Contents: Editorial; Beekeeping news; Bee press; Research News; Articles: Bees and Magnetic Fields (part 3 of 3) Ian Rumsey; The Branch honey Show Exposed Chad Cryer; Moving Stocks of Honey Bees John Yates; Danish Beekeeping a Wide Ranging View David Ashton; Organic Methods of Varroa Control David Ashton; Unusual Reproduction Behaviour of Odd Ants Surprises Scientists Ohio State University; The Far Side of the World David Cramp; Recipe of the Month: Honeyed Chilli Tomatoes; Fact File: Varroa; Historical Note; Poem of the Month; Readers Letters: Dr Gerson Machado, John Salt, Natalie Tidy, Tony Starling, Bryan Hateley, Simon Lane; Diary of Events; Quote of the Month and more. Please wait while downloading 239KB.


Apis-UK Issue No.32 February 2005
Martin Buckle

Martin Buckle and his famous beeswax violin - doing things with beeswax talk 2003 Bromley Beekeepers’ Association.

EDITORIAL Back to top

This month's Apis-UK brings to you a wide range of articles and information on bees and related subjects and it is these ‘related’ subjects that are often of such interest to me in giving us clues about honey bees. For instance, one of the research articles below asks the question ‘How do insects smell?’ and from this we can get a good idea of how our honey bees smell things, or at least detect pheromones which are all important in their lives. With some lateral thinking and a bit of stretching of the brain cells, you could then branch off into the olfactory powers of crabs. It’s true. The large Robber Crab has evolved a life mainly on land and has developed a ‘nose’ similar to that of insects. Don’t worry, in this issue we don’t branch off into crabs, but it is I believe these links that make our craft and our science so interesting. Ants, honey bee wash boarding behaviour and more uses for pollen all feature in the research section. The article on gliding ants may well give us clues on the evolution of flight in bees and other insects and the short videos of ants in directed glides are astonishing. Once you have read the article, be amazed by going to Go to their search box and put in gliding ants and you will be able to see several short videos of these beasts in action taken by the author of the article. They can actually direct where they glide to.

GMOs don’t feature here for a change but we have received several letters concerning a short article on the subject in last month’s Apis-UK. It seems that for every argument there is a counter argument and it makes one yearn for a comprehensive scientific review of the situation from a genuinely independent and totally disinterested organization. I think that that is necessary but improbable. Who could possibly be disinterested in such a subject? Everything that I have read indicates that everyone has an angle and I believe that unless opponents of the technology are very careful, it is upon that point that any defence against the onslaught of GM technology may ultimately fail. And I’m an optimist!

The veterinary medicines directive will I expect be an ongoing issue. We have received a letter suggesting that the cost of treatments via vets will increase and I assume then that the use of unauthorised treatments will also increase if this is the case. It was always my fear that cost would be the down fall of this plan and I hope that the authorities are able to control this. I fear the worst though. My email to the Defra contact was returned as being unable to find the address.

The Historical Note tells us much of the mind set of 17 th century beekeepers in the UK and marks I think the hesitant beginnings of a newer age in beekeeping bringing us from Roman times almost to the present day in one short piece of writing. The Recipe of the Month is possibly the strangest we have yet published, but I have tried it and it is oddly very acceptable. Not for us the commonplace!

The articles in this issue are also wide ranging from the incredible story of how bees were taken from the UK to New Zealand, to an article by John Yates on moving bees over somewhat shorter distances. Chad Cryer tells us of skulduggery and wicked goings on in the local association which reminds me of my early beekeeping days in the UK when I was unmercifully done out of a first place (or any place for that matter as I was disqualified) in the local honey competition. Ruthless. However, I won’t go on about that. We continue with our fascinating articles on bees and magnetism and we also feature a look at beekeeping in Denmark, a country which has an amazing record of exports in honey and which is noted for the purity of its product. The Danes also give us some valuable advice on organic treatments for varroa, something dear to my heart.

And finally, do read our letters. Thank you to all those who write in. The internet is very much a device of communication and we always value your input, so do keep in touch. With this in mind I present the February 2005 issue of Apis-UK.

David Cramp. Editor.

NEWS Back to top

In a further sign of the times the BBC reports that honey bee colonies in the west region are dying out because of wet weather. The damp autumn has meant the insects were unable to get out collecting nectar so their numbers fell. Additionally, wasps, which were flying around as late as Christmas, attacked and robbed bee hives. Now experts in Somerset are launching a campaign to help beekeepers prevent the loss of colonies in the future.

Apitherapy is very much a growing branch of natural, alternative medicine, its main problem being the lack of research funds for investigation and meaningful clinical trials. We have reported in previous issues that when research has taken place apitherapy products can far out gun their mainstream counterpart drugs, manuka honey wound dressings being a case in point. However, despite these problems we can still be cheered by reports such as those below where we learn that bee venom may be helping a lady with MS.

A mother-of-two who is battling against multiple sclerosis says she is being helped by 36 bee stings a week. Paula Cooke, 40, of Terrington St Clement, Norfolk, has had MS for 15 years and has no feeling from her waist to her toes. About five months ago she started a course of bee venom therapy and she believes it has been a success.

The MS Society however has warned people that they must consult a doctor before considering this "unproven" therapy.

Ms Cooke told the BBC News that she now wants other people to know about this form of treatment for her condition. "I want people to have their own opportunity to decide whether to try this treatment for themselves," she said. "The bee stings have brought about tiny improvements from absolutely nothing. It is amazing." Ms Cooke, who has two children - Danielle, 12, and Kaysie, 19 - recently found she could move some of the toes on her feet. The treatment involves 12 stings at a time each Monday, Wednesday and Friday. She said that at first they got bees sent from London, but now they have found a local beekeeper "When we first started using this bee therapy we were told it would not produce any effects for three months, but in the first couple of weeks she regained use of some of her toes," she said. Doctors have concerns because some people are allergic to bee stings. The MS Society spokesman added that MS is a variable condition with some patients showing differing symptoms at different times. Bee venom therapy has been and still is used by many for treating arthritis. It is thought that the shock of the sting cranks up adrenal glands to produce the natural painkiller cortisol.

The Cyprus public health services yesterday announced the withdrawal from the market of five batches of Greek honey found to contain residues of Dichlorbenzol, a pesticide believed to be carcinogenic. The Health Ministry said that after checking samples of Greek honey on the market, the Ministry of Health said that five types of honey, all made by the same Greek company ‘Attiki Pittas’, contained unacceptable levels of the substance. They have been listed as Fino in a plastic jar, 470g, Fino in a glass jar, 500g, Attiki in a glass jar, 250g, Attiki in a plastic jar, 470g, and Attiki in a glass jar, 500g. The sell-by date on all five is January 31, 2008. The Ministry said it had already given instructions to the import company to withdraw the products, and advised the public not to purchase any honey from the named batches. Greek honey is the latest target in a clampdown on tainted honey on the market. Several Cypriot batches have been withdrawn in recent months after being found to contain antibiotic residues.

Apis-UK has just received this open letter to the BBKA from John Salt the Chairman of the Morray Beekeepers’ Association raising the thorny subject of pesticides. Ed.

John Salt
Secretary Moray Beekeepers
Sunningdale, Forres, Moray, IV36 2RU Scotland.
Tel/Fax...+44(0)1309 673703
E-mail: j.j.salt @

National Beekeeping Centre
National Agricultural Centre
Stoneleigh Park
CV8 2LG 18 February 2005

Open letter
BBKA sponsorship of pesticides

At our recent AGM it was proposed that a discussion take place regarding the endorsement and sponsorship of certain pesticides by the BBKA. It was then proposed that a letter be written to the BBKA condemning their action which was carried unanimously.

It is our opinion that it is irresponsible of a national association such as the BBKA to endorse and sponsor pesticides as ‘Bee Friendly’ when some of these pesticides are actually listed on the manufacturer’s web pages as ‘highly toxic to bees’.

BBKA would appear to endorse the product, not its safe use, which has led to misleading and incorrect information being given farmers and sprayers. This affects Beekeepers not only in England but also in Scotland and throughout the UK. We find the actions of the BBKA as untenable.
Yours sincerely

The Laesoe population is severe endangered as a consequence of lost protection. This valuable population will soon be lost without massive public pressure to convince the Danish minister of Agriculture to change his decision. Only international public reaction can save the Laesoe dark bee now! Your opinion counts.

You can help by:

1. Translate the following letter from the Danish beekeepers to your own language, if necessary, for spreading the information.

2. Spread the message to all dark bee friends, not to forget professional institutions, in your country, eventually neighbour countries as well.

3. Let all, in their own words and their own manner express their opinion, but you can also suggest a standard formulation.

Send a letter or an e-mail each to "Ministeriet for Fødevarer, Fiskeri og Landbrug, Copenhagen " or e.mail to: You may also use the Ministers personal e-mail address, as seen in the letter below. Please take action! Nils Drivdal Sicamm secretary.

Press Release
Danish Minister of Agriculture Removes the Conservation order on Black Bees (Apis melliffera mellifera) on Danish Island of Læsø.

The Danish Minister of Agriculture and Food, Hans Christian Schmidt, Email address Has decided because it goes against his libertine instincts of how a free market economy should function to remove the conservation orders on the unique Danish Black Bee (Apis melliffera mellifera) which has survived on the Danish Island of Læsø in the Kattegat Sea, for many hundreds of thousands of years. He has decided to allow other races of bees on the Island of Læsø as he say" To improve the previous arrangements" (in Danish "for at forbedre den hidtige indsats).

The Queen honey bee mates up to 15 - 16 times at a height of up to 1000 metres in the air, male bees 'drones', are able to fly over 15 kilometre's; as the Island of Læsø is only 25 Kilometres long therefore, no where on the Island the unique black Læsø be free not to be mated by other species of honey bee. The Læsø Black Bee is preserved under 1) 'The Convention of Biological Diversity! 1992 ' which Danish Government is a signatory too 2) The Danish Government also is a signatory to 'The Food and Agriculture Organisation' FAO Global Strategy from 1999 on the preservation of Global Gene resources 3) The EU Court In Luxemburg has ruled that the Preservation Order on the Læsø Black Bee was a requirement on The Danish Government, and that no other race of bees were to be allowed on the Island of Læsø. 4) SICAMM 'The International Organisation on the preservation of the Northern European Black Bee' held a conference on Læsø in September 2004, and agreed it was important to preserve this unique bee. A Danish Beekeeper Ditlev Blume, who shares Hans Christian Schmidt, Libertine Philosophy has fought all the above International Judgements, and has now got the backing of the Danish 'Liberal' Minister of Food And Agriculture, to allow other races of bees like ligustica (yellow Bee)on the Island of Læsø. He has now also got the Danish minister backing to! Ignore all international judgements on the importance of preserving the unique Black Bee which absorbs the suns rays better in northern Climates, and in fact is a lot older genetic version of the other honey bee varieties.

Professor Bo Vest Pedersen from Copenhagen Universities, 'Zoological Institute' is now convinced that another species of our planets increasingly endangered species, the Læsø black bee will now disappear unless International pressure can be brought to bare on the Danish Minister of Food & Agriculture.

Danish Beekeepers a through their 'Denmark's Biavlerforening' (Danish Beekeepers Association) Chairman Bjarne Sørensen Email: are appealing to all beekeepers, conservation interested people, and friends of our planet earth, to raise a massive 'Press & Media Storm' to this Danish government minister who would like the world to think that Denmark is a civilised democratic country. By emailing, or writing personally to Danish Minister of Food and Agriculture, Hans Christian Schmidt, Address: Friggsvang 3, 6500 Vojens, Denmark, Tel: 0045 33922002 or email your own protest in your own words, or using the information above. One of the Dainish Minister firm supporters is Bjørn Lomborg, of 'The Danish Institute of Environmental Research' (Institute for Miljøvurdering) the Danish minister has given Lomborg's Institute, massive monetary support to rubbish people with environmental concerns, and support the Danish Governments 'Ultra Liberal Values' on the environment. On the 28th January 2005 at a meeting in Holstebro, Jutland, Denmark, the Danish Prime Minister Anders Rasmussen mocked and ridiculed, NAOH (Danish Friends of the Earth) Green Peace, and other Environmental organisation for scaring people with the dangers of 'Global warming' which he claimed did not exist. The author of this article has found out on 'the principle of five', that if you send some important information to five important people within seven days every one in the world will know about it. Asks you to send this information to The Press, Journalists, BBC, Opinion Formers, in fact any one you can think of. For further information you can contact Denmark 's National Beekeeping Advisor and President of Apimondia, Asger Søgaard Jørgensen, on web page Tel: 0045 57561777.

Written: by David Ashton, Agricultural Free Lance Journalist, 1st February 2005 Email: beeman @

A Bulgarian national program for development and boosting of bee-keeping was presented Feb 10th in Sofia ’s Inter Expo Centre. The program has been developed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests in cooperation with the German Association for Technical Partnership and Bulgarian bee-keeping organizations. The day of the presentation was especially chosen, as February 10 th the Orthodox Church marks the day of St. Haralampii, who is believed to be the first one to discover honey’s healing powers. Working groups discussed the natural resources, bee breeding technologies and bee protection as well as honey production, marketing and products’ safety. The program aims to help Bulgaria in deriving maximum benefits from the funds, which are expected to be granted for developing the bee-breeding sector after country’s entering in the EU. Last year the EU enforced new regulations allowing member-countries to receive financial support after presenting three-year national development programs in the sector. In 2004 Bulgaria has exported 5,620 tones of bee honey, 70% of which flowed into the EU market.

So is the patron Saint of apitherapists St. Haralampii? Ed.


I'm a PhD student at University of St Andrews , applying new auto-ID software (DAISY) to pollination ecology. I've been identifying Kenyan bees from wing venation (84% correct) and pollen grains in pollen loads. I would like to look at variation in wing venation within Apis mellifera, to see if DAISY can distinguish Apis mellifera strains. For this I will need bee specimens from a wide range of genetic backgrounds. I would like to put out requests to beekeepers to send me dead bees collected from their hive entrances, together with information about the genetic background of their bees. Do you think this idea might work? Where should I advertise? Would you be interested in sending me some bees? Contact Atir via the BBKA message board URL:

This new research topic is being undertaken at St Andrew's University and any help or advice beekeepers can give to the PhD student would be invaluable. Ed.

Most will know that many arboreal animals have learned to glide through the forest, from flying squirrels to flying lizards and frogs, and even snakes. Now, add ants to that list, say biologists at the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston (UTMB).

Gliding ants - the only wingless insects known to actively direct their fall - were first observed last year outside Iquitos, Peru, by insect ecologist Stephen P. Yanoviak of UTMB. While perched 100 feet up in the rainforest canopy waiting for mosquitoes to alight and feed on his blood, Yanoviak casually brushed off a few dozen ants that were attacking him and noticed their uncanny ability to land on the tree's trunk and climb back to the very spot from which they'd fallen. "I brushed them off the branch with my hand, and I noticed that maybe 20 or 30 of them fell in unison and then made this nice little cascade back to the tree trunk," said Yanoviak via phone from Iquitos. "That's when I realized something was up with this behaviour and it was worth checking into a bit more."

By painting the ants' rear legs with white nail polish, he was able to track their fall and establish that they come in backwards to the tree, hit and hang on, though they often tumble down the trunk a few feet and occasionally bounce off. They can actually make 180 degree turns in midair, however, so even when they fail the first time, they can execute a mid-air hairpin turn and glide in for another try." It's an amazing discovery," say the researchers, but apparently, it's fairly common among a lot of tropical canopy ants.

After Yanoviak's initial observation, he conducted further drop studies and established that about 85 percent of the ants - a widespread tropical canopy species called Cephalotes atratus - are able to land on the tree trunk and climb back up, as compared to a mere 5 percent that would be expected to land on the trunk if the ants were parachuting randomly to the ground. The researchers believe that they're trying to get back to the tree, they're trying to not get lost in the understorey of the forest. Once they hit the forest floor, they're unlikely to find a chemical trail back to the nest, and most likely will be eaten by predators. Yanoviak said that perhaps more important from the perspective of survival, the forests are flooded as much as half the year, so an ant falling into the water will most likely end up as fish food. "This is what they think is the major evolutionary driving mechanism behind the behaviour.

The observations combined with videotaped tests in Panama established that the ants basically reorient their bodies so their hind legs and abdomen point toward the tree, and use their head-up fall through the air to take them feet-first toward the trunk. How they land is still a mystery, but evidently claws on their back legs act like grappling hooks to snag the trunk and hang on. "When they drop, they often glide away from the trunk, then turn and come in backwards," Dudley said. "Their 180-degree turns are pretty dramatic in the absence of wings."

The team found that, unlike flying squirrels that can glide horizontally for long distances, the ants fall at a relatively high velocity, around 4 meters per second (12 feet per second), and approach the tree at a steep angle. This means they frequently bounce off the trunk, though, as initially noted, they just make a 180 degree turn and try again - usually with success. What allows the ants to change direction so quickly is still a mystery. They have long, slightly flattened hind legs which, when combined with abdominal movements, might allow the ants to reorient in midair. They also have an unusual flattened head with flanges that could act as a rudder. "My guess is that, by gliding backwards and using their legs and also their flat head with flanges, they could steer," he said, though more studies are needed before the question can be answered.

The worker ants are secondarily wingless; meaning they probably evolved the ability to glide after they lost their permanent wings, which were common in primitive ants. "This discovery doesn't necessarily say something about the evolution of flight in terms of insect lineages, but it does give us good information about what kinds of morphologies are involved in the transition from just parachuting, or just falling uncontrolled, to being able to control where you land," Yanoviak said.

The gliding behaviour would be a definite advantage for ants, like Cephalotes, that forage at the outer reaches of branches and are in greatest danger of being knocked off by wind gusts or passing monkeys and indeed there is some evidence, that these ants sometimes purposely drop off the tree to avoid predators, evidently secure in the fact that they can glide back to the same tree. All told, the team dropped about 60 species of ants from the treetops, and has found some form of in 25 species representing five separate genera. It is the norm in only two groups, however: the Cephalotini tribe, which includes Cephalotes atratus, and the arboreal Pseudomyrmecinae ants.

Researchers Find How Protein Allows Insects to Detect and Respond to Pheromones
How do insects smell? Badly, according to a new study, if they lack a certain kind of protein critical to their ability to detect and interpret pheromones - the insect equivalent of "smelling." Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Centre at dallas, USA have discovered how a protein, called an olfactory binding protein, links incoming pheromone signals and specific nerve cells in an insect's brain, which in turn translate those signals. Pheromones are chemical signals given off by animals that, when detected by others of the same species, mediate a variety of behaviours, such as feeding, mating and colonizing.

The findings not only shed light on insect behaviour, but also suggest that olfactory binding proteins may be new targets for synthetic chemicals that could trick insects like mosquitoes into traps or could function as repellents, said Dr. Dean Smith, associate professor of pharmacology at UT Southwestern and senior author on the study. Humans give off signals that attract mosquitoes, the insect responsible for spreading malaria, which kills up to 3 million people each year. The research, appearing in the Jan. 20 issue of the journal Neuron, is the first to directly link pheromone-induced behaviour with the activity of olfactory binding proteins, or OBPs. The nerve cells, or neurons, in insects responsible for picking up on pheromone signals have been studied for decades, as have pheromones themselves. But the biochemical mechanism by which pheromones and other odorants selectively activate those sensory neurons is poorly understood. "We've known about OBPs for 20 years, but until now their function and significance was unclear," said Dr. Smith, who works in the Centre for Basic Neuroscience. Olfactory binding proteins are produced by non-neuronal cells and are secreted into the fluid bathing the dendrites, or nerve endings, of olfactory neurons.

The source of this article is the University Of Texas Southwestern Medical Centre At Dallas. Ed.

We are always reading about the use of bees for various purposes from finding mine fields to airborne reconnaissance missions, but what about pollen. This too has many uses particularly in dating items, locating origins, for example, when experts carbon dated the Turin Shroud as medieval, pollen experts pointed to the fact that pollen grains from the shroud were from plants only found in bible lands at the time of Christ. Now it seems they were right. New research evidently shows that previous tests were carried out on patched pieces of the shroud sewn in during medieval times. Dating of the original pieces of shroud accord with the pollen evidence.

Recently news reports show that researchers have revealed how a team of forensic experts used pollen to help them to convict Bosnian war criminals. Professor Tony Brown of the University of Exeter used the method to link mass graves in Bosnia, which supported the case for genocide by the prosecution. He says pollen and unchanging soil characteristics can "provide strong circumstantial evidence placing a vehicle or person at a crime scene".

"Forensic pollen analysis has made a significant contribution to the investigation of war crimes in Bosnia ," Professor Brown explained. Bosnian war criminals tried disguising their acts of genocide by exhuming mass graves and reburying bodies in smaller graves, claiming they were the result of minor battles. The prosecution at the UN war crimes tribunal needed to show that the many "secondary" burial sites could be linked to a few "primary" ones, to prove that mass graves had initially existed.

Professor Brown was part of the North East Bosnian Mortuary Team which conducted forensic examinations of mass graves. The team, which worked under constant UN guard, examined 20 sites over a four-year period from 1997. Soil samples were taken from skeletal cavities, inside the graves, and from around the suspected primary and secondary burial sites.

Pollen from the soil samples was cleaned with powerful chemicals before being analysed, and the mineralogy of the soil itself was examined. Once complete, matches could be made between different samples – ultimately leading to links between primary and secondary burial sites.

Professor Brown said: "For example, one primary execution and burial site was in a field of wheat. When bodies were found in secondary burial sites they were linked to the primary location through the presence of distinctive wheat pollen in soil recovered from the victims." Independent ballistics work was in 100% agreement with the conclusions of the pollen and soil analysis, he added. Overall, the work formed a significant component of the generic body of evidence used against those involved in the Srebrenica atrocities. Professor Brown said a case in point was the conviction of Radislav Krstic, commander of a military unit which participated in the massacres in and around Srebrenica in the summer of 1995.

On many occasions I have sat in front of my hives and watched my bees rocking backwards and forwards in groups on the front face of the hive as though scrubbing the wood or scraping it. No one has been able to tell me why they do this and many beekeepers tell me that they’ve never seen it. Now, I have finally unearthed a piece of research on the subject which although not solving the puzzle of ‘why’, at least tells me that others are ‘onto it’.

The research was carried out by a team from the USDA-ARS Bee Research lab at Beltsville in the USA . They believe the behaviour is associated with general cleaning behaviour, but nothing was known of the age of the workers, the function of the activity or the circumstances which spark it off. They found out that marked workers began this activity at 13 days old with a peak between 15 and 25 days old. The activity increased from around 0800 hrs to 1400 hrs and remained elevated until late evening. The workers were presented with three surfaces of different textures and found that the behaviour increased from glass to wood to slate showing perhaps that surface has an effect. So why do they do this? They don’t know.

I think that perhaps it is something from their wild days when a smoother surface both outside the nest entrance and in the nest facilitated colony life in some way, either by cleaning or smoothing surfaces. Ed.

THE BEE PRESS Back to top

Beecraft February 2005 Volume 87 Number 2
Claire Waring Editor.
Contents: A year in the apiary: apiary location David Aston, PhD, NDB; Other bees: bumblebees Mike Edwards; Beekeeping in Denmark Raymond Chamberlin; A year in the life of a beginner Lucille Frost; Mighty mites Celia Davis, NDB; The gentle Slovenian Carniolan bee Doug Jones; A Polish welcome Danuta Loveday; A holiday visit to bee boles June Dennis; In the Apiary: having fun with bees (part 11) Karl Showler; Book reviews - Plants and Honey Bees: their relationships David Aston and Sally Bucknall; Bad Beekeeping Ron Miksha; Pollen: the hidden sexuality of flowers Rob Kesseler and Madeline Harley.
The dreadful tsunami disaster in Asia happened after the January issue of BeeCraft had gone to press. However, it is not too late to offer our sympathy and support to all those, both abroad and at home, who have been affected by these terrible events. Of course, the first needs are for water, food and medicines and you will find two ways in which you can help on page 29. However, some of those affected have already started reconstruction work. It is perhaps here that beekeepers can help in a special way by providing assistance for their fellow beekeepers. Plans for such a fund are already being made by Bees for Development and we will bring you further information as it becomes available. This issue seems to have developed a holiday feel with reports of bees and beekeeping in Denmark, Slovenia, Poland and Cornwall! These experiences can teach us a lot about the history of beekeeping and different traditions and techniques. Do you still have Christmas money to spend? Why not buy one or more of the books reviewed on page 26? Pollen by Rob Kesseler and Madeline Harley is simply a stunning publication. With my interest in macro photography, I am used to wondering at the marvellous detail in this miniature world. These photos are something different. Give yourself a treat and get a copy! More book reviews are planned in March. In this issue, we are starting a major new series looking at others bees, wasps and mimics. We welcome Mike Edwards who starts us off with a first look at bumblebees. Claire Waring

Bee Craft Volume 87 No.2
Bee Craft February 2005
31 pages

The Beekeepers Annual 2005
The Beekeepers Annual 2005 now available from Northern Bee Books URL:

incorporating BeeBiz. No. 79 Winter 2005 (A4 56 Pages)
Editor: John Phipps.
Contents: EDITORIAL; PETER MARTIN ON HONEY QUALITY; ASSOCIATION NEWS Bee Farmers' Association, John Howat; National Diploma in Beekeeping, Geoff Hopkinson; BBKA, Geoff Hopkinson & Mike Rowbottom; Ulster BKA; Apimondia, Asger Sogaard Jorgensen; & German Apitherapy Society. LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Endorsement of pesticides by the BBKA; Why strive for purity in genetic improvement; Queen rearing the Christian Henricksen way; & Burning issues; BEEKEEPING EQUIPMENT The Herzog fully-automatic foundation machine, Roger White; & The Thomas integral uncapping line, Catherine Oates. SMALL HIVE BEETLE An Overview, Jacqui Todd, New Zealand; Living with the Small Hive Beetle, Ann Harman; Small Hive Beetle Control using the New West Trap, Rev. James West; Formic Acid as a Repellant for the Small Hive Beetle, Bill Ruzicka; SHB in Portugal `Current status', Antonio Pouseiro; & Reactions to the Portuguese discovery: Job Pichon, David Dawson, Ko Zoet &Ann Harman. THE IMPORT AND EXPORT OF QUEENS AND BEES Is The Grass Really Greener...? Ann Harman; The Import of Queens and Package Bees into Canada, David Dawson; Quarantine and a New Initiatives in the Queen Rearing Industry, Geoff Manning; Serbia and countries of former Yugoslavia: Carniolans only! Predrag Cvetkovic; Nepal , Bhim Suval; & Queen imports into the UK , Albert Knight. VARROA CONTROL Thymol Over-frame Evaporator for Treating Varroa, John E. Dews; Wider Frame Spacing Helps Combat Varroa, Alison Parnell; Controlling and Monitoring Varroa using Icing Sugar and the West Small Hive Beetle Trap, John Phipps; & Metarhizium anisopliae winning the fight against Varroa, Alfredo Flores. SCIENCE REVIEW Storage proteins in winter honeybees, David Aston NDB; OUT OF THE PAST Looking back: Brother Adam and other acquaintances,Colin Weightman. ENVIRONMENT Geoff Hopkinson NDB; MEDICATIONS FOR BEEKEEPING EU Directive EC2004/28/EC, Paul Metcalf; Comments and reactions - from Max Watkins, Ken Basterfield, Eric McArthur, Geoff Manning, David Dawson, Predrag Cvetnovik, Vitaliy Petrovsky, Asger Sogard Jorgensen, Job Pichon, Roger White, David Cramp and Ko Zoet. TECHNOLOGY High Temperature Wintering of TwoFrame Nucs Dr Alexander Komissar. HONEY QUALITY: Cyprus Imported honey causes violent reaction from beekeeper, Roger White. FROM OUR CORRESPONDENTS Ukraine, Dr Alexander Komissar; Australia, Geoff Manning; Italy, Alison Parnell; Portugal, Antonio Pouseiro; Brittany, Job Pichon; Lithuania, Rimantas Zugas; & Nepal, Bhim Suwal. BEEHIVES The Alpine Hive Slobodan Z'. Jankovic' BREEDING MATTERS John Atkinson NDB; BOOKSHELF Pollen. The hidden sexuality of flowers, Rob Kesseler and Madeline Harley. Organisation of Colony Reproduction in the Honey Bee, by Celia Davis An exploration of the Public Health Challenges posed by Honey Bees and Beekeeping in the UK, by Jeremy Voaden Traditional British Honey Drinks, Francis Beswick.

BKQ No.79 Winter 2005

ARTICLES Back to top

BEES AND MAGNETIC FIELDS (Part 3 of 3) Part 1; Part 2
It takes about 3 weeks for the bees to fill the volume 9 inches square, and 24 inches deep with pure white comb. The top of the box may be removed, and the alignment of the comb revealed.
South Comb aligned East -West North

(Photo refers)

As may be seen the bulk of the comb is aligned to the East – West compass bearing of the Earth's magnetic field, and not the East - West direction brought about by the introduction of the permanent magnet.

However, in the top left hand corner two small sections of comb occur which do not comply to the general arrangement and need some explanation.

When a swarm is reported, the box taken to collect the swarm is the actual box from the top section of an inner hive. The swarm when placed into the box on site, is positioned on the ground at random. The swarm in the box is collected late evening, say 20:00 - 21:00 hrs, taken home and placed directly on top of the inner hive. The bees are undisturbed. By this time the bees have been within the box say 6 hours and although no appreciable comb has been built, they have been thinking about it, and have decided amongst themselves the comb alignment.

Undisturbed they work on, although being transported from A to B and set down elsewhere, comb is being built. It takes time, but eventually they become aware of the change of direction and further comb takes up the new alignment.

This idea may be investigated further by noting the East - West direction of the box position at the swarm collecting location and placing it in the apiary in the same direction. Nevertheless the introduced permanent magnet did not seem to affect comb construction and this would indicate that the Earth's magnetic field does not influence this East - West comb alignment. Let us try another type of experiment and have a tilt at gravity and also consider the comb construction in Hive 8 - 3.

Hive 8-3

Ian Rumsey

Owing to the fact that no one had thought to tell me that the clocks had changed, I arrived at the Branch show an hour early. I was surprised to see Mr. Johnson A and Mrs. Trelawney as I walked in, and they seemed even more surprised to see me. Maybe surprised is the wrong word: rather they looked caught, and I thought I saw Mrs. Trelawney put something behind her back.

‘Evening', I ventured, as they hurriedly rearranged things on the table in front of them. 'You're here early,' I continued, supposing that they had also not reset their clocks, 'What's that'?' I asked, pointing at the stainless steel vat on the table.

'It's a steamer', said Mrs. Trelawney looking sideways at Mr. Johnson.

'Oh right,' I nodded, '"What are you steaming?'

Mr. Johnson shifted uneasily as I lifted the lid of the steamer. Inside I could see that the tank contained four or five jars of honey. 'The water's a bit hot in there for honey isn't it?' Mr. J. and Mrs. T. exchanged worried looks.

Then, on looking again, I saw something familiar float to the surface of the water: that unmistakable seal of excellence: a John Chamberlain Honey jar label. I saw it fold and sink to the bottom again. I looked up into their two guilty faces, as the realization of what they were doing dawned on me.

'We err. ..well the thing is.'s just that.., Mr. J. floundered.

'Now look here Chuckle Boy,' said Mrs. T. in a defensive tone. 'There are a few things you need to know about our club.'

'Rules and things,' added Mr. J., 'circles within circles, wheels within wheels.'

'I see,' I said, not seeing at all.

'We have standards to maintain, and, more importantly, egos to contain,' Mrs. T. added.

'So why are you steaming off John's labels?'

'Well, why reinvent the wheel? It's what we always do. Over the past few years we have managed to beat John Chamberlain with his own product three times. We like to think that it keeps him from becoming complacent.'

'So who is in this inner circle, as you put it?’

'Well, it's more a case of there being John, and err... then there's the rest of us.'

'You mean the whole club's in on it'?'

'Well yes.'

'Even Terry?' Mrs. T. nodded solemnly and held up a jar which had had Terry's name recently added to it.

I looked down at the jar of my own honey, which I had brought to the show. I compared my cloudy, granulated, scum-topped jar with a jar of the sparkling Chamberlain product.

'You'd better steam off a jar for me too then,' I said putting my jar back in my bag.

'Marvelous,' said Mr. J. looking relieved, 'welcome on board.'

I was delighted with the second-prize rosette which Terry awarded me; delighted as opposed to proud you understand. Indeed, there was a great deal of delight at the show that evening. Throughout the entire evening I noticed that John Chamberlain maintained a look that I can only describe as agonised suspicion. I thought about asking him how he had got on in the judging, but seeing that he was not sporting any rosettes, I thought better of it. Chad Cryer

Moving Bees NZ style

It won’t be long before the season in UK is underway and many beekeepers will be moving stocks of bees for a variety of reasons; probably the first move will be to the rape fields. It is part and parcel of practical beekeeping and in my experience is executed very badly by most beekeepers so perhaps it would be appropriate to discuss the matter and outline how it should be done.

Moving bees used to be dealt with in the old BBKA Intermediate Examination and has been ignored for many years until it appeared in the BBKA Husbandry Examination syllabus.

Many articles have been written in the beekeeping press over the years about moving bees, most of them involve the bees escaping and someone being stung. I find no amusement in these stories and believe that if bees are moved properly and common sense precautions are taken, then no bees will be lost and no one will be stung. Additionally, I consider that any bees that escape en route can be attributed to negligence on the part of the beekeeper.

What follows is the text written by Dawn and me which has been extracted from our Beekeeping Study notes for the Husbandry Examination.

2.22 Demonstrate how to prepare a colony for moving to another apiary

2.22.1 The Candidate should note that this part of the syllabus requires the preparation to be demonstrated to the satisfaction of the Examiner. This is likely to be done on one of the stocks selected by the Examiner in the Candidate's apiary. All candidates should be in possession of suitable travelling screens and other necessary items for the examination.

2.22.2 Preparing a stock for moving starts by removing the crown board and replacing it with a travelling screen, preferably with a space of about 1 inch on the underside to allow room for any bees to cluster. When being moved, the entrance should be closed (eg. reduced entrance block with foam pushed into the reduced entrance just before moving) and not restricted with a screen as many books recommend. If light is showing at their normal entrance the bees will attempt to escape at this point and there is the danger of them suffocating in the panic to get out of the hive. When being moved, the hive parts have to be secured one with another; this can be done in a variety of ways:

a) Using a hive strap around everything excluding the roof which is always removed for travelling. Two hive straps in opposite directions are safer than one and virtually essential.

b) Screwing metal plates 4 in × 1in (100mm × 25mm) at an angle of 45º across the joins between floor and boxes with the screen being fastened with screws to the to box. Note that the 2 plates on each side should be angled in opposite directions to prevent movement. This method is considered to be superior to all others but it is more time consuming. It should be used for a major move over long distances, say greater than 50 miles.

c) Spring clips to join the boxes together: these use 3 screws, 2 on one box and 1 on the other.

d) Bro. Adam's method of long bolts through the screen, brood chamber and floorboard.

e) Using hive staples; these are a bit outdated these days and a fine way of disturbing a colony when hammering them home. Definitely not recommended.

f) The entrance block needs securing to the floorboard, the safest way is with two 'L' brackets screwed to the front and to the sides of the floorboard.

Other preparations which are necessary before the actual move are as follows:

a) The site and stands at the new location should be ready to receive the stocks immediately on arrival.

b) Prepare emergency equipment for journey, ie. veil, smoker, fuel, water spray for occasional cooling, spare ropes, wide sticky tape for accidental bee leaks, etc.

c) Make the move during the hours of darkness.

d) When all the colonies are in position at the new site, remove the foam at the entrances to allow free flight. The Publisher (Mr.J.S.Kinross) has advised us that he uses a bathroom loofah in lieu of dense foam! We do not recommend this method for a variety of reasons.

2.23 Describe procedures used for moving a colony a short distance within an apiary and to another site beyond normal flying distance, making reference to the difficulties and dangers involved.

The criteria to be observed when moving colonies of bees from one place to another include optimum distance, vibration, temperature, ventilation and water supply.

2.23.1 The distance

The distance that bees can be moved is well known, ie. 3 feet maximum or 3 miles minimum, providing no bees are lost from the colony concerned. Note that it is usually the stock that is moved not the colony (BBKA definition) because it has to be moved in some receptacle or another. The reason for the distance restriction is twofold. Honeybees forage generally up to a distance of 2½ to 3 miles from their hive and have a 'mental picture' of this area or recognise distinctive landmarks within the area and know how to navigate back using these landmarks. Moving their hive within this known area creates a condition whereby the foragers leave the hive in the new position, re-orientate on leaving the hive but while foraging, recognise well known landmarks and return to the old site.

The navigational ability of the honeybee is extremely precise (a few inches close to their own hive). Moving the hive entrance more than 3 feet will create a condition whereby the foragers will not find their hive and will either drift to a nearby hive or cluster at the original position of the hive entrance. The Authors conducted a series of experiments some years ago to test the memories of the bees by moving them to a distant apiary and then returning them to a different site in the original apiary. After two weeks their memories started to fail and all foragers returned to the new hive position in the original apiary. For periods less than 2 weeks, the bees when brought back, continued to return to their original site. Of course during the 2 week period many of the original foragers would have died a natural death and new foragers would have taken their place. The only time that this is not true is when a swarm issues; it can be hived very close to the original site and the foragers do not return to their original hive. It seems that something very curious happens to their memories (?), rather like erasing a computer disc of all its information.

2.23.2 Moving the stocks

Moving the stocks involves observing some simple rules after preparing them the day before:

a) Place foam in reduced entrance and then remove roof.

b) Place the stocks with the frames in a fore and aft direction so that frames cannot swing if emergency braking or stopping is required en route.

c) Ensure all stocks are roped down securely before starting. Stop after 15 minutes and check all is secure (tension up if required).

d) Corner at slow speed to minimise frames swinging.

e) The stocks should be moved preferably during the hours of darkness arriving at the destination about daybreak. If they are moved during the day over heating must be watched carefully and cooling applied (say every hour) with water spray if necessary.

f) If they are being moved on a trailer ensure that it has a spare wheel.

g) On arrival, set up all the stocks in their final positions, replace all roofs and immediately remove foam at reduced entrances.

h) Next day remove screens and replace crown boards.

2.23.3 Vibration

Any vibration excites bees and if they are closed up in transport the temperature increase would be dangerous if insufficient ventilation and cooling were not provided. During transportation by vehicle there will be a continuous vibration keeping the colony in a state of agitation and high temperature. It will therefore be clear that vibration in general is closely allied to temperature and ventilation. In order to minimise these adverse effects, stocks should be handled with care during the loading and off loading process.

2.23.4 Temperature and ventilation

Temperature and ventilation go hand in hand and, of course, are allied to vibration. Because of the rise in temperature when a colony is disturbed it is necessary to provide adequate ventilation when moving bees. If very strong colonies are to be moved then it may be advantageous to provide additional space by adding another super as well as providing the ventilation screen. Even these precautions when moving strong stocks during the day in warm weather may be insufficient to prevent dangerous temperature rises, enough to melt wax comb and drown the bees in honey. Spraying the colony with water through the ventilation screen will be required as part of the operation.

2.23.5 Water supply

Water may be required en route as indicated above and it will be obvious that a regular water supply will be required by the colony when it arrives at its new location.

2.23.6 Other points related to moving bees

a) Bees should only normally be moved during the flying season, the winter cluster should not be disturbed.

b) Continual movement of bees, for say pollination purposes, puts them under stress and stress is the forerunner to Nosema.

c) It is better to move a stock of bees some days after it has been inspected in order to allow time for the bees to re-propolise all the seals which had been broken. This minimises internal movement of frames etc.

d) Travelling screens should be constructed of a mesh of 7 to 1 inch of a wire gauge c. 28 SWG (standard wire gauge).

e) Colonies being moved to a new site should have a 10 day supply of stores in the brood chamber.

Let us hope for a better season this coming year. © JDY.

By David Ashton Agricultural Free Lance Journalist, & Beekeeper

Why so Progressive
As a small country with an agricultural based economy Danes have always tended to link the theory of science and the practical practise of good husbandry, or care for their animals together. In the case of beekeeping, it has been the same, to have good beekeeping practise linked with science. This can be seen in many ways that the Danish neighbours very quickly adopt the new techniques and ideas developed by Danish Beekeeping. However Danish beekeeping does not run headlong into trends, this can be seen by their pragmatic avoidance in the official stance of not using hard chemical’s for the treatment of Varroa, instead using Lactic Acid, Formic Acid, Oxalic Acid, and Thymol and management methods and breeding Varroa resistant bees, for its treatment. As we now know large number’s of European Beekeepers are faced with the problem of Varroa mites resistant to the hard chemicals. They are now looking, and learning from how the Danes do it, having laughed at them to begin with at their more organic approach to Varroa control. This approach of combining science and management in beekeeping has put Danish beekeeping ahead of many other countries. The author who has had a Danish beekeeping father in law, first came into contact with Danish beekeeping in 1960 when studying agriculture in Denmark, one of the things that has always struck me about Danish beekeeping are very few temperamental self important, prima a donnish, beekeepers in Denmark, who wish to be the fountain of all knowledge. The Danes tend to use scientific premise that the whole of society can move forward and learn from any one even some one with any knowledge of beekeeping is listened to. So the author following an article on Christian Henriksen who is very highly regarded, yet on the other hand a very humble gentle queen breeder, who has made many scientific discoveries about bees and beekeeping practise. The author of this article was asked to question Christian by the editor of the periodical about Christian’s queen rearing methods, as it was not thought they could not work. I wish to quote in full his reply removing the name of the questioner as I think it explains far better then a thousand words how Danes look at a problem, to do with nature, using scientific principles.

An answer to a question
Christian Henriksen’s Queen rearing system can be verified, and the correspondent is welcome to visit Denmark to verify it himself. No matter how surprised that the system could work, that your correspondent is Christian said” It is my humble, experience that the only way to prove that an experiment or piece of research works is too ' Do it Yourself ‘not too talk about it or discuss it but to 'Do it in the field’, in situate, and no matter how many hypothesis, propositions, assumptions, and other basis’s of reasoning, and assumptions, and surprises that my questioners have! The only way he can prove too the contrary that the system does not work is to very carefully, and using honest scientific principles, and replication of the original see for him self whether it works”. As Christian went on to say "I have met lots of these Professor’s of why it will not work, before they make a good living from it being doubters its a very well paid profession. But the only way they can prove a method, or system wrong, and the other Danes, Scandinavians, Dutch, and Belgium's wrong, who use the method is to copy it he and see for himself. They can come, and see me however. But I have had them here, and when they have gone home they have written saying it does not work, or stood up at a public meeting of other beekeepers saying it does not work, without even trying it themselves, in the way we have shown them we do it. But they are always welcome to come and see how we do things in Denmark".

Polystyrene hives not mixing them and other things

The above comments are very important as many British and Irish beekeepers have been to Denmark in the last few years or read about Danish methods. Many things have happened from this exchange of ideas! Many bees’ beekeepers have gone back home, and tried out the methods they have learnt or adapted them to their own use. Others have picked, and mixed, possible the best example of this is mixing polystyrene hives with the wooden hives! Were the effect of the added insulation, were the bees are warm in winter and cool in summer and can control much better their own inner climate according to their needs in the polystyrene or polyurethane hive. Is lost, when a wooden floor, supers and lids are mixed, or the advantages of using one size of brood chamber as in the Danish polystyrene / polyurethane system, and not using a queen excluder are lost. By mixing for example, British national wooden hives, with shallow supers, and then adding a queen excluder and some were fitting in a polystyrene hive. There are many variations of this that come to light, some have acquired the Danish polyurethane or polystyrene hives, and not used them as they say they would never work in British conditions; others make their own version, of the system, forgetting what brother Adam used to tell us beekeepers “Keep it Simple". The combinations of reasons are endless but the author rests his case on what Christian says! Another example is the German discovery at Celle Bee Research Institute of inverted syrup and fondant, which is inverted with a natural enzyme, not acid to do the inversion. The reasons given by some British beekeepers, for using British bakers’ fondant rather then the German inverted fondant supplied by Danish firms is legendary. The author just wishes to make the point that Christian makes, after the author has him self-suffering endless telephone conversations or email correspondence. But add a further point, that is that British bakers fondant which can be bought for a £ or so, for a 15 kg box, less sometimes than the inverted fondant. British Bakers Fondant, usually has other things then sugar added to it to cheapen it, and make it soft, and pliable, like bean meal, various flour, water, soya, and vegetable oils, this may well be alright for humans being who seem to have got used to eating junk food. But for our bees it does not do, they do not like it. As the author based on Christians assertion to tried it out in Spring 2004, whilst stimulatory feeding his bees in Cumbria, used some British Bakers fondant and could not get the bees to eat it, so had to give them inverted fondant which they ate straight away.

Inverted Syrup and Fondant Feeds
The feeding Invert Syrup instead of the use refined cane, beet, or corn sugar! Has been shown in Bee Research Institutes work, in both Denmark and Germany at Celle that it reduces stress in bees and increases health and well being, and increases production of honey, and over wintering losses. The advent of Varroa and the realisation that the stress it causes can have a major effect on colony, health. It however important to have in place a system of Integrated Pest Control (IPM) using an integrated control and checking for Varroa, as is now well know Danish beekeepers tend to use biological control methods, were as in British isles up until resistance to varroacides became a problem synthesised proprietary chemicals have been used. The Danish beekeepers have found that as part of their (IPM) it is good husbandry and improves the bees health to feed a good quality them an inverted syrup or fondant that they not have the stress of inverting, and it is now universally agreed in Danish beekeeping circles that the advantages of naturally inverted syrup, and fondant feeds. That not using an acid, as is common in the food industry, but using a natural enzyme to do the inversion of the syrup and fondant has beneficial effects on bee health. The lower the energy consumption by the bees to do the inversion works the better for the bees over all health. Using inverted syrup and fondant have an added bonus on the sub-coetaneous layer of fat is not reduced going into winter were as feeding cane, beet or corn syrup reduces this fat layer in the bees. Less stressed bees are healthier and better able to resist the secondary viruses and bacterial infections commonly associated with Varroa infestation? Ambrosia Syrup and Fondant supplied by Aulumgaard Beekeepers in Denmark Tel: 0045 96412100 Email: mp @ and Hamish Robertson of Struan Apiaries, Scotland Tel: (0044) (0) 1349861427 Fax: (0044) (0) 1349861802 email: sales @ means that the inverted syrups or fondants fructose’s prevents crystallisation taking place in the comb, which does not mould, and the bees have a product that is readily available either when used as a stimulatory feed between nectar flows in Spring and Summer or as a readily available Winter Feed.

Treatment of Bees for Varroa with Oxalic Acid in Denmark. By Svend Haakon Jensen sv-haa @ Tidskrift for Biavl 9/2004

Oxalic acid CH 2 CO (COOH) 2 is an organic acid. It is found in our own body cells, in so much as we use it our selves to break down sugars in our own bodies. It is naturally occurring in rhubarb and spinach. It can be neutralised with milk, and it is very poisonous in large quantities. A small amount of Oxalic acid is also naturally occurring in Honey. In the beginning of October when the queen has stopped egg lying is the best time to treat for varroa mites with oxalic acid, (* translators note this my be latter in Gulf stream warmed West of Scotland, England, Wales, and Ireland). Oxalic acid can be purchased throughout in Denmark from Chemist or ironmongers, beekeeping supplies. (* In Denmark it can be bought, and is used for various purposes. I noticed however it is available from ebay as a ‘Deck and Hull Cleaner for boats) The Oxalic crystals and are mixed with water and sugar as follows: 75-gram oxalic acid crystals + 1 litre of water + 1 kilo of sugar. It is very important to take great care when mixing oxalic acid, and observe safety precautions Use strong rubber gloves, and good quality eye protection glasses.

When treating bees with oxalic acid mix make sure that the weather forecast promises reasonable weather, which allows the bees to fly out and empty their stomachs after treatment. If the bees cannot fly after treatment there is a great risk of diarrhoea, as the bees cannot empty their bowels in the hives with an increased risk of nosema.

The Oxalic acid mixture is dripped down on 3 to 5 frames so that it runs onto the bees. Using 3 ml per drawn wax frames, but do not drip onto frames, which do not have bees on. I recommend you use a measured dosing syringe as in the picture these are available from Veterinary surgeons or agricultural supply merchants which allows a metered dose. Translated by David Ashton from article in 'Tidskrift for Biavl' Danish Beekeepers periodical September 2004.

Further Danish Information on Organic Methods of Varroa Treatment
The author is constantly being asked, by beekeepers outside of Denmark, how the Danish Varroa treatments work? As they do not use hard chemicals in Denmark, or a least 95 % of Danish beekeepers do not, use Apistan, or Bayvarol. Now with the increasing problem of Varroa resistant mites, in UK, and other European Countries, I have I thought I would add this article by Danish Bee researchers, Henrik Hansen & Camilla Brossard. This and other articles on Danish Beekeeping are available on then click on the hybrid Union Jack / Stars & Stripes, and get the English edition, of Danish Beekeepers web page.

The varroa mite, together with attacks of virus is the cause of varroa disease. The Danish strategy for combating the virus is built on a need based strategy without the use of pesticides. Treatment is based on a combination of technical beekeeping and physical methods. Furthermore, organic acids which occur naturally in honey are used and do not give problems of residues. Experience has shown that an effective treatment can be carried out using this strategy, and it can be combined with an economically viable honey production. At the same time beekeeping products can be kept free from problematic traces of pesticides. If an effective treatment against the varroa mite is not carried out the colonies will die due to virus attacks.

In recent years in Denmark, and throughout the rest of Europe, there have been great problems with secondary virus infections in connection with Varroa attack. These attacks have led to the deaths of many bee colonies. At the present moment we have diagnosed the following conditions in Denmark: Acute Paralysis Virus (APV), Deformed Wing Virus (DWV) and Sack Brood Virus (SBV). In Sweden Unclear Wing Virus (CWV) (Nordstr·om, 1997) and in England Slow Paralysis Virus (SPV) (Ball, 1997) have been found in connection with varroa attacks.

In Denmark problems with DWV and APV have been registered. These virus attacks cannot be treated. However treating for varroa in good time can prevent outbreaks.

The varroa mite can spread APV to brood and adult bees. The sting of the adult bee can be the cause of the virus outbreak. An outbreak will result in brood being badly cared for, and for the adult bees the loss of their orientation abilities. Thus spreading of the virus to other bee colonies occurs, when infected bees beg their way into new hives. Outbreaks of APV can be expected in Denmark at the moment with the presence of 2,000 - 5,000 mites in a colony and will result in the death of the colony. Outbreaks of DWV can be expected far earlier than that of APV. When the symptoms of DWV are recognised, treatment for the varroa mite should be carried out at once.

Need Based Treatment
In order to treat the varroa mite effectively it is necessary to carry out a monitoring of the mite population in the colony. Monitoring is carried our by laying an insert at the bottom of the hive, and counting the numbers that fall down. Of course hive types, which have a specially designed bottom for mite counting, can also be used.

It has been shown under Danish conditions that there is a linear connection between the natural mite deaths as counted on a plastic insert and the amount of varroa might in the colony and brood. Recent studies have shown the following connection between the number of mites in a colony with a minimum of a half frame of sealed brood and the average number of mites, which fall down on the plastic insert per day, in the course of a week.

Total number of mites in a colony = 120 X average number of mites per day.

One can calculate at the same time that the amount of mites in a colony with brood will double monthly, and that between 50 and 90% of them will die in winter.

In areas with inadequate treatment of varroa mite a huge invasion can take place from colonies on the verge of collapse. It is, therefore, necessary to monitor several times through a season. The times are dependent on how effectively ones neighbouring apiaries have treated their colonies. The first monitoring should take place at the end of May, and should also take place at the end of June, July and August. If it is not possible to carry out these four monitoring then, as a minimum, monitoring should be carried out at the end of June and the end of August. As far as possible monitoring should be carried out on all colonies in the apiary.

An average colony with an outbreak of APV will probably die when there are about 5,000 mites present. In order to save the colony treatment ought to be carried out much earlier, when there is a maximum of 1,000 mites present. If, on average, 2 mites per day fall onto the insert in the course of a week’s count at the end of May, then treatment should be carried out at the latest at the end of July. It is necessary to treat all the colonies in an apiary.

If a lactic acid treatment is carried out in the end of October, then the numbers of fallen mites can be counted afterwards. Seen out from the expected 90% effect of treatment, the amount of surviving mites in the colony can be estimated. Colonies should be wintered with a maximum of 50 - 70 mites.

Technical Beekeeping And Physical Methods
Technical beekeeping and physical methods have the great advantage that one avoids traces of chemicals in honey or wax.

Removal of Drone Brood
The varroa mite prefers to propagate in cells with drone brood. With the removal and destruction of sealed drone brood one has a good supplement to other methods. This method ought, therefore, to be part of treatment in general.

Creation of Nuclei
It is very important that one continues to maintain the desired number of productive colonies. This can partly be secured by creating nuclei each year. These should be established in July. Since honey is not to be harvested from them in the first year, they can be treated with lactic acid.

Heat Treatment
Heat-treating of sealed brood provides an effective treatment against the varroa mite. This treatment can be carried out in a thermostatically controlled box. In Germany a number of products have been developed specifically for this treatment, e.g. “Apitherm”. In order to obtain the best results (close to 100% morality of mites) and to create the least damage to brood, frames should be treated for three to four hours at 44°C, depending on the apparatus in use. Treatment should be carried out two or more times over the period in which brood are present. If one chooses to treat twice, then the first at the end of May and the second at the end of July would be appropriate.

Queen Caging
Queen caging is an effective technical beekeeping operation. The effectiveness of this can be enhanced if a pair of sealed brood frames is removed simultaneously at the beginning of summer. Queen caging can be used in colonies not intended for setting out on heather.

The Queen can be caged in a cassette on a frame for less than four weeks from the middle of June. The frame is then used as bait for varroa mites and should be changed every eight to nine days. The removed frames should be destroyed. If one wishes to save the brood in the frames, then they can be treated with lactic acid or using heat treatment.

Chemical Products Used In Treatment
Pharmacological products used in treating varroa mite are classified as veterinary medicines. At present there are no recognised veterinary medicines for the treatment of Varroa in Denmark.

There is a so-called “positive list” of products on the EU Commission for use in the treatment of animals (honey bees included) destined for human consumption. Lactic and formic acids are on this positive list. It is therefore legal to use these acids in the treatment of varroa mites. Oxalic acids, on the other hand, are not on this list, and cannot be legally used in this treatment.

Formic Acid
Formic acid is used in the autumn after the last honey is harvested. It is most effective when used while there is brood in the colony shortly after the honey is harvested. This means that treatment is often carried out at the end of July or at the beginning of August. If the bees are to be moved to heather, then treatment should be carried out shortly after the end of this honey flow.

Formic acid treatment can be carried out using a dishcloth, or thin fibreboard, to which is added 60% lactic acid. Kråmer boards, which are thick wood fiberboards, can also be used, to which formic acid in an 85% solution is added. The fiberboards are placed in perforated plastic bags. There are several formic acid evaporators available, all of which are used beside the hive wall. Honey has a natural formic acid content. After formic acid treatment there will be a slightly higher content of formic acid in the remaining honey. However, the content still lies within the acceptable natural occurrence. Very little formic acid has been found in wax after treatment.

Lactic acid
The varroa mite is very sensitive towards lactic acid treatment. In order to avoid traces of lactic acid in the honey, a dead-line of eight weeks prior to the honey harvest should be observed for treatment. The lactic acid does not penetrate the sealed cell. In order to achieve the best results from this treatment, it should be carried out when there is no brood present in the colony, i.e. early spring or late autumn. The early treatment is carried out if one has a feeling that after the autumn treatment, there are too many mites present in the colony. A water spray is used in carrying out this treatment, spraying each side of every frame in the colony. The effectiveness of the treatment is very high. Keeping within the deadline then the lactic acid content is within the natural boundaries.

1 Brødsgaard, C.J. & Brødsgaard, H. F.1998. Monitoring Method as a Basis for Need-based Control of Varroa Mites (Varroa destructor - former Varroa jacobsoni) Infesting Honey Bee (Apis mellifera) Colonies. ATLA 26, 413-419
2 Fries, I., Aarhus, A., Hansen, H. & Korpela, S. 1991. Development of early infestations by the mite Varroa destructor (former Varroa jacobsoni) in honey-bee (Apis mellifera) colonies in cold climate. Experimental & Applied Acarology 11, 215-214. Written: by David Ashton, Agricultural Free Lance Journalist, 7 th February 2005 Email: beeman @

This is the second article in this month’s Apis-UK that looks at research on ants and readers may be forgiven for wondering why ants figure so prominently in a newsletter on bees and beekeeping. The answer is that many beekeepers and particularly many readers of Apis-UK are interested in more than just the single subject of beekeeping and want to look at the wider picture. Ants like bees are social insects of the hymenoptera and run their colonies in much the same manner as bees. We can always learn from them. In this interesting piece of research we see that a genetically unusual population of ants is changing some of the fundamental ways researchers think about social insect colonies. Ed.

Social insects, like ants and bees, thrive on the caste system – a precise division of duties among colony members. In most of these societies, environment is thought to influence whether larvae develop into queens or sterile female workers, said Steve Rissing, a professor of evolution, ecology and organismal biology at Ohio State University.

But in a new study, Rissing and his colleagues found some genetically odd colonies of harvester ants (Pogonomyrmex), that don’t seem to abide by the traditional rules of caste development. They found that genetics – not environment – determines the fate of a developing ant, and consequently the role it will play in the colony. The team was led by Sara Helms Cahan, an assistant professor of biology at the University of Vermont.

A typical ant colony includes one queen and, in the case of harvester ants, hundreds or thousands of sterile female workers (worker ants are always female and, with a few exceptions, sterile. Soldier ants are larger versions of workers.) During her lifetime, which can last as long as 20 or 30 years, a queen produces mainly worker eggs.

Male ants, which come from unfertilized eggs, typically serve one purpose: to mate with a queen. Males are usually in short supply, and a queen produces male eggs only when it’s time to make more colonies. Then a queen produces eggs that give rise to both males and queens (reproductive females). The males and new queens swarm out of the nest, mate, and the young queens try to establish a new a colony. Males, which have short life spans, die shortly after mating. The type of ants in this study – harvester ants – are one of the largest insect societies in the western United States , with ranges covering hundreds of miles and nests so large they’re visible from airplanes.

“This is the ant that runs the west – it’s everywhere,” Rissing said. The researchers had noticed that in certain areas – mainly southeastern Arizona and New Mexico – some of the male harvester ants looked different. So they collected several dozen pairs of queens and males and brought these pairs back to the laboratory for genetic testing, with surprising outcomes. “The DNA of some of these ants was just weird – we certainly didn’t expect to get the results that we did,” Rissing said. It seems that the queens in these colonies mate with males from two different genetic lineages. And when a queen and male with the same lineage usually mated, it usually produced a reproductive female – another queen. But when a queen and male from different genetic lineages mated, that pairing overwhelmingly produced a sterile worker. “This kind of reproductive behaviour is very different from what we expect to see in ant societies,” he continued. “We’d expect to see the same DNA sequence from all ants in a given colony. But that’s not what happened here.” It didn’t matt er that the laboratory experiments mimicked the founding of a new colony, which depends heavily on workers and only needs one queen: when a queen and male of the same lineage mated, they produced eggs that would give rise to many queens. The results also showed that all of the eggs produced became workers when a queen mated with an alternate-lineage male.

Traditional interpretations of social insect colonies would dictate that the need for workers would influence the fate of an ant’s role, thereby overriding any genetic predisposition; this study shows that isn’t always so.

These harvester ants had two different genetic lineages the researchers referred to as H1 and H2.

Each H1 and H2 queen was paired with either an H1 or H2 male. In nature, ant queens mate during just one period of time but mate with many males during that time (this causes the queen to build up a sizeable sperm bank.) Queens can store sperm and lay eggs during their entire lifetime.

All queens in the study laid about 60 fertilized eggs, but only 0.3 percent of the eggs from the same-lineage pairing (H1 queen and male; H2 queen and male) developed to adulthood. The queen raised these reproductive females – genetically queens themselves – as workers, although the researchers noted that these ants apparently had difficulty fulfilling their role as workers. “The same-lineage ants that did make it to adulthood had almost completely lost their ability to develop into functional workers,” Rissing said. In contrast, 87 percent of the alternate-lineage eggs became successful adult workers.

“It’s clear what the queen must do – she must mate with more than one male,” Rissing said.

The researchers surmised that harvester ant queens can probably tell the difference between the males they mated with. The researchers also noted that the males were different colours, depending on what lineage they belonged to. In the wild, a queen may use this information to make sure she has enough sperm from males of both lineages, which would ensure the success of the colony. Interestingly, males apparently cannot tell the difference between females. (Rissing said that he and his colleagues could tell the difference only with the help of modern molecular laboratory technology.)

“If males could, that might spell the end of a colony, as males may prefer to mate with a queen of the same lineage,” Rissing said. In theory, a male ant wants his genes to live on. If his sperm fertilizes an egg from a queen with a different lineage, his genes will die with the sterile female worker that is produced.

“This population of harvester ants depends on this two-lineage system to survive,” Rissing said. “The hybrid worker caste is what links the two otherwise independent H1 and H2 genome-based populations. So far, this is a fairly unusual finding. But as we gain access to more and more tools that help us understand what’s going on at the molecular level, we’ll likely find that a lot of social insects and other animals aren’t conforming to our predictions and expectations.”

This report is from the Ohio State University Press release and this work was funded by grants from the Durfee Foundation, the Swiss Society of Naturalists and the Swiss National Science Foundation.

It is astonishing to think that in this day and age, if you ordered a queen bee from New Zealand or Australia (current laws permitting), one would appear on your doorstep within 24 to 36 hours. That is how small the world is now and I expect that future generations will laugh at even this speed. When bees were first taken to those far lands however it was a different matter and strategies had to be designed to ensure that a colony of bees could last for up to 5 or 6 months completely confined. Unfortunately many of the pioneers who took bees overseas did not commit their experiences to print but some did and we know that the first bees were taken to New Zealand by Mary Ann Bumby who brought two hives from Sydney in Australia ashore at the Weslyan mission Station at Mangungu Hokianga in March 1839. (Honey bees had been established in Australia in 1822 in New South Wales). The mission records do not however give an account of Mary Ann’s journey or how she accomplished this passage with bees. (Her brother was a missionary).

We have far more information however from the Reverend WC Cotton who took bees from England to New Zealand in 1842 and he describes how he did this in his book on bees called ‘My Bee Book’ which is well worth a read over the winter months.

He starts his description with a written passage which should confirm in most peoples’ minds that God is indeed an Englishman!

“The Bee of England , like the man of England , if he be but good of his kind, is, I think, surpassed by none in the world. I will not get bees from India -nor bees from South America -nor from New Holland, but carry them direct from England, sixteen thousand miles over the sea”.

He goes on to describe how he got his idea from the ships that carried fresh salmon from North America to Calcutta in India . The salmon were packed in ice which if very well insulated suffered very little loss. It was found in fact that on arrival in India, the ice commanded a much higher price than the salmon.. The success of the venture was of course owing to the property of ice, which conducts heat so slowly. Cotton then describes how he carried his bees. Three colonies were placed in a barrel (a hogshead), which he had refurbished and coppered and the joints properly fitted. He lined the whole with thick felt. In the lower part of the barrel he packed with ice with a tap to take off any melting water. The upper part of the barrel with the skep like hives was completely filled around the hives with well-dried cinders thus excluding all light and heat. He wasn’t worried about air getting to the bees, but just in case he placed a small tube in each hive leading to the outside world and a tap at the bottom of the barrel to take away melted water. He reckoned that two thirds of the ice would ‘cross the line’ and a good half of the ice would have melted by the time he reached New Zealand.

Bee Transporter

He did not however confine his himself to the ice method alone. He also decided to try evaporation cooling as well. He suspended one hive on springs and another on gimbals so that the motion of the ship didn’t disturb them. He placed the hives in a double case with a wall of water surrounding them which is continually replenished by the ship’s system. The two cylinders of zinc in which the hives were placed were open at the top allowing evaporation to occur and a piece of rag was placed between the two cylinders so as to transfer water to the top of the hives thus ensuring an even surface over the hive to be cooled. Again, he supplied a tube for air supply.

Finally, he made an observation hive which he fed with honey during the journey. Unfortunately his book didn’t say which of the methods (or all) worked and neither did his subsequent book “A guide for New Zealand beekeepers” written in 1848.

So there we have it. An enterprising man using the latest scientific techniques to transfer bees across the world. In those days people really had to work things out for themselves and if you think about it, the problems and difficulties of these pioneers put our current bee keeping problems into perspective.


This recipe is one of the strangest that I have come across, but it works. It is very simple and eaten with a fresh mild cheese, is delicious.

Honeyed chilli tomatoes
Take several small cherry tomatoes (enough to loosely fill a jar of your choice). Plunge them into boiling water and then cold water so as to be able to peel them. Peel them and place them in the jar. Don’t pack them too tightly. Mix a sufficient amount of honey to complete the filling of the jar with an amount of chilli powder (not too much). Warm this mix, stir well and fill the jar. Alternatively (or as well) you can put some fresh chillies in the jar. It looks good. Leave the whole jar to settle for a few days and then they are ready to eat. The mix is quite strong and goes well with mild cheese, avocados, fried chicken and other bland foods.

FACT FILE Back to top

This month’s Fact File concentrates on varroa and asks the question: ‘Are there commercial honey bee races that are resistant to varroa? Can hive position reduce or increase varroa infestation? And finally, if the answers are yes to both these questions, how should the beekeeper manage these concepts? Little research has been done on these subjects but in some research that will be of interest to most beekeepers, there are some answers. The research was carried out last year by American scientists who compared the following:

1. Colonies of commercially available varroa resistant Russian bees in an apiary with direct sunlight all day.
2. Colonies of Russian bees in an apiary that received shade all day.
3. An Italian bee apiary that received direct sun until mid to late afternoon.
4. An Italian apiary that received shade all day.
5. A mixed Italian/Russian apiary that received sun until mid to late afternoon.
6. A mixed apiary that received shade until mid to late afternoon.

The results were very illuminating and briefly are as follows:

  1. Russian colonies had significantly smaller mite populations than Italian colonies at the end of the experiment. As low as 1/10 th to 1/3 rd depending on the other variables mentioned below.
  2. Exposure to sunlight retarded mite population growth.
  3. Prolonged shade accelerated it causing the death of some Italian colonies.
  4. The numbers of mites in Russian colonies kept in Russian apiaries were about 1/3 rd the number of mites in Russian colonies kept in mixed apiaries.
  5. Overall Russian colony production was 146 pounds of honey whilst overall Italian was 126 pounds. Mixed apiary production was consistent with this difference.

It can easily be seen here that there are some definite advantages in keeping Russian bees and keeping those bees in full sunlight. (There may however be other factors here that would lessen the usefulness of this factor such as extra resources required for fanning and water collection etc. These factors were not tested for).

It is also evident that a susceptible stock may support the rapid development of large populations of varroa which are a source of mites which produce a strong invasion pressure on resistant colonies, taxing their resistance mechanisms.

With regard to the honey production of these colonies, the honey was harvested before the collection of mite data collection during a period when mite numbers were low. This is thought to be due to the Italian stocks producing large amounts of brood during the nectar flow and so their nectar collection was less in support of honey production. The greater responsiveness to nectar and pollen flows demonstrated by the Russian bees resulted in smaller food requirements in many circumstances and therefore greater honey production.

The research was carried out by Thomas Rinderer and Lilian I de Guzman of the USDA ARS lab at Baton Rouge ; and Charlie Harper of Harper’s Honey farm Carenco, Louisiana .


As the new beekeeping season approaches in the Northern hemisphere, be minded of the various threats to your colonies such as varroa, AFB, Viral problems and so on. In earlier times, bee diseases were equally worrying. Let us look at the advice given by John Evelyn the English diarist and man of affairs who lived from 1620 to 1706. Writing on bees in his ‘Elysium Britannicum’ he had this to say:

“The enemies of bees are very many, and some sicknesses they are also obnoxious to, especially the rotts and the flux. The vermin which haunt them must be taken. Their maladies are discovered best by their looks and mortality, and much remedied by the perfumes of Galbanum and ox-dung. But of this see Columella BkIX Ch. 13. If (as sometimes) they fight, fling dust amongst them, sweet water or beer which will make them all smell alike and reconcile them. The punctures and stinging of bees is cured by their own honey, by juice of mallows, by cow-dung mixed with vinegar.”

There is a lot in this short statement by Evelyn. Even in the 17 th century, they still look to Roman times over a 1000 years previously for advice as in his reference to Columella, yet on the other hand, he knew of the worth of disguising hive odour so that bees would not fight, which several hundred years later, we still carry out, even though we are still in much ignorance upon the subject. On this point our knowledge is hardly in advance of Evelyn’s. (I wouldn’t waste beer on them though). Finally, John Evelyn and many other early writers on bee matters seemed to have a belief in the wonders of dung. Perhaps this is knowledge that we in our modern world have lost! Ed.


We stay in the 18 th century for this delightful children’s’ poem written by Isaac watts.

How doth the little honey bee
Improve each shining hour
And gather honey all the day
From every opening flower.

Isaac Watts.
Divine songs for children

LETTERS Back to top

Dear Editor,
Thanks for the newsletter. I would like to suggest that you point out to your readers a very balanced & scientifically-backed debate about the real dangers of GM foods as clarified at Physicians and Scientists for Responsible Application of Science and Technology website: Why are genetically engineered foods not safe to eat? See: "Genetically engineered foods - Safety problems". Liver changes were found in mice fed with GE foods in a study at the Urbino University in Italy URL: Rgds Dr Gerson Machado gerson @

Thanks for the information and references. Most readers are very interested in GM news of all kinds. Ed.

Dear Cramp,
I read in your latest newsletter, great by the way, not much in the way of GM material and you mention the latest piece of text from Brooms Barn, yeuk! I have pasted two references below for you on the subject. Bee good John Salt j.j.salt @

The Daily Telegraph Wednesday January 19, 2005

Some GM crops might well be capable of being grown in ways, which are neutral or even beneficial to farmland wildlife, but the Broom’s Barn study (GM beet helps birds to survive the winter, January 19) certainly does not identify one.

Based on a meagre four sites this study has to be put in the ‘interesting but not convincing’ category.  This contrasts with the overwhelming evidence from the Farm-Scale Evaluation study (based on 65 sites for each crop), that farmers who ‘follow the instructions on the can’ would end up with less wildlife in their fields of GM sugar beet than farmers who stuck to conventional non-GM beet.

Where the recent study is interesting is in suggesting, although only weakly because of the tiny sample size, that there might be techniques to reduce or eliminate these harmful impacts on wildlife. What it does not do is persuade the public that we want GM sugar in our tea! Dr Mark Avery
Director of Conservation RSPB The Lodge, Sandy, SG19 2DL.

Commenting on the study published today on GM sugar beet, conducted at Broom’s Barn Research Station, Friends of the Earth’s GM campaigner, Emily Diamand, said: ”This research, funded by the biotech industry, is a desperate attempt to counter detailed Government research showing that growing GM sugar beet would have a disastrous impact on farmland wildlife. Overall, the results do not appear to show biodiversity benefits from growing GM crops, yet they have been spun to give a different impression. GM crops remain a threat to our food, farming and environment, no matter how the biotech industry tries to sell it”.
* The farmscale trials have already shown that growing GM beet will have a negative impact on farmland wildlife. In the FSEs farmers grew the crops and applied the herbicides as they normally would in commercial practice - this gives a much better indication of the true impact of growing these crops than this latest study does.
* This study was funded by the biotech industry.
* Some of the plots treated by band spraying glyphosate (spraying in strips 20cm wide) produced more weed seeds in the summer, but not in the autumn. The plots using a single spray of glyphosate produced more weed seeds in the autumn, but not in the summer. So to produce more weed seeds in summer and autumn (providing food for farmland birds) would need two separate GM crop management schemes.
* The researchers claim that GM crops provide more flexibility for farmers, but in fact these management techniques so complicated and intricate that it is very unlikely that farmers will ever undertake them commercially.
* The study used so many different variations of treatments of the glyphosate herbicide, and not many replications of each treatment, that it is difficult to draw robust conclusions from the results - the statistical validity is questionable.
* And ultimately there is still no market for GM sugar beet, British Sugar still have a GM free policy and consumers won’t buy it - latest research by Which? showed that 61% of UK public are concerned about GM in food production.

Thanks for that John. Any information that further educates us on this complex subject is very worthwhile. Ed.

Dear Mr. Cramp,
Following reading your article in January's APIS-UK on Honey and Medicine I need to issue a strong warning - please do not attempt to make this yourself using household butter - butter should NEVER be put on burns in a domestic situation - it causes more damage, encouraging the skin to 'fry'. Current first aid treatment for burns - including sunburn is cold water and medical attention. Adding fat to a heated situation like a burn just encourages the skin to 'cook' de-naturing the protein in the skin cells causing wider damage. If in doubt about treatment for any condition like this, please contact your GP or local NHS Direct on 0845 4647. Thanks! Natalie Tidy Web URL's: and

Thanks Natalie, I will certainly contact the authors for further clarification. Ed.

Dear David,
Many thanks for the news letter it is both invaluable and very interesting. Having written and edited a charity newsletter for the past 15 years which ran to 40 odd pages I know just what hard work it is and how difficult it can be to keep it fresh in every issue. May I congratulate you ‘Apis News’ is superb. Kind regards. Tony Starling Lark

Dear David,
Will you please put the enclosed advert in the next issue of Apis-UK - many thanks. And now a question: I read an article in a book or magazine lots of years ago telling how honeybees were transported from Europe to Australia in the sailing ships of the day. I can no longer find it - please can any of your readers help. Thank you for an excellent magazine - I save them all. Kindest regards, Bryan Hateley bryan @

If any readers know anything about transport to Australia (of bees that is) in the early days, please let Bryan know. In the meantime this edition of Apis-UK includes an article on the very same subject but to New Zealand . Ed.

Dear David,
Just a quick note about your article about getting Apistan from vets online being a farmer and beekeeper I have looked into this before to buy from vets online you will need a prescription from your vet but it would only be viable for a club of bee farmer to do this as you need bulk for this also the vets might not come out to your bees but they will add on about £15 for themselves i.e. bottle of antibiotics from vets £22 the same bottle from vets online £3. All the best Simon Lane mad_cowman @

Thanks Simon for that very interesting piece of information. Pricing is always the critical thing and my main worry about the subject. Ed.


Beginners Course at Halifax
Beekeeping beginners course to be run by Halifax and District Beekeepers Association. The course consists of 8 weekly classes of approx 2 hours duration commencing Thursday March 3rd 2005 at 7.30pm. Contact Edna Phillips Secretary on 01422 882144 or email:farshepherdhousefarm @

Beginners Course at Tonbridge
A Beginners course at Tonbridge will run again starting on 24th February, Thursday evenings 7.30 - 9.30 p.m. for 6 weeks. Venue Adult Education Centre, Tonbridge cost £32, there are concessions. Syllabus BBKA Basic. Tutor Peter Hutton. Details from Peter Hutton on 01892 530688 evenings, 07941 375589 mobile or Tonbridge Adult Education Centre 0845 606 5606 daytime and quote course 7035 TON-04-A. A second class is being arranged during the same weeks, please state your preferred evening, Mon,Tues,Wed or Thursdays also advise Peter Hutton or E-mail:peter.hutton @


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

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 - Avon Beekeepers Association Spring Day School 9.30am to 5.00pm The Old School Rooms Chew Magna (nr Bristol). Speakers: Ron Hoskins on Instrumental Insemination & Breeding a Varroa Tolerant; Bee Celia Davis on Mr Bee & Bees Plants and the Environment. Fee £8.00 to include refreshments but not lunch. Payment on the day. To book and receive directions and details please contact Jan Davis (01934 832825) or e-mail to jandavis @ before 1st April 2005.

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

Saturday 23rd April 2005 - Beekeepers’ Convention. (Formerly Kirkley Hall Conference) Venue: Grey College , Durham Programme: “The art of supering” Peter Schollick; “Tracking bees with harmonic radar” Dr. Juliet Osborne; “Working for honey sections” Peter Schollick; “Tricks of the trade” Your chance to explain your favourite idea. “Bumblebees; Ecology & conservation” Dr. Juliet Osborne; Trade stands & Bee Plant sales. Convention only £17-50 Convention plus lunch £27-50. For details and booking form contact: Stuart Johnson, Conference Secretary, 7, Shaftoe Close, Ryton, Tyne & Wear. NE40 4UT Telephone: 0191 413 2672 Email; Stu @ Sponsored by Young’s Breweries, Makers of ‘WAGGLE DANCE’ Honey Beer.

21st - 26th August 2005 - Apimondia held in Dublin, Ireland.
Further details from

Tuesday 13th September 2005 - Conwy Honey Fair, High Street, Conwy, North Wales, 9am - 4pm. 700 year old Charter Fair, founded by King Edward 1st. Local beekeepers sell more than a tonne of honey by lunchtime. Stall space is free of charge. Honey and hive products, plus crafts, plants and local produce stalls. Many other attractions in the walled town of Conwy, which is a World Heritage Site. Contact Peter McFadden, Secretary, Conwy BKA, Tel 01492 650851, email peter @ For the history of the Honey Fair visit:

Editor: David Cramp Submissions contact the Editor
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Quote last month
The quote from last month was again from the great Langstroth. A brief note on his life and times is contained in a previous issue.

Quote of this month
This quote is of some sound advice from a master among beekeepers. Most of us will recognise the direct style, which is contained in a very interesting and instructive book. I have invariably followed this advice in my beekeeping and other activities. Ed.

“If you have something to accomplish, do not delay because you are not in possession of the right tools, start the project and better tools will be discovered along the way.”

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