|Michael Young will never get this smoker to light!
There’s a lot of rain over here at the
moment and the local beekeepers are having a large moan
about it. I’m OK
though because I still don’t have any bees (although I do
have 150 empty hives waiting for them to come from Madrid on Friday),
and I’ve just contracted to sell my cork. This is sold by
weight for an agreed amount per kilo. They don’t cut it
though until the end of June. So the more rain the better, keeping
the cork wet and heavy. But if you are selling cork or honey or
any other commodity, you are entering (as John Seymour puts it)
a world of thieves and rogues, most of them a million times more
experienced than the average beekeeper at being a thief and/or
a rogue (perhaps anyway). This is very evident to me as I see
the low prices given to beekeepers for what must be one of the
most awkward of crops to harvest, and I am determined to learn
the craft of roguery myself. After the protracted haggling over
the cork prices and subsequently learning that I could have done
better had I not believed anyone, I think I’m half way there
already. Trust no one, believe no-one and keep a sharpened hive
tool ready. These seem to be the cardinal rules.
In this issue of Apis-UK we report on a variety
of interesting subjects, ranging from how honey is teaching scientists
to develop a new class of electronics; to a look at honeydew,
that much underated commodity that could add to our profits and
to Manuka honey, that miracle of modern medicine. A new and revolutionary
way of suppressing varroa mites is discussed. These are just a
few of the items of interest in this newsletter. There is more,
but we need more. All of you out there are fountains of interesting
knowledge on beekeeping in all its many aspects and the net is
the ideal place to share that knowledge with others. Royal Jelly
production; bee philately; honey cookery; research news; solitary
bees; bumble bees; selling honey; apitherapy. These are just a
very few of the subjects of interest to our readers and I know
that there are experts out there, so do contact us if you are
one of them. Do let us hear from you and help Apis-UK to expand
and interest more and more beekeepers all over the world. (We
have a good number of overseas readers already and I would welcome
any overseas inputs). Our Historical Note this month comes from
that marvellous amateur naturalist, The Reverend Gilbert White
giving his thoughts on honeydew (he wasn’t a fan it seems)
and our popular recipe section includes an ‘exfoliant’ no
less, and gives detailed advice on what to do with a mackerel,
and in our letters section are two letters actually praising us
and I didn’t
write either of them. I hope that you enjoy this May issue and
that you come again for more. David
Cramp. Editor. Cover
Photograph by SGT.
LANGSTROTH'S HIVE AND THE HONEY-BEE
Beekeeper’s Manual L. L. Langstroth. Available from Northern
Bee Books at £18.00 (inc UK postage) http://www.beedata.com/nbb/langstroth.htm
guide by the Reverend L. L. Langstroth, “the father of
modern beekeeping,” revolutionized the practice of beekeeping.
Originally published in 1853, his work constitutes the first
descriptive treatise of modern bee management - its innovations
allowed people to engage in actual beekeeping, rather than simply
handling bee domiciles and extracting the honey. This book explains
and illustrates techniques still employed 150 years later -
including the author’s patented invention, a movable frame
hive that quickly spread into common use around the world.In his
reader-friendly, non technical style, Langstroth addresses every
aspect of beekeeping: bee physiology; diseases and enemies of
bees; the life-cycles of the queen, drone, and worker; bee-hives;
and the handling of bees. An infectious sense of wonder and enthusiasm
suffuses Langstroth’s accounts of natural and artificial
swarming, the production of honey and wax, and the best methods
of feeding bees and maintaining an apiary. The manual abounds
in practical and intriguing insights attained through years of
observation and experience, including “the kindness of bees
to one another,” “their infatuation for liquid sweets,” and “the
warning given by bees before stinging.”This version
of Langstroth’s ever-popular manual is the fourth and
final edition; it incorporates the author’s own revisions
and remains an unsurpassed resource for beekeepers. Dover (2004)
unabridged republication of the fourth edition of A Practical
Treatise on the Hive and Honey-Bee
, published by J. B.
Lippincott & Co.,
Philadelphia, 1878. Index. 25 plates. 464pp. 5 3/8 x 8 1/2.
HONEY PROPERTIES SHOW WAYS TO CREATE
NANO FIBRES AND WIRES
In a recent edition of Apis-UK
we reported on how various physical properties of honey could
suggest how the movement of continental plates could be explained.
Here we report that the study of honey and other viscous liquids
could lead to new methods for making threads, wires and particles
only a few nanometres wide. (A nanometre is 1 billionth of
a metre or roughly the equivalent of 10 hydrogen atoms strung
together). These new products could in turn have numerous applications
including new kinds of composite materials, electronic circuits
and pharmaceutical products.
Scientists have always believed the widely accepted rule that
no matter what a liquid or gas is made of drops or bubbles always
break away from a nozzle the same way: as the drop is forming
it is attached to the nozzle by a thin segment of liquid or gas.
This connecting segment grows progressively thinner and as its
width gets closer and closer to zero, it breaks at a single point
and the drop falls from the nozzle. This happens the same way
no matter how fast or slow the liquid is flowing or however big
the nozzle is. Now however they have found an exception whilst
studying the subject in relation to various nozzles including
those in ink jet printers. Scientists at the Purdue University
and other research institutes (including The Mathematical Institute
Oxford) have found that whilst these drops form in air (which
has a lower viscosity than the liquid drop and follows the rule,
if you dip the nozzle in honey which is thousands of times thicker
than water, the drops form differently.
Firstly, the drop takes longer to form. Then, instead of breaking
off, the segment of liquid between the forming drop and the nozzle’s
tip continues to grow into a narrow thread and becomes much longer
than it would if forming in air. Mathematicians say that in this
case, ‘it remembers’ its initial state. Rather than
separating from the nozzle at a single point, the liquid cuts
away in two places; at the point where the drop has formed and
at a point closer to the nozzle. The drop falls away, but an extremely
thin thread of liquid or gas also separates from the nozzle. By
including certain chemicals, the liquid threadlike segments can
be hardened very quickly by exposing it to photo polymerising
light. Because the thread forms so slowly, you have time to do
this. Scientists at the University of Chicago have made fibres
less than 100 nanometres wide and the researchers explain that
they may in the future be able to make flexible nano fibres to
conduct electricity and to develop a new class of electronics
(I wonder if it’s the same principle
involved when you tread on chewing gum in the street on a hot
day and then lift your foot up? If so, I could have told them
THE HONEY REGULATIONS 2003
We have reported on the new regulation honey labels
in a previous issue, but the full rules and a useful summing up
of the main changes can be seen at http://www.bbka.org.uk/articles/honey_labels.php This
has been prepared by peter martin, Chairman of the Honey International
NICE TO SEE. THE SUPER COOL BEEKEEPER
In an interesting
report on BBC news online, a new generation of London beekeepers
is taking up the craft that is becoming increasingly popular
with today’s 30 and 40 something’s. (For those
who aren’t up to date with media jargon, that means people
in their 30s and 40s). The report is well laid out with the
usual magazine style sidebars detailing facts and figures about
bees and concludes that having a beehive at the bottom
of your garden is now super-cool! To see the full report, see
REMOTE CONTROL BEEKEEPING
Reported in various bee press magazines
including the Beekeepers Quarterly, is the ‘BeeWise’,
developed by the French company Apivelay in partnership with
a specialist design house. Developed from Wavecom’s
Integra wireless modem, BeeWise is a new generation beehive
scale: a monitor located on each hive tracks fluctuations
in hive weight (a sufficient indicator to measure honeyflow
and food stocks) and transmits this data by SMS direct to
your mobile. As hives are often located over geographical
zones of several hundred Kilometres this device could therefore
save both time and money as well as alerting the beekeeper
to any ‘emergency’ situations.
For more information, see http://www.beeconcept.com/beeconcept_home_english.htm
NEW BBKA REVISED
The new draft of the revised BBKA constitution
can be downloaded from the BBKA web site. The draft is available
in Adobe format as a PDF file. See www.bbka.org.uk/members/downloads.php (BBKA
ROTHAMSTED NATIONAL BUMBLEBEE NEST SURVEY. JUNE
The national bumblebee nest survey organised by Rothamsted
will take place next month. Look at the web site www.rothamsted.ac.uk for more information and on the requirement for volunteers.
(A very important operation indeed. Ed).
GM FOOD IMPORTS ALLOWED
Following clarification of strict labelling requirements
and the need for manufacturers to be able to account for the
provenance of all GM foods, European Commission has cleared
the way for the import of foods containing GM material. In
this case, they have approved the import of tinned and frozen
GM sweet corn from crops produced by the Swiss firm Syngenta.
The decision is seen by many as opening the way for imports
of GM food generally and animal feeds with the EU facing a
backlog of 33 other products awaiting licences. The commission
had little choice but to make this decision after the EU food
and safety agency concluded that there was no scientific justification
for the ban.
'The next news item will be of great interest to
all beekeepers and is certainly a way forward. John Harbo did
explain to me though at a meeting in France that there was still
much more research to be done, particularly as the SMR queens
developed smaller brood patterns. This disadvantage was being
worked on along with other research. Ed.'
KEEPING VARROA UNDER CONTROL
For more than 20 years, beekeepers have been battling varroa
mites. The tiny, bloodsucking parasites weaken adult bees and
sometimes cause deformities. But entomologists with the Agricultural
Research Service have discovered that some bees have a built-in
defence against varroa mites, a trait that can be bred into any
Honey bees deliver pollen necessary for the production of $15
billion worth of U.S. crops. Varroa mites are a serious threat
to this important, bee-dependant productivity and can wipe out
an untreated colony in under two years.
Called SMR, for "suppressed mite reproduction," the
newly-found trait protects bees by keeping harmful varroa mites
from reproducing. It's hoped that when adequately bred into bee
populations, SMR can one day free beekeepers from their dependence
on chemical miticides.
ARS entomologists John R. Harbo and Jeffrey W. Harris,
in the agency's Honey Bee Breeding, Genetics and Physiology Research
Unit at Baton Rouge, La., discovered the SMR trait while searching
for the reason behind reduced mite populations observed in some
bee colonies. While honey bees can fend off mites through grooming
and other hygienic behaviours, a different factor appeared to
be at play in those colonies.
The researchers found that some mites simply weren't reproducing.
They watched female mites entering brood cells--the small pockets,
or honeycomb, where young bees develop--but not laying any eggs.
Following genetic studies, the researchers determined that a trait
in these honey bees was responsible for inhibiting the mites'
To help beekeepers whose hives are suffering from varroa infestations,
ARS has provided the SMR trait to Glenn Apiaries, a commercial
queen honey bee producer in Fallbrook, Calif., that sells SMR
breeder queens. With selective breeding, the SMR trait can eliminate
mite reproduction in worker brood cells.
Harbo and Harris are studying a second trait in
bees linked to mite resistance. Called P-MIB, for "percentage
of mites in brood," the trait is an ideal complement to SMR
because it curbs mite populations from outside, rather than inside,
the brood cell where SMR comes into play. Kim Flottum Editor,
Bee Culture Magazine http://www.beeculture.com/beeculture/index.html
Insecticide spraying is a subject of great importance
to all beekeepers. This news item from Kim Flottum's 'catch the
buzz' articles shows how we can reduce danger to others if we
need to spray.
GOOD INFORMATION ON PESTICIDE SPRAYING
By Erdal Ozkan
Make an Effort to Eliminate Spray Drift
COLUMBUS, Ohio — When spraying pesticides, don’t
let others get your drift.
“It is bad enough when your drift damages
your crops, your lawn or your garden. But when the damage is to
field or flowerbeds, then you’ve got a real problem,” said
Erdal Ozkan, an Ohio State University Extension agricultural engineer.
Spray drift is one of the more serious problems pesticide applicators
have to deal with. Three-fourths of the agriculture-related complaints
investigated by the Ohio Department of Agriculture in 2003 involved
“This shows the seriousness of the problem,” said
Ozkan. “Drift will be even a bigger problem in the future
since there is an increase in acreage of genetically modified
crops, and use of non-selective herbicides for weed control. Even
a small amount of these non-selective herbicides can cause serious
damage on the crop nearby that is not genetically modified.”
Drift is the movement of a pesticide through air, during or after
application, to a site other than the intended site of application.
It not only wastes expensive pesticides and damages non-target
crops nearby, but it also poses a serious health risk to people
living in areas where drift is occurring.
“Eliminating drift completely is impossible. However, it
can be reduced to a minimum if chemicals are applied with good
judgment and proper selection and operation of application equipment,” said
Major factors that influence drift include spray characteristics,
equipment/application techniques, weather conditions, and operator
skill and care.
“Conscientious sprayer operators rarely get into drift
problems. They understand the factors that influence drift and
do everything possible to avoid them,”said Ozkan.
Spraying under excessive wind conditions is the most common factor
affecting drift. “The best thing to do is not to spray under
windy conditions. If you don’t already have one, get yourself
a reliable wind speed meter as soon as possible. Only then can
you find out how high the wind speed is,” said Ozkan.
After wind speed, spray droplet size is the most important factor
affecting drift. Research has shown that there is a rapid decrease
in the drift potential of droplets whose diameters are greater
than approximately 200 microns (about twice the thickness of human
“If operators of sprayers pay attention to wind direction
and velocity, and have knowledge of droplet sizes produced by
different nozzles, drift can be minimized,” said Ozkan. “The
ideal situation is to spray droplets that are all the same size,
and larger than 200 microns. Unfortunately with the nozzles we
use today, this is not on option. They produce droplets varying
from just a few microns to over 1000 microns. The goal is to choose
and operate nozzles that produce relatively fewer of the drift-prone
Using low-drift nozzles is one of the many options
available to growers to reduce drift.
The following are other drift-reduction strategies to keep drift
• Use nozzles that produce coarser droplets when applying
pesticides on targets that do not require small, uniformly distributed
droplets (such as systemic products, pre-plant soil incorporated
applications, fertilizer applications).
• Keep spray volume up, and use nozzles with larger orifices.
• Follow recent changes in equipment and technology such
as shields and air-assisted and electrostatic sprayers that are
developed for drift reduction in mind.
• Keep the boom closer to the spray target. Nozzles with
a wider spray angle will allow you to do that.
• Keep spray pressure down, and make sure pressure gauges
• Follow label recommendations to avoid drift with highly
• If you are not using low-drift nozzles, try adding Drift
Retardant Adjuvants into your spray mixture.
• Avoid spraying on extremely hot, dry and windy days, especially
if sensitive vegetation is nearby. Try spraying in mornings and
late afternoons. Although it may not be practical, from the drift
reduction aspect, the best time to spray is at night.
• Avoid spraying near sensitive crops that are downwind.
Leave a buffer strip of 50 to 100 feet, and spray the strip later
when the wind shifts.
“Good judgment can mean the difference between an efficient,
economical application, or one that results in drift, damaging
non-target crops and creating environmental pollution,” said
Ozkan. “The goal of a conscientious pesticide applicator
should be to eliminate off-target movement of pesticides, no matter
how small it may be.”
In the next research news item the properties of manuka
Honey are discussed. Many beekeepers know that honey has healing
properties but manuka honey has something special about it
that stands it above the rest. What is this? Researchers at
the University of Waikato School of Science and Technology
in New Zealand have produced the following information for
MANUKA HONEY. WHY SO SPECIAL?
For the past 19 years, honey researchers at the University of waikaito (New
Zealand) have been investigating manuka honey as a superior treatment for
wound infections. Manuka honey is gathered from the manuka bush Leptospermum
scoparium, which grows wild throughout the country. (Leptospermum polygalifolium
which grows in Australia has the same properties). As a result of the research
and through publication of the results in scientific journals many people
are interested to know what is so special about this honey. The waikato Honey
Research Unit, offers the following answers. Honey generally has an antibacterial
activity, due primarily to hydrogen peroxide formed in a slow release manner
by the enzyme glucose oxidase present in honey which can vary widely in potency.
Some honeys are no more antibacterial than sugar whilst others can be diluted
100 fold and still halt the growth of bacteria. The difference in potency
of anti bacterial activity among the different honeys is more than 100 fold.
Active manuka honey and its Australian equivalent is the only honey available
for sale that is tested for anti bacterial activity. It contains an additional
component only found in honey produced from leptospermum plants: called ‘the
Unique Manuka Factor’ UMF. There is evidence that the two antibacterial
compounds may have a synergistic action. UMF is not affected by the catalase
enzyme present in body tissue and serum. This enzyme will break down to some
degree, the hydrogen peroxide which is the major antibacterial factor found
in other types of honey. If a honey without UMF were used to treat an infection,
the potency of the honey’s antibacterial activity would most likely
be reduced because of the action of catalase. The enzyme that produces hydrogen
peroxide in honey is destroyed when honey is exposed to heat and light. But
UMF is stable, so there is no concern about manuka honey losing its potency
in storage. The enzyme that produces hydrogen peroxide in honey becomes active
only when honey is diluted. But UMF is active in full strength honey, which
will provide a more potent antibacterial action diffusing into the depth
of the infected tissues. The enzyme that produces hydrogen peroxide requires
oxygen to be available for the reaction, so may not work under wound dressings
or in wound cavities. Honey with UMF is active in all situations. The same
enzyme becomes active only when the acidity of the honey is neutralised by
body fluids, but then, the honey id diluted. Also, the enzyme producing hydrogen
peroxide could be destroyed by the protein digesting enzymes that are in
wound fluids. The UMF antibacterial activity diffuses deeper into skin tissue
than does the hydrogen peroxide from other honeys. Honey with UMF is more
effective than that with hydrogen peroxide against some types of bacteria.
For example, active manuka honey is about twice as effective as other honeys
against Eschericihia coli and Staphylococcus aureus, the most common cause
of infected wounds. Many medical professionals are using active manuka honey
- and getting good results in patients with wounds that have not responded
to standard treatments. For example a successful trial on unresponsive skin
ulcers was published in the New Zealand medical journal. In addition, staff
at a large hospital in Brisbane , Australia , recently used active manuka
honey as a wound dressing on a patient for who honey without UMF had failed.
To alleviate any concern over the possible risks of introducing infection
by the use of an unprocessed natural product on wounds, honey can be sterilised
by gamma radiation without loss of any of its anti bacterial activity, and
these honeys are commercially available sterilised in this way.
LEARNING IN BEES
In last months edition, we reported on research into the growth of the mushroom
bodies in wasps brains; a report which suggested that these mushroom bodies
were connected with learning and effectively said that the more the wasps
had to know, the bigger were the mushroom bodies. Looking back through the
research journals on this subject we can now report on some earlier research
(2001) which relates to bees and so this month we take a quick look at honey
bees and ask how does a bee’s brain support the striking changes in
behaviour that takes place as the bee matures. Scientists believe that a
part of the answer lies with the mushroom bodies, the brain region thought
to be the centre of learning and memory in insects. In research conducted
in 2001, scientists discovered a 20% increase in the size of a specific area
of the mushroom bodies as the bee matured. The volume increase occurs in
a sub region where synapses or connections are made between various neurons
from other brain regions devoted to sensory input. This research was the
first to report on brain plasticity in an invertebrate and was particularly
interesting because volume increases in brain regions in vertebrates reflect
increases in certain cognitive abilities. Another way of studying the ‘learning’ ability
of insects such as bees is by studying cognitive ethology which focuses on
the study of animals under natural conditions to reveal ecologically adapted
modes of learning. But biologists can more easily study ‘what’ an
animal learns than ‘how’ it learns it. In some research conducted
several years ago and reported in Nature, Rothamsted scientists amongst others
looked at bees orientation flights. Little is known about these because bees
soon fly out of visual range. Using harmonic radar it was shown that with
increasing experience, bees hold trip duration constant but fly faster, so
later trips cover a larger area than earlier ones. Also, each trip is typically
restricted to a narrow sector around the hive. The scientists. These flights
provide bees with repeated opportunities to ‘fix’ the hive and
local landscapes from different viewpoints suggesting that the bees learn
about the local area progressively. The report shows that changes in the
flights (e.g. increased distance) are related to the number of previous flights
and not chronological age which they suggest is a learning process adapted
to changes in weather conditions, flower availability and colony needs.
BEES TRADE FORAGING SPEED FOR ACUARACY
Recent research published in Nature shows that bees have impressive cognitive
ability, but the strategies used by individuals in solving foraging tasks
have been largely unexplored. In some interesting research, scientists tested
bumblebees (Bombus terrestris) in a colour discrimination task on a virtual
flower meadow and found that some bees make rapid choices but with low precision,
whereas other bees are slower but highly accurate. Moreover, each bee will
sacrifice speed in favour of accuracy when errors are penalised instead of
just being unrewarded. To their knowledge, bees are the first example of
an insect to show between-individual speed-accuracy trade offs.
HIGHER YIELDS PRODUCED BY SIMPLE SELECTION
Scientists at the University of Cordoba centre of ecological apiculture (CAAPE)
produce queens using a selection procedure based on the characteristics of
infectivity, dynamics of varroa and hygienic behaviour. They select by families,
with each one selected for just one of the traits with the aim of ultimately
crossing them. The queens are given out to professional bee farmers and so
the characteristic of productivity and good yields are also included in evaluations.
Results are encouraging and show that in experimental colonies, even using
simple mass selection in the early years of the trials, colony yields increased
by 10 kilos. (Translation by Ruth Christie).
BEE PRESS Back to top
swarm control has at least three consequences. First, it means
that neighbours will not be frightened by the prime swarm that
settles in their apple tree. Second, it means that your colonies
will remain at their strongest and will get you the maximum potential
honey crop. Third, it can be used to control the level of varroa
mites in your colonies without the introduction of chemical controls.
Beecraft May 2004 Volume 86 Number 5
time you read this, I expect that the swarming season will be in
full swing. I must confess that the number of swarm calls that
we receive now is very much less than in the days before varroa
arrived. However, colonies still have the natural urge to reproduce
and it is in our own interests to control this to our advantage.
still having trouble lighting your smoker - or keeping it lit?
There is very practical advice on page 15. Many thanks to Alan
Johnston who completes his practical 'How to ...' series this month,
also looking at using the smoker. If you have any other topics
you would like to see covered in this series, let me know and I
will see if I can twist Alan's arm for another series!
issue, we welcome two new members to the Bee Craft team.
Sue Hull, from Peterborough, is our new Administrator and will
be dealing with all matters pertaining to subscriptions and day-to-day
finances of the company. John Hendrie, from Tonbridge, is our new
Company Secretary, dealing with all the legal requirements. More
details about Sue and John can be found on page 27.
Mouser has had to give up her work with Bee Craft
and other reasons. We would like to thank her for the tremendous
amount of work that she undertook on Bee Craft's
and wish her well in the future. Claire Waring
following is its contents list: The principles
of swarm control Adrian Waring, NDB; The beekeeping year: May
Pam Gregory, MSc, NDB; NBU research in 2004 Ruth Waite, PhD; Varroa
control with artificial swarm David Aston, PhD, NDB;
No smoke without fire Andy Pedley; Small and perfectly
formed Celia Davis, NDB; In the Apiary: having fun
with bees (part 4) Karl Showler; The Bee Craft photo
competition; Letters to the Editor; Around the colony;
The 'B' Kids; Classified advertisements; Calendar;
Obituaries Jack Holt, Bill Mackenzie, Leslie Hewitson.
||COVER: A honey bee working Acer platinoides (Norway
maple) (photo: Claire Waring) (1st prize, Class 44, National
Honey Show 2002 - sponsored by Bee Craft Ltd)
IBRA's quarterly BUZZ EXTRA is on the
shelves bringing us an update on the world view of bees and beekeeping
and includes items of interest taken from IBRA's vast archives. The
purpose of the news letter is to keep IBRA's supporters informed
and to give a taste of what IBRA does and can offer anyone interested
in bees. For more information, see http://www.ibra.org.uk
I really enjoy reading good local association newsletters and the Apiarist
is a very interesting read most probably reflecting an interesting
and vibrant association.
Yet again I am pleased to say that
the Harrogate and Ripon Bee-keepers Association have sent me their
quarterly newsletter, The Apiarist. This issue has a wealth of association
news including information on the local shows and a very interesting
report on health and safety for beekeepers. It was illuminating to
read the speakers thoughts on the various chemicals that we use in
the hive and my suspicions about PDB were confirmed. I used it once
and never again. Their reservations on the new BBKA constitution
were expressed, viewing the proposals with some concern. (See also
ALWAYS BE OPEN ABOUT YOUR BEEKEEPING
Says, Christian Henriksen from Lemvig Denmark,
when presented with honour of Danish Beekeeper of the year 2003 by
If Danish beekeeper Christian Henriksen, had been frightened away
from beekeeping, by his first meeting with local older experienced
beekeepers at his local Danish beekeepers association meeting in
Lemvig Denmark.. He would never in have been awarded the Danish
beekeeper of the year 2003, which is given to the a person who has
made a meaningful input locally, regionally nationally and internationally
for beekeepers, and their associations. Whether by looking after
the local associations apiary, making tea coffee and cakes for meetings,
furthering knowledge about bees. The years beekeeper is found from
candidates put forward by the local associations, and they are then
voted on by the management committee of Denmark Beekeepers Associations,
National Executive Committee.
The years beekeeper is presented with a Diploma, with their name, and the reasons
why they have been presented with the prize. The presentation of The Diploma
for "Danish Beekeeper of the Year 2003" was made by the chairman
of the executive committee of Danish Beekeepers Association [Danmarks
Biavlerforening] Verner Schou, on 28th November 2003,
at a meeting in Christian Henriksens, honey processing room, in front of local
beekeepers, neighbours, local Mayor of Lemvig Jørgen Nørby, and
the Danish press and TV. In presenting Christian Henriksen with the ward, Verner
Schou said" Christian has been involved in a Herculean task for beekeepers
world wide and locally, he has been amongst the major movers after his beekeeping
colleague Helge Støve died a couple of years ago in trying to breed
bees who are resistance to Varroa mites. The results of which are the breeding
material Christian makes available to all beekeepers who want to test out his
bees either in the form of fertilised queens, or virgin queens or larva. Both
in collaboration with beekeepers in British Isles, and Belgium were he works
closely with Warson Roger from Maasmecheien and a Belgium University and local
Danish beekeepers associations are always welcome at Christians Henriksens,
home at Grånsgårdsvej 19, Tørring, 7620, Lemvig, Denmark,
where Christian and his wife Tove have always got the coffee pot on, and bread
on the table for visiting beekeepers to sit down and enjoy a long conversation
about bees, queen rearing and breeding. Despite the cuts backs by the two year
old ‘Neo Liberal Danish Government‘, when all funding for research
in beekeeping, and the environment has been with drawn in Denmark, Christian
has not faltered in his self appointed task of inquisitively finding out about
bees, breeding and queen rearing and passing on this knowledge to other beekeepers".
Might never have carried on Beekeeping
started beekeeping in 1967 when a swarm landed in the garden of Tove
and Christensen Henriksen, an old beekeeper from the village recommended
that they keep the swarm, and join the local beekeepers association
to learn more about beekeeping. But says Christian "I
got one of the biggest shocks of my life on my first visit to the
local beekeepers. There were four men from the committee around a
bee hive in the association apiary, and after a while I began to
ask questions. I was told as they had learnt from their own experiences,
then I should do the same they did not intend to pass their knowledge
on to him" I decided explained Christian if I every became
knowledgeable about bees if any one ever ask me about bees I would
explain every thing I knew. This is the golden rule to which I have
lived by ever since says Christian. Any thing I learn by my inquisitive
inquiring nature about bees and beekeeping I will pass on to other
beekeepers every thing I have learnt says 66 year old Christian Henriksen,
with his knowledge from his 100 bee hives to back him up, and luckily
things have changed since 1967 in Danish beekeeping circles every
one is more open, and others especially queen breeders and rearers
are much better to share the knowledge they have gleaned from their
work with bees.
Background to Danish Queen breeding and rearing
Henriksen goes on to say amongst other things; "that
though Danish queen rearers & queen breeders work very closely
together, and indeed share knowledge freely with one another. There
are two quite distinct philosophies, as to how to achieve the common
goal of rearing quiet, gentle, healthy productive queens, and bee
colony’s. The difference lies in whether it is best to have
a number of background races, and crosses of bees and cross the for
F1 & F2 Hybrid Vigour as Brother Adam did with his Buckfast Bee.
Which in Denmark the group around Poul Erik Sørensen, at
Bakkegaarden are involved. Or whether to use as Christian
Henriksen, the large Genetic pool of a race of bees like
Carnica (or perhaps in the British case The British
Black Bee, (Apis Mellifera Mellifera) the thought also behind
the black bee is that in colder Northern Europe they will work earlier
and longer then the yellow bee which is better suited to Southern
Europe. Were as the group around Christian at Tørring
Lemvig, uses this as a background to their Queen rearing & breeding.
There are than some more differences, Poul Erik Sørensen using
Hybrid Vigour has gone for a) Gentleness, b) Disease
Resistance, c) Production, and d) cleaning
out of dead bees and debris e) not swarming. Where
as Christian Henriksen group have gone for all of these A – E but
using the larger gene pool that a race like Carnica gives instead
of line breeding, they have bred over the past 15 years, using sister
of sisters. In co-operation, and working closely together with a
Belgium Queen Rearer called Warson Roger, from Maasmechelen, they
use bees who groom and kill Varroa mites from the hive for which
they have kept a systematic data base., Which they update weekly,
and that is to say every week of the year, the varroa tray is inspected
for queens who have no varroa drop, and after treatment with formic
acid drop less than 100 mites. Were as the control group of not bred
for Varroa resistance drop up to 1000 mites after treatment. There
is also another difference in so much as Poul Erik Sørensen
until this year has not bred for Varroa resistance relying on treatment
only to solve the problem, he has now decided to use Russian Primorsky
in his breeding programme, and have an integrated varroa treatment
programme changing the methods of treatment" says Christian...
Varroa Treatment Method
Christian Henriksens varroa treatment is very simple and cost effective, a) he
breeds from queens who throw out or kill the varroa mite. b) he
uses a very cost effective method and simple method of treating with Formic
Acid. To do this he uses a hard piece of corrugated cardboard, from scrap
cardboard boxes, the same size as a crown board, but sitting only on top of
the frames, not over the box edge.
Then using '60% Formic Acid' obtainable from ‘Swienty
Bee Keeping Supplies', in 5 gallons (25 litre) or less drum,
he drips using a 20 ml syringe 20 ml of the 60 % Solution over 4 days in August
/ September / October when the ambient temperature is 12 – 15 o C, and
on top of the corrugated he puts a piece of strong clear plastic sheeting, (which
he buys in a roll) this causes the Formic Acid to Evaporate, and
is more cost effective then Krämmer boards, and works better he claims.
Varroa treatment with formic acid
of 60 % solution is very corrosive. Therefore handle the formic
acid with great care. Use very strong rubber gloves, protective glasses,
and a mask is also recommended.
All activity with formic acid should be carried out, in the open
air, or a very well ventilated area.
Should formic acid come into contact with your skin then rinse
it immediately with abundant cold water. Likewise should it come
into contact with the eyes, again rinse with lots of water for 15
minutes, at the same time arrange for medical help. Make sure you
always have an abundant supply of water with you when treating bees
for varroa with ‘Formic, Acid'.
Varroa mite resistance to formic acid has not been registered in its 15 years
of its use in Denmark, and it is not expected to develop. But it is a good
idea to alternate treatments, is the Danish Beekeepers Association, and scientific
researchers official advise, with another treatment method as suggested later
in this article. That is you look up the web sites recommended for Danish
organic varroa treatment methods besides formic acid, under www.biavl.dk either
or www.swienty.com and,
click on the Union Jack / Stars and Stripes for English version. The method
described to you above, by Christian Henriksen, using formic acid, is from
the authors experience an excellent method of treatment for varroa, but follow
the safety recommendations strictly and carefully.
Yearly replacement of all brood comb
Danish beekeepers as part of their disease control, and hygiene the
all brood comb from all the frames in every hive, are replaced every
year. In Christian Henriksens case he has made a very large solar
wax extractor which takes about 20 deep brood frames. Christian has
fixed the wax extractor itself onto a heavy duty swivel from a redundant
office chair, costing a jar of honey, which turns to face the sun.
All the wax on the frames are melted by the sun, into very large 15
kg (30 lbs.) blocks,
the frames themselves being permanently wired with stainless steel
crimped wire, using a ‘Wire Crimper,' the
wax its self is sterilised by the suns heat but is further cleaned
and filtered before being made into new foundation by Christian.
The frames are again sterilised using a weak caustic soda and hot
water solution. Then the new foundation wax is fixed back onto the
stainless steel wire on the beautifully clean frames, by induction
using an ‘Electric 6 Volt Embedder' with, a thermo
fuse,. Christian like most Danish beekeepers obtains most of he beekeeping
equipment from the world famous Danish family firm of Swienty on www.swienty.com you
can find most of the equipment mentioned in this article on this
web site, plus lots of useful information about Danish Beekeeping,
Varroa Control, Queen Breeding and Rearing. By reading the English
links to Swienty but also to the Danish Beekeepers Association [Denmark’s
Biavlerforening] web-site, if want to
go there direct it is www.biavl.dk and
then click on the Union Jack / Stars & Stripes for English language
version of Swienty’s and Danish Beekeepers web site, and lots
of very useful other Scandinavian, English language links on beekeeping
Queen rearing and control of which queens to breed from
mentioned already Christian Henriksen has a very extensive system
of controls on which genetic characteristics he is looking for from
the queens he rears, all this information is logged onto a data base
so Christian can print out various flow and pie charts to look for
the types of queens he is looking for, as mention above in points A – E.
But Christian also open for other things, so when his local fish
market at the fishing port of Thyborøn changed over to electronic
weighing scales, Christian obtained a heavy duty water proof Avery
Scale made in Birmingham UK, for a few jars of honey, he now has
one of his breeder queens permanently on the scales in a field of
clover. He says that in 2003 the average honey flow per day on honey
flow days, was between 1 to 5 kilos increase in weight per day, per
hive, on days without a honey flow there was a loss of 1 kilogram
per day (2.2 lbs.), and the days with a honey flow of
1 to 5 kilograms the average water evaporation overnight, was between
300 – 400 grams of water lost per 1 kilo gram of weight gain
during the day, over night evaporation loss depends on the nectar
sources. It is by paying such close attention to detail that Christian
makes his selection of breeding queens. Christian says he will be
happy to supply queens, and breeding material to any beekeeper but
he request they must give him feed back for his records on the queens
and their progeny for his future breeding records.
not at the moment use artificial insemination as he is not skilled
enough, and any way it is only best to inseminate to fix, and maintain
the strain of breeding queen he needs. So if he needs to use AI he
gets some one else to do this for him. Otherwise his process is grafting
of eggs from a breeder queen. These are then put into an ingenious
treble hive, that is to say two normal working hive
with queens on the outside connection to a central hive by a queen
excluder strip 5 cm’s deep to the middle queen rearer hive
which is queen-less, is topped regularly with young brood frames,
from the left & right hand side hives which have queens. The
queen less hive is the queen rearer hive, and rears about 80 to 100
queens per week, which are put into the incubator when the queen
cells are capped after 5 to 6 days. Hair rollers or cages, are put
over the queen cells whilst they are in the incubator, and once they
are hatched they are introduced into small polystyrene mating boxes
either Apidea, Kielder, Swi Bine what ever takes your fancy, with
a cup full of house bees, dampened with water spray, and a piece
of ‘Queen Rearer Api Fondant' in a special feed section
of the mini nuke. They are then taken by Christian, who like most
Danish beekeepers have access to their own mating station. In Christian’s
case his mating station is on an isolated peninsular in the middle
of North Jutlands Lim Fjord called ‘Harboøre tange'.
If you ask Christian do you think it will be possible to breed varroa
resistant bees he replies "We have our selves bees which we
do not need to treat, and the queens in these families are all sisters.
How ever we have some colonies which have many varroa mites, and
in this case the queens of these families are also sisters. So I
think this shows that it must be possible to breed your self forward
to a position where you have varroa resistant bees", says
Christian. He further says "we were about to achieve the result
of having varroa resistant bees but my friend and colleague Helge
Støves died, but it could be done but we would need several
hundred bee colonies" or bee families as the Danes call them,
he goes on to say "the Danish government going in the opposite
way to all other governments in Europe, it has withdrawn all funding
from environmental and beekeeping research. But we need the help
of full time beekeeping researcher" However instead he is sending
queens to a university in Belgium, were the results have been very
positive. But he says "I will say this I do not have problems
with varroa, we treat with formic acid one a year when the bees come
back from the heather in September, and that is usually the only
time I need to treat" he says.. "My offer to supply beekeepers
with breeding material is open to all, but you must
advise me how it is doing, but please do not ask me to hold a lecture
or speak at a public meeting says Christian, I am very happy to show
how its done at home in my own apiary and I am never happier than
when I am at a beekeepers meeting with other beekeepers but do not
ask me to public speak, I am a doer, not a teacher from a lectern",
Some final tips from Christian
you spring feed all your hives with a stimulation feed 1 kilo of
invert fondant" says Christian, "also
look for early sources of pollen and nectar to site your apiaries,
to get the queen laying early on, I allow my actual breeder queens
to be four years old before I pension them off.. Let me say I get
most of my honey flow from water meadows, along the west coast of
Jutland, were I get wonderful honey from wild white clover and lots
of other wild flowers, herbs, and members of the heather family,.
But use your eyes, ears, and nose, and search your area for the best
well sheltered side with a good source of food for you bees especially
in early spring" says Christian. Another thing Christian wanted
to say was, "that the introduction of Polystyrene Swi – Bo
Hives, and Rea Dan Polyurethan Rea Dan, hives which are now the hives
most popular with Danish beekeepers, have made a big difference to
increasing yields and colony health. The bees being warmer in winter,
and cooler in summer, the hives says Christian are now available
in all international sizes the Danes themselves us the 12 x 10 Danish
Standard, but they are found in the international Langstroth, German,
Swedish, Norwegian, and now the British National and Smith sizes.
However I have seen the very small supers they use in British Isles
on my visits with Danish beekeepers to Scotland, England, and Ireland,
says Christian and they are not necessary when using Polystyrene
or Polyurathan hives. As the colonies tend to be stronger and eat
less winter stores so they start egg laying earlier in spring, and
build up quicker, this is the reason most beekeepers now use this
type of hive in Denmark, and no longer use queen excluders, as they
the queen excluders, stress the colony, and prevent the queen laying
in the best ambient temperature placement in the hive which suits
rearing of bees". The final point Christian wished to make
was, "the use of invert syrup and fondant, developed from research
by the German Bee Institute at Celle, which has an enzyme in to invert
the syrup to fructose, he find it results in much healthier bees,
as they did not have big body weight losses especially when going
into winter in having to invert sugar syrup which I would never go
back to", says Christian.
BEE SENSE AND SENSIBILITY (PART 1 OF 5)
that bees enjoy of their outside world is generally considered
to be very much like our own, although the degree of sensitivity
over which it operates may vary in range and content.
For example light outside our visual spectrum may be
discerned by the bee who also appreciates the finer points of
Without an obvious nose or ears their sense of smell
and hearing, as transmitted through air, may be less acute and
perhaps need supplementation by the antennae, a sensory organ
not available to ourselves.
As air and light act as highways upon which data may
be gathered and transmitted, the question arises as to whether
there may be other mediums present within the environment of
the hive which would be also capable of performing a similar
There are of course two forces which operate inside every
hive which sometimes are overlooked and may be worthy of more
detailed examination in this respect.
(1) The force of gravity.
(2) The force of the magnetic field around the earth.
Close observation of bee behaviour with these forces
in mind may well disclose their awareness of gravity, and magnetic
and static electric fields, sufficiently delicate to perhaps
permit a degree of mutual communication within the hive.
But first let us consider our own appreciation of these
properties so that we may compare them with that of the bee.
We all have a sense of gravity. We have all stood beneath
an apple tree with Sir Isaac Newton. We have all used a spirit
level and a plumb line, but how would we fare without such tools?
I will place you in the middle of a field with a pile
of bricks, sand and cement and say "Please build me a wall,
straight, level and upright. Sorry, no mechanical aids are available,
you can only use your five senses". Our appreciation of
gravity under these circumstances is shown to be somewhat crude.
Now on the other hand bees can collectively build natural
comb perpendicular in the dark. Their awareness of gravity must
therefore be superior to our own. Where is their sensory organ
that recognizes gravity and what degree of variation can it detect?
Our awareness of the earth's magnetic field without a
compass is equally abysmal. What of the bee, are there any actions
they undertake which show an appreciation of any particular compass
bearing. Does the bee also have the advantage over us in this
respect as well?
Let us try to formulate some simple questions to ask
the bee regarding their appreciation of magnetic, and gravitational
forces and see whether any answers may be forthcoming.
(To be continued next month)
In this article, John
Yates gives sound advice on the important subject of making and
using nuclei. This is one of the most important aspects of bee
keeping in my opinion. Nucs can be made up and used for a wide
variety of purposes and their correct make up and handling is
NUCLEI. THEIR DEFINITION, MAKING AND USE
The definition of a nucleus
Before looking at
the methods of making a nucleus (popularly referred to as 'nuc'
in the singular and 'nucs' for the plural of nuclei) it would be
as well to examine the definition of a nuc to understand what has
to be made. The BBKA standard (which I think has fallen into disuse
and was based on the old defunct British Standard) is that it shall
be "a colony occupying not less
than three BS (British Standard combs, 14 in H 8½in (356mm
H 216mm), of bees and not greater than five BS combs with the brood
(eggs and worker brood) area not less than half the total comb
area". As this was a standard for sale it also covers the
amount of food and that all the frames should be well covered with
bees, etc., etc. The standard for a colony is six BS frames and
greater. There seems to be no formally accepted definition of a
nuc in past literature but the BBKA standard above will serve our
purpose reasonably well as a target to aim at when making a nuc.
The number of bees on a well covered BS frame ranges from 1000
to 2000 bees; say an average of 1500 bees (750 on each side). With
3000 bees, it is unlikely that any part of the comb will be seen.
It follows that using these figures the number of bees in the minimum
sized nuc (3 BS frames) should be about 4500. For the maximum sized
nuc (5 BS frames) 7500 bees would be required, c.1.5lb (0.7kg)
in weight. Nucs on other sized frames would be proportionally sized
but with very large sized frames the minimum could not be reasonably
less than 2 frames to allow a brood nest temperature to be maintained
between the two combs. Other nucs, such as 'mini nucs' and 'micro
nucs' are very specialised for queen mating and are beyond the
scope of this article. However, their existence should be noted
and that they would not fit the definition postulated above.
Making the nuc
The essential components for making
a nuc are a queen, bees, food (honey and pollen) and emerging brood.
If the nuc is to be used for mating then a QC can be given to the
nuc in lieu of a queen. A nuc can be made from:
a) a single colony,
b) from two colonies or
c) several colonies.
There will be a difference depending whether the nuc is to remain
in the same apiary or whether it is to be moved more than 3 miles
away, the latter being a much easier task.
Method 1. Three frame nuc (to be transported
away). From the parent colony find the queen and cage her. Select
two frames of emerging and advanced brood with attendant bees and
place in the nuc box. Then select a good frame of food containing
fresh pollen and liquid stores, again with bees and also put into
the nuc box. Find now a really well covered frame of bees and shake
the lot into the nuc. The old queen can be released into the nuc
or a new laying queen can be introduced in a Butler cage. The dummy
board should be inserted and the space filled on its vacant side
with a piece of foam for travelling. Fix the travelling screen
and move to the new site immediately. On arrival at the new site
open the entrance (reduced) and let the bees fly. If the nuc was
destined to receive a QC then the nuc would be transported queenless
and without the QC which would be put in at the new site. The nuc
should be fed straightaway. Bees will be dying every day through
natural causes and these will be replaced by the emerging brood.
If a new laying queen is introduced it will be 21 days before any
of her protégé hatch out and longer if the QC has
to hatch and the virgin to mate before laying commences. During
this time the little colony is unbalanced and in a delicate state
until it becomes established; therefore, it must be treated with
great care to prevent it being robbed. Continual feeding may be
Method 2. Three frame nuc (to remain in the
same apiary). Proceed as in method 1 but ensure that the frame
of liquid stores is virtually full so that the made up nuc can
survive without feeding for about 4/5 days. The additional bees
shaken into the nuc will be greater in this method to allow for
any flying bees returning back to the parent colony. Before shaking
into the nuc, lightly shake the frame in the parent colony to get
rid of the older bees and then shake the rest into the nuc. Do
this with three frames and then introduce the queen and place in
a new position in the apiary, out of the flight path of other hives,
with a reduced entrance lightly closed with grass. Check after
4/5 days and then feed as required.
If nucs are made up as above taking frames and bees from different
colonies, it is prudent to spray each frame lightly with a very
weak water and sugar syrup leaving the frames well apart in the
nuc box and exposed to the light. The bees that are shaken in should
also be lightly sprayed. Finally, slowly bring the frames together
after smoking well; it is unlikely that any fighting will occur
following this treatment. Alternatively, all the frames less bees
can be taken from one or different colonies and the bees from another
colony. If it is possible to avoid mixing bees from different colonies,
then this should be done. Needless to say, nucs should only be
made from disease free colonies.
The various uses of nuclei
Nuclei are an essential
part of modern apiary management and are probably more useful for
teaching purposes than a large full sized colony. Manipulating
a large colony can be a daunting experience for the newcomers to
beekeeping and their initiation should always be on a nuc. The
small colonies should form part of every beekeeping establishment
whether it be a commercial honey producing organisation or a small
amateur beekeeper with a couple of hives. The number of uses to
which nuclei can be put is really quite remarkable, the important
ones are listed below:
1. Queen mating (these nucs can be quite small, nb. mini nucs).
2. Establishing and building into a full colony.
3. Increasing stocks and replacing colonies.
4. Swarm control.
5. Keeping spare queens and breeder queens.
6. Assessing the queen's offspring.
7. Drawing worker comb.
8. Observation hives.
9. Requeening large stocks.
Queen mating: probably tops the list of uses
and is probably the most complicated. The size can range considerably
from the micro nuc with only a few dozen bees to a 5 frame nuc
on BS frames. The important feature is that if no brood is present
the little colony is prone to abscond. The presence of brood creates
conditions which are favourable to the acceptance of a queen cell
and there will certainly be no absconding as a mating swarm. Bees
will not leave brood which needs tending whether it is young or
emerging. Introducing a queen cell to an established nuc always
seems to cause confusion with many beekeepers. How long should
the nuc be left queenless? There are the following possibilities:
a) Remove the queen and introduce a ripe QC (14 days old or greater)
straightaway. There is a fair possibility that the cell may be
destroyed; a cell protector (or a bit of sellotape round the cell)
is a good insurance policy.
b) Leaving the nuc queenless for about 2 hours gives a high acceptance
success rate. Some advocate feeding at the time the cell is introduced
but the rationale for doing this is obscure.
c) Leave queenless for 7 days and then destroy emergency QCs
before introducing the ripe QC. In our experience this is 100%
Making up a nuc specially for mating purposes is the final option.
Care must be taken to ensure the brood is only advanced or emerging.
If it is left for two days in a queenless condition the ripe QC
will be accepted without trouble. Usually 100% successful.
Establishing and building into a full sized colony. This
is the ideal way for a beginner to start beekeeping. The ideal
time is to take possession of the nuc in March/April and, of course,
this will be an over-wintered one. It will be capable of being
built into a full sized colony and a surplus obtained during the
first season. If the nuc is obtained in June with a current year
queen, the build up is unlikely to lead to a surplus during the
Increasing stocks and replacing colonies. Even
with the best management and bee husbandry, occasionally stocks
are lost during the winter for a variety of reasons. Over-wintered
nucs are ideal for replacing such losses and will provide a crop
during the year of replacement. If stocks are to be increased,
then new nucs will have to be made up during the season. The normal
time for this is May/June when queens can be also reared and the
colonies are strong enough to provide the bees for making the nucs.
Swarm control. Removing bees and brood from
strong colonies to make nucs is an effective method of swarm prevention
by reducing the colony population. If QCs are present in the parent
colony, one of these may be usefully used in the nuc when it is
made up. The danger of perpetuating a swarming strain must be taken
into consideration with this particular use.
Keeping spare queens and breeder queens. All
beekeepers should have a spare queen available for emergency purposes.
This means maintaining an over-wintered nuc or two in case one
is required early in the year when it would be impossible for a
virgin to mate due to drones not being available. The life of a
breeder queen can be extended by keeping her in a nuc and thereby
severely limiting the extent of her egg laying. In fact the genetic
material (eggs and larvae) for queen rearing can be obtained directly
from the breeder queen in the nuc. Breeder queens can be kept for
up to 5 years in this way.
Assessing the queen's offspring. Because of
the very widespread problem of bad temper, we consider it essential
that new queens are assessed in nucs prior to being introduced
into colonies. It is easy to deal with bad tempered bees if they
are in small numbers. Other characteristics are observed such as
laying pattern, nervousness, amount of propolis collected, etc.
No smoke should be used when assessing the bees in a nuc for temper.
Drawing worker comb. Small colonies produce
little, if any, drone comb when compared with large colonies. A
nuc will always draw worker comb irrespective of whether foundation
has been provided. Therefore, old comb with the drone comb cut
out can be given to nucs for repair as well as giving them foundation.
All our 5 frame nucs are given 1 or 2 frames of foundation to pull
out every year.
Observation hives. These contain only two or
three frames of bees and are therefore stocked from a nucleus.
A greater use could be made of observation hives for learning and
teaching than is done at present. The observation hive can be stocked
from a nuc and given starters instead of foundation to observe
comb building in progress.
Re-queening large stocks. If a queen is purchased
or obtained from another source and has been out of the hive for
some time, it is best that she is introduced initially to a nuc
(there is a better chance of acceptance in a small colony). When
her laying has normalised in the nuc, then she can be introduced
into the large colony. For successful queen introduction, it seems
that the old and the new queen must be in the same physiological
state. An alternative method is to make a nuc from the colony to
be requeened, introduce the queen to the nuc and when laying normally
the nuc is united with the parent colony, after first removing
the old queen, thus bringing it back to its full strength. We recommend,
as an insurance policy particularly if the queen is yellow and
the colony is black, that the queen is recaged for a day when the
nuc is returned to the parent colony.
!Chalk brood always seems to be
a problem with nucs until they become established as well balanced
colonies, albeit small ones. The trigger is of course temperature,
protein and CO 2 stress. When the nucs are established and good
ventilation is provided, it has been our experience that they seem
able to keep it at bay.
! Nucs made up as 3 frames in early June with QCs, build up to
5 frames and generally collect enough stores to feed themselves
for winter. They over-winter well with the young queens and provide
the replacement queens for the spring.
! Samples for adult bee diseases should be taken from the nucs
and treated in a similar manner to full colonies for nosema and
! Nucs should never be allowed to raise a queen from their own
emergency QCs; scrub queens will result. JDY.
Mathew Allen tries his hardest to get to the point in
this interesting article about nettles.
NETTLES, NETTLES, NETTLES. (AND
BEEKEEPING FOR COMPLETE NOVICES)
Go for a hike well
off the beaten track in Scotland, and sooner or later you will
come to the ruins of an ancient cottage or even a whole settlement.
(‘Oh, no!’ groans Sir Humphrey
Bufton Tufton. ‘He’s not going to go on about the Highland
Clearances, is he?) The plants you’ll find growing around
these ruins are rowan trees and nettles. And the amateur archaeologist
can point out the toilet site, because that’s where the nettles
are growing now. They love the nitrogen-rich soil. What loves nettles?
Yup, butterflies. So thanks to crofters’ poops, your walk
is brightened by the glimpse of dancing butterflies.
There’s more to nettles, of course. Richard Mabey’s
book Food For Free (from the days when we wore bell-bottoms
and didn’t cut our hair, man) was enthusiastic about the
nutritional value of nettles, but I never really developed a taste
for young nettle salad or nettle soup. Let me take you back to
Scotland (groans from bored readers) to one of the best restaurants
in Britain (hurrays!), The Peat Inn in Fife, where a dinner such
as pan-fried venison liver served with kidneys, poached quail’s
eggs and a bitter orange sauce comes with three AA Rosettes for
quality. What’s the significance? Well, the clue is in the
name. The nearby strange landscape of the Bankside Moss is another
feature to draw the amateur (and professional) archaeologist. It’s
a peat bog which has been dug for centuries, but it’s not
just the extraction of peat that is of interest. The holes were
then used to soak flax. The highly acidic water rotted the soft
tissue quickly and thoroughly so that the long fibres could be
extracted to make linen.
Hang on, hang on – I’ll get to the point. Trust me.
Last month I received a cutting from a correspondent (Mum again)
about the latest fashion craze. Jeans made out of a revolutionary
material. Cotton is a plant that has to be sprayed regularly, almost
incessantly, with pesticides. No beekeeper in the United States
will take bees to cotton because of the losses. Besides it is a
very hungry plant that requires copious fertiliser, with the consequent
pollution problems. It doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes, does
it? Yes – we’re talking about nettles! Nettle jeans
at £80 per pair for young groovies. Strong, soft, cheap,
and they grow like weeds. No need for tropical sun, irrigation,
fertiliser. It’s a win win crop.
Let me take you back now to The Peat Inn, because the pits at
the peat diggings were used to soak nettle stems to produce cloth
for uniforms for soldiers in the First World War.
One last thing, while I’m on the subject. I had the pleasure
of visiting a private garden in Dorset. The designers lean heavily
towards surrealism, I would guess, building some stunning and beautiful
features. Let me talk briefly about the Prison Garden. This comprises
a number of raised beds, linked by heavy cables and chains. One bed
is inside a circular bookcase, with hundreds of ‘the world’s
most boring books’ (from lawyers and accountants!) preserved
on the shelves. It’s called The Prison because it is a garden
of stinging, scratching, poisonous plants, including nettles. Gertrude
OF THE MONTH Back to
My friend the bee, you must agree,
You leave us all bemused,
The many talents you display,
By us cannot be used.
You see such things beyond our ken,
Our senses are so poor,
Please tell us of your secret ways,
So we can learn some
You understand our gravity,
And Earth’s magnetic field,
The other forces also there,
We hope will be revealed.
No innate knowledge is our plight,
Yours is complete you
We have to learn, each time around,
Unlike yourselves the Bee.
ianrumsey @ hotmail.com
OF THE MONTH Back to top
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.
For our first recipe today, we take a look at honey and fish,
an unusual combination, but delicious and well worth trying. It
is also easy to make. This dish uses mackerel but other similar
fish can be substituted.
You need the following ingredients:
2 tbsp of liquid honey.
2 tbsp of wine vinegar.
2 tbps of mustard. Here, use a mild mustard,
not the English strong stuff.
4 good sized cleaned mackerel with
heads and bones removed.
4 bay leaves.
Mix the honey with the vinegar, mustard and salt and pepper to
taste. Pour this marinade over the fish and cover with cling film.
Put it in the fridge over night. The next day, cook the fish opened
out under a hot grill, basting frequently until it is cooked through.
Turn the fish once during this time. Then serve immediately with
a fresh tomato salad.
I found this recipe in the recipe section of http://www.honeyassociation.com which
is worth a look and have repeated it here with few additions.
(2 tbsp = 30 ml).
For the second Recipe we bring you an exfoliant.
It is easy to make and I am told, unusually effective.
You will need:
2 tablespoons of pollen.
Half a ripe avocado pear.
Half a cup of sea salt.
Scoop out the avocado and mash it up until you form a paste.
Mix in the other ingredients, and apply to the body, scrubbing
the skin especially over skin blemishes and spots and pimples.
Any dead skin will be removed. After this take a good shower.
FACT FILE Back
HONEYDEW. FRIEND OR FOE
Ever since beekeeping began,
beekeepers have varied in their opinion of honeydew. Some love
it and others regard as a honey spoilant to be despised and thrown
away. Much of the time this difference of opinion has been regionally
based with for example the Germans having high regard for honeydew
and the Americans and to a lesser extent the British despising
it. (I know well how much the Germans regard this ‘forest
honey’. In 1996 after
5 years of severe drought in Spain , the build up of aphids on
the cork oaks and the accompanying lack of nectar in the flowers
meant that almost my entire harvest was honeydew. A visiting German
who purchased a jar of my honey returned and told me he would buy
as much as I could produce. Ed). So what is honeydew? Where does
it come from and why? And who wants it? This short fact file article
is intended to answer these questions.
What is Honeydew?
Honeydew is the classification of ‘honey’ that
refers to the sweet liquid collected by honey bees from the exudation
of other insects such as aphids and scale insects. It is often
found to be a more complex substance than honey due to the presence
of enzymes etc deriving from the other insect involved in the production
chain. Honeydews are normally high in fructose, low in glucose
and have higher levels of the higher sugars such as maltose. The
tendency to crystallise is low and in fact some honeydews never
crystallise. Moisture levels in honeydews are usually lower than
in honey and usually below 17% and fermentation is not of concern.
Most honeydews have a high electrical conductivity arising from
the a higher mineral content. A full comparison of a typical honeydew
with floral honey can be found at: http://www.beesource.com/pov/usda/table1beekUSA82.htm
do insects excrete honeydew?
The feeding ecology
of the insects involved such as aphids is interesting. Aphids for
example feed from the phloem vessels by tapping into the vessels
with their stylets. These are contained in the proboscis when not
feeding and are thin and weak, but when used, a liquid secreted at
the tips of the stylets which hardens them and forms a protective
sheath around the stylets as they are slowly pushed into the plant.
When the stylets reach the phloem tube, the aphid injects saliva
into the plant cell which it is thought prevents the plant from resealing
the puncture wound with their own special protective proteins. It
can take an aphid from 25 minutes to 24 hours after starting before
it gets a meal.
Plant saps are rich in sugars and low in amino acids or nitrogen.
In order for the aphid to obtain sufficient nitrogen in their diet
therefore, they have to take in a lot of the sap resulting in them
receiving more sugar and liquid than they need. This then is excreted,
collected by bees and ripened into honeydew. At times, if there
is a build up of the aphid population this liquid can cover the
leaves of trees and can fall to the ground. The liquid is fed upon
by many insects apart from bees and also by yeast like fungus Thecla
betulae which resembles a sooty mould.
What is the relationship between ants and aphids?
of us has not seen ants guarding aphids on a variety of plants? Honeydew
is the reason that ants associate with aphids with some ants now
almost dependant on aphids and some aphids will not excrete honeydew
unless stimulated by ants. One particular aphid Paracletus cimiciformis
is only found in the nests of the ant Tetramorium caespitum where
it is fed and cared for by ants even though it now rarely if ever
excretes honeydew. It has evolved in fact into a parasite and gains
most of its food from the ants who offer it nectar. On plants, ants
tend to herd aphids to the tops of plants which in fact has been
found to render them more liable to predation. It has been found
that ant attended aphids are 10 times more likely to be parasitised
than unattended ones.
In some interesting research carried out last year by researchers
at the University of Utah and reported in the May 9 2003 issue
of the journal Science, it was found that some tree dwelling ants
that were thought to eat other insects were actually plant nectar
and honeydew eaters. Ants are extremely abundant in the rain forest
canopy and the scientists now believe that they have previously
underestimated the amount resource that trees are losing to the
ants and their sap feeding associates. The ants are draining the
water, carbohydrates and amino acids - the building blocks of proteins-
out of the plants and the plants can die. So instead of being beneficial
insects, eating pests and being rewarded with honeydew, it now
appears that ants actively damaging the rain forests. One of the
scientists noted that in areas super rich in ants, “you can
just look around and see dead trees everywhere”.
Who wants honeydew?
In some countries especially
in Eastern Europe and in some areas of the Mediteranean, honeydew
producing trees and their associated insects are protected and valued.
In Germany , honeydew from the Black Forest is known around the world
as a prized product, and in New Zealand for example two species of
beech tree, the Black beech Nothofagus solandri and the Red beech,
N. fusca infested by two species of honeydew insect, produce New
largest single exported honey crop.
So Friend or Foe? That depends upon who you are. If you are
exporting tons of it to Germany for example, it is most definitely
a friend. If small amounts of it are contaminating your wild
flower honey and spoiling it for show purposes, then definitely
a foe. The balance I believe must swing down on the side of Friend.
(See also the historical note for a second opinion).
NOTE Back to top
Earlier on in this issue we reported on Honeydew (see Fact File). However,
earlier writers were not so sure about it. In fact some such as the Reverend
Gilbert White* of Selborne in Hampshire writing in the 1780s were not even
sure what it was or where it came from! He had this to say about it:
‘In the sultry season of 1783, honey-dews were so frequent
as to deface and destroy the beauties of my garden. My honeysuckles,
which were one week the most sweet and lovely objects that the eye
could behold, became the next the most loathsome, being enveloped
in a viscous substance, and loaded with black aphides or
smother-flies. The occasion of this clammy appearance seems to be
this, that in hot weather, the effluvia of flowers in fields, and
meadows and gardens are drawn up in the day by a brisk evaporation,
and then in the night fall down again with the dews in which they
are entangled. That the air is strongly scented, and therefore impregnated
with the particles of flowers, in summer weather, our senses will
inform us; and that this clammy sweet substance is of the vegetable
kind we may learn from bees, to whom it is very grateful; and we
may be assured that it falls in the night, because it is always first
seen in warm, still mornings.’
*This was taken from Gilbert White’s Natural History of Selborne.
In one passage (reported on in a previous Apis-UK ) Gilbert White
in the 1770s described the worlds oldest known Drone Congregation
Area over Selborne Common. This DCA can still be heard on warm, still
Dear Apis newsletter,
The reason that creosote should not be used on bee hives
is because it is carcinogenic and therefore dangerous for the beekeeper
to apply. I would strongly recommend that you point this out to
your readers in your next newsletter. http://www.hse.gov.uk/hthdir/noframes/creosote.htm#3 is
a good site which explains why it has been withdrawn. Regards Margaret
Cowley Beekeeping course Tutor.
Referring to the article by John Yates
in the April 2004 issue of the newsletter headed "Brussels does
it again" in which he covers various aspects of beehive maintenance.
On the subject of painting/preserving hives I recall when I first
started beekeeping the then County Bee Instructor for Northamptonshire,
the late George Sommerville, advising that the best method in
his opinion was to use a 50/50
mixture of creosote and used engine oil. There was a proviso
that the treated parts should be well weathered before reuse.
Usually one ended up with black rather than dark brown woodwork.
Following George's advise my early DIY second-hand timber hives
are still performing well after 30 years. I no longer undertake
oil changes myself and hesitate to ask the garage which
services my car to save the old oil for me. Anyway, like most
modern cars my current car now only requires an annual service.
I suppose I could visit the Local Authority recycling
centre and grab a disposed 5L container. Alternatively, buy the
cheapest new engine oil on the market! Luckily I still have a
supply of creosote to the old specification.
Congratulations on your 2nd Anniversary
and thanks for taking up my suggestion on page links in
the newsletter heading. I hope other readers will find
this a useful tool. Regards Brian Hughes
I have just received my first edition for which many thanks. Full of interest.
Please keep up the good work. Walter Coultrup
FOR YOUR DIARY Back to top
Event organisers are welcome
to forward dates and details of their events
to the editor (by e-mail) for incorporation
on this page.
Bee Keeping Courses 2004 at Hartpury College for
beginners, intermediate and advanced download full 2004 listing
in PDF Beekeeping
courses at Hartpury College
Friday, Saturday and Sunday 16th, 17th, 18th
July, 2004 (entries close 9th July) - Kent County Bees and Honey
by the Kent Bee-Keepers’ Association in conjunction with Dover,
Medway and Thanet Beekeepers’ Associations at the Kent County
Showground Detling, Maidstone. Judges: Honey Mr. M. Duffin, Cakes & Wax
Mrs. E.Duffin, Schools Mr. & Mrs. L.Gordon-Sales. Entries Secretary:
Mrs.M.Hill, Old Whittington, Old Wives Lees, Canterbury, CT4 8BH
Tel: 01227 730477. Show Supervisor: Michael Wall 020-8302-7355. Chief
Steward: Sally Hardy 07802763048. Download show
schedules and entry forms from www.kentbee.com
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
16th April 2005 BBKA Spring Convention and Exhibition
Editor: David Cramp Submissions
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