|National brood frame - Ashford BKA meeting 2002
February 2004 and for most of us, all is well with the
world of beekeeping. Our projects hatched over the winter months
are about to take shape and most of us, having made splendid new
year resolutions, hope for and expect a good year of beekeeping.
GMOs and GMIs
On the overall scene though, many of us and indeed many members
of the public appear to be sensing a growing unease. An unease
caused by an increasing awareness that in the name of disease limitation
and other laudable aims, science is steadily de- coupling us from
the natural world and in fact, de-coupling nature from the natural
world. Is that possible? It could well be. The debate over GMOs
has occupied us as beekeepers for several years now, but this debate
has essentially centred on the genetic modification of plants,
organisms which are of course central to bees and beekeepers. In
this issue of Apis-UK, we take you a step further with news of
genetically modified insects, including bees. (See news items).
It is claimed that there could be many benefits from such science;
diseases could be checked; people could live longer; even varroa
could be overcome. I’m sure that all this is true, but in
the meantime, genetic diversity which can hold keys to problems
and diseases we don’t even yet know about, could well become
less diverse, and could ultimately be lost. If you have the perfect ‘modified’ bee,
why do you need any other? For those who are against this science
of GMOs, there is a problem here because the research and practical
application of such organisms will continue inexorably until a
better and more efficient method of improving things is found.
Look what happened to vinyl LPs! This newsletter is not a forum
dedicated to the science of organic farming methods, (except in
as much as they affect beekeepers) just as it isn’t a forum
for GM science, (or a forum dedicated to those against GMOs) but
both these subjects are of crucial importance to us as beekeepers,
and scientific research is now showing that producing food organically,
is not only better for the environment, but is more efficient than
other forms of farming; can produce more food, and keep us all
much healthier. All this, in addition to maintaining essential
biodiversity for the future when science can begin to help us understand
what the natural world holds for us. (See item on Indian folk medicine
in the news section). So are organic methods of food production
the better and more efficient alternatives to GMOs? We will never
know unless we try it. Properly using science to help us. Instead
of wrecking a field of GMOs and alienating many sympathisers, why
not grow a field of organic crops and prove how better they are?
Simply and easily said I know, and said simply to make a point
because the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and proof is
essential if we are to find a way forward out of our current uncertainties.
Proof is essential to motivate a sceptical and in many ways ignorant
public. It could be the only way of halting the drift towards a
genetically modified world that none of us will truly understand.
This important subject possibly talked about even more than GMOs
has another airing in this issue when we look at mite resistance
to chemical treatments. Was it the fault of under or over use of
unauthorised treatments? Or was it something else? We take a look,
and get a surprise. (See article below). I did anyway. Also
in this issue we report on some more details of the honey bee genome
sequencing; how bees can help robots; new light on evolutionary
processes, and our usual articles of interest to beekeepers. The
Fact File in this issue concerns the often mysterious business
of honey bee mating in Drone Congregation Areas (DCAs). We bring
you up to date with current thought on this little known about
subject, and one that I am particularly interested in having researched
the matter at Cardiff. Our recipe is a mouth watering turron and
we have a poem written for us by Ian Rumsey, who for many months
has kept us interested in his articles.
All of this and more, with subjects of both direct and indirect
interest to beekeepers completing this February edition of Apis-UK.
I hope that you enjoy reading it, but do remember that Apis-UK
is interested in your beekeeping activities as well, and even though
it is Apis-UK, we are as interested in beekeeping research and
activities across the world. So if you have anything interesting
to talk about, any recipes, histories or poems, how about sharing
them with us? With this thought in mind I am very happy that Margaret
Cowley has written to us on the subject of her popular beekeeping
courses (see beekeeping courses) and that the Harrogate and
Ripon Beekeepers Association have sent their magazine, The Apiarist
the Press’). Both UK and overseas news is
welcome and I am sure will be of interest to most of our readers. David
APPOINTMENT OF GENERAL SECRETARY
On 16 February 2004, Claire Waring was appointed General
Secretary of the British Beekeepers' Association. She is the
to hold this post and the first to follow her husband in the
job. Adrian Waring was General Secretary from 1994–1999.
Claire, who lives in Little Addington, Northamptonshire, has kept
bees since 1980. She attended classes run by the late George Sommerville,
CBI for Northamptonshire, and started with one colony, which soon
multiplied to four at the bottom of the garden. Claire met Adrian
Waring when he took over from George and they were married in 1983.
Claire has been involved with her local Association from the beginning
and has been a member of its management committee since 1982, including
serving as Bulletin Editor and Programme Secretary. She soon became
active in other associations and has served on the committees of
the Central Association of Beekeepers (as Editor/Proofreader) and
the Bee Improvement and Bee Breeders' Association (BIBBA) (as Conference
Officer and Publications Officer).
Following the establishment of a beekeeping project in Nepal in
1994, Claire was active in the foundation of the UK charity Bees
Abroad which aims to relieve poverty through beekeeping. The charity
now has projects in Nepal, Cameroon, Malawi and Nigeria. Claire
has been instrumental in establishing a number of beekeeping holidays
to Nepal, Thailand and elsewhere to raise funds and increase knowledge
of beekeeping overseas.
Claire's involvement with the BBKA began indirectly when she met
Adrian who was a member of the Executive Committee at that time.
She became directly involved when she joined the Publicity and
Promotions Committee in 1995 and served as Secretary in 1995–1997.
Until 2001, she was responsible for all the organisational arrangements
for the BBKA presence at Gardeners' World Live and the RHS Tatton
Park Flower Show. In 1994–2002, Claire acted as Entries Secretary
for the BBKA Honey Show at the Royal Show and was privileged to
show Princess Alexandra and other VIPs the displays and answer
questions about bees and beekeeping.
Elected to the BBKA Executive Committee in March 2000, Claire
served as Chairman of the Publicity and Promotions Committee until
2002. In 2003, she became a member of the Finance Committee. She
holds the BBKA Preliminary and Intermediate Certificates.
In 1997, Claire was appointed as Editor of Bee Craft and has been
largely responsible for introducing the changes to A4 and full
colour which led to the magazine being awarded the Bronze Medal
for Beekeeping Journals at the 2003 Apimondia Congress in Lubljana,
Slovenia. She will continue in this role.
Claire is particularly committed to seek to improve
communication between the BBKA and its members and to the promotion
to the general public.
Outside of beekeeping, Claire runs her own
publishing and communications company, Buzzwords Editorial Ltd,
and her other
photography (particularly bees!) and foreign travel. She looks
forward to working with beekeepers to promote and further the craft
NEW BOOK - The Honey Bee Inside Out by Celia F Davis Published
24th April 2004
Special pre publication offer £20
post paid directly from Beedata.com (CLOSES 20th APRIL 2004).
This 160 page book gives detailed information about the anatomy
physiology of the honey bee in a clear and concise format.
Each of the eight copiously illustrated chapters covers an aspect
of bee biology. The author has drawn most of the diagrams from
her own dissections, giving a realistic rather than an idealistic
impression of the parts involved. For more details and pre-order
visit the URL: http://www.beedata.com/nbb/davis.htm
ANALYSIS OF BEE BEHAVIOUR MAY MAKE BETTER ROBOTS
at the Georgia Institute of Technology in the USA have developed
a new computer vision system which affords an automated
analysis of animal movement - honey bee activities in particular.
The system is expected to accelerate animal behaviour research
which will have implications for the biologically inspired design
of robots. A scientist on the project explained that they believe
that the language of behaviour is common between animals and robots,
so potentially they could for instance videotape like ants for
a long period, learn their 'programme' and run it on a robot. He
further explained that as social insects such as bees and ants
represent the existence of successful, large scale, robust behaviour
forged from the interaction of many simple individuals, this can
offer ideas on how to organise a cooperating colony of robots capable
of complex operations. The new system automates what once was a
time consuming and tedious task and the system can be used to analyse
data on the sequential movements that encode information. A prime
example of this is the honey bee dance that encodes information
on food source. On this particular analysis, the team are working
with Thomas Seeley* of Cornell University. The analysis system
has several components.
Firstly, researchers shoot 15 minutes of video footage of bees
(some of which are marked. This footage is taken in an observation
hive. Then the computer software converts the bees movements into
x and y components to determine location information for each bee
in each frame. Some segments of this data are hand labelled and
used as motion examples for the automated analysis system. Challenges
lie ahead though, especially the fact that researchers will have
to work out differences between the motor and sensory capabilities
of robots and insects.
*Professor Thomas Seeley is professor of Biology at Cornell University
and is the author of Honeybee Ecology, and Wisdom of the Hive.
Both well worth reading. Ed.
GENETICALLY MODIFIED INSECTS MAY OFFER BENEFITS
Researchers are using biotechnology to develop GM insects for a
wide variety of purposes such as fighting insect borne diseases
(e.g. malaria), and controlling destructive pests. In a recent
report issued by the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology called
Bugs in the System? Issues in the Science and Regulation of Genetically
Modified Insects, the authors outline the possible uses of the
science, provide an overview of the current research efforts and
look at the benefits, risks and scientific uncertainties associated
with transgenic insects. The report highlights the fear that the
research threatens to outpace regulatory preparedness. (in
this, they refer to regulatory preparedness in the USA, but I believe
this can be translated to the UK and Europe. Ed).
They also outline
the benefits of such technology with examples such as:
Mosquito’s incapable of transmitting malaria which kills
between one and three million people per year world wide.
Honey bees genetically engineered for disease and parasite resistance.
Silkworms engineered to produce pharmaceutical and industrial
proteins similar to those used to produce very strong spider silk
to make artificial ligaments, bullet proof vests and parachute
Kissing bugs unable to transmit Chagas' disease which currently
infects 16 to 18 million people annually and kills some 50000 annually.
However, concern is also expressed about the uncertainty of the
lasting effects these insects could have on ecosystems, public
health and food safety. Will such insects be able to replace their
non genetically modified counterparts? (They must if they are to
be effective). If they do, will this mean a reduction in biodiversity?
Will the release of fertile transgenic insects increase the potential
that transgenic traits could spread throughout the insect population?
Which in turn could mean the production of worse problems and unknown
challenges. Importantly for beekeepers, is there a chance that
genetically modified honeybees produce honey with an altered composition?
Thus creating food safety concerns. Are any regulators seriously
thinking about all this? The full report on this subject can be
read at http://pewagbiotech.org/research/bugs/
SCIENTISTS TAP BEE GENOME MAP FOR IMPROVED TRAITS
In last months issue of Apis-UK we reported on the draft
publication of the honey bee genome in the USA. Now we bring you
up to date
with a news item courtesy of bee Culture magazine's catch the Buzz
Breeding a better honey bee is the goal of U.S. Department of Agriculture
scientists who are using recently created genomic data to speed
their search for disease resistance and other traits.
Scientists with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service are
exploiting an initial draft of the honey bee genome announced earlier
this month by the Baylor College of Medicine and U.S. National
Institutes of Health, which co-funded the mapping project with
The scientists’ aim is to secure the honey bee’s role
as the chief insect pollinator of more than 90 different crops,
including almonds, blueberries, melons and alfalfa. Determining
the position and order of genes residing on the insect’s
DNA— about one tenth the size of the human genome—provides
bee researchers with a shortcut to traits that can otherwise be
difficult to identify.
This research puts the honey bee centre stage as the first agricultural
animal that’s been fully sequenced,” said Joseph Jen,
USDA Undersecretary for Research, Education and Economics. “As
an organism whose social order rivals our own in many ways, the
honey bee will serve as a natural system for further agricultural
studies, including such areas as social behaviour, cognition and
immune system function.” ARS researchers Katherine Aronstein
at Weslaco, Texas, and Jay Evans at Beltsville, Md, two co-authors
of the proposal to sequence honey bees, are especially interested
in defining the responses of bees to a range of diseases. Their
long-term goal is to characterize genes that are key in the honey
bee immune response, and then use data from these genes to improve
both bee breeding and management.
ARS also conducts bee research at its Carl Hayden Bee Research
Centre at Tucson, Ariz., and its Honey Bee Breeding, Genetics and
Physiology Research Unit at Baton Rouge, La., which also is involved
in studies of the germplasm and genetics of honey bees. Enhanced
knowledge of the honey bee genome will be of value to all aspects
of the agency’s bee research.
“Currently, we know of a handful of honey bee genes that are activated
in response to disease,” said Kevin Hackett, who leads the
ARS National Program for Bees and Pollination. “We’re
also now discovering how the products of these genes are involved
with keeping bees healthy.”
According to Hackett, other possible research avenues include identifying
genetic markers to expedite bee breeding efforts, preserving honey
bee germplasm and fine-tuning the honey bee’s nutrition and
pollination effectiveness, such as through genome-driven studies
of the bee’s sense of smell. More information about the honey
bee genome project is available at:
RESEARCH SHEDS NEW LIGHT ON THE PROCESS OF EVOLUTION
This information comes from a research paper published in the November
2003 issue of Nature and reports that despite the fact that for
over a century, scientists have believed that species
evolve or adapt by going through an infinite number of small changes
over a long period of time, there is some new evidence that an
alternative theory is at work. Researchers from the Michigan State
University believe that the evolutionary process begins with several
large mutations before settling down into a series of smaller ones.
They ask the question: If a population finds itself in a maladaptive
state due perhaps to a change in climate, how will it adapt? The
evidence has now come to light recently that the initial changes
are bigger than they would expect. To determine this they used
a plant called the monkey flower and changed it's genetic makeup
to see if it would attract new pollinators; hummingbirds instead
of bees or vice versa. By moving a small piece of the genome between
the pink flowered M.lewisii and the red M. cardinalis, the scientists
created different coloured flowers that attracted new pollinators.
They discovered that moving this single genetic region caused
a dramatic increase in visitation by a new pollinator. The orange
flowers produced on the previously pink flowered and bee pollinated
M.lewisii is regularly visited by hummingbirds and shunned by bees.
The new pink flowers of the previously red M.cardinalis were visited
by both bees and hummingbirds. They believe that by altering the
genetic region responsible for colour is much like what could happen
during a naturally occurring mutation. They state that perhaps
a single mutation having to do with a colour changed the pollinator
milieu back when there was only a single species. That one big
evolutionary step may have then been followed by many smaller steps
triggered by pollinator preferences that led ultimately to different
NEW INSIGHT INTO PLANT EVOLUTION. RAPIDLY EVOLVING GENES
From the pages of the December 2003 issue of the American Journal
of Botany we read an interesting report on research using rapidly
evolving genes to determine the molecular evolution of flowering
plants. This research is providing new insights into plant relationships.
The researchers say that in the past, scientists looked at how
plants relate to each other and classified them according to
how they looked - morphology, anatomy and chemistry.
Recently however, scientists are looking at the sequence
of genes to infer relationships and classifications. With this
biology approach, the whole classification has been revised and
the pattern of evolution looks different from what they perceived.
Using this approach to understand flowering plants, researchers
have traditionally used slowly evolving genes or genes that evolve
at a very slow rate. Now, scientists at the College of science
at Virginia Tech in the USA are now looking at a new approach involving
the use of rapidly evolving genes to
understand deep level relationships. These genes evolve at higher
rates than slowly evolving genes. Previously these 'fast' genes
were thought to give a misleading picture of deep evolutionary
history and were useful only in more recent evolutionary events
such as evolution at the genus or species level. The chief researcher
Khidir Hilu has shown that as few as 1200 nuclear-type bases of
a rapidly evolving gene such a matK* will give a tree that is far
more robust than that obtained from 13400 bases of slowly evolving
genes combined. With this new approach, Hilu explained that scientists
will be able to sample many more species and the process will be
far more economical.
So of what value is this? Hilu is now working on expanding the
use of these fast genes to understand relationships amongst land
plants other than the angiosperms - conifers, ferns, mosses and
liverworts and suggests that these relationships could be important
to ecologists in their work on animal plant interaction and the
evolution of nectar in pollination. Research could benefit scientists
trying to assess biodiversity in plants and the placement of endangered
This work has resulted in collaboration with top laboratories around
the world including two UK scientists at the Molecular Systematics
Section of the Royal Botanic Gardens, and with other scientists
in the USA, the Netherlands, France, Canada, and Germany.
DETECTION OF ADULTERATION IN COMMERCIALISED HONEY IN SPAIN
At a recent day conference of the MAPA, (Spanish equivalent of
DEFRA) Isabel martinez Castro of the Institute of organic chemistry
in Madrid, informed the meeting of a study into the development
of chromatographic and electrophoretic methods of for the detection
and quantification of possible adulterants in honey; the perfecting
of methods to determine and assess minor oligosaccharides in honey
and the characterisation of honey proteins. She explained that
advances had been made in the study of Amadori compounds which
are indicators of non-enzymatic degradation (eg furosin and HMF).
The use of these two indicators together shows whether honey has
been heated (in which case the concentration of both substances
is higher) or whether the honey has had a long shelf life indicated
by a very high level of furosin although that of HMF may be lower.
She also noted that the perfection of the chromatographic technique
for the detection of adulterations by means of analysis of carbohydrates
of high molecular weight has led to a detection limit of as low
as 1% in the majority of cases. (Although the method allows for
it, anything under this value is considered economically absurd).
In other less favourable cases, the detection limit was 5%. (Translation
by Ruth Christie, a UK beekeeper).
With biodiversity under threat from a variety
of sources and suggested by the article above on GMIs, the importance
of the following research
is emphasised from a report of January 5 years ago which commented
on the start up of a scientific journal devoted to the scientific
study of South American Indian folk medicine. Ed.
INDIAN FOLK MEDICINE HIGHLIGHTS THE IMPORTANCE OF BIODIVERSITY
Field studies conducted in the Amazon rain forest by Cornell University
students of chemical ecology are beginning to answer some long
standing questions: Will a cup of lichen tea four times
a day cure urinary tract infections or even gonorrhoea? Can a bird's
choice of nest building materials boost its immune system?
Why do some Indians prefer the honey of sting less
bees over honey from killer bees? From their researches, the students
chemistry, not bee temperament explains the antibiotic value of
honeys; there is an explanation for birds disease resistance and
for the curative powers of lichen. The indigenous peoples knew
what worked for them but not why. The students return to the rain
forest each year using ethno botany techniques to query their Indian
informants about the plants that they use and those which the local
animals use. Then with the prescribed plant materials to hand the
students use Cornell's field laboratory performing chemical extractions
and bioassays to try and find out why some plants are so effective
against bacteria, fungi and other pathogenic organisms. These ongoing
studies may lead to the discovery of important new drugs for a
variety of epidemica. (Could research into genetic modification
to counter disease, wreck what we already have, but haven't bothered
to find out about yet? Ed).
As farming techniques are of such importance to beekeepers both
hobby and commercial, the following news item may be of interest.
ORGANICS KEY ROLE IN CONTROLLING CLIMATE CHANGE
In a speech made by the former environment minister Michael Meacher
to delegates from the Soil Association, he outlined the crucial
role that organic farming methods would play in helping industrialised
countries meet their Kyoto greenhouse gas commitments. He stated
that soil is one of the worlds most important carbon sinks holding
an estimated 1.6 trillion tons of carbon. Long term comparative
studies of organic and conventional land carried out by the Rodale
Institute of the USA has shown that organic farming sometimes
doubled the amount of carbon sequestered by the soil and these
methods require significantly fewer energy inputs than conventional
farming methods. (The Rodale Institute study also showed that
organic farming gave higher nutritional levels and higher yields
than chemical methods). The study was carried out over a 22 year
NEW BBKA WEBSITE
The BBKA website is changing and becoming more customer orientated.
This welcome update sees a more easily navigable site and more
relevant to the modern beekeeper. Take a look at www.bbka.org.uk
PDB RESIDUES IN SWISS HONEY
A paper in the latest edition of the Journal of Apicultural Research
reports that following sampling of honey from 1997 to 2002, 30%
of the honeys had residues of paradichlorobenzine, whilst only
7% of samples of imported honey showed this residue. The paper
points out those residues can be avoided altogether by using
alternative wax moth control methods carried out according to
good apicultural practice. (Personally, I would never
go near the stuff let alone put it in my beehives. Ed).
It is with great sadness that it falls on me to record the passing
of a very well known beekeeper. Dennis Geoghegan took up beekeeping
in 1972 and joined the Bromley Branch of the Kent Beekeepers Association.
He died in his sleep during the night of the 4th of February at
the age of 71. The post mortem revealed that he had had a heart attack
and that he had suffered a heart condition for several years previously
but was apparently unaware of his condition.
He worked as a BBC Engineer until his retirement and shortly after
in 1993 took up the post of Bee Inspector and became a very familiar
figure in the world of beekeeping especially in Kent. I for one got
to know him very well over the following seven years as in his professional
capacity he was a frequent visitor to my Apiary until he finally
gave me the all clear late in 2000 by which time I was down to one
stock. He eventually relinquished the post of inspector at the end
of the season of 2002, but regularly attended all the Branch events.
Our heartfelt condolences go out to his wife Marie and all his family.
The funeral took place at Hither Green Crematorium on Wednesday the
18th of February when his family and a large number of beekeepers
attended. Peter Springall
THE BEE PRESS
Beecraft February 2004 Volume 86 Number 2
The latest issue of Bee Craft offers a wealth of information, advice
and items of interest for all beekeepers in its monthly columns. http://www.bee-craft.com/ The
following is its contents list:
Editorial; Claire Waring; Strategies to save your bees
Ivor Davis, PhD; Sequencing the honey bee genome Claire
Waring; Importation of
bees from third countries Defra and the NBU; The beekeeping year:
February Pam Gregory, MA, NDB; The 'How to" of siting apiaries
and hives Alan Johnston; Home thoughts from abroad Lester Quayle;
Beeswax Celia Davis, NDB; Shook swarms: where do we go from here?
Ruth Waite, PhD; A touch of glass Susan Kelly; In the Apiary: having
fun with bees (part 1) Karl Showler; Do bees need a plain landing
strip? Bruno Becker; Bee Myths and legends: Melissani Melissa Addey
and much more.
||Cover: Showing off the beauty
of honeycomb (Photo: C Jackson- 3rd prize, National Honey Show
2002, Class 44, sponsored by Bee Craft.
BEE IMPROVEMENTS AND CONSERVATION WINTER/SPRING 2003/4 Number
IBRA’s new quarterly news letter has its first airing (following
the introductory issue. Amongst the items of interest are how IBRA
assists beekeepers in third world countries with beekeeping information
packs; news of new reports in the latest Journal of Apicultural Research,
and interesting listings from apicultural abstracts. To receive Buzz
Extra and find out all about IBRA’s works together with other
beekeeping updates contact IBRA on www.ibra.org.uk
Published by the Bee Improvement and Bee Breeders' Association 32 pages
A4 magazine. Articles this issue: A thymol over-frame evaporator John
Dews; A computerised record card/stud book system Albert Knight; Bee
races in the environment Terence F.Theaker; Raising, mating & making
use of queens Tiesler & Englert; Chalk brood - an observation Brian
Bennis; Picture gallery - queen mating hives Philip Denwood. BIBBA
membership from Brian Dennis, 50 Station Road, Cogenhoe, Northants
NN7 1LU Email:
firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 01604-890117.
Apart from the usual and necessary association news and comments, ‘The
Apiarist’, the quarterly journal of the Harrogate and Ripon
Bee-keepers Association includes an interesting article on Integrated
Pest management; Springtime for beginners and one of my favourite
poems from Vita Sackville-West. I notice that the editor has taken
a passage from Thomas Wildman’s book on bees from 1778 as
a historical note. This most interesting tome suffers in one respect
in that it uses the old English form of using the letter f for
first s, for instance the word ‘glass’ would be spelt ‘glafs’.
Single letter ‘s’ are all ‘f’ making it
most difficult to read and on occasion throwing up some alarming
language that I wouldn’t dare repeat in Apis-UK.
Again from IBRA, the ‘new look’ bee world is about to
be published with items spanning the world of beekeeping. This latest
change to the magazine promises to bring a wide range of exciting
and interesting articles that bring the science and practise of beekeeping
together. More information from www.ibra.org.uk
VARROA MITE RESISTANCE TO CHEMICAL TREATMENTS. HOW IT HAPPENED This
a much discussed subject and the common knowledge is that the under and overdosing
of beehives by beekeepers has led to the creeping increase in the
mite's resistance to chemical treatments. This may not be the case however as
the article below suggests. Ed.
THE VARROA MITES SECRET WEAPON: CLONING
With varroa mites resistant to parathyroid treatments such
as Bayvarol/Apistan now known to be wide spread in the Cornwall and
Devon and other sporadic
areas of the UK it was with some interest that I heard a recent update
on how just this has happened. According to Dr Steve Martin of the
Sheffield based research group LASI this has nothing to do with the
misuse of varroa treatments as been popularly believed.
Up to now we were all quite ‘happy’ with the perceived
wisdom that varroa resistance is encouraged by low prolonged dosage
of chemical treatments such as leaving strips in longer than recommended
and that the makers instruction must to closely adhere to at all
times. This is still sound and wise advice but the new breed of varroa
mite has its origins far from these shores and has nothing to do
with UK beekeepers misusing chemicals.
To understand this situation we must look at just how this remarkable
pest breeds, you see the varroa mite unlike most insects and mammals
is quite happy to breed brother to sister indeed this is normal for
varroa. The mother mite lays both one male and several female mites
in the same cell and
the male fertilises the females. Therefore, all mites are genetically
very similar, indeed almost exact clones of each other. There is
therefore little room for the varroa mite to evolve to become resistant
chemical treatments and it is in this respect vulnerable.
have these resistant mites come from, well believe it or not the
resistant strain can be traced across Europe to an apiary
in Sicily where a chance genetic mutation occurred rendering ONE
mite resistant to parathyroid treatments. Now the breeding habits
of the mite become a strength, and the offspring of this single mite
inherited this resistant trait and from that point on resistant mites
faithfully reproduce more of the same like a photocopier. It is the
distant ancestor of this one mite that is now in the south west of
England and make no mistake will be in our hives one day soon. Graham
In this article, John Yates follows on from his previous articles
and tells us how colonies develope during the active season.
COLONY DEVELOPMENT DURING THE ACTIVE SEASON
Spring is now very close and it will be the aim of all beekeepers
to maximise their honey crop during the coming season. In order
to do this the colony has to grow and be at its maximum size when
the honey flow starts. The three graphs that I have prepared will
help in understanding what is required. They are applicable in
the southern counties of UK.
Graph 1. This illustrates a normal healthy colony building up on
the spring flow to reach a maximum when the main flow occurs in June/July.
The flow stops and the colony population then starts to decrease
rapidly due to the queen’s reduction in egg laying and the
demise of those workers after their three week stint as foragers.
The maximum population varies with the efficacy of the queen and
the type of bee but, in general, may be assumed to be about 40,000
Graph 2. This illustrates a normal healthy colony which swarms
in about April/May and then
proceeds to re-queen itself. It will be clear that it has a very
much reduced colony population and hence foraging force. When the
main flow starts it will, therefore, result in a very reduced honey
crop. The amount of honey collected is directly proportional to
the colony population.
Graph 3. This illustrates the build up of a diseased colony say
one with Nosema. It has a very reduced population and reaches its
peak as the main flow is ending. Again, this has a very serious
effect on the amount of honey collected by the colony.
Considering the three graphs shown above it will be clear that
in order to ensure that a maximum honey crop is obtained, it is
necessary to have a disease-free colony which builds up normally
on the spring flow and does not swarm. It also illustrates the
necessity of checking the colony for disease in the spring, something
few beekeepers do. If the colony is declared disease-free and its
performance is more akin to Graph 3, then it is more than likely
that the queen is failing and needs replacement.
I trust that you all have an enjoyable and profitable season. JDY.
AN INVESTIGATION INTO NATURAL COMB (Part 5)
To understand the finer points concerning natural comb construction,
let us consult the master of this art, the designer of the structure,
the manufacturer of the actual material, namely the bee, and also
compare their knowledge and ability with our own mechanical theory.
Two different types of mind may obtain the same solution.
The brood-nest area is encircled with stores which supply the circumference
with a rigid framework. The shape of the brood-nest, with our theory,
should decree the distortional stresses and in consequence the cell
Let us take a rope, suspended say between two poles 30 feet apart.
It would form a catenary, and the tighter the rope the more shallow
the catenary would become. The rope would be under tension in the
horizontal plain and there is no need for any intermediate vertical
support to aid suspension. We will now envisage the rope as an arrangement
of hexagon cells, and to withstand such tension, the hexagon would
require to be orientated with the apex at the top. It would follow
that where the brood-nest was much wider than it is deep a similar
orientation would be required to avoid distortion. The bees understand
this and build horizontal comb accordingly.
Ropes may be suspended down wells, here the tension in the rope would
be vertical and hexagon cells representing the rope would require
the apex to be at the side to now withstand the vertical tension.
Upon this example bees building natural comb in tall narrow cavities
would experience vertical tension and be expected to produce vertical
comb. They comply.
May I suggest that bees appreciated the mechanics of hexagon structures
before we could count to ten.
Wax foundation, being produced as horizontal comb, prevents vertical
comb being present within the hive, whereas natural comb in feral
colonies very often produces brood-nests comprising of vertical comb.
Feral colonies appear to survive in areas of varroa infestation;
colonies containing vertical comb. Perhaps consideration should now
be given as to whether vertical comb may be detrimental to varroa
Varroa and Cell Orientation
The presence of vertical comb in the brood-nest of a feral colony
is quite commonplace. The question therefore arises as to whether
this type of comb is in someway detrimental to varroa reproduction.
It is general knowledge that the mite when entering the cell prior
to capping, hides behind the larva which is curled up at the far
end of the cell. It is also accepted that if a visiting nurse bee
observes the mite in the cell prior to hiding behind the larva, the
bee will remove the varroa.
This is a period of danger for the varroa.
Although the varroa is deemed to have some aquatic ability regarding
bee milk I feel that the attempt to pass between the larva and the
cell wall would be made where the conditions were the most favourable,
namely where it is dry and the pressure is least. The pressure between
the larva and the cell wall is greatest at the bottom of the cell
due to gravity and the weight of the larva. The pressure is least
at the top.
With horizontal comb, with the apex at the top, a small triangular
space occurs above the larva and the mite therefore may gain easy
access. The conditions are also dry.
Where vertical comb is present and the flat portion of the hexagon
is uppermost this ease of access is no longer available. Diagram
The longer the time that the varroa takes to hide itself, the greater
the likelihood becomes of a nurse bee inspecting the cell and removing
Experiments are currently being undertaken to test this theory as
to whether cell infestation is less when vertical comb is present.
It is interesting to note that the pressure between the cell wall
and the larva may also be increased, and no doubt cause a similar
effect, by decreasing the size of the cell, or by introducing a queen
mated, or bred from, a slightly larger strain.
In the insect world there are numerous instances where the parasite
is aware of its host's location, which with only our senses, would
J.H.Fabre has been consulted and is of the same opinion.
A parasite wishing to lay its egg adjacent to its host's larva achieves
its purpose because it can detect the location, age and health of
the larva through the equivalent of a brick wall.
The senses the parasite uses are beyond our comprehension or even
Although varroa are not insects, there is no reason why they should
not also have this parasitic capability.
Varroa do not just turn up prior to capping by pure chance, and with
this ability they would be aware of the position, age and health
of every larva in the hive, and could map their course accordingly.
If this were the case, regular manipulation of brood frames, where
the frames are reshuffled rather than replaced in their former position,
would confuse both bees and varroa which would be detrimental to
the varroa regarding nest site location.
The confusion to the bee is difficult to quantify, but 'chewing out'
may be a sign that the bees are not happy with the new brood nest
shape and are rearranging matters more to their liking.
Whether the penetration of this special awareness is effected by
the presence of metal, such as a sheet of queen excluder, is open
to further speculation. In fact queen excluder may already play an
important roll in varroa reproduction in two ways.
(1) Varroa bred
in drone cells that remain on the drones after emergence from the
cell will be retained in the brood nest area due
to the queen excluder.
(2) The queen excluder would act as a safety net for groomed varroa
formally attached to worker bees operating in the upper part of the
Not only may varroa have this special awareness of the bee, the bee
may also have a special awareness of the varroa.
It is dark within the cell, so the bee's recognition of the varroa
will not be ocular, but by this special awareness that can identify
other life forms through intervening material. However, this awareness
apparently will not penetrate through the life form of the larva,
and in consequence the life form of the varroa remains undetected.
It is also equally possible that the varroa knows that it will be
seen by the bee unless it hides its life form behind the life form
of the larva.
The varroa is aware of the bee's awareness, but are we aware of the
varroa's awareness; I think not.
Comb Betwixt Between
Bees being bees, and nature being nature, there
also occurs natural comb which is a variation between the horizontal
and vertical arrangement.
As previously explained, vertical comb is just horizontal comb turned
through 90 degrees, but in actual fact due to the hexagon shape,
the rotation need only be 30 degrees to achieve the same result.
If one took this rotation at one degree at a time there would be
a further 29 variations of comb orientation between horizontal and
This third type of comb clearly exists, it occurs quite regularly,
and appears to the eye as horizontal comb with a downward slope.
If our theory regarding distortional stresses within the brood-nest
is valid, then application of this theory should provide a reason
for the existence of this comb which is betwixt between. Diagram
Consider a brood-nest that is not centrally placed within the comb
and is altogether over to one side, to the extent that one side of
the brood-nest directly abuts the frame or cavity wall.
There are no cells containing sealed stores on this side, the rigid
framework surrounding the brood-nest has been broken. The stresses
now inside this area are neither totally vertical or horizontal but
somewhere in between.
To compensate for this, bees re-orientated their cell construction
to the alignment of the revised direction of tension. Diagram refers.
So, why should bees build a brood-nest not centrally placed within
the comb but over to one side?
May I suggest temperature variation. When comb is placed so that
a temperature gradient occurs across its surface, the brood-nest
may well be positioned towards the warmest edge. This theory is easily
proved by observing the presence of comb with such a slope and noting
whether the slope is down toward the warmer position within the hive,
and that the brood-nest is in fact off-set also in this direction.
Even with these structural variations being available, the queen
cannot afford to lay her eggs in total disregard to the loading of
the brood-nest area. An example of the queen's balanced method of
brood expansion may be seen in Herrod- Hempsall's book 'Beekeeping
New and Old' pages 429/430 which includes 17 photographs clearly
showing this careful management.
As one might expect with these structural considerations in mind,
the larger and heavier drone cells are placed along the underside
of the brood-nest area thus again minimizing possible cell distortion.
Has there been a lot of thought put into the manufacture of feral
colony comb which takes all these factors into consideration?
Is this thought undertaken prior to actual commencement of comb construction?
Does the comb construction reflect the unique environmental conditions
for each feral colony? and become a permanent record of joint information
that has been collected and acted upon by a group of individuals?
The evidence is there, unbelievable, or unacceptable, as it may be.
The final chapter of T.W.Cowen’s book “ The Honey Bee ” is
entitled “ Wax and Comb Construction” which is concluded
by a quotation by Lord Brougham. The second sentence of this quotation
reads – Not a step can
we take in any direction without perceiving the most extraordinary
traces of design. This I feel includes the construction of natural
comb. Ian Rumsey
Mathew Allen now goes into the question of bumble bees in Winter; the
seedy and the serious side of hemp pollination, and how to sex an underaged
Wet and mild, wet and mild. That seems to be the pattern for our
winters now. The front page articles in the newspapers have recently
been looking at climate change; the apparently astonishing fact
that pollen from genetically modified crops spreads into wild plants;
the grubbing up of half of all English orchards in the last ten
years because it’s cheaper to grow apples in China and South
America and ship them around the globe; and floods, floods, floods.
Do you detect a theme?
Last year, I was staring at many acres of Suffolk farmland under
water, wondering about what happened to overwintering bumble bees
which had burrowed into the ground. If a queen is hibernating, how
much does she need to breathe? Very little, I would have thought.
How much cold can she withstand? Quite a lot, I would have thought.
So maybe it’s possible that from the hedgerows that are under
water now, there will emerge healthy queens in spring. It’s
in those same hedgerows in late summer that I usually see bumble
bee nests – ripped apart by badgers who probably can’t
believe their luck at finding a complete meal, savoury and sweet
in the same hole. And yes, I’m not kidding, there is a small
amount of honey, I suppose nectar really, in the nest.
And here’s a question or two or three for readers. One December
I saw a bumble bee foraging on a Hebe, collecting pollen which she
was packing into substantial pollen loads. Was she a very late survivor,
or a very early worker from the new season? (She was certainly small.)
Was she a queen? Do queens collect pollen in the middle of the winter
to boost their body reserves? Or was it evidence of brood in the
nest? I don’t know any of the answers. In fact the older I
get, the more ignorant I become. I followed her for a bit, but lost
her in some gardens. I hope we have a highly qualified entomologist
reading, who will elucidate.
Now, back to the sinister and seedy. I have a very respectable colleague
whose mother suffers from multiple sclerosis. To alleviate her pain,
my friend Mr X sallies out in Jekyll and Hyde fashion to buy cannabis
for her from the neighbourhood dealers. The relief on the suffering
lady is by all accounts marvellous. But Mr X may be spared his criminal
forays in future. I visited a horticultural research station recently
to discuss practical details of pollinating inside glasshouses, and
yes, you’ve guessed it, in one very high-tech glasshouse, surrounded
by a frightening security fence, was a fine plantation of cannabis,
ready for pharmaceutical trials on multiple sclerosis sufferers.
Just for idle curiosity, I look up hemp in Eva Crane’s Pollination
Directory For World Crops. The real cannabis is used as a drug, as
a fibre, and to make soap; pollination is by wind. There is another
hemp in Indonesia, which is pollinated by bats. Also Mauritius hemp,
with almost no information, and another Indian hemp grown for green
manure. So you can smoke it, (if it’s legal. Ed),
wear it, wash with it, and garden with it. Handy really. Mathew
POEM OF THE MONTH
The time of tides around our shore,
Are governed by celestial law,
Our gravity, rocks to and fro,
And cause the sea to ebb and flow.
This change of force we cannot see,
Has great affect upon the bee,
She builds her comb to compensate,
For gravity, whate'er its state.
The downward slope of every cell,
Has secrets of its own to tell,
And comb alignment is not chance,
To be dismissed without a glance.
So next time,study natural comb,
Look carefully at the cell and rhomb,
The combs are built to grand design,
And with the Moon and tide align.
RECIPE OF THE MONTH
In this section we bring you our two recipes. One to eat and one
to cure. Please remember that if you have a favourite and unusual
recipe involving honey or mead, or some curative potion made from
hive products, write in and let us know. I try all the recipes and
often regret not living in the Basque country of Northern Spain where
there are men only singing, drinking and cooking clubs where the
members take it in turn to produce a feast and then the rest dig
in and enjoy it together with fine wines and beers and healthy singing
voices. Here is this month's recipe:
Turron de Trufa con Miel or
truffel chocolate with honey
It is both quick and easy. You can use as much as you like of the
ingredients in this recipe as long as you keep the proportions more
or less as follows:
Liquid cream: 20%
Black chocolate: 60%
Mix the honey and cream together and put over heat for a minute
or two. Take off the heat when warm and add the shredded chocolate,
stirring until all of the chocolate is melted in. Then box it up
and wait until it sets. If you think it needs thickening, add some
cocoa powder mixed with caster sugar until the required consistency
is reached. You can also add toasted pine nuts or other little things
like that to add to the overall taste experience, but remember to
do so at the stirring stage.
Our second recipe in this issue is a lotion to treat light conjunvtivitis
and is given out by the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture. You will
need the following:
1 dessert spoon of honey.
1 dessert spoon of olive oil. (First press), i.e. virgin.
3 drops of lemon juice.
Mix well and wipe over well shut eyes with cotton wool. Leave this
in place for 20 to 30 minutes and then rinse the eyes well with an
infusion of camomile tea (cold).
The word for camomile tea in Spanish is manzanilla and is sold in
all bars in Spain as an infusion. Manzanilla is also an excellent
and widely drunk really dry sherry and one can make the fearful error
of asking for a manzanilla and getting a cup of tea. (or more rarely,
DRONE CONGREGATION AREAS. ONE ASPECT OF HONEY BEE MATING
The subject of honey bee mating was for a considerable time a complete
mystery to most beekeepers and this mystery persisted up until recent
time. (In fact to the present among some). The historical
note in the January 2004 issue of Apis-UK gives an idea of thinking
at the time and you can see that for most, their thinking was spot
off. Indeed at one time it was imagined that honey bees did not mate
at all but brought their seed back from the flowers, (see historical
note in this issue) and even now many parts of the puzzle remain to
be slotted into place. So What do we know about it all. Well one of
the aspects of honey bee mating that still defies scientists is the
flight of the drones and queens to Drone Congregation Areas (DCAs)
and here despite much to be learned, the veil is slowly being lifted.
We still actually know very little about these phenomena and the paucity
on the subject doesn’t help matters. Most of the research being
carried out at the moment is in Germany. But firstly, let us have
a look at what we do know.
|Left: A Drone comet forming under an artificial
queen. Above: A drone investigating the fishing real on which
traces of 9ODA
may have been left.
DCAs are aerial zones where drones collect and where virgin queens
fly to get mated. The queen is followed/pursued by many drones
towards the middle of the zone. Moving away from the centre of
the DCA you
find less drones and less intense activity.
German research suggests that outside of the DCA, there is no mating
activity at all. To find out where the drones come from, researchers
in the 60s marked them. Drones from the hives on the thorax and
drones in the DCA on the abdomen. Using data supplied from these
it was concluded that drones leaving the hive always head for the
open horizon rather than say mountains.
They were able to discover that drones flew around 5 km and that
rarely 6km. By using drone trapping methods within DCAs and using
genetic fingerprinting, more information as to drone/colony distribution
could be discovered. In one day, 2000 drones were trapped and genetic
imprints of 142 of them were taken. At the same time, genetic imprints
were taken of bees flying from hives
in the area.
Of the 142 drones tested, 80 were not related at all, 20 belonged
to two brother groups, 6 to three brother groups and 1 to 4 brother
groups. Statistical calculations determined that 240 colonies were
represented in the DCA. The researchers concluded from this that
the DCA is a centre of natural selection and that the high number
of colonies represented in the DCA make sister/brother
mating improbable. So in other words, bees have a system that gives
as big a genetic mix as possible.
How many males are necessary to make up a DCA? To find out this,
German researchers marked 500 drones. Then after half an hour to
see whether the drones went back to the hive or off to a DCA, they
trapped 1870 drones in a DCA. Of these, 77 were marked. From this
they were able to make a statistical analysis of how many
males visit a DCA. These experiments were repeated from 1999 to
2003 and it emerged that 12000 drones visit a DCA and under these
it is consideredunlikely for there to be any sister/brother
How many drones are needed to form a stable DCA? Researchers found
that around 1000 drones at least were required to form stable DCAs.
How long is the queen’s mating flight? Researchers in Germany
found that around 12% of queens did not come back from their mating
flight. Thus the queen is taking a
this time and the flight should be as long as necessary and as
short as possible. The normal length of a mating flight has already
assessed as between 10 and 30 minutes when the required number
of drones is available. So in the following experiment to assess
effectiveness of given lengths of queen mating flights, the durations
of the flights were classified as ‘under’ or ‘over’ 30
minutes. In a fairly complex experiment, using a known DCA with
5000 drones in its make up, marked queens were allowed to make
one mating flight and three weeks later, the queens were dissected
that the quantity of sperm could be assessed. Unexpectedly they
found that queens that had flown for more than half an hour had
less sperm in them than queens that had flown for less than half
It was concluded that queens that had received sufficient sperm
presumably they have a method of assessing this), return to the
hive. After 30 minutes, the queen returns to the hive whether or
has received sufficient sperm. The researchers assumed that she
returned because she was running out of fuel (honey). This has
not been proven though. When these experiments were repeated using
a DCA with an estimated 15000 drones, not one queen had to
fly for more than 30 minutes. Thus if queens fly for more than
30 minutes, they are likely to be badly fertilised.
question that needed to be answered was: If the queen fly’s
to a DCA and drones from the same hive fly to the same DCA, could
this cause a greater probability of brother/sister mating?
Using genetically known queens and observing the offspring of the
queens over a two year period of experimentation, they found some
interesting results: Drones prefer DCAs that are nearest to the
hive and queens prefer DCAs that are furthest away from the hive
the drones and queen from a hive do not choose the same DCA.
So to summarise:
a. Up to 240 hives can be represented in a DCA.
b. Up to 15000 drones visit a single DCA.
c. More than 1000 drones are needed to form a
d. The length of a mating flight is less than
e. Different choice of DCAs between drones and
virgens makes inbreeding unlikely.
Much of this research was undertaken by Drs Gudrun and Nikolaus
Koeniger of the Apicultural Institute of the JW Goethe University
in Germany and was presented at the French Bee Breeders Association
meeting in Limoges in France last November. It shows that we are
learning more and more about the mechanisms of DCAs all the time
but many questions remain. How do drones get attracted to certain
areas, year after year when the drone itself is new
each year? How does a virgin queen know where to go? What criteria
a DCA (from the drone’s point of view). i.e. Why there?
Are there different types of DCA, the different types operating
during different weather conditions?
Can virgins be mated outside DCAs under certain circumstances?
And so it goes on. The more we find out, the more we realise what
we don’t know. Can you find a DCA and study it? It is a relatively
easy process and this will be explained in full in the next edition.
Translation from French by Sally Amos.
Our fact file this month dealt with our knowledge and lack
of knowledge of Drone Congregation Areas. You can see that
there are still many unexplained mysteries, but think how
it must have bee nearly 300 years ago. Here is what Sir
John More had to say in 1707 in his book 'Englands Interest'
or the Gentleman and Farmers Friend. Chapter VI was devoted
There is a great contest amongst philosophical beemaster how the
bees are generated: some are of the opinion that they never generate,
but receive and bring home their seed from flowers; others say that
they have amongst them both sexes, yet do not agree which are the
males and which are the females.
As a matter of interest, the rest of the book which is essentially
about farming, tells the reader amongst other things how to make
cyder, perry, cherry, currant, gooseberry and mulberry wines ‘as
strong and as wholesome as French or Spanish wines’.
The once pedantically precise John Yates has become deceptively
imprecise in spreading his joyous Christmas Greetings (Apis-UK
Newsletter December 2003). Let's put a few facts straight.
True, the annual subscription to DBKA is £24.00 per
full member for 2004. This membership subscription includes:
Membership of the Devon Beekeepers' Association, that gives
insurance cover for two colonies through BDI at no extra
cost to the member - additional BDI cover may be purchased
for all further hives, the cost depending on the number of
colonies owned by the member;
Membership of the British Beekeepers' Association, which
provides amongst its many benefits, Public Liability and
Product Liability insurance cover to a limit of £5
million for any one incident against action arising from
the member's beekeeping activities, plus insurance cover
of a similar amount in any one year for a claim arising from
the provision of the beekeeper's products.
Freedom to attend monthly meetings at any or all of the Devon
Association's twelve branches, to hear talks and participate
in discussions on beekeeping subjects, and to be-involved
in the various educational programmes currently running in-Tose
Attendance at General Meetings to discuss and decide upon
how the Association shall be managed.
Participate in the outstanding biennial Devon Beekeepers'
Conference, which is arranged for members, to enable them
to hear and question directly the world's leading beekeeping
scientists as they speak about the latest scientific developments
in our world of apiculture.
Use the borrowing facilities of the Branch book and video
Take part in Branch apiary meetings.
Meet fellow beekeepers at social gatherings arranged from
time to time by the organisation.
And to receive that dreaded magazine Beekeeping, which incidentally
has contained 24-A5 pages of text plus a useful informative
double-sided cover page for many years (that's 7-A4 pages
per issue) - and the cost of the magazine component of this
membership package - a mere £4.20 per year.
John, I don't believe your national sailing association newsletter
at £8.00 per annum will provide such good value as
DBKA membership offers you. And if you are going to draw
comparisons John, please try to compare like with like! Now
to some of the other inaccurate elements in John's Apis-UK
He alleges that I "recommend that the contents of every jar
of honey should be measured with a refractometer before sale".
Not so! It is standard practice for the vast majority of beekeepers
to bottle their honey directly from a settling tank or from the 30lb
buckets in which the crop has been stored. A measurement taken with
a refractometer immediately before bottling would establish the moisture
content of each particular batch; that is all that would be required.
There was also no suggestion in the editorial that any individual
beekeeper should purchase a refractometer. The suggestion made was "It
may be wise for each DBKA Branch to invest in a refractometer so
that members may test the moisture content of their own honey - and
avoid problems". On the question of cost, three of the four
named sources of this instrument were checked; each one has them
on sale currently at £75.00 or less.
Brian Gant's article making suggestions for beekeeper's Christmas
presents may appear boring to John, but several members have commented
on how useful the list was to them when family members asked what
they would like as a Christmas present. Beekeeping magazine caters
for the needs of a very wide 'kirk', from those merely interested
in the craft to experienced beekeepers with many years of experience
- and John's was a lone voice!
And incidentally, Father Christmas no longer attempts to get a WBC
hive down the chimney; as every believer over the age of six years
knows, he delivers it directly to the required location by beaming
it down from the `transporters platform' of his sleigh - in true
I regret that John has a problem with the Beekeeping component of
the DBKA membership package, but I believe the solution to his personal
problem lies entirely within his own hands. Yours sincerely Bob
Ogden (Editor of Beekeeping, DBKA Newsletter)
I do not wish to respond in detail to the profoundly
specious comments from Bob Ogden and Natalie Tidy; Apis-UK
is worthy of something better. Ogden trots out the mantra
outlining benefits of membership and deviously qualifies
his original comments about testing for water content. Tidy
appears to confuse an association newsletter with a magazine
from a newsagent.
Over many years I have found that, in general,
beekeepers get very ‘uppity’ if someone expresses an
opinion which they themselves do not share. I have said this in
on numerous occasions. Enough said. Sincerely, John
If any of your readers have information on apitherapy
or apitherapy conferences, I would be very grateful if
you could let me know as we at the University of Kiev in
wish to extend our apitherapy contacts. Please reply by
email to me at: email@example.com Yours sincerely, Natally
Wanted tasteful photographs for a spoof calendar on
a new beekeeping website (The site will link to other beekeeping
sites). The photographs
should show beekeeper(s) of both sexes working their hives in the
nude with private parts covered with a frame, smoker or hive. We
need 12 pictures depicting the full beekeeping season from different
beekeepers to complete the project. Please sign the back of the
'prints' copyright free and permission is given to put on a beekeeping
Send to NBB Scout Bottom Farm, Mytholmroyd, Hebden Bridge, West
Yorks HX7 5JS. Yours sincerely, webmaster.
Apis-UK is always interested in what is going
on in your area of beekeeping, your courses, branch activities
and events of interest. So I asked for, and was very
pleased to hear from Margaret Cowley who tells us about
courses (see below for details).
This sort of activity really is central to UK beekeeping and the
popularity of her courses isvery evident. So thanks for that Margaret,
and the keep up the excellent work. Ed.
The courses have all been fully subscribed. The Spring course
has a maximum number of 14 as it is held in the local agricultural
college. The summer course has a maximum number of eight as it
is held at my apiary. I have had lots of favourable comments.
I have typed out the written feedback from questionnaires from
The college course leads to an Open College Network level Two certificate
in Beekeeping, the first in the world apparently! Students going
in for this are encouraged to do two hours a week homework towards
a portfolio which is externally verified. So far 19 students have
achieved the certificate. Several of those have gone on to acquire
the practical beekeeping experience needed for taking and passing
the BBKA Basic certificate.
The summer course is more relaxed, flexible and more practical (weather
permitting) as I do not have to satisfy the requirements laid down
by the college
for a course. It is consequently cheaper but also
easier for those who have to travel a long way as there are only
five longer sessions (as opposed to eight shorter ones for the
Quotes from former students
"Thanks for a very good course on beekeeping.
You have fired up my imagination. I will begin next year."
"Thank you for your excellent teaching and your time at the end
of the sessions."
"Thank you for making the bee course so interesting.
It has made my much more confident and I am really looking forward
my first bees."
"I thought your easy approachable style was very good indeed and
the course helped me enormously."
"I have enjoyed all sessions and
as a ¾ year experience
beekeeper have consolidated my practical knowledge. Margaret has
been a good,
caring teacher who is clearly a very enthusiastic beekeeper."
"We have enjoyed the course very mych and at this stage feel it
would be hard to improve upon."
"The course was an excellent introduction to beekeeping, maintaining
"I have thoroughly enjoyed the course and found it extremely
valuable. It has given me a lot more confidence handling bees."
The youngest student was 16 and used beekeeping as a focus for work
towards a "new" activity for his Duke of Edinburgh award.
The oldest has been 78.
I am the main tutor: I am a Biology graduate who has recently retired
from teaching Biology and IT for 30 years. I started keeping bees
20 years ago and having made every mistake in the book am keen to
help others avoid them!
We also have guest speakers and demonstrators, including the local
bees diseases inspector, the regional bee inspector, the local beekeeping
equipment supplier and the local association secretary.
I enjoyed the Apis-UK newsletter very much. Margaret Cowley
Spring Introduction to Beekeeping
Dates: Eight Saturday mornings
10 am to 12 noon starting 8th May 2004
Venue: Broomfield Agricultural College, Morley, near Derby
Tutor: Margaret Cowley M.Sc., Cert.Ed
More details from firstname.lastname@example.org
Summer Introduction to Beekeeping
Dates: Five Saturday mornings 9.00
am to 12.15 starting July 31st 2004
Venue: Three Roofs Apiary, Quarndon, Derbyshire
Tutor: Margaret Cowley M.Sc., Cert.Ed
More details from email@example.com
DATES FOR YOUR
Event organisers are welcome
to forward dates and details of their events to the
editor (by e-mail) for incorporation on this page.
Saturday March 6th 2004 10.0am to
4.0pm - Bucks County Beekeepers Association Annual Seminar, Wendover
Memorial Hall, Wharf Road, Bucks..
10.00 Meet for coffee and registration
10.40 Integrated pest management Richard Ball, Regional bees
Inspector for the South West
11.40 Short Break
11.50 Beekeeping in the future John Hamer of Blackhorse Apiary.
1.00 Ploughman’s lunch with time to chat and get your
bargains from the ‘Bring and Buy’ stall, find out
about Transrural Trust read the posters and more..........
2.15. “Have skep, will travel” Martin Buckle Chairman
of Bucks County BKA.
3.15 Forum A time for questions and discussion with our experts
4.00. Closing remarks
We extend a welcome to all beekeepers and others interested
Cost:- £10 for BBKA members, £11 for non-members
lunch and coffee etc. included To book:- please telephone Sylvia
Chamberlin on 01494522082 or Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saturday 6th of March 2004 at 3pm - Medway Beekeepers
pleased to present there 2nd Annual Beekeepers Lecture. Dr
Juliet Osbourne of Rothamsted Research will talk
Bees and Bumble Bees utilise the available forage" At
the Medway Council Offices "Presentation Suite" The
Medway Offices are just by Rochester Bridge entry via Knights
Road Strood. Free parking, entry and refreshments. Download
our newsletter [76KB PDF]. Sharon Resner Email: shazresner
Saturday 13th March 2004 - CABK Spring Meeting at
Kings College (Waterloo campus), London:- Peter Harvey,
Bees, Wasps and Ants Recording Society: "Invertebrates
and the importance of brownfield sites". Dr Ian Kitching,
Natural History Museum: "The biology of Death's-Head
Hawkmoths, lepidopteran kleptoparasites of honeybees".
Lizzie Cant, Rothamsted Research: "Hedges and roads:
guiding pollination and increasing plant gene flow?" More
details from website www.cabk.org.uk
Saturday 13th March 2004 Cambridgeshire Beekeepers'
Association One Day Meeting, Dr. Pamela Ewan: "Surviving Bees’ Venom
Allergy", Glyn Davies: "The Bees’ Knees" (some
aspects of bee physiology) Caroline Birchall: "Biological
Control of Varroa Destructor", Dr. Christopher Browning: "The
Many Wonders of Propolis" Trade stand and book stall.
Ticket price: £12. Programme (with map) and tickets,
from Jan. 2004: Dr. D. J. Abson, 6 Ascham Lane Whittlesford,
Cambridge, CB2 4NT (telephone 01223 834 620) S.A.E. appreciated.
Saturday March 27th Newark & Nottinghamshire Beekeeping
Association will be holding their Annual Sale of Bees
and Beekeeping equipment at the Newark & Nottinghamshire
Show ground at the junction of the A1 & A46 commencing
at 2.00pm sharp Item swill be accepted from 8.00pm to 1.30pm. Any
questions please contact Maurice Jordan on 01636 821863.
Saturday 3rd April 2004 - West Sussex
Beekeepers' 'Joy of Beekeeping' Convention - a Celebration
of Bees, Beekeeping and Hive Products
at Brinsbury College, on A29 north of Pulborough. Speakers
include Dr Beulah Cullen, Clive de Bruyn and Margaret Johnson.
Trade Stands. Lunch available in the College Restaurant. From
9.30am until 4pm, a superb day of beekeeping, with tickets £6
in advance (£8 on the day) from Andrew Shelley, Oakfield,
Cox Green, Ridgwick, Horsham RH12 3DD (sae appreciated). Further
information from John Hunt on 01903 815655 or email email@example.com.
Saturday 17th April 2004 9a.m.
to 4:30 p.m - The Yorkshire Beekeepers
Association Bishop Burton Conference at Bishop
Burton College, Beverley “Making the best of Beekeeping
knowledge to improve your practical skills” Integrated
Bee Health Management, Pheromone Use in swarm control
Bees and flowers – An essential partnership And much
more Guest Lecturers David
Charles Past President – BBKA John Pollard – Kent Beekeepers’ Association David
Aston PhD, NDB Books and Beekeeping Equipment Displays by Northern Bee Books
and Holderness Bee Supplies Only £19 including lunch (£14 excluding
lunch) Special rates for students and young people. Overnight accommodation available.
For further details contact: D. R. Gue, 87 Grove Park, Beverley, HU17 9JU. Tel.
01482 881288 or Download
form 41KB PDF
24th April 2004 BBKA Spring Convention
and Exhibition Download
HTTP the full 28 page Stoneleigh Programme PDF [2.7MB PDF Acrobat 4.x]
16th April 2005 BBKA Spring Convention and Exhibition
Harrogate and Ripon
BKA Events Listing 2004
(All meetings unless otherwise notified are held in the
Field Classroom at Harlow carr at 7.30pm.
March Date TBD. Beekeeping medicines.
23 Apr. Observation Colonies.
23 May. Visit to Chainbridge Honey
6-10 September 2004 - 8th IBRA Conference on
tropical Bees: management and diversity. Ribeiro Preto, Brazil.
21st, 22nd and 23rd October 2004 - The
National Honey Show, RAF
Museum, Hendon, North London. More details soon from http://www.honeyshow.co.uk
June 2004 - Holiday to Denmark. Following
an invitation from Danish Beekeepers, the BBKA is planning a visit
to Denmark for British beekeepers to experience the way
Danish beekeepers keep bees, how they breed them for gentleness,
high honey production, reduced swarming, and good hygiene. We will
also see much innovative modern beekeeping equipment and learn
of the Danish beekeepers approach to honeybee disease and its treatment.
The use of Apistan or Bayvarol is not permitted in Denmark. Each
day there will also be parallel activities arranged for any who
want to shop, or experience some of the local history, flora, and
wild life reserves. For example, there is a nearby museum with
salvaged artefacts from the stranding in 1811 of Nelson’s
flag ship HMS St George at the Battle of Copenhagen, and from the
Battle of, Jutland on 31st May 1916. The BBKA visit follows a successful
tour by the Bee Farmers earlier this year and will cover a similar
schedule of intensive lectures and visits to professional beekeepers.
Beekeeper partners are welcome. You will need to take local currency
(DKr.) Half-board hotel accommodation has been tentatively booked
at the Best Western 4-star Hotel Fjordgaarden in Ringkøbing
from Thursday 24th June to Monday 28th June 2004. The cost will
depend to some extent on numbers but the following provisional
breakdown gives an approximate idea per person. To indicate your
interest, PLEASE ring Raymond or Sylvia Chamberlin on 01494 522082,
or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor: David Cramp Submissions
contact the Editor
Web Editor: Steven Turner
E-mail addresses are not hyper linked to prevent harvesting
for spamming purposes. We recommend you cut & paste
to your e-mail client if required.
here to print this page