Contents: Editorial; Beekeeping news; Bee press; Articles: The Danish tradition of changing all beeswax brood combs every year by David Ashton. Danish honey retains its quality translated by David Ashton from an article by Benny Gade journalist and beekeeper. African honey bee update Kim Kaplan. The genome project Matt Allen puts it all into perspective. Diary of events and more. Please wait while downloading 246KB.


Apis-UK Issue No.22 March 2004


A fond farewell to Winter
Each time that March comes around I look back with fondness at the winter just gone by. OK, the bees weren’t doing much, (in fact I didn’t have any anyway) but I always enjoy the festive season when there are many excuses to take the odd break and add a stiff brandy to the hot chocolate. But now it’s back to work and for me it is back to work with a vengeance, and that includes working on improvements to Apis-UK . In order to inform, delight and educate its readers, a magazine can’t stand still. It has to constantly evolve, (take a look at our first few issues) and I hope that this year, Apis-UK will continue to do just this. But remember, a magazine is not just the editor, but also the readership. We welcome constructive suggestions and even though we are called Apis-UK, we have a global readership and all of your ideas are welcome.

GMOs yet again!

It appears now that an issue central to many beekeepers has again achieved prominence in the press and of course the issue is that of GMOs. GM maize has been given the go ahead to be grown commercially in the UK just as an alert is issued in the USA concerning the so called ‘pharm crops’ which is worrying many (see the News Section below).

Pure honey?
Where can this be found? We report on the struggle to produce a pure product in Denmark (see articles) and the necessary research being carried out to determine contaminant residues in honey (see news). It appears that all is not well in this department in some countries, but we must all be sure of the fact that unless we as beekeepers are able to ensure that our product is pure, who are we to knock others who may produce dangerous foods. Both our own honey and imported honey must be shown to be free of illegal residues because if this is not the case, honey’s reputation as a naturally pure food will go down the drain.

In this issue
On a happier note, we report on the launch of the new Bee World by IBRA (see magazine review) which is more than just a redesign of the old journal, but is effectively a new magazine that will, I have no doubt, take its place as a leader of beekeeping thought and practice. In the Historical Note we offer some serious advice on what to do if you happen to fall in with a bunch of ants in a dry area; and to get rid of your end of winter colds, go straight to the recipe section for immediate relief. The Fact File continues our look at DCAs and offers suggestions on how to study a DCA near you, and our poem comes from a scrap of paper found in an old beekeeping book. With a full update on the Africanised Bee situation from the USA and Mathew Allen’s interpretation of the true situation regarding the bee genome project, together with our usual columns we offer you the March 2004 issue of Apis-UK. If you have any ideas on anything to do with bees, or you wish to suggest changes to the magazine, simply write to me. Keep in touch. David Cramp. Editor.
Cover Photograph supplied by Catford beekeeper Gregory Boon.


Plants & Honey Bees An introduction to their relationships Dr David Aston. Price £16.95 from Northern Bee Books

Jack Holt the president of the National Honey Show has died aged 91. Jack had kept bees since the age of seventeen. The funeral will take place on the 5th April at 1:30pm at Howe Bridge Crematorium, Atherton, Warrington, Lancs.

The Executive Committee have been working away with the preparations for the 2004 Show. Changes to be included in the schedule are now being very carefully considered, and, as soon as it is ready, it will be posted on the website as usual. It all takes time, because we really want to get it right!

In the mean time, just to whet your appetite, here are a few changes that are taking place this year:

  • NHS annual membership is remaining at £10, but this year it will entitle members to free entry to all the competitive classes.
  • Cost of daily admission to the Show would be reduced to £5, with accompanied children of 16 years or under – free as usual.
  • The Registration Fee – abolished
  • No fees will be charged for entries in the World Classes, Gift Classes, NHS Members Classes, Junior Classes, and the Miss E Avey Memorial Class, but the entry fee for non-Members in all other classes, including the County Classes, to be 50p.
  • Because of the greatly reduced cost of admission, there will no concessions for group admissions.

So, you see that we are doing everything we can to encourage you and your friends to visit the Show. Remember – there is free car-parking at the RAF Museum .

We are drawing up a list of hotels etc in the vicinity, and, as soon as it is complete, it will appear on the website The 2004 National Honey Show at the RAF Museum, Hendon 21 st - 23 rd October.

Rothamsted are doing a bumblebee survey this year. See

The UK government has given permission for a single variety of GM maize (used for animal feed) to be grown in the UK. But there are many obstacles to clear, particularly:

  • How will farmers (organic and non-GM) be protected from GM contamination?
  • In the event of contamination, who foots the bill?

The government will hold a public consultation this summer on these issues ahead of any commercial planting. Allissa Cook Soil Association

The number of bees killed by pesticides in France in the last ten years has reached staggering proportions claim French beekeepers. Use of the chemical pesticide imidacloprid marketed under the name Gaucho is used on crops including maize and sunflowers. The French beekeepers say that it damages the bees’ sense of direction so that they become lost and indeed this is the way the chemical protects plants from insect attack. The London Sunday, the Observer reported that since its introduction 10 years ago, beekeepers reported that their bees were becoming disorientated and dying. Within a few years of its use, honey production in the SW of France fell by 60% and according to Jean-Marie Sirvins, chairman of the national beekeepers association, a third of the country’s 1.5 million registered beehives disappeared. Because of this, France has had to import up to 24000 tons of honey annually. These facts contrast with the effects of the chemical in the UK where it is used on beet crops and there are no reports of ill effects on bees. The pesticide companies are keen to point this out and claim that their product is not responsible for the ill effects, but the Director of IBRA, Richard Jones told BBC News online that beekeepers in the UK had to keep on the alert.

Scientists at the University of Bath are engaged in a most intriguing project; to develop a battlefield reconnaissance plane the size of a bee and to do this they are looking at the most efficient way of flying. The rapid flapping of a flexible wing like that of a bird or a bee may be the answer, i.e. they are trying to imitate nature and the flight of birds and insects. The team know that the project will be tough as tiny flying objects are vulnerable to high winds, but if the research goes well, a prototype could be flying within a couple of years. They say that there are many jobs that such a vehicle could do, for instance, they could recce a battle field; land on enemy vehicles and mark them as carriers of chemical or biological weapons for future attack, or for more peaceful use in wild life surveys, fire and rescue operations and the detection of hazardous substances. Because of the limitations of these vehicles it means that current micro aircraft can only fly for short periods at low speeds and are too large to carry out fine manoeuvres. (A flock of bee eaters could sort that one out! Ed.)

The scientific journal Nature reports that a tiny fossil insect first described in 1926 and kept at the Natural History Museum in London has been identified as the oldest known insect. The fragment found in the red sandstone of the Aberdeenshire area of Scotland (the Rhynnie area) comes from Devonian Red Sandstones dated between 396 and 407 million years old. This suggests that insects actually evolved during the earlier Silurian period some 438 to 408 million years ago. It is during this period that evidence of the first terrestrial ecosystems came, which means that insects were there, in the earliest ecosystems on land. The fossil insect has been identified as a true insect by the anatomical characteristics of the jaw and for many years, scientists have scratched their heads about it. The insect known as Rhyniognatha hirsti shares features with winged insects indicating that winged flight emerged much earlier than thought, although the scientists stress that as the wings of the fossil are not present it is impossible to confirm this. The first known winged insect fossils date from around 330 million years ago and at this time there was a great diversity of winged insects which means that they must have been around before this time. It is speculated that these insects fed on plant sporophylls, the spore producing organisms located at the ends of branches. With the dramatic increase in the size of plants during the Devonian period, winged insects could have developed in tandem, the wings helping to control the descent of the insects from higher branches.

Previously, the oldest known insect was a wingless species found in the 379 million year old rocks from the New York area of the USA.

On February 2nd Columbia Food Laboratories, Inc. and the National Honey Board began the reduced fee testing program to accept samples of imported honey from packers and importers. The lab is conducting a series of three tests to make a determination as to whether the sample is pure honey or suspected of being an altered sweetener product.

In the first month the lab tested 69 honey samples sent in by 13 different companies. Nine of the 69 samples were found to be suspected of being the altered sweetener product rather than pure honey. Of the 9 suspect samples, 7 were from China , 1 was from Turkey and the origin of 1 was unknown. Kim Flottum Editor, Bee Culture Magazine

The university of Zaragoza faculty of Veterinary Science have carried out studies based on the detection of various varroa treatments based on thymol.

The studies were based on an analysis of 126 honey samples. The analyses were carried out before and after the treatments. The assessments were carried out by solid phase extraction and subsequent analysis was made by liquid gas chromatography. The method was refined and validated, and detection of very low limits was achieved.

The treatments used in the hives were Apilife-Var, (which contains oil of eucalyptus, camphor and menthol as well as thymol), thymol dissolved in olive oil and thymol dissolved in ethanol. They detected three residue intervals: <0.5ug (the lowest value that can be detected organoleptically) and 0.8ug/g and >0.8ug/g (the maximum value permitted by Swiss legislation.

In the analysis of honey from hives treated with Apilife-Var, the majority of the composites was below the detection limit, but with the thymol, 71% of the samples were above the 0.8ug/g. Honey from hives treated with thymol dissolved in alcohol also showed values above the 0.8ug/g in 76% of the cases and in those treated with thymol dissolved in oil the percentage of honeys above this value was reduced to 66%. (Translation by Ruth Christie).

Scientists at the University of Castilla-La Mancha made their study based on 60 honey samples and results have already led to the detection of some compounds exclusive to monofloral honeys (anthranilate of methyl green and linolil alcohol etc in orange blossom honey for example). All of these compounds allowed a differentiation to be easily made between orange blossom, eucalyptus and lavender honey although so far they have not been able to discriminate between rosemary and thyme. The oak varieties, other woodland trees and ericaceous plants form a somewhat similar group.

Besides undergoing chemical studies, the honeys were also submitted to a sensorial analysis and a link was sought between the two different analyses. It seemed that with practice, a group of tasters could immediately recognise eucalyptus honey for example defining it as having a scent of hay. A fresh and floral aroma corresponded to orange blossom honey. In this respect, the researchers believe that although the results are still preliminary, such analysis could be used for discrimination in some groups of monofloral honey. (Translated by Ruth Christie).

Scientists in the USA are warning of a potentially serious risk to human health after discovering that traditional varieties of major American food crops are widely contaminated by DNA sequences from GM crops. The main problem arises they claim when GM crops grown to produce industrial chemicals or drugs (so called pharmaceutical or ‘pharm’ crops), contaminate crops grown for food. One microbiologist gave the example of genes finding their way from a pharm crop to ordinary maize, resulting in drug laced cornflakes! The warning has been issued by the Union for Concerned scientists (UCS) based in Washington (USA). They state that conventional drugs manufacture is subject to stringent controls to prevent them entering the food chain or contaminating the environment, but there are no controls to prevent the spread of DNA sequences from pharm crops.

Laboratories asked to test three traditional (non GM) crops, maize, soyabean and oilseed rape for specific sequences of DNA introduced into GM varieties found that the seeds were ‘pervasively contaminated with low levels of DNA sequences from GM varieties. They say that there is no evidence to suggest that the crops tested were unsafe, but they fear that this may not be the case with second generation GM crops that contain DNA sequences that manufacture drugs or chemicals. Currently, there are no tests for them and the scientists believe that engineered sequences originating in any crop, including pharm crops (including those engineerd to produce drugs, plastic and vaccines) could potentially contaminate the seed supply and pose a serious threat to human health.

For those bee farmers putting their bees on raspberries comes news of just how clever their target plant is. In a report from the USDA agricultural research service, it appears that raspberries play tricks with light to protect themselves from both insects and herbivores such as deer. And, their light tricks are sufficient to suggest that they are also trying to defend against disease, ultra violet rays, oxidation and dehydration in freezing weather.

Using a special light sphere and a fibre optic probe connected to a spectroradiometer, the ARS measured light reflected by wild black raspberries and a variety of red raspberry. They found that the fuzzy white undersides of the leaves were highly reflective and about a third as much as a pure white surface. In their normal partially shaded, moist growing conditions, these undersides seem designed to hide the plant from insects that expect plant leaves to be green. It also repels water thus helping moisture from spreading plant disease, as well as keeping the stomata free of moisture and open for free respiration. The cane stems turn from green to red in winter to protect against ultraviolet rays and oxidation, and a white waxy coating on the canes help the plant to blend in with the snow thus protecting it from grazing herbivores. The cane coating reflected nearly half as much as a white surface.

IBRA has now launched its new revamped magazine Bee World (see initial report in Feb Apis-UK). The new all colour A4 sized magazine is reviewed below. To mark the launch, IBRA is offering a free look at the new magazine in PDF format so that beekeepers can take a good look at the shape of things to come.

In the last issue of Apis-UK, (Feb 04) we reported on the development of GM insects. Now, looking back through the scientific journals to just 1 year ago, it appears that scientists at London’s Imperial College which developed GM mosquitoes 4 years ago as malaria fighters have found that when these GM modified insects are placed in a natural population, they have relatively low competitiveness and quickly lose their test marker gene when bred with natural mosquitoes.

Job description: Part-time beekeeper, Harpenden, Hertfordshire.
INSCENTINEL is a creative, dynamic new UK company which was spun out of Unilever’s corporate R&D programme. Our unique, patented INSCENTINEL insect olfaction technology offers an innovative way of performing sensitive vapor detection and recognition with special relevance to security applications. We are based at Rothamsted Research, an internationally renowned agricultural research institute, located in Harpenden, Hertfordshire. Our multi-disciplinary team includes beekeepers, biochemists, biologists, system design and prototype engineers, image recognition and software experts. Currently our main focus is in the security sector, with collaborative projects with large organisations, government departments, customs and the military.

We are looking for a dynamic beekeeper with good experience to join our small team.

Primarily the role involvesresponsibility of the indoor and outdoor production facilities to ensure a production of healthy honeybees all year round on site in Rothamsted. This involves the maintenance of 10 to12 hives and some indoor colonies in winter. Main duties will include traditional beekeeping tasks and supplying beekeeping expertise to the team. The role will occasionally demand meeting and describing your tasks to visitors.

Some guidance and an introduction will be available initially from our current beekeeper but to be successful in this role autonomy and flexibility in the approach to work are essential. Good contacts within the beekeeping community and good communication skills would be an advantage.

The necessary handheld beekeeping tools will be supplied but it is also desirable that the successful applicant can draw extensively upon his/her own supply of materials. Inscentinel will meet the full cost of any equipment used solely for its purposes.

Hours of work will be flexible and adaptable, on average 8.5 hours a week but ranging from 4 to 12 hours per week as the state of work requires. However, extra hours outside this range may be needed occasionally. For a well suited applicant, the hourly rate of pay shall be £20. The cost of any travel to and from Inscentinel Ltd will be met by the successful applicant. A full driving licence is essential.

If you would believe you suit this role or would like to find out more, please contact: Inscentinel Ltd. Rothamsted Research, Harpenden, Hertfordshire AL5 2JQ, UK +44 (0) 1582 763 133 ext.2699

The web site for the next Apimondia in Ireland in 2005 is now live. Please see Philip McCabe's letter in the letters to the editor section for full details of what looks likely to be an excellent event.


Beecraft March 2004 Volume 86 Number 3
The latest issue of Bee Craft offers a wealth of information, advice and items of interest for all beekeepers in its monthly columns. The following is its contents list:

Editorial; Claire Waring; A new product for IPM; Beeline for the Balkans Gillian Rose; Beetour goes to Ulster Brian Palmer; The beekeeping year: March Pam Gregory, MA, NDB; The ostrich effect Celia Davis, NDB; Control of Varroa destructor David Aston, PhD, NDB; News from the north Colin Weightman; In the Apiary: having fun with bees (part2) Karl Showler; Obituary: Prof Len Heath, PhD, FLBiol; Ask Dr Drone; Around the colony; The 'B' Kids; Classified advertisements; Calendar.

Bee Craft March issue cover The front cover of the March 04 BfDJ

One years subscription (four issues) UK£20 or download only subscription UK£18 which includes back issues. March 2004 No.70 issue has the following contents: Inside information; Practical beekeeping; Readers letters; Honey International Packers Association; International Pollinator Initiative; UK honeybees under fire; Beekeeping in Okuku; News around the World; Project news from ICIMOD; Book Shelf; Look and Learn Ahead; Notice Board. Cover picture © Bees for Development. Selling honey on the road to Sarajevo in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The herb covered mountains and gentle and productive Apis mellifera carnica bees provide excellent resources for the beekeeping industry. and now in Spanish URL:

We reported in last month’s issue on the change in design of IBRA’s house magazine Bee World. In this report, we may have slightly misled you because the change is more than just an updating of the cover design. Whilst retaining its aim of being the ‘international link between beekeeping science and practice’, the magazine in my opinion has shifted direction slightly. Whereas before, it had the reputation of being more ‘scientific’ than ‘practical’, it now appears to be aimed at a broader audience, especially the beekeeper who is interested in how the scientific aspects of his craft can help him but who also wants to be kept updated on new developments that will increase his knowledge of bees and of beekeeping on a global scale. In order to widen its appeal, the magazine is now all colour and has changed to A4 format making it look more like a ‘proper’ magazine. The contents layout is far more flexible and able to develop as the magazine progresses and it is all put together in a far more reader friendly fashion. Previous editions of Bee world lacked none of the accuracy and subject scope of the new, revised production, but they had more the feel of a learned journal, rather than a vibrant, informative and reader friendly ‘modern’ magazine. And this is how Bee World can now be described. For the beekeeper at large, it is effectively a new magazine in the ‘quality’ bracket that will add immensely to his or her interest and knowledge of the science and craft of beekeeping. Members of IBRA receive Bee World free. Perhaps IBRA have a reason for not doing so, but I believe that Bee World could now consider the sale of copies of the magazine to anyone wishing to buy one and to accept subscriptions to the magazine. It doesn’t compete with other beekeeping magazines on the market. It is a different product and one that will complement others and have beekeepers eagerly awaiting each new issue which is excellent. And if this doesn’t convince you then take a look for yourself. IBRA are offering a free downloadable copy of this first new edition so that beekeepers can see for themselves that an excellent new product has truly arrived on the market. See and look under the ‘what’s new’ section, for your free copy in pdf. You won’t be disappointed. Previous Bee World Issues. (A5) New Bee World. (A4).
The new Bee World front cover Left: New Bee World. (A4)

Previous Bee World Issue. (A5)

Right: Previous Bee World Issue. (A5)


In the next two articles we hear from David Ashton on the strenuous efforts made by Danish Beekeepers to keep their honey as a pure product.

by David Ashton ©

This is a comment on the Danish Tradition of changing all beeswax brood combs in the hive every year. I have been prompted to write this after the article about the problem of remains of antibiotics, chemicals and medicines being found in honey imported into Denmark, but which are not found at all in Danish Honey. I intend pasting this article that I translated, at the bottom of this piece ( Danish Honey Retains its Quality ) you may already have read it. But I think you will understand the logic, scientific reasoning and practise, once you read both articles.

But I am also using and translating from Danish to English, a paragraph from an article in the Danish beekeeping magazine ‘ Tidskrift for Biavl ‘ ( Journal of Beekeeping ) for February 2004, page 41 an article by Danish Beekeeper, Ejner Olsen.

Many of you who know some thing about Danish beekeeping, have expressed wonderment, as to why the Danish beekeepers as part of the legal requirement to prevent disease in the bees, and to preserve the hygiene and cleanliness of the honey as a pure food change their brood combs yearly. However in his article Ejner Olsen explains to reasoning and scientific logic of why Danes change every beeswax brood comb, each and every year.

The Brown Bees Inherited Characteristics
The German monk Brother Adam, who lived most of his life at Buckfast Abbey in England, worked most of his life with the genetic properties of bees. He travelled widely in Europe and Africa, and took bee brood back home with him. With this brood he tested the various races of bees for inherited bee diseases. Brother Adam made a chart of the inherited characteristics which actually did not cover very much space about 6 cm x 9 cm ( 2 ¼ “ x 3 ½ “ inches ) he carried this chart every were with him, and despite the fact it did not cover very much space it was in fact his life’s work which was written down here.

One of the conclusions that Brother Adam came to from this life’s work was that the brown bee ‘ Apis Mellifera Mellifera ‘ had extremely poor resistance against bee and brood diseases, and also had a propensity to swarm very often. Against which it had a top characteristic of + 6 for its long life, ability to fly in all conditions, resistance to weather, a good sense for orientating its self , and a very good sense of collecting together, and building new honey comb.

It is in fact very impressive that Brother Adam gave the Brown Bee a top character of ( + 6 ) on his own scale for eight characteristics. One of the explanations he gave for this was the wide spread of this race of honey bee.

One you consider that the brown bee has some extremely poor characteristics, and others which are at the very top of his range it is interesting to speculate as to why this is:

  • Why does the Brown bee swarm so much ?
  • Perhaps the answer to this question is that because most of Europe was once covered in forest, where bees made their homes in rotten trees, and later skep, and log beekeeping. These type of homes for the bees most probable stimulated the swarming nature, which in beekeeping skep, and log beekeeping period was thought to be an advantage that bees swarmed often !
  • Why then the very poor resistance to bee and brood disease’s ?
  • Perhaps the answer to this question is that in the thousands of years the brown bee Apis Mellifera Mellifera did not have the need to develop genes resistant against bee and brood disease. Because they had a great capacity to swarm, and build new comb, which in its self is a valuable protection against these diseases. By all the time building new clean combs in either hollow clean from bee disease trees, skeps or wooden logs they the brown bee were in a situation were they could “ Build them selves a new clean home “ . A factor which underlies the fact that in all those hundreds of thousands of years of bees living in the forest in trees, later in log bee hives and a skep. They were never troubled by bee diseases, and even the skep beekeeping literature mentions very little. It was first with the introduction by L.L. Langstroth in the U.S.A. in 1851 of the movable framed hive, that mention starts to be regularly made of foul brood diseases . and other bee diseases in literature .  

A Relaxed attitude to Foul Brood disease
Foul brood spores are often found in honey, and are often encapsulated in beeswax combs which bees build themselves, indeed bees have a certain resistance to these disease spores it is only when they build up too intolerant levels that disease moves in and takes over. As is well know with Danish beekeeping that by melting down the frames every year we find large concentration of foul brood spores, and other diseases which are destroyed in the beeswax melting refining and filtration process.

So taking the logic and scientific evidence of the above coupled with Brother Adams evidence it seems as if the Danish beekeeping policy of changing all combs on a yearly basis is not only a good strategy to overcome disease but is also very rational. So despite wide spread criticism of this method by beekeepers outside of Denmark. This policy of yearly comb changes since 1945, and renewal with clean foundation is now proving its worth, in an age when consumers, public health authorities, and trading standards are becoming more and more aware of the dangers that the wide spread use of antibiotics and chemicals used by food producers, and food processors, posses for the publics health. Coupled with the danger of bugs resistant to antibiotics , the problems with acid indigestion, and stomach upset, and asthma on the increase. It seems as if the quality and purity of Danish honey due to Danish beekeepers husbandry methods is some thing that beekeepers around the world could learn a lot from.

By David Ashton © using as source material ‘ Tidskrift for Biavl ‘ ( Journal of Beekeeping ) for February 2004, page 41 an article by Danish Beekeeper, Ejner Olsen.

Translated by David Ashton from an Article by Benny Gade Journalist and Beekeeper

From 24 th February 2004

It is becoming more and more difficult to import honey into Denmark because of the sharpened demands by the Danish Trading Standards and Food Authority. Due to the demand that honey must not contain any remains of antibiotics. On the other hand it is not an problem for Danish honey to meet these demands, but it is beginning to become very difficult for foreign beekeepers to understand these demands of the Scandinavian market for honey.

This statement was made today by Knud Hvam of Jakobsen & Hvam, from Aulumgaard, Honey Farm, Denmark, who is Denmark’s largest buyer of honey. Besides buying Danish honey Jakobsen and Hvam import 3000 tons of honey for use in the Danish and Scandinavian market every year.

But the demands of the Scandinavian consumers and health authorities, has now become so sharp that it is almost impossible to import any foreign honey says Knud Hvam.

A couple of years ago we our selves enforced a ban on Chinese honey, followed by others around the world, due to the large concentration of remains of various medicines including antibiotics. We there for we started to import our honey from Argentina. Now however the problem of Argentina honey has become just as great as the problem we had with Chinese honey. The Argentina authorities have now stepped into the market realising that there is a problem, and have purchase large quantities of their own honey which they have destroyed due to the remains of medicine mostly antibiotics in their Argentina honey. The result of which is that Jakobsen & Hvam have not bought any Argentina honey this last year.

We are surviving on “ old honey “ which we have in our own store or buying in on the spot world market parcels of good quality honey says Knud Hvam.

The problem with remains of medicines, chemicals, and antibiotics in honey is first and foremost due to the foreign beekeepers methods they use to fight varroa mites, and both types of foul brood American and European, It has become not unusual for beekeepers to use a cocktail of antibiotics in countries outside of Denmark, to prevent diseases of various types in bees. These chemical, antibiotic or other medicines so called then remain in the honey. If these parcels of honey from outside of Denmark slip through the various countries veterinary food control system, then I can promise you the Danish food control authorities do not miss it. They pick it up off the super market, and shop, shelves, trace it back to its source and forbid its future sale in Scandinavia.

On the other hand there is no problem with Danish Honey. Which shows that Danish Beekeeping functions very effectively, due to Danish beekeepers not using antibiotics as preventative medicine, and also due to better hygiene in Danish beehives were all honey combs are changed and replaced every year by all Danish beekeepers.

There for it will become in future more and more attractive to produce Danish honey believes Knud Hvam. But he does not expect a price increase because of that. Danish honey needs to compete on the supermarket and shops shelves with marmalade, jam and other breakfast products, an increase in price will result in a reduction of sales of honey believes Knud Hvam.

© Translation David Ashton from article by Benny Gade.

The more they are studied, the more we know, but more questions keep finding their way to the top... Article writen by Kim Kaplan, USDA-ARS Information Staff. published in the March issue of Agricultural Research.

In 1990, a honey bee swarm unlike any before found in the United States was identified just outside the small south Texas town of Hidalgo. With that identification, Africanized honey bees were no longer a problem we would have some day. Africanized honey bees had arrived.
Beekeepers, farmers who depend on honey bee pollination for their crops, land managers, emergency responders like fire and police, and the public all wanted to know what they would be facing as Africanized honey bees began to spread.

Now, 14 years later, scientists with the Agricultural Research Service and elsewhere have uncovered many answers, but they have also come upon some new and unexpected questions. Africanized honey bees—melodramatically labeled "killer bees" by Hollywood hype—are the result of honey bees brought from Africa to Brazil in the 1950s in hopes of breeding a bee better adapted to the South American tropical climate. These honey bees reached the Brazilian wild in 1957 and then spread south and north until they officially reached the United States on October 19, 1990.
Actually, all honey bees are imports to the New World. Those that flourished here before the arrival of Africanized honey bees (AHBs) are considered European honey bees (EHBs), because they were introduced by European colonists in the 1600s and 1700s. EHBs that escaped from domestication are considered feral rather than wild.
Africanized honey bees are so called because it was assumed that the African honey bees spreading out from Brazil would interbreed with existing feral EHBs and create a hybridized, or Africanized, honey bee.
This has always been a major question for researchers—what, if any, type of interbreeding would happen between AHBs and EHBs and how would this affect honey bee traits that are important to people, such as swarming and absconding, manageability for beekeepers, honey production, and temper.
Many experts expected that the farther from a tropical climate AHBs spread, the more they would interbreed with EHBs. But it appears that interbreeding is a transient condition in the United States, according to ARS entomologist Gloria DeGrandi-Hoffman. She is research leader at the Carl Hayden Bee Research Center in Tucson, Arizona, and ARS national coordinator for AHB research.
Early on, we thought the mixing would reach a steady state of hybridization, because we knew the two groups of bees can easily interbreed and produce young," DeGrandi-Hoffman says. "But while substantial hybridization does occur when AHBs first move into areas with strong resident EHB populations, over time European traits tend to be lost."

A Mighty Adversary

DeGrandi-Hoffman and Stan Schneider, a professor of biology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, have been collaborating the past 3 years to figure out why AHBs replace EHBs rather than commingling.
"We've found six biological and behavioral factors we think are responsible for making AHBs such successful invaders," Schneider explains.

First, AHB colonies have faster growth rates, which means more swarms splitting off from a nest and eventually dominating the environment.

Second is that hybrid worker bees have higher amounts of "fluctuating asymmetry"—small, random differences between the left and right wings—than African honey bees have, even when raised in the same hive.
"Imperfections like fluctuating asymmetry that increase with hybridization may end up reducing worker viability and colony survival," says DeGrandi-Hoffman. "But this is a controversial factor right now, and it will take long-term studies of African, hybrid, and European colonies in the same habitat to truly understand its influence."

But the third factor is undeniably true: EHB queen bees mate disproportionately with African drones, resulting in rapid displacement of EHB genes in a colony. This happens because AHBs produce more drones per colony than EHBs, especially when queens are most likely to be mating, DeGrandi-Hoffman explains.
We also found that even when you inseminate a queen with a 50-50 mix of African drone semen and EHB semen, the queens preferentially use the African semen first to produce the next generation of workers and drones, sometimes at a ratio as high as 90 to 10," she says. "We don't know why this happens, but it's probably one of the strongest factors in AHBs replacing EHBs."
When an Africanized colony replaces its queen, she can have either African or European paternity. Virgin queens fathered by African drones emerge as much as a day earlier than European-patriline queens. This enables them to destroy rival queens that are still developing. African virgin queens are more successful fighters, too, which gives them a significant advantage if they encounter other virgin queens in the colony. DeGrandi-Hoffman and Schneider also found that workers perform more bouts of vibration-generating body movements on African queens before they emerge and during fighting, which may give the queens some sort of survival advantage.
AHB swarms also practice "nest usurpation," meaning they invade EHB colonies and replace resident queens with the swarm's African queen. Nest usurpation causes loss of European matrilines as well as patrilines. "In Arizona, we've seen usurpation rates as high as 20 to 30 percent," says DeGrandi-Hoffman.

Finally, some African traits are genetically dominant, such as queen behavior, defensiveness, and some aspects of foraging behavior. This doesn't mean that EHB genes disappear, but rather that hybrid bees express more pure African traits. The persistence of some EHB genes is why the invading bees are still considered Africanized rather than African, regardless of trait expression, she points out.
A coincidence may have contributed greatly to an overwhelming takeover by AHBs in areas they've invaded. Just as AHBs began their spread throughout the Southwest, the U.S. feral honey bee population was heavily damaged by another alien invader—the deadly Varroa mite, an Asian honey bee parasite first found here in 1987. "Varroa mites emptied the ecological niche of feral honey bees just as AHBs arrived," says DeGrandi-Hoffman. "If they hadn't been moving into a decimated environment, AHBs might not have replaced EHBs so quickly."

Keeping Tabs on the Invaders
An extensive record of the AHB invasion was created by now-retired ARS entomologist William L. Rubink, who was in the ARS Bee Research Unit in Weslaco, Texas. From 1990 to 2001, Rubink continuously sampled honey bee colonies in the Welder Wildlife Refuge, about 30 miles north of Corpus Christi, Texas.
Once Rubink retired, researchers from Texas A&M University agreed to preserve and analyze his samples. "We have about 25 square feet of frozen bees that represent the only real unbroken sampling of a wild area before and during its takeover by AHBs. Bill had a great deal of foresight to take these samples," explains geneticist J. Spencer Johnston, who is with the university.
The data showed that within 3 years of the arrival of AHBs in the refuge there was a turnover from predominantly EHB to predominantly AHB. From 1997 through 2001, the mixture stabilized, with an average of 69 percent of the colonies made up of African queens mated with EHB and AHB drones and 31 percent composed of EHB queens mated with AHB and EHB drones. This produced a genetic mixture rather than a replacement of EHBs by AHBs. Additional sampling and more analysis of existing samples will be needed to see whether this mixing continues or whether the Africanized proportion increases, as has been predicted.

Human Parallels?
In many ways, the spread of AHBs in the Southwest has been one of the most successful introgressions ever documented. It's even interested some as a model of how modern humans may have interacted with the European population of Neanderthals.
"Alan Templeton, a professor of biology and genetics at Washington University in St. Louis, has been looking at AHB spread as a demonstration of his model of Homo sapiens’ evolution and spread, which holds that there have been three major migrations out of Africa, with large amounts of genetic interchange among groups," Johnston says. Honey bee generations are short enough that you can actually follow the invasion and the gene flow, unlike humans, explains Johnston.

Where Did They Go?
Just how far and how fast AHBs have spread in the United States may be one of the most surprising factors in the whole issue.
Some experts predicted the bees would spread throughout the country; others thought they'd reach only as far north as the latitude of Houston. Most expected there would be a southern zone where AHBs would predominate, a northern zone where EHBs would maintain a climatic advantage, and a large transitional zone between the two. And everyone expected AHBs to spread across the southernmost tier of states. But, as of January 2004, AHBs have been found only in southern California, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, and Texas, as well as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Why AHBs haven't progressed eastward into Louisiana—though they were expected there years ago—is a mystery. So ARS entomologist José D. Villa began looking at factors that might correlate with where AHBs have spread. It isn't just minimum winter temperature that limits AHB spread, as many believed, says Villa, who is in the ARS Honey Bee Breeding, Genetics, and Physiology Research Unit in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
"What immediately jumped out at me was the correlation with rainfall," he says. "Rainfall over 55 inches, distributed evenly throughout the year, is almost a complete barrier to AHB spread."
Total annual rainfall alone isn't a barrier; AHBs have been found in areas of the Tropics with higher rainfall. But in areas with high rainfall distributed throughout the year, Villa's pattern of AHB spread fits perfectly.
Villa is quick to point out that this is simply a mathematical correlation and not proof of cause and effect. But, he says, "you do find that 55-inches-of-rainfall point right at the edge of where AHBs stopped moving east about 10 years ago." He's planning experiments that may uncover the behavioral or physiological mechanism that explains why.
How much farther AHBs may spread is still unknown. But if you apply the 55-inches-of-rainfall limit, there are still niches that the bees may fill, mainly in southern California. Southern Florida would be hospitable to the bees given its temperature and rainfall, but regulatory vigilance could keep them out, since the area isn't contiguous with the other areas of AHB spread. Alabama, northern Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi are unlikely to be troubled by AHBs if the 55-inches-of-rainfall barrier holds.

Keeping on Beekeeping
One of the greatest challenges for Southwest beekeepers has been maintaining their EHB hives when they are surrounded by AHBs.
Once AHBs spread to an area, beekeepers can no longer allow nature to take its course in honey bee reproduction. ARS has always recommended that beekeepers regularly requeen their hives with queens of known lineage to keep AHB traits out of their apiaries. But, given the African bees' strong ability to genetically usurp hives, the recommendation is now to requeen with queens that have already mated with EHB drones. It's the best way ARS currently has for beekeepers to manage their hives in AHB areas.
But requeening is a lot of work for commercial beekeepers who maintain thousands of hives. DeGrandi-Hoffman and Schnieder are currently trying to discover what triggers AHBs to usurp a hive. They suspect it could be a pheromone.
"If we can find out what tells an AHB swarm that this EHB nest can be taken over or that a colony or queen is strong and cannot be easily usurped, then we should be able to develop a chemical 'no-vacancy' sign to help beekeepers keep AHBs out," DeGrandi-Hoffman says.
While AHBs do make honey and pollinate plants, two traits make them undesirable for beekeepers: Colonies regularly abscond from hives, and they are often too defensive to be easily tended.
Because of AHBs' genetic dominance there has been little dilution of their strong defensive reaction to threats to their nests, explains DeGrandi-Hoffman. This defensiveness is probably the bees' best-known trait. All honey bee behavior runs the gamut from very defensive to very docile and can change depending on temperature, humidity, cloud cover, and food supply. But when provoked, AHBs do tend to sting in greater numbers than EHBs.
"But they're not anywhere near the type of threat that Hollywood has made them out to be," DeGrandi-Hoffman points out.

Living with AHBs

While beekeepers obviously do not want to work with "hot bees," people in the Southwest have simply learned to live with AHBs. While many will never come in contact with the bees, others have had to learn new precautions.
Retired ARS entomologist Eric Erickson, who was with the ARS bee center in Tucson, pioneered many safety methods in areas where people and AHBs collide. He developed the first instructions for fire departments—often the emergency responders in stinging incidents. Most firetrucks already carried a surfactant, a soapy liquid that helps put fires out. Such soaps also kill honey bees when sprayed directly on them. Erickson also worked out ways to quickly convert a firefighter's basic turnout gear into a protective bee suit. Fire departments all over the Southwest are now trained in Erickson's methods.
Erickson also developed instructions for homeowners to help them deal with AHBs, such as how to prevent honey bees from taking up residence inside house walls and how to kill unwanted bee colonies. (It is safer, though, to call an experienced exterminator if at all possible.)
Swarm traps invented by entomologist Justin O. Schmidt, also at the Tucson bee center, have been a boon.
"We developed a simple, inexpensive trap with a pheromone lure to attract swarms looking for new nest sites. That's how we're able to track honey bee colonies as they spread out," Schmidt says.
The traps are also used as prophylactic barriers around golf courses, airports, schools, and botanic gardens, or anywhere else AHBs might take up residence and conflict with people. The traps lure swarms away from high-traffic areas and make them easy to remove.

Not All Bad
People usually think only of AHBs' downside, but they also represent a potential positive. ARS entomologist Frank A. Eischen at the Honey Bee Research Unit in Weslaco, Texas, has been studying AHBs for their resistance to Varroa mites.
Eischen maintains an apiary in a remote part of southern Texas. "Maintains" may not be the right term, because he simply leaves hive boxes out and lets the bees fend for themselves year after year. All the honey bees in the apiary have long since been Africanized.
His AHBs, which are never treated, have a slightly better survival rate against Varroa mites. But that rate varies dramatically. "I've looked at about 40 colonies. Some have very few mites, and others are loaded," Eischen says. "But if these had been EHB colonies without treatment, they all would have died long ago."
He is trying to isolate which mechanism provides the protection from Varroa mites. He has already ruled out hygienic behavior—the time it takes worker bees to clean out mites. But if he determines what AHBs do differently, it might be possible to breed that desirable trait into EHBs. Sent to Apis-UK by Kim Flottum Editor, Bee Culture Magazine For an archive Catch the Buzz postings, visit:

When I was younger (‘yes, yes, Grandad…’) one of my favourite lecturers was Prof. Pickard, then working at the University of Cardiff . He was interested in mapping the cells of the bee brain, and had done some remarkable work inserting minute probes into bee heads. It was quite astonishing, and the techniques he developed were seized upon for use in human medicine. Professor Pickard left the field of bee research and is now eminent in human nutrition.

One of the great attractions of bees in research is that they behave in ways which are both complex and observable. If you modify something in the environment of the bee, you can record whether and what changes occur in the way the bee behaves. In addition to this, an advantage for Professor Pickard was that the size of the bee brain was relatively small, which meant that it was physically possible to look at all parts of the brain.

These techniques, which seemed revolutionary only a few years ago, have been eclipsed by the ingenuity of scientists in decoding DNA. Primary school children are familiar with the idea that DNA is the blueprint for the species and for the individual. Last year there was a flurry of excitement as years of research produced the first complete read-out of human DNA, what is called the genome sequence. This was the result of handling a prodigious amount of information. DNA is first chopped up and the billions of pieces are marked with fluorescent ‘tags’. The tags are read by laser; this information is then fed into computers which chunter non-stop for years processing this data.

The impetus for this massive amount of research, and the justification for funding it, is not pure science, but the hope that understanding the genome will enable medicine to tackle the really scarey diseases of our time. Inflated claims were also made that the code contained the secrets of character and disposition. Could the likelihood that you would be a shoplifter be detected in your genes?

So, now the code is available, who is going to make sense of it? Well, it seems that an awful lot of the code is garbage. And that what is left isn’t on its own sufficient to control the construction of all the proteins needed in the human body. This is where the honeybee comes in again. Its genome has now been sequenced, a success that is trumpeted as possibly providing clues to links between genes and behaviour. (Cue for all us beekeepers to bask in the warm glow that our association with these insects allows.)

But no, says Professor Steven Rose, well-known researcher into brain and behaviour. The challenge is not just to read DNA from end to end, hard enough as that is, but to understand that one protein as it is made influences the production of other proteins, which in turn influence blah blah blah. This is a prodigious problem which will rack the brains of our brightest for a long long time. Encourage your children to take degrees in biochemistry, because there’s more than enough work to be done. They can then keep bees as a hobby.


This month's poem was found scribbled out on a small piece of paper that I found in an old beekeeping book, BEE-KEEPING FOR BEGINNERS by I H Jackson. The poem is a very good summing up of our knowledge of bee diseases until very recently and I'm sure that many beekeepers (including me) will feel a twinge of guilt on reading it. If any reader knows of its provenance, please email us. And remember that we are always eager to receive poems with a 'bee' theme for publication in Apis-UK.


A fellow who kept an excess
Of bees found them all in a mess,
They hadn't much brood,
They'd even less food,
And had mites, so he diagnosed stress.

This chap, whose bees were quite ill,
Said "I know! I'll give them a pill."
He fed jalap in honey,
Then thought "Why, that's funny,
They've died in spite of my skill!"

"What a terrible state of debility
To succumb with such probability!
But the answer is clear,
The signs are all here,
It's hereditary susceptibility."


In this section we bring you each month a recipe to cure and one to eat, both based on products from the hive. If readers know of any of the more unusual recipes, do email us. This month, both recipes are simple but effective.

ASAL-OU-KOUSBARAH. Coriander Honey
An unusual and easy to make drink.

This recipe is a drink, both sweet and aromatic and is especially popular in Palestine and Jordan . It can be drunk hot or cold and the hot version is recommended for sore throats and colds.

A traditional Bedouin folk song sums up the recipe: 'Come into my garden and I will give you honey and coriander'.

To make it is easy and is as follows:

1 cup of water.
1 teaspoon of coriander.
2 teaspoons of honey.

Warm the water and dissolve the honey in it. Then add the coriander and stir well. Serve hot or cold. Simple.

Now we are nearing the end of the winter period, here is a recipe to see off those end of winter colds. It is called the Anne Beeken Formula for Colds.

Take 1 cinnamon stick.
3 cloves.
The juice of 1 lemon.
1 soup spoon of honey.
1 cup of water.

Place the cinnamon and cloves into a small pan of very hot water. (1 cup full). Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Then leave to cool for another 5 minutes. Add the lemon juice and honey and stir well.


“There is a natural occurrence to be met with upon the highest part of the down in hot summer days, which always amuses me much, without giving me any satisfaction with respect to the cause of it; and that is a loud audible humming of bees in the air, tho’ not one insect is to be seen. This sound is to be heard distinctly, the whole common through, from the money-dells, to Mr White’s avenue-gate (at Newton ). Any person would suppose that a large swarm of bees was in motion and playing about over his head”.

In that extract from his journals written for 1 st July 1792, Gilbert White, a country parson from Hampshire England , described an example of the phenomena that were later to become known as Drone Congregation Areas (DCAs). Since that day, despite much research on the subject place, and the fact that DCAs are now a recognized feature of the beekeeping landscape, much about them remains a mystery. This second article on the subject, describes how any beekeeper interested in the subject can find and study DCAs in his or her own area, and maybe contribute to our knowledge of the subject. (Incidentally, that DCA described by Gilbert White can still be heard on warm summer days from certain vantage points on Selborne Common in Hampshire, and is believed to be the oldest known DCA in the world).

We know some of the answers to some of the mysteries surrounding DCAs, but many questions remain unanswered. So what are these? And can you help?

The first question first. What exactly defines a DCA in the mind of a drone and a queen? How do drones know where to go? How do queens know where to go? Which pheromones are involved in the process? What geographical and meteorological conditions are necessary for their formation? These questions are less easy to answer. However, some aspects to all this can be made clearer by very simple research. For instance every DCA investigated will increase our knowledge of topographical conditions necessary for their formation. Ditto meteorological conditions, related flying heights and numbers of drones, boundaries, distances from apiaries, (some researchers believe that there are two types of DCA). Those near and dependent upon specific apiaries and those at a distance from all apiaries). Which weather conditions affect the formation of each type? Do queens tend to use apiary DCAs in time of bad weather, and distant assembly areas in time of good weather? Every bit of information found out, even if it merely confirms the results of other research helps us to see the picture. This type of research can be carried out by anyone or a group of people, easily and inexpensively. It’s fun, and it’s important and it helps beekeepers to be better aware of the local ‘bee scene’ in their area.

If you’ve read this far, you may be asking yourself the questions; why bother, when there are government agencies who investigate all this; and secondly; has any of this got any practical application to beekeeping today.

The answers to both those questions are to my mind very simple. To the first, government agencies have their own research priorities, and never ever, in any country, have anywhere near enough funds to research everything that they would like to. In fact it seems, less every year. Any contribution from you is welcome. To the second; there are two answers. Firstly, I believe that research simply to increase knowledge is a good thing. You never know when that irrelevant little trifle may provide the final piece in the jigsaw, and save the world. Secondly, research into natural queen mating may provide some clues as to the best time of day for, and the best conditions under which to conduct artificial insemination in breeding programs. It may tell us more about the suitability of native bees over imports in relation to mating success in adverse weather conditions. It may even provide answers to questions you hadn’t thought of.

Firstly though you have to find your DCA. The best way to do this is to ask beekeepers, or University departments having beekeeping specialists, or your area Bee Disease Inspector. Someone will know of evidence of one. Another way is to investigate the vicinity of apiaries on warm Spring/Summer days. They can be found by asking around local beekeepers, and when a beekeeper told me that he perhaps had one several hundred yards from his apiary, I went along and had a look. I then threw handfuls of pebbles into the air and in one of the areas; the pebbles were swooped on by drones. I was then pretty sure that I’d found what I was looking for. I then collected the equipment necessary to confirm this and start the research.

The equipment needed is as follows:

Equipment used in the research
A Mini-max thermometer, for temperature.
A Hygrometer for humidity measurements.
A wind speed meter.
A simple light meter.
A directional compass.
A home made clinometer.
A camera.
Large and small balloons.
Some balloon gas.
A fishing rod with 80 yards of line and some coloured string.
A small piece of sponge to make a queen.
Some synthetic 9 ODA or some Bee Boost.
Some acetone or pure alcohol (if using the 9 ODA).
A folding chair, hip flask and a good book.

All that sounds complicated but not all of it is necessary. For instance, if you only want to investigate the boundaries of a DCA, all you need is the fishing rod and line, the balloons and the gas, (and possibly the hip flask). Each extra item, will enable you to find out an extra piece of information about the DCA.

Most photography enthusiasts will have a light meter, and anyway, a simple one is very cheap to buy. Hygrometers, wind meters and thermometers can be ‘borrowed from any university or high school science department, and large meteorological balloons can be obtained from met offices. A cheaper alternative are party balloons. They use less gas and are much safer.

A clinometer can be made from a plastic compass, some glue and some string.

Finding a source of 9 ODA and so these days it may be best to use Bee Boost made by Pherotech in Canada and sold by bee appliance merchants in the UK.

Having collected together all of the equipment that you have decided you need, it is time to prepare your sponge queen if you are using the 9 ODA. It should be covered with some soft cloth and impregnated it with 3mg of 9 ODA mixed with 1ml of acetone, then tied to the end of the fishing line, tied on the balloons and now you can march off to your DCA. Then let the balloons fly and up with the queen. If you are right about the area having a DCA and the temperature is around 18 to 20C+ and it is between around 1400 and 1800 hours, then within 5 seconds, above about 20 feet, a comet shaped group of drones will immediately pursue the queen, only to fall away and be replaced by new comets, constantly forming and reforming. I quote from Norman Gary (1963): “The intensive, dynamic fight of drones in this study was a striking spectacle”. And so it was. You must see it to appreciate it. You have now confirmed your DCA and will be ready to start some research if that is what you are intending to do.

A Drone Comet forming

In order to guide those of you wishing to carry out some research, it may be relevant to say how I carried out mine. Each day from 1100 hours, and every 15 minutes subsequently, the queen was raised to the maximum extent of the line, i.e. 50 metres . This height would vary with the wind speed and would be lower, the higher the speed. I used the clinometer to gauge this. The brightly coloured markers on the line were spaced every 5 metres. Then, every 15 minutes, the temperature, relative humidity, wind speed and direction and light level were recorded. When drones started to appear, I measured the height at which they first picked up the queen; the maximum height at which they remained interested, and the minimum height to which drones could be drawn down to, prior to leaving the queen. At first, I used a net around the queen to ‘capture’ the drones and count their numbers, but rapidly discontinued this line of approach when I found that my party balloons would only take it up to 10 feet in height.

The first day had awful weather, cold drizzle, and of course, nothing happened but at least it told me that in those conditions, drones would not assemble. The hip flask came into its own and at end of day, I retired wet and cold to the ‘Kings Head’ and the landlord’s special hot toddy.

The next 7 days were very fine, and everything went to plan. It was non-stop data recording, but I was getting some good data, and seeing things that beekeepers normally don’t. For instance, on one occasion, some distance from the apiary whilst walking along a lane with my rod and line, I was besieged by drones that appeared to ‘bubble up’ from the hedgerows. They were all over me, possibly because I had traces of 9 ODA on me and they thought I was a queen. All in all, I found it all very interesting.

The Results

So what did I find out? Well, having put all the measurements through my little scientific calculator I came up with the results outlined below:

a. Drones tended to congregate between the mean times of 1417 hrs and 1804 hrs and would form drone comets between the hours of 1449 hrs and 1740 hrs.

b. Drone flight within the DCA and the formation of comets outside of these mean times, occurred only when other factors were involved. e.g. a shorter flying day the day before because of bad whether would cause an increase in flying time the next day.

c. Drones flying back to the apiary outside of these times were not interested in the queen.

d. Drones require a temperature of around 17C to fly to a DCA and for sufficient drones to be on the wing to form comets; the temperature had to be around 18C . (This finding contrasts with most other researchers who noted higher temperatures needed for DCA formation.

e. As temperatures lowered towards the end of the day, the drones were only interested in the queen at a higher height.

All of these results of course apply to only one DCA in one location for a period of a week. Other results such as the relationship between relative humidity and temperature and light levels were less conclusive, and I have not included them.

So will you shake the world with your discoveries? You just might, but even if you don’t, you will know a lot more about your bees and their behaviour and will have seen a sight that few beekeepers and even fewer members of the public will ever have seen. You will probably raise more questions that you are able to answer and if you share your new knowledge, all of us will know something about yet another distinct DCA. It’s worth it.


Of all the beekeepers of old that have unknowingly contributed to Apis-UK, my favourite is probably the Rev WC Cotton who took his bees with him to New Zealand . He then wrote the 'Manual for NZ Beekeepers' in 1848 and in it he had some worthy views on bee stings and venom. Here is what he had to say:

'By handling a bee dextrously you may make her push out her sting, down which a drop of poison will be seen to trickle; you may cause her to deposit this drop on the back of your thumb nail, and if you are so disposed, may taste what it is like, as I have done many a time. You will find it a very sour and bitter acid, unlike any other taste I know, and by no means agreeable, so that you will be sure to spit it out again, even if you were to swallow it, I do not think it would hurt you. Though it produces so violent an effect when introduced into the system through the sting, it is quite harmless when taken internally. I believe it is a substance in itself called melittic acid by the chemists. Formic acid (that of ants) is nearly like it and is equally harmless taken internally. I have read somewhere, though I cannot remember the book, that our soldiers in the Peninsular ( Spain & Portugal ), when parched with thirst, relieved themselves by eating a number of ants which they fell in with. A curious sort of travelling lemon-aid machine is an ant: I do not fancy you will make the same use of your bees'.


Dear Editor,

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. These are glands near the Thyroid gland in a human's neck  - may be you meant pyrethroid. Best regards Roger White in Cyprus superbee@

'Thanks for pointing out the typo Roger. I did in fact know it should have been pyrethroid (honest), but was most interested to learn about these neck glands.' Rgds David Cramp.

Dear Colleagues and Friends,
On behalf of the Apimondia 2005, we would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy St. Patrick’s Day from Ireland.

We are delighted to announce that the website is now live! Plans are well underway for the 39th Apimondia International Apicultural Congress, which will be held in Dublin, Ireland between August 21st – 26th 2005. CÉAD MÍLE FÁILTE ! “One hundred thousand welcomes”

Dublin has a population of 1.5 million and is a modern, vibrant and friendly city. It is renowned for its Georgian architecture and for its famous writers and musicians including James Joyce, Jonathan Swift and Bram Stoker and the groups, U2 and the Dubliners.. Ireland has a long, long tradition in beekeeping and predates the arrival of Christianity in the 5th Century. Rumour has it even our own St Patrick was a beekeeper!

Apimondia 2005 Programme
We have an excellent Congress programme planned for you. The scientific papers will provide up-to-date research on the key beekeeping topics as determined by the Presidents of the Scientific Standing Commissions. There will be a range of practical demonstrations and workshops, which will focus on the needs of the hobbyist and on beekeeping in developing regions. The ApiExpo, the main exhibition area and focal point of the Congress, will provide an ideal opportunity for delegates to experience the latest developments in beekeeping equipment and for the world trade to meet. There will be a craft exhibition area and a World Honey Show for honey and related products such as mead, beeswax and candles. There is an extensive programme of contests and Congress participants are invited to enter in one or more of the thirteen categories. We have even included an attempt to enter the Guinness Book of Records to mark the occasion of Apimondia’s visit to Ireland!Please click here for all the latest: HAPPY ST.PATRICKS DAY FROM APIMONDIA 2005 Philip McCabe, President.

Event organisers are welcome to forward dates and details of their events to the editor (by e-mail) for incorporation on this page.

Friday 2nd April 2004 7:30pm – The Wye Lecture, Keith Hooker, 'Bees & Other Things.' At Imperial College London , Wye Campus, Wye, Ashford , Kent TN25 5AH . Free Entry. For more information contact Ashford BKA secretary Robert Fear Tel: 01233 639302. Email: apis-mellifera @

Friday 2nd - Saturday 3rd April 2004 - The Ulster Beekeepers' Association Conference at Greenmount is the big event in the beekeeping calendar in Northern Ireland . World-class speakers from Scotland , England and Ireland will assemble at Greenmount on 2nd & 3rd April for the 60th Annual event. Proceedings commence on Friday evening 2nd at 7.30 p.m. and recommence on Saturday 3rd at 9 a.m. All beekeepers and those interested in bees will be welcome on either or both days. The detailed programme of the conference and a small photograph of Ian Craig can be downloaded at

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

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 application form 41KB PDF

Saturday 17th April 9.30-5.30pm - Avon Beekeepers Association are holding their Spring Day School at The Old School Room, Chew Magna (just 8 miles south of Bristol). Speakers: Glyn Davies. President of BBKA Bees Legs The Impact of Global Warming in the UK Will Messenger.  Seasonal Bee Inspector The Stewarton Hive and Other Octagonal Phancies Britain's Beekeeping Heritage Cost: £8 inc refreshments.  (Lunch available at local pubs) Pay on the day but please book your place by 29th March by contacting David Maslen. Tel 0117 958 4223

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.
23 Apr. Observation Colonies.
23 May. Visit to Chainbridge Honey Farm.

6-10 September 2004 - 8th IBRA Conference on tropical Bees: management and diversity. Ribeiro Preto, Brazil.

Monday 13th September 2004 - Conwy Honey Fair, High Street, Conwy, North Wales.  9am til 4pm. Ancient street fair, founded by King Edward 1st more than 700 years ago. Stall space is free of charge. Honey stalls, home produce, crafts, plant stalls welcome. More than a tonne of local honey is sold by lunchtime. Now organised by Conwy BKA.  Contact secretary for details: Peter McFadden, tel 01492 650851, email:

21st, 22nd and 23rd October 2004 - The National Honey Show, RAF Museum, Hendon, North London. More details soon from

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