Contents: Editorial; Beekeeping news; Obituary John Pollard Bee press; Research News; Articles: Bees and Gravity (part 2 of 3) Ian Rumsey; Render unto Ceasar Mike Oliver; Nits (varroa) Chad Cryer; The Five P’s (Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance) Mike Oliver; Swarm bucket Robin Spon-Smith; BIBBA Groups Secretary refutes some of the points by John Yates in the April Apis-UK Albert Knight; Recipe of the Month: Mayan Hot Chocolate; Fact File: Propolis; Historical Note: May traditions Poem of the Month: Bee! I'm expecting you Emily Dickson; Readers Letters: Jeremy Quinlan, Phil Wiggins; Diary of Events; Quote of the Month and more. Please wait while downloading 404KB.


Apis-UK Issue No.35 May 2005
Peter Bashford collecting a swarm

Croydon Beekeeper Peter Bashford retrieving a swarm in Penge.
Photo by David Edwards

EDITORIAL Back to top

In a month when we hear of scientists discovering the existence of a monster cockroach, a micro crab, two new species of begonia, two new species of snail and various other assorted creatures in the Borneo jungle, I am reminded of just how little we know of exactly what we have on planet earth. But we are getting more knowledgeable all the time and as this issue shows, new discoveries and new methods of discovering the secrets of nature arise all of the time, and this goes for bees as well. (The cockroach by the way was over 4 inches [10cm] long and I just hope it wasn’t a youngster).

A typical example of what I mean is some innovative research by Rothamsted that gives us some real clues about the dance language of bees, and could end once and for all the controversy surrounding Von Frisch’s theory, which by the way is sustained; a UK scientist has developed a way of showing how a group of essentially dumb, simply programmed creatures can perform useful and supposedly complex tasks together, using U-bots, and this facility is amply demonstrated by our research article on ants setting complicated traps and of course may be further extended to the complex activities of honey bees. We learn that bees may be able to teach us about addiction, and we have some very important news on the use of Apistan in our fight against varroa. All this information is in this issue of Apis-UK but this of course is just a tiny amount of the information out there for us to learn about and enjoy in our pursuit of knowledge about bees.

Can varroa jump the species gap? It has already jumped from Apis cerana to Apis mellifera. Could it go further and hit us humans? Evidently yes writes one of our regular contributors! (See articles). The old nit nurse at school may soon have to be replaced by a varroa nurse which would be enough to drive many of us to drink, and Paralytic Mite Syndrome may soon be as common as a cold – especially among the adults.

It is sad to see the article in the Guardian concerning controversy within the BBKA caused by that organization’s support for certain products from chemical companies. (See news item below). The BBKA is a national body and in the Europe that we live in today, only a national body has any hope of properly representing our interests. I am fully aware that representing beekeepers, which apart from hermits are probably the most individualistic people on earth, may be thought of as a contradiction in terms, but I also feel that strong representation should exist in the form of one body and if this beekeeping association splits into factions, there can only be one result: a diminution of the country’s voice on beekeeping in the world and in Europe. I have often said before that from where I stand as a sort of itinerant beekeeper, even looking from New Zealand, the UK’s system of beekeeping associations in the home countries is an excellent example of ‘what should be.’ It may be that its worth can only be seen from the outside, but in any case I would strongly urge a resolution rather than a split.

The race of bee and the use of the various races is an on going debate and in this issue, Albert Knight of BIBBA responds to our article in the April issue of Apis-UK by John Yates concerning the state of the nation as far as bees are concerned in the UK. This is another of those controversial subjects within the beekeeping community that divides many and of course is looked at in different ways by different people. The conservationist may look at it from one angle which favours the retention of autochthonous species above all; the purist and many hobbyists will be his allies, whereas the commercial beekeeper who needs to feed his family and who therefore regards a bee and a queen as units of production and profit (or loss), may have different views. How to reconcile these various groups? Proof is needed that the local autochthonous bee is the best for honey production, temper and disease resistance, and yes, even for the commercial beekeeper, in our increasingly urbanised landscape; temper is more and more important. This proof can only be achieved by scientific research and trials on a large scale. Who is going to do this, and who is going to pay? In most if not all new world countries it is far easier. There is no autochthonous honey bee and so by and large there is room for experiment and usage that won’t offend anyone.

Now we turn a baleful eye towards the EU Commission. (See news item below). Does the EU really want to screw up our labelling systems that have been understood for centuries? Yes it does. So out will go many of the descriptions that we know and understand and in will come conformity. I can see the day coming when ‘in the interests of the consumer’ all we will be allowed to put on a label will be a chemical formula, which will be perfectly accurate but which no one will understand. It is very hard to love that organisation.

And finally we come to our regular spots. We again feature a poem by Emily Dickinson and this one is my personal favourite, and I urge you to try the Mayan recipe for the original hot chocolate. Try it with added chillies in it. Superb. And don’t forget our quote of the month. It is tucked away right at the end of the newsletter after the letters to the editor and it is good fun having a go at discovering its source.

I hope that you enjoy reading this issue of Apis-UK. Do keep in touch

David Cramp. Editor.

NEWS Back to top

John Pollard
It is with very great sadness that we have to advise you that our Chairman, John Pollard, had a massive heart attack on Tuesday 19th April and was pronounced dead on arrival at hospital. Over 90 people from across Europe attended his funeral at the Tunbridge Wells Crematorium on 2nd May. He was, Chairman of BIIG (Bee Instrumental Insemination Group) and a familiar figure at the BBKA’s Spring Convention. John was the instigator and founder Chairman of BIIG and worked hard to develop its aims. He was also a strong advocate of the aims of the Bee Improvement Bee Breeding Association (BIBBA).

John Pollard, made full use of his working experience; his five year apprenticeship, qualified work study practitioner and even his National Service in the RAF. His beekeeping using Smith hives was the basis for his great interest in controlled breeding for stock improvement using instrumental insemination as a tool. As a result he accumulated a vast pool of knowledge and as part of his research was in touch with many leading scientists. This resulted in the invention of the Jordan Pollard insemination equipment which brought the procedures within the financial reach of many. When he died he was developing microscopy techniques applicable to the Third World.

John was a private man but those privileged few who knew him well appreciated his friendship. His participation in the Kent and Devon Bee Tours will be remembered by many. He enjoyed enormously his annual trip to the FIBKA’s Course at Gormanston, Ireland. Despite the heat he had pleasant memories of Apimondia in Slovenia and was looking forward very much to this year’s event in Dublin. His invitation to help Sue Cobey at Ohio State University reflected his high standing.

He had other interests such as local history, aircraft and was always concerned for the happiness and welfare of others. On at least two occasions he went to enormous lengths to obtain suitable chairs for friends who had back problems. Not for nothing was he referred to as the “gentle giant” and his patience was legendary when faced with ignorance and misunderstanding. But above all John will be remembered for spending so much of his energies in promoting modern techniques and practices in English Beekeeping. He leaves no family but will be remembered by beekeepers everywhere as a friend, mentor and expert. Terry Clare

Central Scotland's only Beekeepers Association (Dunblane and Stirling Beekeepers Association) lodged its first website.

A sting in the tale: 'secret deal' splits country's top beekeepers by Severin Carrel

There has been considerable media attention in recent weeks regarding our support for “bee friendly” pesticides and funds received from the agro-chemical industry. There have also been dark accusations of “secret deals behind closed doors” and the break up of our national organisation.

Channel Four News picked up the story about a week ago. The brief piece transmitted on 24th May was a result of their fair but intensive investigative journalism. Not all the people questioned appeared in the actual transmission. The questions all representatives had to deal with were tough and even tougher when faced with a large camera lens recording your words, gestures and nuances for nationwide publication and posterity. The interviews shown were just a fragment of the actual question and answer sessions.

The truth revealed is that there are no “deals” or break ups; but healthy internal differences of opinion and passionately held views regarding BBKA policy. So we had an almost charming report of the BBKA dispute from C4 News.

Individuals and organisations outside BBKA and with a particular agenda have tried to demoralise us and to denigrate the initiatives of the Association. Within it, we recognise honourable and sensitive views that conflict with the majority opinion. The debate has been open and frankly resolved for now. Our communications between the Executive, member associations and individuals are improving continuously. The Register of Members, an initiative largely funded by the money received from this source, is helping that process considerably.

There have been no further requests for statements from the media so far (pm 25th May). However, we continuously need to be ready to explain the position the membership has adopted through our democratic process. Many thanks to the large number of people who offered support and advice during the last few days. This process has confirmed that we are on the right lines with our policy of working with the agro-chemical companies and not to be in conflict with them. We have to accept policies like this if BBKA and beekeepers generally are to play their full and essential part in profitable, modern, high technology agriculture with sound countryside stewardship whilst doing our best to care for our bees. Glyn Davies President, BBKA

Strange things are happening in the world honey markets. Illicit honey, death threats and drama. Does this sound more like some mafia racket? Well it most likely is.

Let us look at some facts. Nepal does not produce surplus honey, yet last year it exported 1,000 tons of honey to India. In Canada, Alberta’s provincial apiarist has received emails from exporters of honey from countries in South east Asia, Africa and the Middle East, non of which are considered major exporters and in other parts of the world beekeeping suddenly became all the rage, indeed, as Bee Culture pointed out, Singapore suddenly became the fourth largest exporter of honey in the world, and it has no bees at all. In Australia, there are reports of death threats after a senior figure in the Australian honey industry tried to expose a racket concerning relabelling Chinese honey, his car then suffered a mysterious brake failure. Evidently over 2000 tonnes of Chinese honey was shipped to Australia, relabelled and shipped to the USA. All this started happening after the world banned Chinees honey. Experts believe that even now that the ban has been lifted, there is still a huge backlog. If you are offered any finest Singapore honey, you know what to do. Check your car brakes!

Honey producers in Italy are protesting because of EU labelling laws. The news was reported by the Coldiretti (farmer’s association) of Cuneo in Italy that said that some denominations like “Millefiori”, (thousand flowers), “forest honey” and “high mountain honey” were excluded from labelling. The measure was due because of an imprecise interpretation of the phrase “nectariphaires sources”, which means the source supplying the nectar, i.e. the plants. This expression allows only some sources that are identified in specific plants. “Millefiori” is now allowed after protest but the problem still remains for the “forest honey” and “high mountain honey” denominations. These products are sold in Germany and France with labels “Miel de Bois”, “Wald Honig” (forest honey). Honey producers, in the Italian Unaapi association, have written to the agriculture ministry severely criticizing the EU legislation that was reported in an Italian ministry circular. They have asked for urgent amendments to the legislation because this situation is damaging Italian honey production and sales.

Inside the next issue of BBKA News you will find an article on our plans to continue the fight against the proposed Defra Cuts. One of the actions we want to undertake is the gathering of a Public Petition our web-site downloads will effectively equips you to ‘do your bit’ on this front.

Over the next couple of months we have a presence at a series of major shows: Devon, Surrey, Bath & West, Cornwall, Yorkshire, RHS Tatton Park etc, etc. We then have all our honey shows and many more local events. These all provide opportunities for us to mount posters distribute flyers and gather signatures for the petition.

You can download this note is a flyer which you can use as a master to print materials for your own use. On the reverse, is the petition form itself, which again you can copy for use at shows. Get all your friends and family to signup! Once completed simply send the forms to the BBKA at Stoneleigh where they will be collated in anticipation of delivering them to Defra or perhaps even to Tony Blair himself, later this year. Printed copies of the flyer are available from Stoneleigh or as a pdf on the web-site, where the master petition form is also available. If you need information or have ideas for the campaign please contact me via email. Let’s do it for the bees! Yours truly Tim Lovett Chairman P&P Committee

An Economic and Ecological Disaster in the making!
Stop the Government Cuts

The Government Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) plans to cut the already small Bee Health Programme budget by 20%. For a saving of a mere £250,000 in the massive £3.2 billion Defra budget they will put at risk the UK honey bee population by sacking half the team of Seasonal Bee Inspectors. Beekeepers depend on these trained professionals to diagnose highly contagious ‘brood diseases’ which cause colony death if not controlled. At the same time, Defra plans to ‘de-regulate’ the most common of these brood diseases, called European Foul Brood,(EFB) by making it non-notifiable. This will effectively leave the beekeeper alone in the difficult task of identifying and treating this disease. The net result will be increased frequency and spread of EFB, resulting in loss of bee colonies and a massive reduction in ‘the pollination army’ of honey bees, which currently contribute more than £120 million per annum to agricultural output, according to government figures. There are virtually no wild honey bees left due to the effects of another disease, the varroa mite, which is parasitic. Beekeepers are now the guardians of the honey bee population in the UK.

What’s at stake:

  • Cuts save £250,000 but risk the £120million contribution to agriculture
  • Cuts will devastate the bee population
  • Cuts will have a knock-on ecological effect
  • Cuts mean UK Honey production will decline massively
  • Cuts mean honey prices will rocket
  • Cuts will increase the incidence of brood diseases
  • Deregulation of EFB will result in increased incidence of this and other diseases

What can you do:

  • Sign the BBKA Public Petition
  • Get your friends to sign the Petition (Copies from BBKA and web-site
  • Write to your MP (address in local phone book)
  • Write to Defra (Right Hon Margaret Beckett MP, Secretary of State for Environment Food and Rural Affairs, Nobel House, 17 Smith Square, London SW1P 3JR )

Save our Bees - Stop The Cuts! Published by the British Beekeepers’ Association, Stoneleigh Park ,Warwickshire CV8 2LG. Tel 024 7669 6679

Mr Daniel Yando, an agricultural extension officer in Ghana, has advised the citizenry to rely more on honey as a food sweetener rather than sugar to promote their mental development. He said research had shown that honey had the right contents to sharpen the brain of infants. Mr Yando who made this known to the Ghana News Agency said the intake of honey would also serve as a means of livelihood for the over 50 beekeepers in Nkoranza and Techiman who have no market for their produce. He said the African Development Fund (ADF) has been very supportive of the beekeepers and said it recently organised a course on “Project Management”, for all the farmers. Mr Yando said ADF provided credit facilities in the form of beehives, suits and smokers to the beneficiary farmers. Mr Michael Sarpong, secretary of the local beekeepers association appealed to the government to promote the marketing of honey by establishing a purchasing agency for the product.

The well known and well respected editor of the Bee Keepers Quarterly, John Phipps (who lives in Greece) has added another feather to his bow by winning (again) the Fifth Annual International Apicultural Photography Competition with his photo entitled ‘Off to the Apiary’. The competition is organised by the city hall and beekeeping organisation of Azucar de Henares in the province of Guadalajara in Spain and attracts hundreds of entries from all over the world. It is fast becoming one of the most prestigious events in the beekeeping calendar and so from Apis-UK, we send many congratulations to John. (We hope at some time to be able to show the winning entry).

Climate change in many countries could mean that beekeepers must also adapt their beekeeping practise. Gone are the days when a beekeeping author could write ‘start feeding your bees in October’ etc, or ‘ ensure you have placed your mouse guards by November.’

Frogs have begun spawning in Britain as early as October, oaks are coming into leaf three weeks earlier than they were 50 years ago and there were an unprecedented 4,000 sightings of bumblebees by the end of January this year. Scientists, who also noted that people were mowing their lawns earlier, have concluded that spring now arrives ahead of schedule. The findings were submitted to scientists at the UK Phenology Network by hundreds of paid observers across the country and have been combined with environmental data over three centuries.

The report, published in the BBC Wildlife Magazine, provides startling evidence of how nature is reacting to rising temperatures and changing rainfall patterns. Authors of the report have calculated that spring starts around six days earlier for every 1C temperature rise but not all species are affected in the same way.

For example for every 1C temperature rise, oak trees come into leaf 10 days earlier compared to four days earlier for the ash, its main competitor for space.

In an example of the ecological balance being upset, these changes also affect caterpillars, which are developing earlier to meet the need to feed on the trees’ young leaves. This may also have an effect on the migratory patterns of birds that feed on the insects, which can more readily adapt to climate change.

The findings suggest that there won’t be a smooth progression towards a warmer climate, with all species advancing in unison, but rather that different responses may disrupt the complex linkages in nature The authors of the report predict more drastic changes if, as expected, global temperatures rise between 2C and 6C.

It is now warmer than at any point in the past 1,000 years and nine of the 10 warmest years have occurred in the past decade.

England’s beech woods may disappear along with animals such as Scotland’s capercaillie and snow bunting - both birds which prefer a cold environment. The landscape may also change because of shifting rainfall patterns, more extreme weather and rising sea levels, the report predicts. Arable farming may migrate to the west as parts of East Anglia become too dry to cultivate. Britain may be invaded by new animals and plants. Among birds, the candidates include the black kite, cattle egret and hoopoe. (All in Spain . Ed).

The report itemises more evidence of change, including:

The long-winged conehead, formerly restricted to the south coast, has moved 60 miles north.
Red Admiral Butterfly
A migrating species that is now spending the winter in the UK.
Spawning has occurred before Christmas for several years in milder parts of Cornwall. Researchers have discovered dozens of cases in October and as far north as Northern Ireland.
Activity in winter is aided by exotic flowers but scientists have logged 4,000 reports of bees in January in what is called a "significant change" in behaviour.
Flowering is no longer restricted to spring with it being spotted on Christmas Day. There are similar changes with the white dead-nettle.
Oak Trees
In the past 50 years the oak has come into leaf three weeks earlier. In southern England leaves now emerge in late March.
Now grows all year with 7 per cent of respondents to the survey in Scotland cutting their grass in winter.

I am sending to you some bad news from Serbia. It is from East Banat (North-East of Serbia), the place is called Jasa Tomic. Catastrophic floods are caused by river Tamis. A dam in neighboring Romania has been bursted. On some beeyards water level was up to 2-3m high. The damage is huge, maybe several hundred hives. As you can see, a part of hives had to be sacrificed to save others. Terrible! Maybe it would be interesting to say, there are belief that famous the Thames trace origin to river Tamis, because old Kelts had been settled that area. Some people say that over 2000 English words trace origin to Serbian ones! For example, Morava is name of our river, it means "big water" to Irish people? Predrag Cvetkovic

Milos Bojanic's beeyard

Milos Bojanic's beeyard. He has to put one hive to the other to help the first to be saved. Lower ones had to be sacrificed.

Slovic Vukadin (right) Radojevic Nenad (left), in the front of Vukadin's home.

Slovic Vukadin (right) has only 3 hives left from the flood, his beekeeper friend Radojevic Nenad (left), in the front of Vukadin's home.

The lower hive is sacrificed, the upper one is saved

The lower hive is sacrificed, the upper one is saved.

Radivojevic Nenad at the place where Vukadin Slovic's beeyard of 80 hives was

Radivojevic Nenad at the place where Vukadin Slovic's beeyard of 80 hives was.

The Federation of Irish Beekeepers has announced the dates and programme for its Gormanston course. This increasingly well known and important feature of the beekeeping calendar features a wide ranging programme with well known and expert speakers. Please go the link below to see details. or download programme 2005 PDF

Some members may not be aware of the forthcoming attempt at breaking the record for a mantle of bees. The brave man who will try and cover himself with 500,000 bees is none other than Philip McCabe, President of FIBKA and President of Apimondia 2005. He is also a member of BIBBA and GBBG. This may be the first time that such a feat was ever attempted using Dark European Bees so if it is successful it should enhance their reputation for docility and may help to change their reputation for ferocity.

The event is scheduled to take place here in Burncourt, Co. Tipperary on 25th. June and we will be hard set to provide the required quantity of bees of a suitably docile strain. This fact will not be helped by the late spring due to cold east winds which have prevailed for some weeks past resulting in slow build up of colonies.

The real aim of the exercise is to raise much needed funds for development of beekeeping in the Third World. Sponsorship cards have been distributed and the charities being supported are Bees for Development and Bothar which is an Irish self help organisation which supplies all types of domestic animals as well as hives of bees to families in developing countries of Africa especially. Michael Mac Giolla Coda.

This Workshop is being organised by Bees for Development. It is part of Bees for Development’s DFID/BLCF Project on African Honey. It will take place for two days prior to the Apimondia Congress, in Jurys’ Ballsbridge Hotel, Dublin, near to the Apimondia Congress venue. The specific purpose of the Workshop is to enable honey marketing organisations in Africa and other developing countries to understand requirements for honey intended for import by the EU.

The Workshop will be of value to Ministry personnel responsible for supporting honey trade, producer groups and cooperatives that are considering export. The Workshop is particularly intended for people from countries that are not yet on the EU’s list of so-called third countries from which EU member states are permitted to import honey. Participation is strictly limited, and applicants from developing countries will be given priority. To register, please go to

The Taiwan Beekeepers Association has urged consumers to support locally produced bee honey in the battle against fake and imported products. The group also asked the Council of Agriculture (COA) to quickly establish a certifying system to ensure the honey quality and bolster the confidence of consumers.

The calls were made after consumers were shocked by the news report that up to seventy five percent of honey products sold in Taiwan are either fake or below standards. The findings resulted from a test of sample honey products conducted by the National Pingtung University of Science and Technology (NPUST). Among the 19 samples purchased on the local market, only a quarter of them are genuine bee honey meeting international standards. The rest were concocted mainly with sugar water, syrup, and chemical fragrant.

Researchers at the NPUST pointed out the authentic honey should contain at least 2,000 or 1,500 pollens per gram. Honeys containing less pollen are synthetic ones. Only five of the 19 samples tested meeting the standards while no pollens were found in four samples at all. The pollen counts in other 11 samples range only from 20 to 640 per gram.

Many of the fake or synthetic honey samples even bear the labels claiming the ISO quality certification or winning gold medals awarded by consumer organizations. A couple of suppliers even assert their products have been designated by Taiwan's Olympic Games delegation for the athletes participating in international sports events.

Executives of the beekeepers association said that Taiwan produces only about 4,000 metric tons of honey each year with local bees gathering pollens mainly from longan and lychee, two popular summer fruits on the island.

To meet the rising demand, some businessmen have either imported honey from Southeast Asian nations, notably Thailand, they said.

Some others simply blend sugars and chemical fragrant and sell their products at the discount store chains at much lower prices. The fake and substandard products are posing a growing threat to local beekeepers.

The executives said the COA should quickly establish a certifying system to distinguish the genuine products from the fake ones. Greater challenge will come when honey products are allowed into the Taiwan market, they said.

Five years ago, a similar test of honey products was conducted by the National Chunghsing University with the identical findings that up to 75 percent of the items sold in Taiwan were fakes. This proved that local consumers have been continuously misled by unscrupulous businessmen.

Managers at the large discount store chains, including Carrefour and RT-Mart, said it is difficult for them to identify the fake products. But they all promised to refund customers upon discovering their purchased items are fake ones. COA officials gave consumers a few tips to identify the authentic products.

The genuine honey emits flower aroma and contains less or no bubbles. Consumers cannot clearly see the fingers when they put them behind the bottles containing the honey, they said.

The honey will transform into a crystallized form when the temperatures fall to below 17 degrees Celsius or when the ratio of water is less than 20 percent. But the crystal substance in the genuine honey will delicate with a milky colour. Consumers will find the more coarse crystals feeling like sands in the fake items. (But you can get a genuine Rolex there for $5. Ed).

How can a bee or an ant colony carry out the complex tasks that they have to when no one is in charge and they only have small brains? A scientist at the West of England University may have an answer to part of it anyway. In order to demonstrate that a group of dumb creatures can do clever things Dr Chris Melhuish developed the U-bot. This is a foot-high robot which glides around an arena on castors, carrying a U-shaped scoop in front of it. A U-bot carries only three instructions:

If nothing is happening, keep moving.

If you hit a large obstacle, take a turn and keep moving. If you’ve got a little something in your scoop, and you hit another little something, drop what you’ve got, take a turn and keep moving.

Following only those instructions, the fleet of U-bots, given enough time, can gather together a randomly distributed collection of Frisbees and assemble them in a pile in the centre of their arena. To the untrained eye they look purposeful and intelligent - just like ants and bees.

And they can do amazing things. Every beekeeper knows the honey bee and what it can do and that is part of the fascination of being a beekeeper. If they were duller creatures like slugs for example perhaps the interest simply wouldn’t be there. Ants, another of the hymenoptera like bees can also do amazing things and in Apis UK we have often reported on their exploits. Here is another example of just how a collective insect society can operate. A fierce species of Amazonian ant has been seen building elaborate traps on which hapless prey are stretched like medieval torture victims, before being slowly hacked to pieces.

With cunning and patience, Allomerus decemarticulatus worker-ants cut hairs from the stem of the plant they inhabit, and use the tiny fibres to build a spongy snare, Nature magazine reports. This ingenious feat of engineering has only ever been observed in one other species of related ant, French researchers say. The ants cut hairs to clear a path under the plant stem, while leaving some hairs standing to form “pillars” on top of which the lethal platform will sit.

Using the plant hairs they have harvested, the ants weave the platform itself, which is bound together and strengthened using a special fungus.

When the ants have completed the chamber they puncture holes all along its surface, each just big enough to poke their heads through.

Then, hundreds of worker ants climb into the chamber and wait for an unfortunate victim.

“Workers will hide inside the platform, with their mandibles just inside the hole and they will wait there for prey to come,” Anything with legs slim enough to fit through the carefully constructed holes will meet a miserable fate if they are foolish enough to enter the trap. They will catch almost anything that goes on the trap and they will grab anything they can - legs, antenna, etc.

Once the prey is well secured by jaws fastening all its extremities, it is stretched over the platform and scores of worker ants then stream out from inside the trap and sting it vigorously to cause paralysis. Once the creature is dead or fully immobilised, the ants will carry it to their nest, where they will dismember their prey before carrying it inside.

“Small insects will be immediately dismembered and transported to the nest but bigger insects will stay on the trap for up to 12 hours.” The insects’ legs have to be smaller than the holes otherwise they cannot get hold of them. The ants must have something to catch - for example, caterpillars will have nothing to get hold of so they will not be preyed upon. (Best be a caterpillar in your next life. Ed).

The following report on the US honey industry for 2004 may be of interest to commercial beekeepers and comes from the USDA. The report shows honey production up but prices down.

United States Honey Production Up 1 Percent
Honey production in 2004 from producers with five or more colonies totalled 184 million pounds, up 1 percent from 2003. There were 2.56 million colonies producing honey in 2004, down 2 percent from 2003. Yield per colony averaged 71.8 pounds, up 3 percent from the 69.9 pounds in 2003. Colonies which produced honey in more than one State were counted in each State where the honey was produced; therefore yields per colony may be understated. Colonies were not included if honey was not harvested. Producer honey stocks were 61.2 million pounds on December 15, 2004, up 50 percent from a year earlier. Stocks held by producers exclude stocks held under the commodity loan program.
Honey Prices Down 22 Percent

Honey prices decreased during 2004 to 108.5 cents, down 22 percent from 138.7 cents in 2003. Prices are based on retail sales by producers and sales to private processors and cooperatives. State level honey prices reflect the portions of honey sold through retail, co-op and private channels. U.S. honey prices for each colour class are derived by weighing quantities sold for each marketing channel at the U.S. level. Honey prices for 2004 were lower than the previous year for all colour classes except the All Other Honey, Area Specialties class. Honey prices for 2003 crop honey reflect honey sold in 2003 and 2004.


Most readers will be aware that in order to keep the high cost of authorised varroa treatments down many beekeepers ‘cheat’ and divide up their anti varroa strips (Apistan, Bayvarol etc) so halving their costs (at least). Instructions on the packs tell us that this practice should not be followed for a number of reasons. (Increased speed of resistance, lessening of effect etc). However recent research results by a New Zealand scientific team have shown that in the case of Apistan the percentage of varroa killed remained high regardless of the size of the strips that were tested. In fact there was no reduction in kill rate until the strips were reduced to 12.5% of their original size. The results also suggested that the practice of using Apistan at half the recommended rate (as many beekeepers do) will not lower the level of active ingredients to such an extent that will dramatically speed up the rate with which resistance develops.

The research is reported in the magazine New Zealand Beekeeper April 2005 and was carried out by RM Goodwin, MA Taylor, HM McBrydie and HM Cox of HortResearch. Ruakura, New Zealand. The programme which covers more than just this project started six months ago and will run for three years.

Press release embargoed until 1800 hrs London time / 1300 US Eastern Time 11 May, 2005.

A paper published in Nature on May 12th (1) provides new data that resolves a long-standing scientific controversy. In the 1960s, Nobel Prize winning zoologist, Karl von Frisch, proposed that honeybees use dance (the"waggle dance") as a coded message to guide other bees to new food sources. However, some scientists did not accept von Frisch's theory. Using harmonic radar, scientists have now tracked the flight of bees that had attended a "waggle dance" and found that they flew straight to the vicinity of the feeding site, as predicted by von Frisch. The tracks allowed the scientists to determine how accurately bees translate the dance code into successful navigation, and showed that they correct for wind drift even when en route to destinations they have never visited before.

If a honeybee worker discovers a good feeding site it is believed that she informs her nest mates through a dance that describes the distance and direction of the feeding site. This 'dance language' was first described by Karl von Frish in the 1960s but his experiments also showed that bees that had attended the dance (recruits) took far longer to get to food than would be expected. This time delay caused other scientists to argue that the recruits did not read the abstract code in the dance at all, but found the food source simply by tracking down the smell that they had picked up from the dancing bee. Another suggestion was that recruits simply followed the dancer when she flew back to the food, and then other bees joined in. The controversy has persisted because prior to the advent of harmonic radar, no one could show exactly where the recruits flew when they left their hives.

The scientists watched the waggle dance occurring in a glass observation hive and identified recruits. They captured these recruits as they left the hive, attached a radar transponder to them and then tracked their flight paths using harmonic radar. Most recruited bees undertook a flight path that took them straight to the vicinity of the feeding site where they all spent a lot of time in searching flights, trying to locate its exact position. This searching behaviour accounts for the time lag that caused the original controversy.

In another set of experiments, bee recruits leaving the hive were taken to release sites up to 250m away. These bees flew, not to the feeding site, but in the direction that would have taken them to the feeding site had they not been displaced from the hive. This result add weight to von Frisch's original theory and allow alternative hypotheses about bee behaviour to be firmly discounted. Photos available on request. Contacts: Dr Elspeth Bartlet, Rothamsted Research. Tel: 01582 763133 ext 2260 Mobile 07870161628 E-mail: ebartlet @

Notes for Authors

(1) The flight paths of honeybees recruited by the waggle dance' Nature J. R. Riley (a), U. Greggers (b), A. D. Smith (a), D. R. Reynolds(c) & R. Menzel (b)
(a) Plant and Invertebrate Ecology Division, Rothamsted Research, Harpenden, Hertfordshire AL5 2JQ, UK
(b) Freie Universität Berlin, Fachbereich Biologie, Chemie, Pharmazie, Institut für Biologie - Neurobiologie, 28-30 Königin-Luise-Strasse, D-14195, Berlin, Germany
(c) Plant, Animal and Human Health Group, Natural Resources Institute, University of Greenwich, Central Avenue, Chatham, Kent ME4 4TB, UK
(2) Data analysis and writing up was supported by the Leverhulme Trust Emeritus Fellowship programme. The research was carried out with joint funding from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council of the United Kingdom (BBSRC). Rothamsted Research receives grant aided assistance from the BBSRC.
(3) Rothamsted Research ( is one of the largest agricultural research institutes in the country and is sponsored by the BBSRC.

To understand the complex processes in the human brain that lead to addiction, some researchers at University of California San Diego have turned to bees.

Granted, the brains of humans and bees don't look much alike. But how bees respond to simple rewards, such as food, can tell scientists much about the workings of the primitive portion of our brains that lead some of us to become addicted to tobacco, alcohol or other drugs.

This region of the brain exerts such a powerful influence on the behaviour of humans and other animals that a rat will work so tirelessly when it is rewarded with electrical stimulation to this region of the brain that it can forgo eating and ultimately starve to death.

The neurobiology and evolutionary basis of the brain circuitry that processes information about rewards is the focus of study by Terrence Sejnowski, a professor of biology at both the Salk Institute and UCSD. He told a gathering of scientists, high school students and community members last week that neurobiologists like himself are gaining a better understanding of human addiction by examining simpler brains, such as those of bees. Bees learn to land on a tile of a certain colour after they are rewarded just once with sugar water for landing on that colour. A single nerve cell in a bee's brain is responsible for deciding if the information coming from the senses predicts the sugar reward and signalling to the muscles to take the appropriate action to receive the reward.

Computer models of how a bee assimilates and responds to information about a reward can be then applied to studies of how humans make decisions about rewards. And predictions from computer modelling of the bee brain can be tested via human brain imagining studies. For example, Sejnowski said that by using functional magnetic resonance imaging, which measures blood flow to reveal which regions of the brain are active, researchers in his laboratory have discovered that our brains process information about rewards differently if a reward is granted immediately for a simple behaviour or if a person must work to receive the reward.

We have often reported on bees and their learning capabilities in Apis-UK. Here is another piece of research that adds to our knowledge of these amazing creatures.

Honeybees have robust and flexible memory systems that enable them to apply abstract rules to solve novel problems, according to new research.

Although the brains of these insects are very small, over the past decade scientists have realised that honeybees are able to learn a variety of complex tasks, research say researchers “We set out to test just how robust the learning and memory talents of the honeybee are, with a view to learning more about their brain processes in general,” he said.

The researchers conducted a series of laboratory experiments in a custom-built All-Weather Bee Flight Facility at ANU, in which they trained bees to fly first through a tunnel and then a maze.

To receive a reward - a sugar water solution - the bees had to remember a particular pattern they had seen earlier in the tunnel (for example, concentric rings) and use it to choose a correct path in the maze. The researchers varied the length of the tunnel to test the insects’ memory and found they could remember a pattern up to five seconds after first seeing it, showing that working memory in the honeybee was more robust than previously believed. “Impressively, trained honeybees could even learn the order of patterns in a sequence, and choose to ‘pay attention to’, for example, only the first of two patterns in a sequence, while ‘ignoring’ the second (or vice versa) and use it to choose a correct path in the maze,” Dr Zhang said.

“They could apply that ‘knowledge of the order’ in a sequence of new patterns to make a correct choice in the maze. These results suggest a potential for greater learning abilities in honeybees than had been expected.”

“This shows to us that honeybees have a remarkably robust and flexible working memory, in spite of having a very small brain, and much fewer neural connections than the average vertebrate.”

“The study therefore provides more evidence for the usefulness of the honeybee as a model system to investigate complex phenomena, such as learning and memory. It even hints at the emergence of a primitive intelligence from a small brain.”

The results of the study by researchers from ANU and the Universitaet Wuerzburg in Germany were published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The world’s biggest study to date on the impact of genetically modified (GMO) crops on wildlife has found birds and bees are more likely to thrive in fields of natural rapeseed than GMO seed, scientists say.

But scientists behind the British study stressed this arose because of the way pesticides were applied. “The study demonstrates the important of the effects of herbicide management on wildlife in fields and adjacent areas,” researcher David Bohan said. The trial was the last in a four-part 5.5 million-pound test of controversial technology - the largest experiment of its kind in the world.

Scientists said that when compared with conventional winter-sown rapeseed, GMO herbicide-resistant plants kept the same number of weeds overall, having more grass weeds but fewer broad-leaved weeds and it is flowers of broad-leaved weeds that provide food for insects, while their seeds are an important food source for other wildlife, but the difference in weed type arose not because the crop was genetically-changed or not but because of the way they were sprayed.

THE BEE PRESS Back to top

Beecraft May 2005 Volume 87 Number 5
Claire Waring Editor.
Beecraft Subscriptions
Contents: New Veterinary Medicines Regulations; Exomite Apis: one year on Bee Craft talks to Georgina Kemp; Straw skeps for swarm taking Francis Farnsworth; A year in the apiary: swarm collection David Aston, PhD, NDB; Bee conference at Swanwick Mike Cross; The Bee Craft Photo Competition; Your Free Gift; Starting with bees in Italy: part 2 Pam Felli-Todd; Bees and varroa populations: part 1 Prof Ron Atkinson, BSc, PhD, FInstP, CPhys; In the Apiary: having fun with bees (part 13) Karl Showler; From the Lab: wear and tear Adam G Hart, PhD; Bringing Apimondia to Ireland Eddie O’Sullivan; The ‘B’ Kids; Around the colony; Classified advertisements; Calender.
Editorial: There is another first for Bee Craft with this issue. We begin our series of Bee Craft Apiary Guides which are being sent free to all our subscribers (see page 14). They are designed to be a practical tool for you to take to the apiary and use during your routine examinations. With this issue is a guide to European Foul Brood with photographs to help you assess whether your colony might be suffering from this disease. The Apiary Guides are not designed to make you paranoid about bee diseases! They have been produced with the aim of giving you a quick reference in the event that the brood in your colony ‘doesn’t look quite right’. No disease should be ignored. We know from our own personal experience that the sooner we go to the doctor when we are feeling unwell, the quicker and easier the cure is likely to be. So it is with bee diseases. Even if there is no authorised cure, as with American Foul Brood, quick identification and action will ensure that the disease does not spread to other colonies which would give you a much bigger problem to deal with. There was an overwhelming response to our competition in April, and you may have time to get your entry in. Our thanks to Allsop for their generous prizes and thanks too for their sponsorship of our second Bee Craft Photo Competition, full details are on page 14. Apimondia is getting closer. Remember that the date for early registration is 1 June, so don’t delay – apply today. If you haven’t got the registration form that appeared in our April issue, go to the Apimondia website at See you there! Claire Waring

Beecraft May 2005

Bee Improvement and conservation Spring 2005 Number 19
Philip Denwood Editor.
Brian Dennis, 50 Station Road, Cogenhoe, Northants NN7 1LU
Contents: Breeding varroa resistant bees Part 1 Tore Forsman Per Idestrom Erik Osterlund; Raising, mating and making use of queens Part 10 Friedrich-Karl Tiesler & Eva Englert; BIBBA survey of Apis mellifera mellifera colonies Albert Knight; News from Lasso David Ashton; BIBBA Trustees' Report 2004; BIBBA Accounts 2004; BIBBA AGM 2005.
Editorial: This issue has something of a Scandinavian flavour. On the positive side we have the letter from Katarina Stark and the article on breeding varroa resistant bees, emanating from Sweden though drawing on work in many parts of the world. On the negative side is the news from Denmark, where the allegedly illegal withdrawal of the conservation measures of the Dark Danish Bee threatens a priceless genetic resource and years of work by beekeepers and scientists. It is ironic that Denmark has one of the world's foremost teams of geneticists working on the Dark Honeybee and other subspecies at Copenhagen University, and that previous Danish Governments were so supportive of Apis mellifera mellifera. It is encouraging that protests have been sent to the Danish government by beekeeping organisations in many countries. To their credit, many of these organisations, though they have no particular brief for the Dark Honeybee, are enlightened enough to see that all honeybee subspecies have their place, and that any variety which is under threat deserves a degree of protection, in line with international agreements to which Denmark is a signatory. Next issue June 2005. Philip Denwood

Bee Improvement and Conservation Spring 2005 Number 19

incorporating BeeBiz. No. 80 Spring 2005 (A4 56 Pages)
Editor: John Phipps.

"I just received the latest issue of Beekeepers Quarterly and it is simply the best produced beekeeping magazine in the world" Gerald Herrin
The Beekeepers Quarterly - Spring 2005

BKQ Contents:
Editorial; Letters to the Editor
Kashmir bee virus found in the UK; Bulgaria discusses bee-breeding programme; Varroa research at Baton Rouge, USA; New Forest and Hampshire County Show; Holy Smoke; Wax market report; & Cuba increases organic honey output. Update on KBV in Canada, Paul van Westendorp.
Kashmir Bee Virus
A Fact Sheet, Paul van Westendorp, Provincial Apiculturist, British Columbia.
Apimondia 2005
Produce and Livestock Shows in Ireland; World Honey Show - classes and honey cake recipe; & Exhibitors at Api-Expo.
Association News
British BKA - New trustees, Cuts to bee health programme, Education, and BBKA endorsement of pesticides, Ivor Davis; Central Association of Beekeepers - Spring meeting, Pam Hunter; Yorkshire BKA - Beekeepers fight to keep hives alive; & Bee Farmers Association - Spring Convention at Alnwick, Bees and honey, and Govern­ment cuts to beekeeping, John Howat.
Fred Richards, 1913 - 2005, Paul Metcalf, NDB.
The Bijenworf Museum
A new beekeeping museum in the Neth­erlands which helps to draw more people into the craft, Ko Zoet, Terschelling Island.
Christian Henriksen's base
for three hives for queen rearing, David Ashton, Denmark.
Beekeeping Development
Simple Bee Houses - a boon for African beekeepers, Tom Carroll, Apiconsult.
Ask the Experts
Clive de Bruyn, NDB and David Aston, NDB, answer questions on Langstroth hives, uniting bees in winter and spring, the use of upper entrances, `Marie Celeste' hives, poor queens and laying workers, eggs in queen cells, and the differentiation of eggs laid by the queen.
Why Brownfield Sites are Important for Invertebrates, by Peter Harvey. The Boy who Taught the Beekeeper to Read, Susan Hill. The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown.
So, was it really a bad winter for bees? Cane toads and beekeeping; the Environmental Stewardship Scheme; GM crops; and `Private Eye' - the beekeeper's friend; Geoff Hopkinson, NDB.
Surviving Commercial Beekeeping in Norway
Strategies used to control varroa in one of the northern-most countries in Europe, Hans-Otto Johnsen.
Travellers' Tales
In the Yucatan with `Bees Abroad', Nick Withers.
Out of the Past
The 1950s - the Golden Age of Beekeep­ing? John Gleed.
The Criminalisation of the Beekeeping Industry in Cyprus35
Andreas Skordis and Giannakis Varnavas, Cyprus.
An international report from our team of experts.
From our Correspondents
England, Nigel Payne; Australia, Geoff Manning; Brittany, Job Pichon.
Kashmir Bee Virus
Factsheet from canada.
Breeding Matters
Computing and bee breeding; libraries, research and scientific papers; rearing drones; & anno Domini! John Atkinson.
Science Review
Quality and standards of pollen and beeswax, David Aston, NDB.

Free offer to Apis-UK subscribers
Readers of Apis-UK can see the range and depth of the articles in the latest BKQ. If you are not already a subscriber Click here to email request to receive a FREE sample back issue.


A Fascinating Reference with Recipes for Enjoying Your Produce by Kim Flottum ISBN 1-84543-021-2
The review from Beekeeping - Devon BKA by RBO.

The Complete and Easy Guide to Beekeeping by Kim Flottum

Author Kim Flottum says, "Pretty much every book on keeping bees is the same because beekeeping books haven't changed much in the last 150 years. Their authors say the same things, do the same things, and show the same things."

This book breaks that tradition. It challenges the conventional wisdom, and brings hobby beekeeping into the twenty first century. The premise here is not how cheaply you can do it but how well you can do it: not what you can get by with but how much you can accomplish: not how much profit you can take but how much fun you can have: not how has it been done for the past 150 years but how it should be done today.

Kim tells you how to take advantage of the latest in equipment technology, use the most recent findings in honey bee biology to understand your bees and succeed as a hobby beekeeper, and discover management concepts never before published in a beekeeping book.

It is written in a clear, down to earth and very readable style, and once I began to read, I found it difficult to put the book down. The pages abound with excellent illustrations and magnificent colour photographs, illuminating the text in a particularly helpful way.

The book is constructed in five easily manageable sections:

1. In the beginning - dealing with where to put your hives and what you will need in material terms to set up; what equipment will be required, personal gear and sound advice for acquiring your first bees.
2. About bees - the various castes, how the seasonal changes affect them and what preparations will be needed before you acquire the bees.
3. About beekeeping - comprehensive advice from beginning to end, from lighting your first smoker until the end of the season, practically everything you need to know.
4. About beeswax - making candles, cosmetic creams, soap and other beauty benefits from your hive.
5. About honey - how to use honey, with recipes for incorporating honey into your diet while also using the harvest from your garden.

There is also a useful glossary, resources list and index.

The contents of this book are invigorating and I found my enthusiasm for beekeeping being thoroughly refreshed as I worked my way through its pages. I find myself in complete agreement with Kim Flottum when he says, "Be warned though. Keeping bees can be addictive, and there's no known cure. But then, no one has ever looked for a cure. No one has wanted one." Highly recommended and excellent value for money!

The Complete and Easy Guide to Beekeeping by Kim Flottum is available at £15.00 including UK postage from Northern Bee Books, Scout Bottom Farm, Mytholmroyd, Hebden Bridge HX7 5JS or credit card from the URL:

ARTICLES Back to top

Bees and Gravity (Part 2 of 3)
Ian Rumsey

Although we may be unable to modify the vertical angle of gravity we can however vary the angle of the hive, which is the next best thing.

By rocking the hive back and forth, in a revised direction, at more frequent intervals, through a larger angle than that produced by nature, we should be able to realign the comb direction if gravity influences its construction.

This rocking motion may be achieved in the following manner.

The inner hive (fig 1) may be modified (fig 2) to enable the top two sections to be tilted, left and right (figs 3 and 4)

fig 1 fig 2 fig 3 fig 4
fig 1 fig 2 fig 3 fig 4

The vertical piece of wood, joining the two sections together, is extended above the top of the inner hive and is used to engage against the winding key of an alarm clock (fig 5).

fig 5 fig 5

The clock is fixed onto a shelf provided in the outer hive. The inner hive is biased towards the clock key by the provision of a small weight placed on the roof of the inner hive (fig 6).

fig 6 fig 6

Each evening the clock requires to be rewound and the weight may be adjusted at this time to maintain the correct bias.

Photo 1 Photo 1a Photo 1c

Photos refer

The key provides, each half turn, an angular movement of 1.2 degrees every 3 hours.

This Heath Robinson arrangement actually operated successfully for 2 weeks and 2 days until the comb in the hinge area prevented further angular movement.

This was sufficient for the purpose of the experiment.

Render unto Caesar
Sometimes when you try to translate a phrase into another language it doesn't quite have the same impact, does it? For example, the French version of the English tongue twister “She sells sea-shells on the sea shore.” comes out as:

“Elle vend des coquilles de mer sur le rivage de mer.”

By the same token when you tell your friends you have spent £101 on buying six pure bred Queen bees, they look at you with a puzzled expression and then someone says, “Do you mean you just spent £101 on perishing insects?” because they don’t speak your language.

“No, no,” I reply, “you don’t understand, these are pure-bred queens!”

They still look at you as if you came from Mars but when you say, “It is an investment. It will increase my honey-yield per hive and increase my income by 20%.” the light goes on.

“Ah, I see; more money!”

I do not consider myself an evangelist for beekeeping but like many of us my enthusiasm sometimes provokes interest in the subject. A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to preach the word to a friend who had bought a Red Mason Bee nest and was intrigued by the subject. I took him to see some of my bees and he thoroughly enjoyed the day out but seemed sceptical when I tried to explain some of the simple economics of beekeeping.

There are two ways of approaching the subject of bees and money.

System A – Keep bees and spend money.

System B – Keep bees and make money.

In case any of you have got religion and believe it is sinful to make money out of bees (by this principle, I doubt there are many Vegan beekeepers) read no further, all you need is System A.

Some of us, not having won the Lottery or being blessed by a highly successful career in the similar pursuits of stock-broking, managing loose women, being chartered accountants, estate agents, drug dealers or professional footballers, see beekeeping as a way of boosting our finances whilst enjoying the more esoteric aspects of the Craft.

According to System B, there are Ten Commandments of Beekeeping which apply (I found them on the top of a mountain carved on some old slabs of stone which I was going to use as hive-stands).

Law 1. Thou shalt not treat your bees like the children of thy loins, clothe them in fine raiment and talk to them with tongues (the technical expression is anthropomorphism but the spell-checker and I can’t agree how to spell it.)

Law 2. On the other hand Thou shalt take good care of your bees and your beehives and preserve them from all evil.

Law 3. Thou shalt Market thine honey and all manner of things that shall flow from ye hives with great fervour and joy.

Law 4. Thou must not seek advice from Antient beekeepers for they speaketh with no concord - liken until the builders of the Tower of Babel .

Law 5. Thou shalt spend thy shekels wisely and render ye a full accounting unto thine computer.

Law 6. Thine enjoyment shall be leavened with the need to add to thy store of shekels.

Law 7. Thou shalt covet thy neighbour’s queens as well as their spouse (used to be “wife” but this should also apply to lady-beekeepers.)

Law 8. Thou shalt keep thine ear pressed firmly unto the earth and await the glad tidings of Thorne’s Sales, that thou may make frugal increase of thine equipment with all dispatch.

Law 9. Thou must never turn aside from an offer of pasturage for thine hives. For the time shall surely come, and the wisest of us know not when, that the Grand Sanhedrin (called the Allotments Committee) look upon ye with disfavour and instruct thee to quit thy plot.

Law 10. Study thy Craft. Look with gladness on new things and finally; Smite the Mite!

If you keep the Laws and make a determined effort to treat your bees with respect but focus on the concept of the Craft paying its way, you can succeed in supplementing your income considerably.

My friend asked how much profit I reckoned on making per hive. Without going into all the caveats about weather, vandalism, terrorists, swarming, disease, friends who want freebies and other horrors, I gave him the following formula – it seems to work for me but if you know better, please, please tell me.

One hive should produce between 30 and 120lb of honey, possibly less or more. The amount will depend on a lot of factors -see previous paragraph. As a cautious person, I would suggest – count on 40lb-50lb year-on-year and be pleasantly surprised by more. This allows for bad years. Set your price by what the market will stand. Locally I find that at a Farmer’s Market, Craft Fair etc, £3 to £3.50 per lb is realistic. Health Food shops, Garden Centres and other places will want to pay you, say, £2.50 and sell it for £4.50. Your friends and neighbours (if you charge them) can be persuaded at £2.50 easily. So a well-managed hive should give you at least £100-120 gross profit from honey in most years.

Other hive products such as candles and beeswax polish will help to offset your costs. The market in propolis apparently nosedived some time ago along with typewriters, Andy Pandy and Political Commissars in Russia.

Costs include replacing equipment and wax, packaging (jars and labels etc) for the product, transport, bribes to neighbours who get stung etc. but if this amounts to more than 15% of your gross – take another hard look and see where you can save without compromising quality. For example buy an “Open-All-Hours” type of grocer’s delivery bike for £20 or £30 from E-Bay, tart it up, have your name and advert professionally sign-written on it and ride to your apiary and the pub instead of using the gas-guzzler. (Obviously you chain it to the lamp-post outside the pub.)

It is still an offence to ride a bike under the affluence of incohol, by the way.

Unfortunately costs can vary but even so, in normal circumstances, you should be left with at least £100 net profit per hive ( I plan for £140). Twelve hives will give you a useful £100 per month – probably more. Pays for necessities like the Pinot Grigio, just about.

Your set-up costs are reasonable – particularly if you avoid paying top price for equipment – but these costs need to be amortised against the profit in early years. If you make a conscious effort to maintain your equipment and colonies carefully, have a well-researched programme to replace queens and persistently find new markets for your product it will go a long way to producing a consistent profit.

Professional honey farmers tend not to buy-in queens, they breed their own. Once you have established the strain you want to work with, you should consider doing the same. Joining a bee-breeding group makes a lot of sense. Honey farmers in America , Denmark , Israel and other places often routinely replace their queens once a year. This makes good commercial sense regarding fecundity and significantly reduces swarming. If you can learn by this and apply it, you may find a similar advantage even if you do not want to amass the biggest apiary in England.

Finally remember, Profit is only a dirty word if you don’t make it. If fact, running your hives to make a profit should encourage you to bring a degree of excellence to the way in which you keep your bees – with an obvious benefit to them too. Even, dare I say it, people who kept slaves in less enlightened times found it more profitable to ensure the well-being of their slaves. Sentiment combined with practicality is a good combination for those who know which factor to emphasise when the chips are down. Mike Oliver

In this article we learn from Chad Cryer that varroa can indeed cross species!

It started with a mild irritation of the scalp. Colleagues who had noticed me subconsciously scratching at my head jokingly asked if I had nits. It was only after I had this pointed out that I became aware of it myself. It must have been some thirty years since I had had nits. I have vague memories of my father combing through my hair with his pocket comb, looking for lice. I was sure that as in the past, a little shampooing would sort out this minor problem. Lloyds chemist (there are a number of other chemists available on the high street) were only too happy to supply me with nit shampoo and the bottle came with a nifty little blue nit comb. Quite how I had come by the parasites was a mystery to me. As far as I was aware my head had only come into contact with that of my wife's for the previous four years. I shuddered to think of the possible points of contamination. I promised myself to always demand a clean head-rest cover on future trips by public transport. I also decided that from now on I would always travel first-class, (better not to be swapping lice with the proletariat.) The next day I was disappointed to find myself still scratching, nevertheless, I was sure that another nit shampoo treatment would be the answer. Sadly it was not. Neither was a third nor fourth attempt. Consultation with the pharmacist concerning a friend of mine who had tried a certain remedy that hadn't worked resulted in my being sold a different brand of treatment. Strangely, the same chemicals in this slightly smaller bottle with a different brand name, (though costing a third more than the previous treatment,) had little effect in reducing the problem. If anything the situation had exacerbated. I was being driven crazy by the desire to scratch. It was frankly disgusting that in this sanitised day and age I was playing host to creatures that were feeding on me.

But things were to become far worse. On Thursday evening, I was sitting at my writing table. Without realising it I scratched my head and owing to my head's close proximity to the desk, I heard a faint tap as something landed on the page in front of me. Though it looked just like a small dot, I wondered if this dot had fallen from my scalp. Sure enough, closer inspection showed the dot to be a tiny creature that was making steady progress across the page under its own locomotion.

More curious than disgusted I fetched my magnifying glass from a drawer. I knew what head lice looked like; I also knew what Varroa mites looked like. With a feeling of dread welling-up inside me I went upstairs to find the nit comb. Returning to my writing table I combed my hair on to a blank page of white paper. Three other dots appeared. Under the magnifying glass these too proved to be varroa mites. I had Varroa.

I needed to consult an authority on the subject and so decided to phone Bob Needs. 'Evening Bob ' I said, disguising my distress. We exchanged pleasantries, after all, how does one broach such a subject?

'Bob, just out of interest, do varroa mites exclusively parasitize bees?'

'I think so said Bob, 'I am almost sure that they do.'

'So you never heard of varroa mites appearing on humans for example?' I asked with a particularly dry mouth. I swear Bob laughed for a whole minute. His laugh became a subsiding chuckle and then, as he became aware of my silence, he too fell silent.

'Why do you ask?' he said in a much more serious tone.

'Oh no reason' I said.

'That's ok then' he said relieved, 'for a minute I thought you were going to tell me you had varroa.' Then Bob laughed for another full minute.

'So you are saying it's impossible?'

'I expect it is' said Bob , 'I never thought about it before.' I decided to tell Bob about my friend's problem. 'And you are sure that your friend doesn't have nits?'

'Quite sure,' I told him. 'He's tried everything.'

'And they are really on his scalp?'


'Are there many?'

'I'd say it was a fair infestation.'

Well I never heard of anything like it before. I could only suggest applying the usual varroa treatments, as part of an integrated pest management strategy. I normally use icing sugar but that would be no use on a human...' said Bob pragmatically, ' either use Apistan or Bayvarol. I would however, recommend that your friend sees the doctor, it is highly unusual and I might even suggest consulting the tropical disease unit, they might know a little more.'

Contracting varroa is not something that I felt I should be shouting about from the rooftops; I certainly didn't want my fifteen minutes of fame to be as the first known case of a human playing host to a parasite that had jumped the species barrier.

My wife (a very tolerant lady) looked at me sideways as I climbed into bed. I had an Asda plastic bag secured to my head with rubber bands. Inside the bag, attached with hair clips, were three Apistan strips. The next day I sat up early and waited, did I itch? I didn't! The relief! Downstairs I shook the contents of the bag onto the kitchen table; sure enough, there had been quite a high drop count, fifty individuals or so. I breathed a sigh of relief and washed my hair thoroughly. I went about work feeling much more relaxed. Relaxed, that was, until the afternoon when I felt an itch and scratched, then another and another. The problem was back. Just my luck I thought, not only have I got Varroa, but mine are pyrethroid resistant.

Desperate measures I decided. Later that evening in the kitchen I prepared a heady concoction of oxalic, lactic and acetic acid mixed to an 18% solution. I ladled it over my head. The pain was remarkable. Rubbing salt into a wound is not sufficient to describe the burning heat that I felt. I endured the pain, hoping that the pain for the mites was worse.

It has been three weeks since I last felt an itch; I have had to wear a hat since, (although people were very accepting of my sudden alopecia.) My hair is starting to grow back now though, slowly, it all fell out in clumps within hours of my treatment. Thankfully it took the mites with it too. I am now the keenest exponent of an integrated pest management strategy with regard to the control of varroa. These days I am also much more careful about handling beekeeping equipment. For example, I no longer cut drawn comb from old frames in bed. It used to be a Sunday morning ritual of mine, along with a cup of tea and a slice of toast, but that, as well as the storing of supers and brood boxes under the bed, has had to stop. Perhaps I am not alone in having experienced this condition; I am at present taking the matter up with the Central Science Laboratory in the hope that research can be done. I for one can see that research is urgently needed. Chad Cryer

Thanks to Robin Spon-Smith for these interesting pictures of capturing a swarm high in the branches in a safe manner. Ed.

These photographs are of Peter Bashford and Mike Oliver collecting a swarm in a plastic bucket on a 20ft pole in the apiary of Robin Spon-Smith's.

Image 1

Image 2

Image 3

The Five P’s (Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance)
Yes, I know it should be Six “Ps” but there are ladies present. Once again we are at the start of a new season. How many of you were listening at the Apiary meeting in March when Peter urged you to put on those supers NOW? You can’t go wrong by putting on an extra empty super under the first one once the bees have started filling up the first one – if they don’t want it they won’t use it. Make time to prepare your 2005 plan; write in down and stick to it, don’t just lurch from crisis to crisis. Don’t be taken by surprise by your bees swarming. There is no sure cure for swarming but you can reduce it considerably – unless you happen to be the Rev. L.L. Langstroth who gloried in seeing his bees swarm, there are very good reasons to discourage this perfectly natural instinct.

How much do you know about your own bees? Are they pure-bred or crossed? How much room do they need? If they are Dark Europeans (British Blacks) they will be happy in a single standard brood-box, otherwise look seriously at other hives. Thereby you may reduce swarming problems even further and also increase honey yields by allowing the colony to build numbers.

The choice is yours but if you want to assess costs in changing from a Standard brood size to one that gives more room (whilst allowing you to keep using your Standard supers) the main options are as follows:





Brood and a half


Adequate for most purposes.

Using existing brood frames.

Using existing super and frames.


Is in two parts and takes longer to service/inspect.


Double Brood

For really large colonies e.g. Carniolans.

Using existing brood frames.

Using a second brood box and standard frames.


Can be very heavy going when you want to inspect.

By using another brood box you could be denying yourself another hive.


Adequate for most purposes.

Standard brood box easily. converted using an eke.

Easier to inspect than the above.

National supers fit.

Med (with


Needs new brood box (unless you use an eke) and new frames and foundation.


Adequate for most purposes.

Easy to inspect.

National supers fit.


Needs new brood box and frames. Can convert Standard boxes but expensive or difficult.

Long Hive

Excellent for easy lifting.

Very nice when inspecting.

Offers considerable flexibility re colony size and housing.

Can use National supers if allowed for in design.


Expensive initial outlay.

The other usual possibilities amongst single walled hives are Smith, Langstroth or Dadant hives; the latter two providing plenty of room at the expense of completely new supers, floors, roofs etc (costs very high). Whilst double walled hives such as the WBC are not so much in favour in our part of the country they still have their advocates and you can use a brood and a half/double brood/ 14x12 brood box with some fiddling with the lifts.

Look at Information Sheet 1 on North London Bee Keepers’ excellent website re changing from Standard to Deep Brood. There is another sheet on Shook Swarming which is interesting. If you can’t access the web speak to me and I will run you off a copy. Also read Steven Turner’s article in our own Newsletter in May 2004 re shook swarming.

It will sound very presumptuous to the experienced reader but if you believe that old chestnut so many gurus seem to trot out at the drop of a hat that you can easily check for queen cells by splitting brood and a half or double broods and examining the bottom of the upper set of frames, more fool you. The bees have not signed up for that convenience. Check the whole of the area properly. If fact, as somebody observed, it could be precisely the disturbance caused by splitting the boxes apart that initiates queen cell making.

I am not into clipping queens but the practice has its advocates. If your queens are valuable and you are looking to collect and re-hive your queens, why risk them collapsing in a heap and getting lost as the swarm tries to fly? Incidentally, there is some evidence that queens do fly other than at times of mating and swarming and unless you are into queenless colonies or kamikaze queens – my own humble opinion for what it is worth is - don’t clip.

On the other hand I strongly agree with marking. If you are in doubt as to the age of the queen why not dab some white Tippex on her so that you can check easier if she is superseded or if you need to find her to replace her? A slight word of caution. This year’s colour is blue but next year it will be either grey or white, so sort your ladies out before then or locate the mark somewhere distinctive. Some people use a combination of two spots of different colours. Better still use grey next year.

If you can’t find the queen and you think the colony may be queenless a tip I had is to watch to see if the bees are bringing in pollen. The point being that they won’t bring in pollen (the theory is) unless the queen is present and laying. Also, clear out all last year’s pollen you can find – it probably won’t get used; the bees are only really interested in the fresh stuff.

If you want to re-queen an aggressive colony, try moving the hive to a different spot, inserting your new queen in a new hive on the original site on one of the frames with brood and a few nurse bees. The field bees from the first hive will return to the new hive and the old queen should be easier to find a day or two later amongst the less aggressive younger bees in the old hive. You can reunite the hives or increase with another queen.

What else can you do?

Make a decision not just to be a beekeeper but to be the best beekeepers you can be. That is the best formula for success in anything in life. Onwards and upwards!! Mike Oliver - Bromley BKA

In the last edition of the Apis-UK magazine John Yates made several sweeping statements about the Bee Improvement and Bee Breeders Association (BIBBA) and the native bee. John also refers to Brother Adam.

Many beekeepers today read Brother Adam's books and accept his statement that the native honeybees of these islands were wiped out by the Isle of Wight disease, yet at the time of his statement many beekeepers refuted this. I have bound copies of the British Bee Journal for the years 1925 and 1926 that make interesting reading. There are letters from beekeepers completely refuting Brother Adam's statement that the native bee was extinct. Beekeepers who had been keeping bees since the turn of the century (1900) stated that their colonies never had the disease, and they still had the same strain of bee as they started off with. It is not nature's way to bring about widespread and total destruction, inevitably there are always survivors as was the case with myxomatosis in rabbits.

It is significant that several bodies are now advocating that beekeepers in each region of Europe should be persuaded to use the original bee of the region. At the Apimondia Congress in Slovenia in 2003 the President stated in his address during the closing session that the Apimondia Congress had decided to try to persuade governments and beekeeping organisations to promote the original native bee of each region and to discourage the importation of sub-species from other regions. Likewise the EU funded Beekeeping and Apis Biodiversity in Europe (BABE) project has been working with six universities in Europe to sample bees from each region to identify their origins, and again to urge beekeeping organisations to use the bees native to their region. This project recognises that from a conservation perspective two important components of honeybee diversity are threatened:

  1. Native races and subspecies of honeybees which are adapted to their local environment.
  2. Genetic diversity within local populations. This genetic diversity is of great importance both as part of Europe’s natural biological heritage and as a source of genetic variation for the continued use of the honeybee in agriculture.

As a part of this project researchers at the University of Copenhagen studied the genetic composition of honeybee populations from a number of European countries to determine the proportion of non-native bees in these regions. The findings of this survey have now been published in Molecular Ecology magazine. There are some important references and conclusions in the paper regarding our native honeybees, in particular the statement that the DNA samples collected from selected areas in Scotland, North Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Ireland are quite distinctive and indicate that descendants of the original native bees of these islands are still with us in a pure form.

In 1843 skeps of honeybees were taken from Yorkshire to Tasmania. Recently a sample of the descendants of these bees was sent to Copenhagen University for DNA testing. The result showed that these bees were closely related to the samples mentioned above.

BIBBA is now following up the BABE study by initiating a survey to locate other places in the UK where there are surviving colonies of the native honeybee. In this survey we invite beekeepers to send in samples from colonies that have the appearance of native honeybees i.e. the abdomens should be uniformly black or dark brown without any yellow rings and have narrow tomenta, i.e. less than half the width of the tergites (abdominal segments). The tomenta are the bands of very short fine hairs that cover part of the 3rd, 4th and 5th tergites. Samples that conform will go on to the next stage for morphometric analysis after which the beekeepers of the most promising colonies will be asked to send a further small sample for DNA analysis at the University of Copenhagen.

Beowulf Cooper, who founded BIBBA in 1964, would have loved to have seen this day, since he had ploughed a lone furrow for many years advocating just what these august bodies are now saying. Beo was ridiculed by many of the so called experts for saying the native bee was still with us, but the above mentioned studies now prove his assertion to be correct.

During the past 40 years BIBBA has done much to enable the identification, conservation, restoration and improvement of the native honeybee through its publications on bee breeding and queen rearing. BIBBA also holds workshops to give instruction in morphometric and queen rearing techniques when participants are often provided with ripe queen cells or grafted larvae to take home.

Some 20 BIBBA breeding groups are now established throughout the UK, Ireland and Brittany. The Galtee Group in Ireland ( led by Michael Mac Giolla Coda is the most extensive group. This covers an area of 2000 sq. Km. with the active participation of 65 beekeepers. Queens are supplied to members of the group and are also sold to others. Such is the reputation of these bees in Ireland that it is expected that the monostrain area will extend further still. Other BIBBA breeding groups are also successfully using the native bee in breeding programmes. It is true there are difficulties in getting queens mated within strain, but the use of isolated or semi isolated mating sites, or instrumental insemination does enable this to be done. Today we have many beekeepers enjoying good-tempered colonies of native bees. The reputation that native bees are aggressive and bad tempered is misplaced, it is the hybrids, the cross between native bees and other sub species or mongrels that produces aggressive bees.

I am advised by one of my colleagues who is a geneticist that genetic improvement is only practicable by selective breeding within good local stocks. There is also some indication of natural resistance to varroa in some gentle strains of the native bee. It is from such bees that we should aim to derive the honeybees of the future, not by importation of foreign or artificially constructed strains. Albert Knight BIBBA Groups Secretary


This recipe is a real original and excellent for a cold wet night after a full day’s beekeeping.

When Cortez and his army arrived in the land of the Aztecs, they were unimpressed by the little dark brown beans many of the Aztecs were carrying, until they learned they were used like money! These beans were cacao beans, a popular trade item before getting ground, roasted, and made into hot chocolate (without milk-- no cows!) As popular as it was for the Aztecs, chocolate, or xocatl, was originally developed as a food by the Maya. Sometimes it was made without honey, as a bitter drink, and occasionally even contained chillies, to make it spicy. The Aztecs, Maya, and others also added a cinnamon-flavoured bark (canela) native to Mexico and Mesoamerica, but this is not readily available, so the cinnamon in this recipe is the oriental variety available in modern supermarkets.

2 ounces (squares) bitter, unsweetened bakers' chocolate.
1 cup hot water.
3 tablespoons honey.
Dash of salt.
3 cups hot water.
4 sticks cinnamon bark.

Chop the chocolate and heat it in 1 cup of water until melted. Add honey and salt. Beat the hot chocolate with a balloon wire whip as you add 3 cups of hot water. Serve the foamy hot chocolate with cinnamon-bark stick stirrers.

FACT FILE Back to top

Most readers of this magazine will be fully aware of the nature and use of propolis as used by their bees. The bees take advantage of its antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties in protecting the colony against disease. Indeed, propolis has been shown to kill Paenibacillus larvae, the most important bacterial disease of bees.

At least 180 different compounds have been identified so far in propolis:

Resins – Flavonoids, phenolic acids and esters 45-55%
Waxes and fatty acids 23-35%
Essential oils (volatiles): 10%
Pollen (proteins) 5%
Other organics and minerals 5%

The chemical constitution of propolis is highly variable because of the wide range of plants visited by bees and this variability has been the subject of research as scientists try to establish propolis standardisation which is of obvious value to the pharmacological industry. These types of study are particularly valuable with respect to practical applications in therapy. Research now is trying to connect a particular propolis type to a specific type of biological activity and formulate recommendations for practitioners. In this respect, a study of propolis is of immense value. As the most important chemical weapon used by bees against pathogenic micro organisms, propolis has been used as a remedy since ancient times by humans and in some countries is still one of the most frequently used treatments for stomach ulcers, wounds, burns, sore throats and tooth problems.

In temperate zones all over the world, the main source of propolis is the poplar, mainly the black poplar Populus nigra. For this reason, propolis from tropical zones where the poplar cannot survive have a different chemical composition and comprehensive studies of Brazilian propolis have confirmed this, with the main source being a leaf resin. Recently Cuban propolis has caught the attention of researchers and again this differs from both European and Brazilian propolis. Undoubtedly there are other ecosystems where bees will produce propolis with more different chemical compositions.

Despite these different chemical compositions, the actual type of activity is similar and at times amazingly so. However, in order to use the substance correctly in application it is important to have detailed and comparative data on every type of biological activity combined with chemical data. The bio tests have to be carried out with both chemically well characterised and standardised propolis and this is where the problems lie. Propolis is infinitely variable. It is this problem of standardisation that is now driving much of the useful research and comparative studies are especially valuable if we are to progress our knowledge of applications in therapy. Studies of this kind will enable scientists to relate a particular type of propolis to a specific type of biological activity and so formulate recommendations for practitioners. The future of propolis in apitherapy is huge.


May time and I hope that the various May traditions and revelries are still being observed in the UK? It is a good month for our bees too although with the general warming of the climate, things might change. In olden times May was regarded as the first month that bees could be given free reign as told by John Evelyn in his Elysium Britannicum in 1706.

 ‘In May give them full liberty for they come abroad and are not fully provided ‘till mid-May at which time they frequently swarm, and those are ever the best because in June they are in their strength and prime, for then there is great plenty of flowers and honey diaws.’

If you are interested in John Evelyn’s work, which to me is wonderful, you can purchase John Evelyn’s Manuscript on Bees from his larger work Elysium Britannicum, from IBRA. It is an inexpensive reprint of Bee World article written in 1965 and edited by DA Smith.

To my mind his work is the crucial link between the ancient Greek and Roman way of bee keeping and our twenty first century methods. This covers over 1000 years of beekeeping. Amazing! Evelyn often refers to the Greek and Roman authors on the subject as essential references to his own writings yet he has an intuitive knowledge of various aspects of beekeeping that we now are aware of and an ignorance of certain aspects of the craft of which we are still essentially in ignorance. It is well worth a read.


This month we again bring you another delightful poem from the prolific pen of the American poet Emily Dickson. This is definitely one of my favourites.

Bee! I’m Expecting You

Bee! I’m Expecting You!
Was saying yesterday
To someone you know
That you were due.

The frogs got home last week,
Are settled, and at work;
Birds, mostly back,
The clover warm and thick.

You’ll get my letter by
The seventeenth; reply
Or better, be with me,
Yours, Fly.

LETTERS Back to top

Dear Mr. Cramp,
I am impressed how quickly your journal downloads, colour pictures & all! I try to do something similar but on a much smaller scale with our bee branch newsletter (in Word & via email) so would be delighted to learn how to do it. Are there any tips you could pass on without compromising trade secrets? Or where do you suggest I might go to learn? Jeremy Quinlan Hon Sec, Ipswich & E Suffolk BKA. The Old Rectory, Dallinghoo, Woodbridge IP13 0LA.

Hi Jeremy,
David passed on your email to me as my role in Apis-UK is to construct the html pages and manage the website. All the images you see on Apis-UK are optimised for download which means a compromise between image quality and image pixel size, jpg compression, and type of file format. You need a decent image optimizing programme, of which there are many to choose from. I use Fireworks. Any web design package could be used for creating the html pages, I use Dreamweaver. Word is a terrible programme for creating serious websites. I use Word for editing the Apis-UK text and cut and past into Dreamweaver, this gives you more control over the code generated. There is no secret to Apis-UK it's just html newsletters on a website. The mailing list programme is a cgi script you can buy which automatically manages subscription requests. I am self-taught in the art of website building, you could do the same, I learned by making all the mistakes of a beginner (just like in beekeeping) and using the internet to get ideas. You can buy Marcomeadia STUDIO which includes all the software needed, then it's down to design and practice. Not many folk get involved in serious hobby websites due to the cost of software and hosting, plus the learning curve. It helps to have sponsors like Northern Bee Books who pay for hosting and software. It has taken 3 years of hard work to get Apis-UK where it is now. I wish you good luck with the project, I'm sure your local beekeeping association will benefit from any extra publicity the newsletters will generate. Apis-UK is a commercial internet publication which is run on a shoe string and is a joint effort between the webmaster and the editor and Northern Bee Books. I hope this helps. Regards Steven Turner (web admin)

Dear Mr. Cramp,
I am the Secretary of the High Wycombe Beekeepers Association. We are a local Association with around 50 members. We are members of the National BBKA.  Each month we put out an in house newsletter to our members on matt ers of interest and the month’s programme ahead. Would you have any objection to our including the odd article in Apis into our newsletter,  which is of especial interest to our members. The newsletter is free of charge and circulated only to our members. Regards,  Phil Wiggins

All editors of beekeeping newsletters or magazines are very welcome to use Apis-UK articles as long as Apis-UK is acknowledged as the source. Ed.


Introduction to Beekeeping
Venue: Broomfield Hall Derby College, Morley, near Derby
Dates: Saturday 7th May for eight Saturday mornings
Times: 10 am to 12 noon
Tutor: Margaret Cowley M.Sc., Cert.Ed.
Cost: £94 including Open College Network registration and certification

This course is ideal for those thinking of keeping bees as a hobby, or for those who have already started beekeeping and would like to improve. It follows the syllabus for the British Beekeepers' Association Basic Certificate in Apiculture and will be a mix of theoretical knowledge and practical sessions. More information and a booking form available E-mail: course @


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

4th June 2005 - Bee Instrumental Insemination Group Practical Day. Location: Islip Village Hall, Islip, Nr. Oxford. Time: 10:00 AM Start. Practical demonstrations of semen harvesting and queen insemination. The opportunity to learn more about Instrumental Insemination techniques and equipment. Cost: Free to 'Bee Instrumental Insemination Group', BIIG members. Non members £2.00 on entry. Contact: Stephen Loughborough. Tel. 01865 378613 Email. Stephenloughborough @ John Perkins BIIG Events Co-ordinator.

Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th June 2005 - Sutton Coldfield and North Birmingham Beekeepers Association Biennial Weekend @ Wishaw Country Sports, Grove Lane.Wishaw, Sutton Coldfield. Speakers: Professor Robert Pickard, Brenda Ball, Celia Davis, Dr Adam Hart. Plus a full supporting programme. Contact: Miss R. Smith 14 Wrekin Road, Sutton Coldfield. Tel: 0121 354 7548 Email: @

Friday, Saturday & Sunday 15th, 16th & 17th July, 2005 - KentCounty Bees and Honey Show. Organised by the Kent Bee-Keepers’ Association in conjunction with Dover, Medway and Thanet Beekeepers’ Associations. (entries close 8th July 2005) Venue: Kent County Showground, Detling, Maidstone. Judges: Honey Mrs. H. Blackburn. Cakes & Wax Mr. N. Grey. Junior & Photographs Mr. & Mrs. L.Gordon-Sales. Contacts: Show Secretary: Mrs. M. Hill. Whittington, Old Wives Lees, Canterbury, CT4 8BH 01227 730477. Show Supervisor: Michael Wall 020-8302-7355. Chief Steward: Sally Hardy 01797 222570 or 07802763048. Download show schedules and entry forms from the URL:

Tuesday 26th, Wednesday 27th and Thursday 28th July - Bees & Honey at the New Forest & Hampshire County Show is held at New Park, Brockenhurst. Preparations for the Honey and Bee Marquee are in full swing with the schedule for classes now available. The New Forest & Hampshire County Show holds a large open honey show and welcomes competitors from across the country, with a variety of 30 classes to choose from in the large honey and bee marquee. Expertise is not necessary to enter, just enthusiasm for the craft. The Show is a charity, whose purpose is to support countryside activities and try to ensure that our rural heritage is protected. As a result of this all the marquees run by the Show have a theme that is provided to hopefully educate the public in an entertaining way. The Honey and Bee marquee fulfils this by having not only a whole range of activities for children, including beeswax candle making, demonstrations of live bees and a glass wall observation hive; but for those interested in the history of honey-making and the lifecycle of the bee there are knowledgeable enthusiasts on hand with microscopes, display cabinets and literature. Honey tasting is a popular pastime during the Show and bee keepers who exhibit can sell their wares to the 100,000 visitors the Show attracts.

For details of the schedule or any other enquiries please contact the Chairman of the Honey and Bees Section, Margaret Davies on 01202 526077 or by E-mail on marg @ Tickets for the Show will be available from June 1 st on the Show’s ticket hotline on 01590 622409. The main line station of Brockenhurst is near the showground and Wilts and Dorset provide a bus service along this route including a stop at the Showground.

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:

Friday 23rd to Sunday 25th September 2005 - Midland and South Western Counties Convention and Conference. It will be held on the edge of the Derbyshire Peak District at the Hayes Conference Centre near Alfreton. It will be packed with hot topics from shook swarming and small hive beetle to breeding strategies to meet current challenges. We have an excellent list of speakers which currently includes: Pat Mills, David Kemp, Norman Carreck, Adam Hart, Graham Law, Bernard Diaper, Albert Knight, Claire Waring, and Alistair Battersby. Full 2 1/2 day attendance including all meals and overnight en suite accommodation will cost £180. Day visitors will be welcome at £30 to £40 depending on the day. A full programme and booking form can be obtained by post from Peter Cash e-mail: peter @ or in pdf format from me email: steverose @ Everyone is welcome; not just members of the 10 counties directly involved. Steve Rose

Editor: David Cramp Submissions contact the Editor
Web Editor: Steven Turner

E-mail addresses are not hyper linked to prevent harvesting for spamming purposes. We recommend you cut & paste to your e-mail client if required.


Quote last month
Last months quote was of course from the Holy Bible; Ecclesiasticus xi. 3. (From a translation of the 1603 edition).

Quote of this month
This quote comes from a very obscure source, but some will know of it. As I have yet again mentioned ants in this issue, perhaps this quote will enable us to see an obvious difference in their attitudes as opposed to those of bees.

‘How venerably and mysteriously she works. The Ants indeed for themselves, but the Bee for others.’

Pocket Pollen Colour GuidePocket Pollen Colour Guide
A handy guide to aid in the identification of pollen loads of the honey bee. Showing 72 examples. Only £1.50 UK postage paid. Buy online from Northern Bee Books URL:

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