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
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!
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).
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
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
Plants & Honey Bees An introduction to their relationships Dr David Aston.
Price £16.95 from Northern Bee Books http://www.beedata.com/nbb/david_aston.htm
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.
2004 NATIONAL HONEY SHOW
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
- Cost of daily admission to the Show
would be reduced to £5,
with accompanied children of 16 years or under – free
- 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
2004 National Honey Show at the RAF Museum,
Hendon 21 st - 23 rd October.
Rothamsted are doing a bumblebee survey this year. See http://www.rothamsted.bbsrc.ac.uk/pie/BumblebeeSurvey
GM CROP PLANTING GETS GOVERNMENT GO AHEAD
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:
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
Soil Association http://www.soilassociation.org/
FRENCH BEEKEEPERS VOICE CONCERNS ABOUT
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.
SPIES COPY THE BIRDS AND THE BEES
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.)
KNOWN INSECT FOUND
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.
TESTS FIND ALTERED HONEY
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 http://www.beeculture.com/beeculture/index.html
RESIDUES IN HONEY FROM ORGANIC VARROA TREATMENTS
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
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).
CAN HONEY BE IDENTIFIED BY SENSORIAL AS
WELL AS CHEMICAL ANALYSIS?
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).
GM ‘PHARM’ CROPS
A SERIOUS THREAT TO HUMAN HEALTH?
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.
THE NEW BEE WORLD LAUNCHED
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.
GM MOSQUITOES FACE DIFFICULTIES
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
APIMONDIA 2005 WEB SITE
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
THE BEE PRESS
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. http://www.bee-craft.com/ 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
BEES FOR DEVELOPMENT JOURNAL
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.http://www.beesfordevelopment.org and
now in Spanish URL: http://www.beesfordevelopment.org/spanish
BEE WORLD. A NEW LOOK QUALITY MAGAZINE FOR
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 www.ibra.org.uk 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).
||Left: New Bee World. (A4)
Right: Previous Bee World Issue. (A5)
The Brown Bees Inherited Characteristics
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.
THE DANISH TRADITION OF CHANGING ALL BEESWAX BROOD COMBS
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,
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 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
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.
DANISH HONEY RETAINS ITS QUALITY
Translated by David Ashton from an Article by Benny Gade Journalist
From www.honningbien.dk 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
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
AFRICAN HONEY BEE UPDATE
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
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,
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
"We've found six biological and behavioral factors we think are
responsible for making AHBs such successful invaders," Schneider
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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 http://www.beeculture.com/beeculture/index.html For
an archive Catch the Buzz postings, visit: http://www.beeculture.com/beeculture/buzz/index.html
THE GENOME PROJECT. MATT ALLEN PUTS IT ALL INTO PERSPECTIVE
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
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.
OF THE MONTH
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
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
But the answer is clear,
The signs are all here,
It's hereditary susceptibility."
RECIPE OF THE MONTH
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
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.
A COLD REMEDY
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.
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
DRONE CONGREGATION AREAS Part 2
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
So what did I find out? Well, having put all the measurements through
my little scientific calculator I came up with the results outlined
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
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@ spidernet.com.cy
'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 www.apimondia2005.com 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: www.apimondia2005.com HAPPY
ST.PATRICKS DAY FROM APIMONDIA 2005 Philip McCabe, President.
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.
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 @ boxley28.freeserve.co.uk.
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 www.ubka.org/ubka/events/conference.htm
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
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
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,
21st, 22nd and 23rd October 2004 - The
National Honey Show, RAF
Museum, Hendon, North London. More details soon from http://www.honeyshow.co.uk
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