As optimistic beekeepers, we live in expectant anticipation that this year’s bumper honey flow shall help to fill all recently purchased UK NATIONAL FLOW HIVE SUPERS! Bring it on!

National Honey show results 2016

Essex members had a good year at the Honey show again.

More details on classses and trophies can be found in the 2016 show schedule

Here are their results


Paul Abbott Won the Dodd Cup from Essex
The Commemoration Cup, Barns Cup, Vincent Cup & the Frank Crow Trophy all Kent cups.

1ST in Classes

  • 54 Photomicrograph
  • 77 One Section
  • 130 one bottle Sweet Mead
  • 132 one jar Set
  • 181 one Comb for Extracting
  • 185 three jars Different Honeys
  • 194 Sweet Mead

2nd in Classes

  • 9 Nine jars & Frame for Extracting
  • 129 one bottle Dry Mead
  • 131 one jar Clear
  • 191 Three Moulded Candles
  • 192 Three Not Moulded Candles

3rd in Classes

  • 22 two Sections
  • 59 Coloured Print
  • 61 Black & White Print
  • 184 two jars Dark
  • 193 one bottle Dry Mead

4th in Class

  • 11 two jars Light Honey

VHC in Classes

  • 71 two jars Light
  • 128 Six wax Blocks
  • 186 two jars Set
  • 188 one Container Cut Comb

HC in Classes

  • 21 two Sections
  • 24 Frame for Extracting
  • 55 Set of Digital Images
  • 76 two jars Set
  • 182 two jars Light
  • 189 one jar Clear

C in Class

  • 60 Colour print Close Up or Macro

JOHN LACY – Chelmsford

John Lacy Won the Tremearn Cup from Essex

1ST in Classes

  • 186 two jars Set
  • 190 one piece Wax

3rd in Classes

  • 29 one piece Wax
  • 189 one jar Clear

VHC in Class

  • 30 one piece Wax 340g

HC in Class

  • 183 two jars Medium Honey

C in Class

  • 5 two jars Clear Honey

JANET FRENCH – Braintree

Janet French Won the Combings Cup & The Chairman’s Trophy

1st in Classes

  • 26 Container Cut Comb
  • 110 Two Containers Cut Comb

WALTER GEE – Chelmsford

1st in Class

  • 191 Three moulded candles

3rd in Class

  • 188 Container Cut Comb

C in Class

  • 189 one jar Clear

PAMELA HUGHS – Chelmsford

2nd in Class

  • 189 One Jar liquid honey Gift

3rd in Class

  • 183 two jars Medium Honey


3rd in Classes

  • 182 two jars Light
  • 186 two jars Set

IAN NICHOLS – Epping Forest

2nd in Classes

  • 183 two jars Medium Honey
  • 184 two jars Dark

3rd in Class

  • 241 two jars Light


1st in Class

  • 182 two jars Light Honey

2nd in classes

  • 181 Frame for Extracting
  • 193 one Bottle Dry Mead

3rd in Classes

  • 190 one piece Wax
  • 194 one Bottle Sweet Mead

VHC in Class

  • 189 one jar Clear


1st in Classes

  • 103 two jars Dark
  • 184 two jars Dark
  • 189 one jar Clear

VHC in Class

  • 181 Frame for Extracting


1st in Class

  • 183 two jars Medium Honey


2nd in Class

  • 47 Artistic Exhibit of Needlecraft


1st in Classes

  • 192 Three not moulded Candles
  • 193 one bottle Dry Mead

2nd in classes

  • 186 two jars Set
  • 194 one bottle Sweet Mead

3rd in Class

  • 181 Frame for Extracting

VHC in Class

  • 76 two jars Set

HC in Class

  • 241 two jars Medium Honey

2015 National Honey Show Report

Well done to all the members who won prizes at the show this year, winning anything this year was even harder with very nearly 2000 exhibits a record amount this year, & a lot more from different countries this year than ever. we had 15 Essex members entering which is a lot more than in the past, so its nice to see a few very new members having a go so don’t be put off if you did not win this year, next year might be your year. Paul Abbott won both the Essex cups & 5 of the 7 Kent cups as he is a full member of Kent beekeepers as well so very well done Paul. Their was a lot of new Names & faces collecting cups this year. the show was in a new part of the college with exhibits in different rooms, the judges liked it as it gave them more room to work in.