Honey, please don’t go


In the beautiful opening passage of his epic poem The Song of Hiawatha, HW Longfellow has his subject waiting, watching from the doorway of his wigwam:

All the air was full of freshness, All the earth was bright and joyous, And before him, through the sunshine, Westward toward the neighboring forest, Passed in golden swarms the Ahmo, Passed the bees, the honey-makers, Burning, singing in the sunshine.

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2021 Honey Show

On the 9th of October, after a two-year hiatus, Aberdeen and District Beekeepers Association’s annual honey show came back with a bang. Having had to cancel last year’s show due to Covid restrictions, it was great to see our members gather again in a celebration of beekeeping and the products of the hive, after what has been for many of us a bumper season.

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According to W. Augustus Munn, Esq. in his 1844 book, ‘A Description of the Bar-and-Frame Hive’:

“Pliny states that the custom of removing bees from place to place for fresh pasturage was frequent in the Roman territories, and such is still the practice of the Italians who live near the banks of the Po, (the river which Pliny particularly instances) mentioned by Alexander de Montford, who says that the Italians treat their bees in nearly the same manner as the Egyptians did and still do; that they load boats with hives and convey them to the neighbourhood of the mountains of Piedmont; that in proportion as the bees gather their harvest, the boats, by growing heavier, sink deeper into the water; and that the watermen determine from this when their hives are loaded sufficiently and it is time to carry them back to their places from which they came. The same author relates that the people of the country of Juliers used the same practice; for that, at a certain season of the year, they carried their bees to the foot of the mountains that were covered with wild thyme.”

[Main image: Miniature by Andrea da Firenze, from an edition of Natural History by Pliny the Elder, c.1457–58 – British Library]

Learn about Beekeeping


To be held at Aberdeen Grammar School Skene St, Aberdeen AB10 1HT.


  • 16 February: The biology of the bee
  • 23 February: The beehive
  • 02 March: What do I need to keep bees?
  • 09 March: The products of the hive
  • 16 March: Help! There’s something wrong with my bees!
  • 23 March: The beekeeping year

Starting each evening at 7.30pm, the six-week programme will cost just £15, payable on the first evening of attendance.

The programme is ideal for those thinking about starting out beekeeping, but would also be of interest to novices preparing to take the next step, or even experienced beekeepers wishing to update their knowledge.

It is our intention to offer attendees the opportunity to take part in hands-on beekeeping sessions at our Crathes apiary on the conclusion of the programme.

No need to book.  Just turn up.

2016 Honey Show

We had another great turnout from members at this year’s honey show, which was judged by beekeeping legend Willie Robson of Chain Bridge Honey Farm.  Despite the obvious impact of a poor summer on the honey classes, this was more than made up for by the impressive array of entries in the wide range of competition categories, from photographs to baking.  Our featured image for this post is of the beautiful ‘Shop Window Display’, entered by Olga MacAulay.

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SBA Lecture Tour

Reading Bees

Dan Basterfield

Friday 7 October 2016 at 7pm
Kinellar Community Hall
Blackburn AB21 0SS

Don’t miss the visit by this year’s SBA Touring Lecturer, Daniel Basterfield, NDB.  Daniel grew up with beekeeping around him, earning pocket money by clipping and marking queens. Having spent 15 years working in large companies, he returned to the family beekeeping business in Devon, expanding the business and building a brand new Honey Farm. He is a member of the Bee Farmers Association, holds the National Diploma in Beekeeping, and is a BBKA Master Beekeeper and Examiner. He runs 120-140 double-brood Modified Commercial hives, migrating between various farm crops in East Devon, and raises queens for prolific, productive and healthy qualities. Outside of the beekeeping season, Daniel undertakes teaching for the BBKA and NDB, for which he has developed a number of training courses.

For more information about the SBA lecture tour, click here.

You’ve been framed!

We all know that Lorenzo Langstroth invented the first moveable frame hive in 1852, right? If he was alive, Francois Huber might beg to differ. In his 1806 book, New observations on the natural history of bees, Huber writes: “It is not more difficult to lodge a natural swarm in a leaf hive than in any other of a different shape. But there is one precaution essential to success, which I should not omit. Though the bees are indifferent as to the position of their combs and as to their greater or lesser size, they are obliged to construct them perpendicular to the horizon and parallel to each other. Therefore, if left entirely to themselves, when establishing a colony in one of those new hives, they would frequently construct several small combs parallel indeed, but perpendicular to the plane of the frames or leaves and by this disposition prevent the advantages which I think to derive from the figure of my hives, since they could not be opened without breaking the combs. Thus they must previously have a guide to follow; the cultivator himself lays the foundation of their edifices and that by a simple method. A portion of comb must be solidly fixed in some of the boxes composing the hive. The bees will extend it and, in prosecution of their work, will accurately follow the plan already given them. Therefore on opening the hive, no obstacle is to be removed, nor stings to be dreaded, for one of the most singular and valuable properties attending this construction, is its rendering the bees tractable.”

Not what it seems to bee


ADBKA member Donald Morrison discovered this bee and others like it living in a concrete wall in an industrial estate in Blackburn.  At first glance it looked familiar – a feral colony of honeybees?  However, on closer inspection this was something very much more unusual.

After some research, Donald identified it as a mining bee called Andrena nigroaenea.  There are around 100 species of mining bee found in Britain, though this one seems to be rare up here in the north east of Scotland.

Sad to say, Donald’s latest report is that the local Great Tits have been hanging around the opening to the nest and have been picking off the bees as they come and go.   Things aren’t looking good for Andrena nigroaenea.