Contents: Editorial; Beekeeping news; Bee press; Research News; Articles: The British Beekeepers' Association website Steven Turner; Bees and Magnetic Fields (part 1 of 3) Ian Rumsey; The Sorcerer's Apprentice Mike Oliver; Drastic Action Chad Cryer; Varroa Update; Durham Beekeepers' Association Proposition to the BBKA Annual Delegates' Meeting January 2005; Fact File Tropilaelaps Clarae; Historical Note Rev WC Cotton; Readers Letters: Mary White, Christopher Clayton, Christopher Beale, John Salt, Christine Clifton; Diary of events; Quote of the Month and more. Please wait while downloading 376KB.


Apis-UK Issue No.30 December 2004
Snow on hives in Catford copyright Greg Boon
Catford Beekeeper's Garden in Winter from

EDITORIAL Back to top

Time seems to be speeding up. Five minutes ago I was wishing beekeepers a happy new 2004 and now I am just about to do the same, a year later. For me, it wasn’t the best of years for beekeeping. A lousy spring; a hot summer with attendant forest fires and resulting hive destruction, and bureaucracy to drive you insane. (Mind you, as research is showing that high temperature and low humidity limit varroa, I shouldn’t really have anything to worry about); except the bureaucracy.

I write from New Zealand where I am having a detailed look at the local bee scene by working at a 2500 hive outfit dedicated to kiwi fruit pollination and active Manuka honey production. Based in the North Island, it is certainly giving me a different perspective on the subject and once I’ve sorted out having Christmas in mid summer in my mind, I’m sure I’ll settle down to it all. In a future issue I intend to provide a detailed look at bee keeping in this far away land. In the meantime, we take our Historical Note from advice to New Zealand beekeepers given by the Reverend WC Cotton, that great beekeeping pioneer who moved to the country in the 1840s.

I haven’t quite got all of my act together and so if you see here a shorter Apis than usual, it is because I am currently lacking some essential items of research. We will do our best to entertain and inform however.

Photo: beekeeping NZ style
Beekeeping NZ style

My own organic bees in Spain are flourishing after the hot, dry and deadly Summer and we should have decent harvest in early Spring. (My wife is looking after them).

Christmas is a time of thinking of others and so again this year I ask you to think about the beekeeping charities. There are several in the UK that we are all aware of and in this issue we introduce you to another which although an animal charity, need bees for its survival.

Two new discoveries of major importance to beekeepers and others are reported on in this issue. Firstly, apitherapy research has shown that bee products may well provide hope for cancer sufferers, and secondly researchers have discovered the agent that controls age/task relationship in bees. See both of these items in the research news section below. It never ceases to amaze me that we continue to learn more and more about bees almost with every passing month, and much of the research is of direct practical use for beekeepers.

In this issue, we have interesting items on mites, magnets and road safety for bees, and a quote which to my mind defines the requirements of beekeeping education, a subject of great importance to us all if we wish to see a good future for the craft as a whole.

And talking of quotes, a lady reader got last month’s quote spot on when she emailed me with the news that the quote was by Andy Card, a large scale migratory beekeeper in the USA. It was contained in that brilliant book about migratory beekeepers called ‘Following the Bloom’. This book, which is well worth a read, has just been re issued by Stackpole Books of the USA. But, having said all that, I was delighted to receive the email which I promptly and mistakenly erased. In it, the lady informed me that she was just about to go on holiday and the quote reminded her to pack the book so that she could finish reading it. Thanks for that and apologies as well. Do get in touch again.
Another reader’s letter includes a photo of his garage roof hives. (See below). Do remember that any photos you may have of your beekeeping activities which you think would interest our readers? We would be delighted to publish them.
Finally in the readers section is a request for a hands on beekeeping holiday. This should be an easy one. New Zealand is probably a bit far but there must be numerous beekeepers in France or Greece or Spain and indeed in the UK who could assist with this. If so, please get in touch.

Varroa is a constant thorn in our sides and in this issue we take a look at some of the lesser known methods in dealing with the pests. And we bring you some strange news about Bayvarol. Readers are always encouraged to send in any ideas on this subject however outlandish they may seem. Some of the most outlandish have been researched and we may have information on them to impart to readers.

More woes appear on the immediate horizon for that worthy organisation, the BBKA as at time of going to print, we hear that the much respected General Secretary, Claire Waring is not to continue in her post. Let us hope that a suitable replacement is found and that matters settle down swiftly. From the general tenor of the various propositions to be put to the Annual Delegates Meeting of the BBKA in January, it seems that the organisation has much to contribute to the beekeeping scene in the UK. I know well that there are critics, but from where I stand, looking in, the BBKA and its network of county and local associations appears to be an excellent concept, and one that is missing in many other countries.

Finally, may I wish all of you a very happy Christmas and a fine 2005. Thank you all for supporting, contributing to and reading Apis-UK and making it a successful internet magazine. And now to the December 2004 issue of Apis-UK.

David Cramp. Editor.

NEWS Back to top

Letter dated 13th December 2004 to Association Secretary/Specialist Member
I am sorry to inform you that Claire Waring has decided that she does not wish to continue working as the General Secretary of the BBKA. I am sure you will all like me to thank her for all the hard work she has put into the job this year.

Following Peter Spencer’s retirement form this position after more than four year’s service we advertised the vacancy and subsequently appointed Claire Waring last February. Claire chose to work as consultant to the BBKA rather than to be employed and arrangements were made for a performance review and annual renewal if appropriate. This process has recently been started but Claire then indicated that she did not wish to seek renewal of the contract from the 15th February 2005.

We are thus faced with the need to identify new candidates for the post and appoint the successful applicant for this important position, as soon as possible. An advertisement will appear in the next issue of BBKA News, but in the meantime we felt that we should let you and your Association know of this development. We are fortunate to have a very competent administrative assistant at the NBC, in the form of Letitia Hammon, to whom you should continue to address your Members Register updates and any other official correspondence. She will be supported fully by other members of the Executive, to whom you may address any issues as you think fit. Their contact details are of course to be found in the BBKA Year Book.

Finally, this letter has also been e-mailed to all the addresses that we have on file. If you did not get an e-mail version please let Letitia have your e-mail details to update our Secretaries list. Thank you for your help and understanding. Yours sincerely Ivor Davis

The Education Group (see below for the guilty parties) spend quite a lot of time talking but occasionally we make a decision. There was one of these extraordinary moments at the last meeting at the beginning of November when we roughed out a plan for next year’s events.

We are keen that people have the right skills and practice to pass on their knowledge so we will be running the postponed Train the Tutors Day – if you are interested contact one of the Group members – provisionally planned for February. There will also be a session on running an apiary demonstration – again, make contact if this interests you. Lectures will be an important aspect of the plan and subjects which will be offered may include The Small Hive Beetle and Healing with Honey – subjects and speakers to be finalised so watch this space.

A day on using microscopes is also planned. This will offer two sessions – one for complete beginners on setting up and viewing, and another session for those with some experience of using microscopes on dissection, pollen and disease identification.

Many of these events are being planned in conjunction with a local association, but this method reflects an important function of the Education Group. If a local group identifies a need we can join forces to make it more widely available to the rest of the county and beyond. So, if your local group is planning something interesting and you feel it would be of wider interest then contact a member of the Education Group and we can offer support in terms of advertising, venue or whatever you need.

Terry Hardy, Secretary (01622 832066), John Pollard, Chair (01732 361306), John Hendrie (01732 833894), Terry Clare (01634 267435), Trevor Tong (01227 456797), Mike Oliver (0208 654 5435), Julian Audsley (01304 820653) Terry Hardy

The National Bee Unit has recently appointed Andy Wattam as Regional Bee Inspector for its Eastern Region, which covers the counties of Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Bedfordshire, Essex and Hertfordshire. Andy will take up the post from the beginning of February 2005.

Andy is 35 and was born into a farming family in the Charnwood Forest area of North West Leicestershire. He now lives in North Eastern Leicestershire with his partner Jane and joins the National Bee Unit team after seventeen years with Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service, latterly working in a senior management position. He has a Post Graduate Management Qualification and is a member of the Chartered Institute of Management. Andy has also been working as the NBU Seasonal Bee Inspector for Leicestershire and Rutland and has been involved in Beekeeping since his school teacher introduced him to the craft back in 1984.

In his spare time Andy enjoys spending time with his family, the countryside, gardening, D.I.Y and is a keen pianist, and of course working with his own colonies of Bees.

Commenting on his appointment Andy said;

"I am looking forward to the exciting challenge of joining the team at the National Bee Unit and working as the Regional Bee Inspector for Eastern Region, alongside the already established team of locally based Seasonal Bee Inspectors. I hope to forge close links with members of the Apicultural Community within the six counties and to continue, and build upon the excellent work carried out by my predecessor John Blakesley and the National Bee Unit"

Cancer is one of those words that scares us all. It is one of those diseases that we all dread, but now there is a ray of hope...the honey bee may be able to help fight cancer. Honey and royal jelly could become part of the arsenal of weapons against cancer, researchers say. A team from the University of Zagreb, in Croatia, found a range of honey-bee products stopped tumours growing or spreading in tests on mice.

Writing in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, they say human cancer sufferers may also see benefits. But they said the products should be considered for use along with, not instead of, chemotherapy treatment.

The researchers looked at the potential benefits of bee venom and honey....There is no doubt that honey has beneficial properties and can be very good for you – says Dr Emma Croager of Cancer Research UK. The researchers also examined compounds found in propolis, and royal jelly.

Tumours were generated in the mice via the injection of cancer cells, and each bee product was given to different mice before, at the same time, or afterwards.

It was found that giving honey orally appeared to inhibit the development of tumours when it was given before the injection of cancer cells - although if given afterwards, it appeared to fuel the development of secondary cancers.

Injecting the mice with royal jelly at the same time as they were injected with tumour cells significantly reduced the spread of the cancer. And injecting bee venom into the tumour appeared to lead to it shrinking. When propolis or caffeic acid, a chemical found in propolis, were injected, researchers saw significantly reduced subcutaneous tumour growth and an increase in the survival time of mice. The researchers say it is not yet clear how bee products affect cancer cells.

But they suggest they may cause apoptosis (cell suicide) or have direct effects which are toxic to the cells, or which help the immune system fight the development of tumours. The research team, led by Dr Nada Orsolic, said their study indicated honey-bee products could be a useful tool in the control of tumour growth in research. The research team added that “The intake of honey-bee products may be advantageous with respect to cancer and metastasis [secondary cancers] Prevention and stressed that further animal and clinical research utilising these substances is needed. Dr Emma Croager, a science information officer at Cancer Research UK, said: “There is no doubt that honey has beneficial properties and can be very good for you. “However, this work is preliminary and careful large-scale studies in people are needed to confirm if eating honey can protect us from cancer.”

Take a look at the website and whilst you may be sickened at the cruelty to bears exposed on the site, you will be delighted that bees can come to the rescue.

The Animals Asia Foundation is an animal welfare organisation based in Hong Kong and dedicated to rescuing endangered Moon Bears from Chinese bile farms. It is the largest such effort on behalf of these bears and honey is critical to the effort. The organisation has a moon bear rescue centre in Sichuan Province in China and has the agreement of the Chinese government to rescue 500 bears each year. There are some 7000 still in captivity. Many of the rescued bears are missing legs, teeth, claws and paws due to the trauma of being trapped in the wild and then being confined for years in cages no bigger than their own body size. When rescued, the bears come to the centre, emaciated, terrified, diseased and in horrific pain from the 5 to 7 inch catheters that are permanently inserted into their abdomens to drain the bile. On arrival at the centre the bears have to be encouraged to eat and to stretch and exercise their wasted muscles. They need to become strong enough to undergo surgery to remove the catheters, lesions and infections. In order to accomplish this, the centre mixes honey with fruit and antibiotics. The honey is essential to tempt the bears to eat, and even the sickest bears can’t refuse their favourite treat. Indeed, the centre has a 10 minute video available clearly depicting the happiness that the honey elicits in the bears. The centre’s aim is to end bear farming in China by 2008 and any ‘honey money’ would be gratefully received. If you want to know more, contact Andi Mowrer, Animals Asia Foundation US Office, 80 Austin Drive, #41 Burlington, Vermont 05401. USA. Email: amowrer @, or visit the web site. (Well worth a donation. Let bees help bears. Ed).

Unlike lowland dwellers in the Philippines who are said to be facing financial crisis and food shortages, highlanders like farmers in a remote region of the country, have other alternatives - hunting, gathering root crops and wild fruits, among others. But they have now discovered beekeeping as a relevant, profitable and worthwhile activity.

Eleven representatives of a farmers association along with some volunteers of the sponsoring group Cordillera Green Network (CGN) completed a 3-day basic beekeeping seminar workshop.

(CGN, is a non-government organization devoted to preservation, conservation and promotion of a green environment in the region). Initially the NGO entered the area of Kibungan mainly for the purpose of re-forestation and tree-planting supported by the Aeon Environmental Foundation based in Japan.

They soon realised that he farmers were open to other ideas including beekeeping other than just reforestation and tree-planting activities and this realisation prompted CGN to sponsor the workshop seminar. They provided the initial starter colonies and smokers for the Kibungan farmers after forging a memorandum of agreement with them. They engaged the Pines Beekeepers Cooperative for technical supervision and support and the project kicked into life.

Subsequently, the Farmers Livelihood Association committed itself to providing feed, care and management activities to sustain the bees and also pledged to plant some 10,000 seedlings of Calliandra in denuded mountain sides of the area. This was with the end in view of producing “green honey” in the near future, because Calliandra (Calliandra colothysus) has been identified as possible nectar source for this “green honey” production as a result of a research conducted by University of the Philippines . Calliandra is a tree species which grows over 10 metres in height having distinctive upright flowers that resemble the florets of the bottle-brush tree.

The nectar is yellow/green in colour and is converted into a highly viscous, deep-green coloured honey. The trees can also be pruned for firewood, another vital resource.

Aside from learning about basic equipment, hive management, pests diseases, economics and return on investments and other aspects of beekeeping, the participants on the basic beekeeping course also visited the Benguet Beekeeping Service Centre headed by director Edmund Benavidez.

The project started successfully with all of the Kibungan colonies building up vigorously, having 10 regular frames of bees per colony, two of which are now double deckers, and ready for the honey flow season which ends this month. (December). “If there are no drastic weather disturbances and the present rearing practices of farmers will continue, there is nothing to worry about regarding the Kibungan colonies as they are building up fine,” an inspection report stated. And with the imminent Yuletide season, the Kibungan beekeepers are just about ready to enjoy a prosperous end to 2004.


We recently reported on the effectiveness of fungal pathogens on varroa, but could there be hope that fungi may be used to destroy that other looming threat to UK bees, the Small Hive Beetle? In a study conducted earlier this year, researchers in the USA and South Africa, healthy beetle larvae were exposed to other larvae that had died during pupation and had been colonised by fungi. Exposure was induced either by larval ingestion of honey bee brood inoculated with an emulsion of the dead colonised larvae, or contact with the dead colonised larvae post feeding.

Subsequently, similar numbers of larvae eclosed when feeding on either the control or treatment brood, but, the number of eclosing beetles was significantly lower for those that had contacted the pathogen killed larvae post feeding than those which had not.

Two species of Aspergillus were found colonising the larvae and both are soil fungi known to attack insects (both species cause disease in honey bees), and three additional fungi were found.

The researchers were unable to discover conclusively which pathogen caused the increased mortality rate of the beetle larvae, but the research does show that beetles like many other soil pupating insects are susceptible to fungal infections.


Mead judging National Honey Show 2004

Photo by S. Turner - Mead judging National Honey Show 2004

Many of our readers will have either drunk or produced mead (or both) and many will know that this is an ancient drink, especially in Europe, but now we can report that fermented honey drinks may be older than we thought. 9000 years old at least.

Chemical analyses of ancient organics absorbed, and preserved, in pottery jars from the Neolithic village of Jiahu, in Henan province, Northern China, have revealed that a mixed fermented beverage of rice, honey, and fruit was being produced as early as 9,000 years ago, approximately the same time that barley beer and grape wine were beginning to be made in the Middle East.

In addition, liquids more than 3,000 years old, remarkably preserved inside tightly lidded bronze vessels, were chemically analysed. These vessels from the capital city of Anyang and an elite burial in the Yellow River Basin, dating to the Shang and Western Zhou Dynasties (ca. 1250-1000 B.C.), contained specialized rice and millet “wines.” The beverages had been flavoured with herbs, flowers, and/or tree resins, and are similar to herbal wines described in the Shang dynasty oracle inscriptions.

The new discoveries, made by an international, multi-disciplinary team of researchers including the University of Pennsylvania Museum’s archaeochemist Dr. Patrick McGovern of MASCA (Museum Applied Science Centre for Archaeology), provide the first direct chemical evidence for early fermented beverages in ancient Chinese culture, thus broadening our understanding of the key technological and cultural roles that fermented beverages played in China. The discoveries and their implications for understanding ancient Chinese culture Were published on-line the week of December 6, 2004 in the PNAS Early Edition (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences): “Fermented Beverages of Pre-and Proto-historic China,” by Patrick E. McGovern, Juzhong Zhang, Jigen Tang, Zhiquing Zhang, Gretchen R. Hall, Robert A. Moreau, Alberto Nuñez, Eric D. Butrym, Michael P. Richards, Chen-shan Wang, Guangsheng Cheng, Zhijun Zhao, and Changsui Wang.

Dr. McGovern first met with archaeologists and scientists, including his co-authors on the paper, in China in 2000, returning there in 2001 and 2002. Because of the great interest in using modern scientific techniques to investigate a crucial aspect of ancient Chinese culture, collaboration was initiated and samples carried back to the U.S. for analysis. Chemical tests of the pottery from the Neolithic village of Jiahu was of special interest, because it is some of the earliest known pottery from China. This site was already famous for yielding some of the earliest musical instruments and domesticated rice, as well as possibly the earliest Chinese pictographic writing. Through a variety of chemical methods including gas and liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry, infrared spectrometry, and stable isotope analysis, finger-print compounds were identified, including those for hawthorn fruit and/or wild grape, beeswax associated with honey, and rice.

The prehistoric beverage at Jiahu, Dr. McGovern asserts, paved the way for unique cereal beverages of the proto-historic 2 nd millennium BC, remarkably preserved as liquids inside sealed bronze vessels of the Shang and Western Zhou Dynasties. The vessels had become hermetically sealed when their tightly fitting lids corroded, preventing evaporation. Numerous bronze vessels with these liquids have been excavated at major urban centers along the Yellow River, especially from elite burials of high-ranking individuals. Besides serving as burial goods to sustain the dead in the afterlife, the vessels and their contents can also be related to funerary ceremonies in which living intermediaries communicated with the deceased ancestor and gods in an altered state of consciousness after imbibing a fermented beverage. “The fragrant aroma of the liquids inside the tightly lidded jars and vats, when their lids were first removed after some three thousand years, suggested that they indeed represented Shang and Western Zhou fermented beverages, “ Dr. McGovern noted. Samples of liquid inside vessels from the important capital of Anyang and the Changzikou Tomb in Luyi county were analyzed. The combined archaeochemical, archaeobotanical and archaeological evidence for the Changzikou Tomb and Anyang liquids point to their being fermented and filtered rice or millet “wines,” either jiu or chang, its herbal equivalent, according to the Shang Dynasty oracle inscriptions. Specific aromatic herbs (e.g., wormword), flowers (e.g., chrysanthemum), and/or tree resins (e.g., China fir and elemi) had been added to the wines, according to detected compounds such as camphor and alpha-cedrene, beta-amyrin and oleanolic acid, as well as benzaldehyde, acetic acid, and short-chain alcohols characteristic of rice and millet wines.

Both jiu and chang of proto-historic China were likely made by mold saccharification, a uniquely Chinese contribution to beverage-making in which an assemblage of mold species are used to break down the carbohydrates of rice and other grains into simple, fermentable sugars. Yeast for fermentation of the simple sugars enters the process adventitiously, either brought in by insects or settling on to large and small cakes of the mold conglomerate (qu) from the rafters of old buildings. As many as 100 special herbs, including wormwood, are used today to make qu, and some have been shown to increase the yeast activity by as much as seven-fold.

Some time ago, Apis-UK reported on the hierarchical nature of wasp societies and on the fact that facial markings are important in this hierarchy. For readers interested in other social insect societies, the following research may be of interest. Ed.

When wasps sporting the high-quality symbol of a blotchy face turned out to be wimps, they got harassed more than wasps whose abilities were honestly reflected by their faces, report researchers in the USA and Canada. It's the first conclusive report that animals that don't signal their qualities honestly receive social sanctions. Moreover, it's the first report of such quality signals in insects.

"It's the most conclusive evidence that these dishonest visual signals have a social cost," said Elizabeth A. Tibbetts, a postdoctoral fellow with the Centre for Insect Science at the University of Arizona in Tucson. "If you fake it, you'll get beaten up." She and her co-author James Dale of Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada report their findings in the Nov. 11 issue of the journal Nature.

Many animals sport visible indicators of the bearer's quality. Such signals include the redness of a cardinal or the size of the black spot on a house sparrow's chest. However, biologists wonder what keeps other animals from cheating by displaying a mark that indicates "I'm great" while actually being just average. Scientists hypothesize that social interactions discourage cheating, but demonstrations of such interactions have been elusive.

Tibbetts noticed that for wasps in the species Polistes dominulus, the facial markings varied among individuals. Because these wasps are social insects that form multi-queen nests, she wondered whether the markings had significance to the wasps.

Researchers already knew that in such nests, the wasps establish a dominance hierarchy by fighting. The winner, the top or alpha wasp, gets to lay more eggs and do less work than the other wasps. To see whether they could detect what signalled an alpha wasp, Tibbetts and Dale decided to stage wasp fights. She captured wild wasps and brought them back to the lab. There she paired up wasps of equal weight, put them in small plastic container and let them fight. The wasps decided the issue it using a combination of pacing about, having staring contests and grappling with one another. It took the wasps between 5 minutes and two hours to sort out their differences.

By analysing videotapes of 61 wasp fights, the researchers found that the winning wasps generally had more broken-up, spotty or wavy black patterns on their faces' yellow centre. But if the subordinate, or beta, wasp also had a broken or mottled facial pattern, the alpha wasp was more likely to keep hassling the subordinate wasp.

So having a "dishonest" face, one that signals being higher quality than you are, is a liability in the wasp world, Tibbetts said. As a final test of their hypothesis, the researchers decided to stage some fights where one wasp had been experimentally altered so her face didn't reflect her true quality.

After chilling wasps in a refrigerator, Tibbetts used a toothpick to apply Testor's model paint to their faces. Some wasps were given blotchier faces, some wasps had blotches covered up, and some wasps were just handled and had paint put on their existing blotches. The wasps established dominance hierarchies, but in the cases where one wasp had a dishonest face – one that didn't match its original face – the fighting was more intense. In some cases, dominance was established and then fighting continued and the hierarchy flipped – something that never happened in wasp fights with unaltered wasps. Even if the dominance hierarchy was maintained, the unaltered wasp was much more likely to continue to harass the altered wasp.

"Changing the face interfered with their establishment of a dominance hierarchy," said Tibbetts. "Our best explanation is that there's some other information about wasp quality that doesn't match the altered face." They hypothesized that there are some other signals, either chemical or behavioural, that wasps use to determine one another's quality. When a wasp transmits mixed signals, it gets punished.

"That kind of aggression has lasting repercussions," she said. "They have less time to feed and to take care of their offspring." Dale said, "Wasps have really sophisticated visual signalling systems. We're just starting to get a window into the kinds of messages they're telling each other."

A new bee mystery
We have all heard the various theories about why the dinosaurs became extinct and most now accept the theory that a large meteorite strike caused such a dramatic decline in light and warmth levels on earth that these large creatures were unable to adapt swiftly enough to the changed conditions. BUT…

The tropical honeybee may challenge this idea that a post-asteroid impact "nuclear winter" was a big player in the decimation of dinosaurs 65 million years ago.

Somehow the tropical honeybee, Cretotrigona prisca, survived the end-Cretaceous extinction event, despite what many researchers believe was a years-long period of darkness and frigid temperatures caused by sunlight-blocking dust and smoke from the asteroid impact at Chicxulub.

The survival of C. prisca is problematic and telling, asserts palaeontology graduate student Jacqueline M. Kozisek of the University of New Orleans. Late Cretaceous tropical honeybees preserved in amber are almost identical to their modern relatives, she says. If no modern tropical honeybee could have survived years in the dark and cold without the flowering plants they lived off of, Kozisek reasoned, something must be amiss with the nuclear winter theory. "It couldn't have been that huge," says Kozisek of the Chicxulub-related temperature drops asserted by other researchers. Kozisek will present her work on 8 Nov at the Geological Society of America annual meeting in Denver.

Modern tropical honeybees have an optimal temperature range of 88 to 93 degrees F (31-34°C) in order to maintain vital metabolic activities, according to entomological research, says Kozisek. That's also the range that's best for their food source: nectar-rich flowering plants.

Based on what is known about the Cretaceous climate and modern tropical honeybees, Kozisek estimates that any post-impact winter event could not have dropped temperatures more than 4 to 13 degrees F (2-7°C) without wiping out the bees. Current nuclear winter theories from the Chicxulub impact estimate drops of 13 to 22 degrees F (7-12°C) – too cold for tropical honeybees. "I'm not trying to say an asteroid impact didn't happen," says Kozisek. "I'm just trying to narrow down the effects."

To do this, Kozisek took a novel approach for a palaeontologist – instead of looking at what died out, she dug through the literature to find out what survived the massive extinction event.

"I made a list of all survivors and picked those with strict survival requirements," said Kozisek. She determined that those survival requirements were by calling on studies of the closest modern analogues -- which wasn't always easy for some species, she pointed out. There was, for instance, a very early primate that crawled out of the Cretaceous alive, but there is really no comparable small primate around today with which to reliably compare, she said. On the other hand, a good number of tropical honeybees haven't changed a lot in 65 million years and a great deal is known about modern tropical honey bees' tolerances to heat and cold. What's more, amber-preserved specimens of the oldest tropical honey bee, Cretotrigona prisca, are almost indistinguishable from – and are probably the ancestors of – some modern tropical honeybees like Dactylurina, according to other studies cited by Kozisek.

THE BEE PRESS Back to top

Beecraft November 2004 Volume 86 Number 11
Claire Waring Editor.
Contents: Hidden allies against varroa Gillian Davidson, Caroline Birchall, Judith Pell, Brenda Ball and David Chandler; Here's one I made earlier... Claire Waring (includes a recipe!); The beekeeping year: November Pam Greg ory , MSc, NDB; Beehives for ornamental use (part 1) Ernest Weston; Living with resistant mites (part 1) Joe Dod; Breaking and entering Ann W Harman; Sorting out the youngsters Celia Davis, NDB; From the lab: how do bees tell eggs apart Adam Hart, PhD; Report from the North Colin Weightman; Beekeeping in Ireland Eddie O'Sullivan; Letters to the Editor.
Editorial: As we go to press, small hive beetle has been confirmed in Portugal . It arrived in an illegal consignment of queen bees imported from the USA . Two suspect larvae found in the queen cages were confirmed in the laboratory as being small hive beetle. The apiaries have been isolated, the colonies and associated equipment destroyed and the soil treated. This is bad enough, but there are also unconfirmed reports that package bees from the USA have been imported into other EU Member States. If so and they also contain small hive beetle, then the situation could already be out of control and it will simply be a matt er of time before the pest arrives here. Check out the latest at the National Bee Unit website

This comes on top of Defra’s announcement of a 20% (£250,000) cut in funding for the Bee Health Programme by March 2008 (see page 29). Varroa is to be deregulated in early 2005 and the National Bee Unit will no longer look for pyrethroid- resistant mites. The plan is to deregulate European Foulbrood by March 2008 and if this happens, bee inspectors will not be looking for this either. BBKA is planning a campaign against the cuts and needs your support. This is a case where numbers count! Full details will be available next month. Ask the secretary of your local association for the latest news or check the BBKA website at

What this does mean is that we must be even more vigilant in checking our own colonies for both pyrethroid- resistant mites, EFB and exotic pests. However, beekeeping isn’t all doom and gloom. It can still be fun, even if that means taking colonies down to London and ‘extracting’ honey on 1 October! You can read about my adventures in the Blue Peter garden on page 6!

Beecraft November 2004 cover Beecraft December 2004 cover
Bee Craft November 2004
31 pages
Bee Craft December 2004
31 pages

Beecraft December 2004 Volume 86 Number 12
Claire Waring Editor.
Contents: Your bees need your help Ivor Davis, PhD; Questions for Defra Mike Rowbottom, PhD; A summer course for beekeepers Graham Hall; Celebrity beekeepers: Bill Turnbull Sue Hull and Adrian Jakeman; Living with resistant mites (part 2) Joe Dod; West Sussex Honey Festival success John Stevens; The beekeeping year: December Pam Gregory, MSc, NDB; Honey bee beginnings; Celia Davis, NDB; Honey: the perfect gift Ann W Harman; From the lab: queens, drones and sperm Adam Hart, PhD; ‘Bradford and Bingley’ Roderick Middleton; Dr Watson and the Italian virgins Dr James Watson; Index 2004.
Editorial: You know what they say about the Apathy Society? It has very few members because nobody can be bothered to join! However, I am sure that this cannot be said of Bee Craft readers and your bees are relying on you to take action over the proposed cuts to the Bee Health Programme that does so much to keep foulbrood under control and assist us as we tackle the spread of pyrethroid-resistant varroa mites. There has been talk of a demonstration outside Parliament with smokers blazing (and even a live bee demonstration!), but what will probably be more effective is if every beekeeper in England writes to their MP protesting that the government is seeking to cut £250,000 from the support for an industry that is worth at least £120 MILLION to the agricultural economy. Barmy, isn’t it?

Well, it’s up to us. If we are in the Apathy Society, by default, then we cannot moan when our Bee Inspectors disappear, our bees get sick and die, and we are left with an epidemic on our hands. Once the Bee Inspectors have gone, they’ve gone. If the Bee Health Programme is cut, then it will never be restored. And this cut is being proposed by a government whose own report emphasises the need for biosecurity to protect our honey bees and ensure their survival! You will find details of the BBKA campaign against these proposed cuts on page 4. Please write to your MP. Questions you might like to ask are on pages 5–6. Don’t join the Apathy Society. Your bees need you! Wishing you all a very Happy Christmas and full supers in the New Year.

Dr Nicola Bradbear
Contents: Inside information; Transferring Apis cerana colonies; Apis cerana in LaosHoney trade issues; Beekeeping co-operatives Symposium; Spotlight on Ethiopia; A day in the life of ; Project news from ICIMOD; Look and Learn Ahead; Notice Board; News around the World; Book Shelf .
BFDJ No.73 December 2004 cover Cover picture: Ethiopia, Amhara Region, 2003. A beekeeper walks to market to sell his calabash of honey © Nicola Bradbear.

Editorial: Dear Friends, Residues of medicines used to treat honeybee diseases must not be present in honey.: this is the current problem facing beekeepers and the world honey trade. The issues are discussed on pages 6 and 7, and in this edition of BfDJ you will find plenty more information about honey: judging it in the Caribbean (page 8), criteria for honey standards in Asia (page 9) and efforts by projects to market it in Ethiopia (pages 10 and 11). Argentina is one of the world’s largest honey producers, and constantly has to meet requirements of importing countries and regions. For this reason, beekeepers’ co-operatives must be very well informed and organised: their recent Symposium is reported on page 7. You will also find news of many other beekeeping initiatives around the world: enjoy this wider view of apiculture!
The Beekeepers Annual 2005 OUT NOW!
The Beekeepers Annual 2005 now available from Northern Bee Books URL:

ARTICLES Back to top

The new look website was re-launched in the Spring of 2004. Site statistics have logged over 26,000 visitors; on one occasion 33 visitors were on the site at the same time. The site was designed to guide casual visitors with an interest in beekeeping in the right direction with basic advice on getting started.

Support Boards
The heart of any online community are the message boards which the public and beekeepers can participate in. Users can register on the system and be contactable with private messages and write freely in any of the nine different discussion forums. Over 180 beekeepers have already registered and a large number are helping the public with bee/beekeeping related problems. Beekeepers and the public have been surprised how quickly responses are received and report a positive experience of using the forums.

Events Calendar
Read all about beekeeping events for 2004 and beyond and download related information like honey show schedules etc. This system relies on individuals adding local and national beekeeping events using the ‘add event’ link.

Catch up on the latest beekeeping news from the BBKA. Other webmasters can have BBKA headlines for their own websites by using our JavaScript news feeds. BBKA members are encouraged to send beekeeping news stories and photographs to the webmaster for possible inclusion.

Member Associations
This is the most important listing on the BBKA site. If your member association is not listed or inaccurately listed you should contact the webmaster using the link at the bottom of this page.

Examination Board
You have instant access to download BBKA syllabuses and correspondence course application forms.

The articles section is a good place to look for beekeeping related information. A number of small organisations closely linked to beekeeping have a dedicated page including BDI, First Honey Co-operative, CONBA-UK and the Brother Adam Memorial Trust. You will also find many useful practical beekeeping and educational articles for viewing and downloading.

Members’ area
Only individual or affiliated members of the BBKA will have access to members’ only area of the site. The username and password to login with is on the back of the BBKA membership card and on the back page of BBKA news (footer section). Once in the members’ section you can use key words to search our huge range of BBKA support files and newsletters for downloading and printing. Members can also submit or update information to a number of searchable website databases using a personal login, for example: beekeeping tips, beekeeping courses and beekeeping websites links. The BBKA also run a beekeeping discussion mailing list. Subscription information and clickable links are under support mailing list. Mailing list supplied by

Purchasing BBKA merchandise through online store
The BBKA have an online store using the payment gateway PayPal which allows purchasing of BBKA individual membership and other BBKA merchandise with a credit card. Popular purchases are hive plans, individual membership and advance spring convention ticket sales.

In association with
You can support the BBKA in its work by purchasing your DVDs, CDs and books from Amazon by always using the clickable link “In Association with” from bottom of most pages. The BBKA earns a percentage commission from sales if you use our links.

How to get the most from the BBKA website

  • Get involved in the support boards - it is fun
  • Join the BBKA internet mailing list
  • Add your local or national beekeeping events to the calendar
  • Send in beekeeping news
  • Make sure your member association has the correct contact details including email links and website links, don’t wait for somebody else to this. Notify the webmaster and BBKA HQ so that all records can be kept up-to-date.
  • Add to site searchable databases and remember it’s your responsibility to keep this information up to date (see members’ area)

Steven Turner (website administrator contact via the site)

If one takes a side view of comb 3 as produced in Hives 7-3 and 13-3, the shape of the comb is not symmetrical, it has a leading edge on the right hand side and a trailing edge on the left. In fact it looks similar to a fin or wing shaped to cleave its way through water at 10 mph, or air at 100 mph or some other medium at 1000mph, in a streamlined fashion, offering a minimum resistance against a force approaching from the East. There is an indentation of the comb on the top left hand side which may be caused by a vortex.

Hive 7-3 comb 3 Hive 13-3 comb 3

(Photos refer)

Let us assume that this unknown force may be influenced by magnetic fields.

This being the case we should be able, with the aid of a magnet, to modify the Earth’s magnetic field within the hive in a predetermined manner and observe any change in comb manufacture which may occur.

As our hive has an inner and outer body, the placing of a magnet in between these two bodies would be easily accomplished and hopefully outside the knowledge of the bee.

What kind of magnet should we use? Where should it be placed?

Having only one magnet, which is horseshoe shaped and stands readily on its own two feet, it will be placed on top of the roof of the inner hive.

Inner Hive Outer Hive
Inner Hive Outer Hive

(Photos refer)

We now come to the small matter of representing the resultant magnetic field within the inner hive due to the positioning of the magnet.

As one has difficulty in appreciating horizontal gravity, vertical magnetic fields measured by a compass are equally elusive. In fact we only use a crude representation in either case concerning a medium we are not aware of with our five unaided primary senses. No matter, as will be seen, diagrams may be obtained. Ian Rumsey

At the age of 89 my mother still has the same razor-sharp sense of humour she displayed in the Maternity Ward back in 1942 when she tried to swap me for a better-looking baby (yes, I know, “must have had plenty to choose from” …thank you, dear Reader, it’s singers we need, not comedians). Apparently she was even prepared to thrown in half a book of ration coupons as an incentive. Back in late August this year she suggested that my favourite nephew would be ideal to help me lift off my supers.

Let me tell you about the lad (he’s actually 37 now, going on 12.) He is 6 feet 3 inches tall, has the strength of a Titan and is known in the family as Un-even Steven, due to his tendency towards uncontrollable feet. In fact he is so clumsy that he has a government health warning stamped on his forehead. You may think, knowing my own tendency to find the most awkward way to do things, that it runs in the family. You could be right, which is probably why he is my favourite nephew. Actually he is one of nature’s nice people but don’t tell him I said so.

He is also very gullible. Like the time when he was a kid and I was out walking with him.

Spying a rather dilapidated seagull flying overhead he asked me what it was. I replied that it was a white buzzard and at his request wrote down its Latin name, Raptus regalitur. It was several months later in the classroom that he apparently corrected the teacher when she said that the Latin name of the buzzard was Buteo buteo. In fairness she did have to go and ask the languages department who advised her that Raptus regalitur meant “royally screwed”.

He is married to a delightful lady (who I genuinely adore) whose mission in life is to control his every waking moment – for his own good of course.

When I arrived at his house to pick him up for the apiary harvest, she sternly beckoned me into the kitchen and said, “Right, turn out your pockets!” She then confiscated my poker cards and dice before allowing him out of the house. Of course, like most sensible beekeepers, I keep a crib board and a couple of spare packs of cards under the roof of one of my hives but she wasn’t to know that.

When we arrived at my Apiary in Barnmead Road, just down from Kenthouse Station, I kitted him out in my spare suit – it was small on him but fitted okay inside his size 13 wellies. Looking like a white-clad version of Darth Vader, he immediately started waving furiously at a passing Eurostar train on the nearby track and became the first beekeeper’s assistant in history ever to almost cause a rail disaster. After a few well-chosen words from the driver, shouted from the window of the cab, he managed to release his air-brakes and proceed onwards. Steve just sniffed and said he must be French. If so, all I can say is that he must have been a brilliant linguist to produce such a wide range of English expletives.

I guided him warily towards the hives and was relieved to find that he only tripped over once – flattening a nearby plot-holder’s spinach in the process. Just as well, can’t stand the disgusting weed myself.

Having explained that the idea was to lift off the supers in one go and carry them fifty yards on the wheelbarrow to where the car was parked, I lit the smoker. Taking my eye off him was a mistake, of course. He had bent down and picked up an entire hive with two supers and was effortlessly strolling off with it in his arms before I noticed. Having got it back onto its stand I showed him what we needed to do using chemical-clearer soaked cloth, smoker and hive tool. A disaster was narrowly averted when I snatched the cloth away from his face just before he could throw-up inside the veil. The mind boggles doesn’t it?

Whilst waiting for the bees to clear he decided to help me by fixing the door on my hut. Actually it didn’t really need fixing until after he had fixed it but the thought was there.

Having successfully moved the supers from three hives I told him firmly that the last hive was the one that was not full of gentle bees. I draped the cloth over the top of the supers, went and sat down on my bench, well out of the way, and waited. But demonstrating that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, he went over after a few minutes, lifted the cloth and peered in.

“They’ve gone down,” he said firmly. Without further ado, he levered up the three supers on top with the hive tool, spoke sternly to the bees and wandered off with the boxes. To my amazement no bees chased him; there was not even a murmur of discontent. Of course, when I went to replace the roof they stormed out like a plague of winged piranha-fish and sent me packing. I am still trying to work that one out.

Having successfully loaded the car, I took the supers home and then we walked down to the local pub, the Joiner’s Arms, for a beer and sandwich before going over to sort out the other apiary in Addiscombe.

Now, Steven has the face of an Adonis* which had got him into some difficulties with older women when he was a youngster. He still has that effect on mature ladies who serve behind bars in pubs. I ordered a pint of Boddington’s for him and a pint of Diesel for me and two ploughman’s. The landlady shouldered the barmaid out of the way, exhibited what I seriously believe were not her own teeth in a broad grin and simpered all over Steven as she took over the pint-pulling. Sickening. He then proceeded to tell her all about beekeeping with authority of an expert. I could see the glazed look on her face just before she made her excuses and crept away.

There were no problems at the other apiary, as long as you don’t count the cold frame and the avalanche of apples, and gracefully declining his offer to assist with the extracting, I took him home to his dear wife, who insisted on counting his pocket money to make sure I hadn’t appropriated it.

  • Incidentally I am reliably informed, by a Greek teacher of history that the reason the Greeks don’t use lettuce in a Greek salad (or even grow the stuff apparently,) is to do with the legend of Adonis. As you know he was the fairest of the Gods and had gradually worked his way through all the (very willing) Goddesses. When he got to the point where he was about to boff Zeus’s wife Hera, the old boy himself thought enough was enough. Adonis fell asleep in a field of lettuce and was found the next morning changed into a wilted lettuce. Hence to this day the Greeks regard lettuce as an anti-aphrodisiac.

Mike Oliver

Last weekend, while tinkering with my motorbike, I made a horrible discovery. Jammed into the seal between the head lamp and the front fairing, I found the body of a dead honeybee. Having spent part of that day with Paul Templeton at his rather informative frame-assembly seminar, I was anxious that I hadn’t reduced his colony of bees. Thankfully, Paul assures me that he had not noticed any such reduction, but as a general mention, should any member feel that this bee may be one of theirs, I will happily compensate them for their loss.

Later that same day, while at Tescos, shortly before being forcibly removed for acting suspiciously in the car park, I took time to examine the radiators of several parked cars. I cannot relate to you the horror of what I saw, tens upon tens of squashed bees. The vehicles on our roads must be taking an incredible toll on bee stocks all over the UK. Something has got to be done: whether it is to the design of the cars; to the speeds at which cars travel on the roads or to the motoring habits of the general public. It is very likely that the national bee population will not support such a level of needless bee mortality for much longer. If non-essential, non-emergency motoring activities were limited during the hours of 8am - 7pm in the spring and summer months, I imagine that national honey production could double if not treble.

I have been working on designs for a simple nose cone that can be fitted to most vehicles. This will aim to reduce bee-intake whilst not affecting the overall aero-dynamics of the vehicle. Plans are in their early stages at the moment" but I am hopeful that a design will be made available in the very near future. Until you obtain a nose cone for your car I advise you to cut down on non-essential journeys during the day time and, if you should need to travel during the day, you should travel at no more than thirty miles an hour.

Meanwhile, I have included a picture of the bee that I found so unnecessarily squashed on the front of my bike. Again, if anyone recognises it, do let me know. Chad Cryer

This month, we bring you a few ideas to think about in the fight against varroa. We all know of the problems faced by beekeepers using standard fluvalinate based acaricides. Resistance and residue issues arise and they are comparatively expensive, but both these and other methods are still valid. The aim is to provide beekeepers with a greater armoury in the fight against the mite. Be careful though. Some so called ‘bio methods’ may well leave residue problems in greater measure than miticides designed for varroa. I use thymol, but with caution. Many appear to believe that thymol is not a chemical, let alone a dangerous one. It is both, and if used incorrectly can ruin a colony far faster than the varroa it is meant to destroy, and contaminate the honey. If any readers know of other methods please share the ideas with readers and we will continue with this column in future issues.

Apistan and Bayvarol
From my own experience, and the experience of commercial beekeepers, and from suggestion by the manufacturers, it appears that whilst apistan and bayvarol are based on the same class of chemical, mites that have developed a resistance to apistan, may not be resistant to bayvarol. Strange, but apparently true.

Inert dust
This one has been around for a long time and there is much anecdotal evidence to suggest that it works. Some researchers in the department of entomology at the University of Nebraska carried out an evaluation of powdered sugar to reduce mite populations on adult bees that were driven from the nest using Bee-Go into cages placed over the colony entrance. Three treatments at 7day intervals were carried out and the colonies were treated again after brood rearing had ceased. Both the summer and the autumn treatments significantly reduced varroa treatments suggesting that this method can be used in an integrated varroa management regime to reduce varroa during summer and autumn.

Soapy sugar water
Kim Flottum the editor of Bee Culture wrote in a recent article in that journal that soapy sugar water applied to bees in the form of a course spray. Soapy water as a pesticide has been used since Victorian times in the garden but this new bio pesticide is a simple octanoate ester solution called Sucrocide. Once applied, the solution acts directly on the mites and with increased grooming involved, even more mites are displaced.. The treatment can be used as a spot treatment when and where necessary.

(On a similar theme, the Health and Safety plan adhered to by the company that I am working for advises orchard workers to use soapy water against bee attacks and all trucks used in the orchard/apiary contain soapy water. It renders the bees temporarily stingless but doesn’t kill them).

Food Grade Mineral Oil (FGMO)
Dr Pedro P. Rodriguez of the USA is the great exponent on the use of FGMO against varroa and has been studying the subject for many years. He has now refined his method by combining FGMO with thymol and applying it with a fogger or with emulsion soaked cords. A useful discussion of his methods together with instructions are contained at

This next article is a selection of letters and articles we agreed to publish in Apis-UK for the Durham Beekeepers' Association. Note: Articles may contain scanning errors. Ed.

Proposition to the BBKA Annual Delegates' Meeting January 2005
Dear Secretary/Delegate,

Our members are most concerned about the relationship that presently exists between the BBKA Executive Committee and several agrochemical companies. In exchange for financial sponsorship through the trading arm BBKA Enterprises Ltd. they are endorsing certain products as "bee friendly". The active ingredient in some of these products, such as Lambda Cyhalothrin, is known to be "highly toxic to bees". This fact is set aside by BBKA spokesmen on the grounds that "the products are perfectly safe if used correctly"

We all know that products are not always used correctly and strict regulations are often put in place if they go wrong. The BBKA have for a long time had a good working relationship with agrochemical companies and boast that their plan for safe spraying was readily adopted by the industry. Many beekeepers, and their associations, entered into a voluntary relationship with local farmers and spray operators to ensure that products were used correctly.

The financial agreements between BBKA Enterprises Ltd and the agrochemical companies have been made, and contracts signed, without prior referral to the members; the first reference to the arrangement was in the Financial report to the ADM in 2003. Information published in the BBKA News sometimes seems to lack clarity and openness over the arrangements. We feel that entering a financial agreement such as this is unnecessarily too close an arrangement, and provides a different slant to the earlier relationships where neither party was beholden.

The income from the companies has been compared to £1.50 per member, giving the impression that the money is saving an increase in affiliation fees. This is not the case; the Charity Commission rules forbid members to benefit directly from such income. The proceeds have, in fact, been used to purchase equipment such as curtains for BBKA headquarters.

Durham representatives have raised the matter at BBKA open forums and at the ADMs. A response from a member of the Executive Committee was that if Durham is not happy with the situation they should put a proposal forward to the next ADM. The proposal that we intend submitting is:

"That BBKA and BBKA Enterprises Ltd end their financial relationship of product endorsement with all companies that manufacture and sell products that are toxic to bees as soon as is contractually possible".

This will, at least, force a debate at the ADM and allow delegates to express the degree of support for this venture. It should be fully understood that this is not a general attack on either the BBKA Executive Committee or the BBKA Enterprises Ltd; it is about one small but, nevertheless, very important issue, which could have been and which should have been shared with members before the event.

In order to submit this proposal it needs to be seconded. Durham BKA are asking for likeminded beekeepers either to agree to second this proposal or to write to the BBKA Executive Committee to show support for it to be accepted for the ADM 2005. George Eames, Secretary. Email: george.eames @

Durham Beekeepers' Association President Ian Copinger wrote in 2003
I have written this note as no more than a basis for discussion on the grounds that you've got to start from somewhere. It contains all the published announcements and dealings between BBKA Enterprises and the agrochemical industry that I can find, mostly in BBKA news. There may well be more somewhere??

2. I thought BBKA Enterprises Ltd, in the form of Mr. Badger, would welcome this proposal. It is an arrangement which the company directors have made without any referral to the membership. I suspect that Mr. Badger will believe that he can convince the delegates at an ADM that his cause is right and that, on a vote, he will carry the day. Suddenly BBKA Enterprises Ltd will have our permission to do whatever they want.

3. Proposal: That B.B.K.A. and B.B.K.A. Enterprises Ltd. end their present financial relationship of endorsement and sponsorship with all (or with agrochemical-) companies as soon as contractually possible.

4. BBKA Enterprises Ltd., hereafter called "the company" is the trading arm of the registered charity BBKA. Its formation was made necessary by the rules governing charities.

5. Over the last two years it has come to light that the company have, without reference to or discussion with the members come to arrangements with some agrochemical companies to endorse certain of their products in return for financial sponsorship. The company has signed contracts with these manufacturers.

6. It might not be quite fair to say that the transactions were carried out under a veil of secrecy but equally it cannot be said that they were carried out in the full glare of publicity.

7. in BBKA news 129 May 2001, Mr Davies the Chairman, announces "new financial management through our trading company BBKA Enterprises Ltd., and newly negotiated sponsorships with interested national companies and trusts". On page 4 is published the announcement by FMC Corporation that BBKA endorses Fury as a BEE SAFE product. It is also stated that Fury contains zeta-cypermethrin. There is nothing in the chairman's statement or FMC's announcement to necessarily link the two together since the chairman carefully failed to mention agrochemical companies being involved in the sponsorship.

8. BBKA news 139, February 2003 carries a statement by the treasurer of the company announcing a "turnover of over £12.000 which mainly came from sponsorship and donations" The short article specifies the receipt of £5,000 from Aventis, £5,000 from BASF and £2,000 from FMC. which was mostly spent on the purchase of equipment. It is perhaps unfortunate that the article does not specify that these are agrochemical companies or make it clear that the sums involved were not donations but money paid for our sponsorship of insecticides.

9. It took until BBKA news 140 April 2003 for the words "income", "negotiated contract", "agrochemical companies", "endorsements" and "specific chemicals" to come together. Even then it was not in an announcement by the chairman or any of the executive committee or the directors of the company, (who are largely the same people). It came from the Middlesex Federation Delegate in an article giving "A Delegate's View of the 43rd ADM". He wrote:­

"The BBKA Enterprises last year produced an income equal to plus £1.50 per member by negotiated contracts with agrochemical companies. These were endorsements of the applications of specific chemicals, all very bee friendly". The wording, whilst mathematically correct unintentionally gives the impression that the income is being used to bolster the BBKA purse against the need to raise capitation fees. In fact the money was used to finance the purchase of new equipment.

10. "Beecraft" of July 2003 carries a letter from Mr Harty of Suffolk who rightly questions the lack of openness by BBKA and indeed questions the propriety of the relationship. The editor, who I consider to have been absolutely unbiased in publishing the letter, replied that the sponsored pesticides were "certified as bee-friendly" and had "been rigorously tested to international guidelines arid met the conditions laid down". Historically of course these have not always been faultless qualifications.

11. In none of the publications has it ever been made openly public exactly who the companies were, which of their products were being endorsed in return for financial gain or what there active ingredients were.

12. They are, or at the time I enquired, were:

Company Product name Active ingredient
Bayer Crop Science (Aventis) Decis & Pearl Micro Deltamethrin
Syngenta (Zeneca) Hallmark with Zeon Technology Lambda Cyhalothrin
BASF (Cyanamid) Fastac (Contest) Alpha-cypermethrin
FMC Fury 10EW Minuet Zeta cypermethrin

(Syngenta have already notified an intended change in the name of their product)

13. Deltamethrin is also the active ingredient in an American product `Delta Dust' which is marketed as an insecticide and "Provides quick control of ants, bees (especially carpenter bees), etc.,"

Lambda cyhalohrin appears on a web site of 'Extoxnet' a pesticide information project maintained by several USA universities. Under the heading Effects on other animals (Nontarget species) it notes that "Lambda cyhalothrin is highly toxic to bees"

Zeta-cypermethrin is the active ingredient in an American product `Mustang'. In accepting it's registration the relevant authority note that "It is, however, extremely toxic to bees"

Perhaps through my in expertise I have found nothing good or bad about Alph­ cypermethrin. In my ignorance I am nevertheless puzzled. If two other "...methrins" are toxic to bees can somebody explain why Alpha methrin isn't.

Is there anyone out there who has the knowledge to search the Internet properly for information on these products? 1 suspect that you are more likely to find fuller information on USA sites than UK sites.

14. At the open forum in 2003 the pronouncement was made by one of the company directors that "they are perfectly safe if used properly". It cannot possibly be advisable to `endorse' a product the safety of which relies wholly or entirely on proper usage. My memory is that the incorrect use of sprays was the problem in the first place. Add to the ever-present possibility of human error the fact that farmers frequently mix several chemicals together into a spraying cocktail. This is quite contrary to the manufacturers instructions is therefore incorrect usage and is inevitably a recipe for an eventual disaster to somebody's bees. At some time in the future some ones bees are going to be seriously damaged by a product endorsed by the BBKA as BEE­FRIENDLY.

15. The company cannot pretend that their endorsement of these products is anything less than a money making exercise. At the same forum it was stated by a director of the company that a manufacturer had approached them for endorsement of a product. The endorsement had been refused. Not because of any shortcoming in the product but because the manufacturer had not offered enough money for the endorsement. That surely is totally dishonorable.

16. For some years BBKA has boasted of an increasingly improved relationship with the agrochemical industry with whom they could discuss better and safer methods for the use of sprays. They are particularly proud of a safety plan which they drew up and which has been voluntarily accepted by the industry. I applaud that relationship but I persist in my opinion that an engagement in financial sponsorship and product endorsement forms too close a relationship.

17. Proposals are supposed to carry an estimation of the cost to BBKA of carrying it out. I suggest that the cost is "Nil". It is true that BBKA have had an income from the company of some thousands of pounds. It's continuation is not guaranteed in any case.

18. I do not pretend that, through the ADM, we can stop the use of these chemical but we can stop them being used in our name, an arrangement which we never agreed to in the first place. We should circulate all other associations with information about the proposal and urge them to consider this matt er seriously and to mandate their delegate to support our proposal. We should also invite them to consider writing to BBKA General Sec. asking to be associated with the proposal when it is circulated prior to the ADM.

This letter was published in Beecraft July 2003 - Page 27
I am writing this letter out of genuine concern regarding what I consider to be the 'dubious' relationships that have developed between the BBKA and various agrochemical corporations. I have tried, unsuccessfully, to contact members within the BBKA hierarchy since 2002, with the exception of a Technical Committee member who has had the courtesy to respond regularly.

As I understand it, synthetic pyrethroids of varying toxicity are being endorsed by the BBKA as 'bee friendly' in return for corporate fiscal sponsorship. The issue is further exacerbated by BBKA's obstinate manner of not being accountable for its decisions, apparently made in the best interests of UK beekeepers, whereby my pertinent probing questions remain unanswered.

This lack of openness raises serious creditability issues regarding BBKA's claim to be an important national environmental organisation. If its environmental policy is solid, why does it continue not to answer the relevant questions? A BBKA regional representative actually told me that pesticides have no adverse effects on flora and fauna and BBKA did not promote or advocate them.

In an effort to attract financial support, I believe the BBKA is now trying to adapt its values to suit the wishes of commercial partners. BBKA claims to promote farming practices that encourage bees in the environment, yet how toxic pesticide endorsements actually contribute to the resilience of agro-ecosystems relating to ecological interactions, when such chemicals have always been environmentally detrimental, defies logic. The bee-friendly label is based on the assumption that pyrethroid pesticides have repellent properties yet a number of their active ingredients do not do this.

The BBKA totally ignores the Precautionary Principle (a principle to be invoked when lack of scientific evidence means that outcomes are uncertain) at the expense of our ever-dwindling bee populations. I have been told the established BBKA policy regarding the agrochemical industry gives agrochemical companies the opportunity to put money into beekeeping to offset the harm done through aggressive use of pesticides 20 years ago.

The BBKA endorses a toxic pesticide as supposedly bee-friendly, yet it opposes the addition of genetically modified (GM) maize to the national seed list by the same corporations, and claims that agrochemical companies have a massive concern for the environment's welfare.

In September 2002, the BBKA organised a conference to discuss GM standards relating to honey, to which only pro-government or uncommitted representatives of the larger and more commercial beekeeper associations were invited. I believe this was a 'rigged' conference designed to undermine GM-free honey standards where the BBKA Technical Committee consistently agreed with the industry line, foresaw no potential dangers and were prepared to abandon the six-mile limit.

It is no wonder that the BBKA adopts a 'sit on the fence' stance towards the GM debate especially as it becomes more financially dependent on the agrochemical industry. I think it is crucial for UK beekeepers to start asking questions and take stock of what is happening to 'our organisation', where a spurious policy is being spun.

Martin Luther King sums up my feelings 'Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter'. Paul Harty, Witnesham, Suffolk.

[Beecraft Ed: I understand that pesticides which are certified as 'bee-friendly' have been tested rigorously to international guidelines and meet the conditions laid down All Area Associations of the BBKA were invited to the GM conference, reported it Bee Craft, November 2002, page 4.]

FACT FILE Back to top

A fast developing colony killer with a weakness
Where there are bees, bee pests will follow and it is highly likely that one day beekeepers in the UK will be faced with the appearance of this mite. Tropilaelaps clarae, like varroa is an external parasitic mite that feeds on the larval and pupal stages of developing bees. They are visible to the naked eye but are smaller than varroa. They can be distinguished from varroa by their shape. Varroa are crab shaped whereas T. clarae is elongated.

Tropilaelaps clarae

T. clarae is a tropical pest, and the original host species is the giant honey bee, Apis dorsata, but like varroa it has jumped over to Apis mellifera which are highly susceptible to the pest. It has been recorded on both Apis florea (the dwarf honey bee) and Apis cerana, but it uses these for dispersal and does not breed on them. Research and observation has shown that the mite exists at relatively low levels in Apis dorsata colonies from around 7% to a high of about 30%, and from the existence of dead damaged mites, it appears that dorsata can kill them. Apis mellifera can’t.

T.clarae is a faster killer of Apis mellifera colonies than varroa due to the fact that they have a higher rate of development and the time they start laying eggs relative to the capping of the cell. The mites are usually all developed by the time the adult bee emerges from the cell. They are able to produce three adult female progeny with each cycle of brood compared to varroa’s average of less than two, and the males can mate with females in the cell and also outside of the cell during the dispersion period. A colony would die in less than a year without human intervention.

T.clarae has another strength and that is that a greater proportion of the mites remain in cells reproducing and damaging bees prior to emergence. They cannot feed on adult bees because they cannot pierce the segments and so the phoretic period (that period where they disperse outside the cell) is short. 10 times as many varroa will be found on adult bees. This is also a weakness for T clarae however because as they cannot feed on adults, any broodless period will be fatal to them. The length of time they can survive on adult bees is still not known but some researchers suggest that an egg bearing female will die within two days if she is unable to deposit her eggs. This means that an effective non chemical treatment can be effected by creating brood free periods. Other treatments with standard varroa miticides or formic acid application are the current preferred treatments.

So remember:
T.clarae is smaller than varroa. It is more elongated in shape. It develops at a faster rate the varroa and can kill a colony in less than a year. It can out compete varroa where both are present in a colony. It cannot feed on adult bees and so cannot live through broodless periods.

If you think you have seen T. clarae in one of your colonies, contact the NBU through your local BDI as soon as possible.

Some more mite facts
Some 86 or more species of mites have been recorded in association with Apis species and their nests. Very few of these mites that are found in beehives or that occur on adult bees are harmful. Beekeepers should be able to recognise the three mites that can cause problems: varroa, T.clarae and the more controversial Acarapis woodii.


As I am currently in New Zealand, let us look at a piece of advice given to beekeepers here in 1848 in the manual for New Zealand Bee Keepers written by the Rev WC Cotton who carried bees to that country in the 1840s whilst accompanying the first Bishop of New Zealand on church business. Here, cotton talks about clothing.

“One precaution alone I recommend: tie your trousers lightly around your ankles with a piece of string (if knee breeches and gaiters are your common wear, so much the better; you want no extra dressing; for such bees as fall on the ground will often crawl up the operator’s leg, and when pressed between his clothes and flesh, sting him in self defence. A lady’s dress I cannot pretend to regulate.”

In next month’s Apis-UK we will take a look at the ingenious way in which Cotton transported his bees on the then six months or more journey to the far side of the world.

LETTERS Back to top

Dear David,
My husband has always been interested in bees, and I have been looking on the website to find out who I can contact to arrange a holiday where he can may be able to have some 'hands-on' experience of bee keeping under the guidance of an experienced Beekeeper. Are you able to help? Thanks Mary White. Email: whitemary3 @

Hi David,
I thought you might like to see this picture of my hives (only 3) on the garage roof (only accessible by ladder). The semicircular hut on the left is a WW2 bombshelter. Regards, Christopher Clayton Email: christopherclayton @

Hives on garage roof

Thanks Christopher, an interesting situation, and please allow me to use this picture to remind readers that WE are always interested in your photos of beekeeping activities. Ed.

Dear David,
To supplement my last posting "One man Demo " .... On the last day of the National Honey Show a one person protester, Suffolk beekeeper Paul Hartly, stood outside the gates of the RAF museum with his banner "BBKA stop promoting pesticides" Please now find supplement and a list of those chemicals and their ecological effects at: Bee good John Salt Email: j.j.salt @

Dear David,
I have not received an Apis-UK News since July. At first I thought it was the well deserved summer break, but am sure you are back in action now. I Would love to receive them again please. Many thanks. Christopher Beale. Email: gsdvoss @

You can check that you are still on the Apis-UK mailing list by adding your email address again. If you get a message saying “you are already on the list” you will be sent email notices when each new Apis-UK newsletter is published. If you keep failing to receive Apis-UK email notices than check your ISP and spam filters to make sure that message sent from the domain name '' are allowed to get through or check our website regularly for new Apis-UK newsletters. Ed.

Dear David,
The quotation was made by Andy Card jnr, US migratory beekeeper.  I have the book "Following the bloom" across america with the migratory beekeepers, by Douglas Whynott, bought in the US on holiday this year, I intend to finish reading it this winter! Thanks for reminding me. Christine Clifton. Email: cc.dab @


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

Saturday 26th February 2005 - West Sussex Beekeepers Association Integrated Pest Management Workshop. At Brinsbury College, North Heath, Pulborough, West Sussex (on A29). From 9.30am until 4pm. Lecturers include James Morton, Alan Byham and Richard Ball. Tickets £5 in advance from Andrew Shelley, Oakfield, Cox Green, Rudgewick, Horsham, West Sussex RH12 3DD. £6 on the Door if there is space. Download the Programme PDF. Contact: John Hunt E-mail: john_bateman_hunt @

1st, 2nd April 2005 - Ulster Beekeepers' Association 61st Annual Conference
Greenmount Campus, College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise, Antrim. This year we have a new panel of speakers from Scotland, Ireland and England, headed by Willie Robson an extensive honey farmer and popular conference speaker, from Berwick-on Tweed in Scotland. We also have trade stands where you may buy your supplies for the New Season. The conference will commence at 7.30pm on Friday 1 st April with two lectures: “Our Bees in Winter”, Claire Chavasse. “Preparing for Spring”, Willie Robson. It will continue from 9am Saturday, 2 nd April with: “ Queens and Honey from the same Hive”, Ben Harden. “Effects of EC regulations on Beekeepers”, Food Standards Agency. “New Products”, Paul Smith (Thorne s). “EXO-MITEtm Apis”, Clive Newitt. “Harvesting and Marketing the Honey Crop”, Willie Robson. “Open Forum”, Panel of experts. The Conference will conclude with the AGM of the UBKA commencing at 4.15pm. Admission, including tea/coffee on Saturday: both days, £15 per person, £25 per family, Friday only, £10 per person, £15 per family, pay at the door. For on-site accommodation contact Jim Fletcher on 028 9167 2163, for other accommodation contact Walter McNeill on 028 9446 4648. A warm invitation to everyone.

Saturday 9th April 2005 - The Yorkshire Beekeepers Association conference at Bishop Burton College, Beverley East Riding of Yorkshire. "Making the best of beekeeping knowledge to improve your practical skills" Lectures by Michael Badger MBE, Dr Dewey Caron and Ian Craig.
Download Full Programme and Booking Form PDF

16th April 2005 - BBKA Spring Convention and Exhibition
Further details from

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This month’s quote comes from a more home grown figure than Andy Card of the USA and is advice worth following for all novice beekeepers. Apis-UK is dedicated to ensuring that this view is followed. Who said the following?

“It is a very good rule, when you are trying to pick up knowledge of beekeeping, or any other matter, to be careful whose ideas you accept. If you have no ideas of your own, you are in a position to take in the views of others; but you know what happens when the blind lead the blind, and many a beekeeper has found the ditch through lack of judgement in choosing a good guide.”

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