January 2001

Travelling Workshops
BIBBA would be prepared to take a travelling workshop to a group of beekeepers provided there were sufficient beekeepers attending to make it worthwhile.
Obviously expenses would have to be met, this would involve mainly petrol and photocopying of handouts plus a fee for the work put in by the demonstrators. If long distances were involved it could mean accommodation may have to be provided. Expenses could be funded either by making a charge for those attending or meeting these out of the funds of the Association being visited. It would up to the Association or group to decide.

What a travelling workshop could offer.
The idea would be to have demonstrations on grafting of larvae, making up mini-nucs and Morphometry. This would mean colonies being available to show how to collect bees for sampling, and how to make up nucs with bees.

A suitable hall and one or two slide projectors would be required also. A team of BIBBA members would come to carry out the demonstrations and there would be opportunities for those attending to have 'hands-on' experience.
If required a nucleus could be brought along by the demonstrators with pure bred Apis mellifera mellifera bees to provide the larvae for grafting, and these put in a cell-raiser if this was prepared beforehand by the group being visited.
The queens raised could be sold by the group to help with funding the visit.
If you would like more information please contact the BIBBA Groups Secretary,
Albert Knight.

BIBBA Web site
Angus Stokes has been refurbishing the BIBBA web site, and this is now a really attractive Internet resource. It has many pages and a navigating system that makes it easy to find what one wants.
To get to the site the Internet address is:
The opening banner is a bee on a dandelion flower, clicking on site map lists the various options, and by clicking on say, the News, accesses that page.
Among the many pages are past magazine articles, these are at the moment being constructed. There are options to download BIBBA software, links to other beekeeping sites, read about BIBBA Groups, and a host of others. If you have a computer or have a friend who has one, have a look at this interesting site.

BIBBA Committee
The AGM will soon be upon us (29th April) and nominations for committee members should be received by the Secretary at least 28 days before then. There must be BIBBA members who could offer their services to serve on this committee to help to steer BIBBA through what promises to be a very interesting period.
If you feel you would like to know more about what is involved, give our Secretary David Allen a ring on 01302 885813.

Contributions to this Newsletter
Any news from Groups would be very welcome for inclusion in this Newsletter. You may feel what your Group is doing is not earth-shattering news, it doesn't have to be, we'd like to know you are at least active, so get writing.


Advance Programme.
At our A.G.M. at the end of each year we arrange a programme of activities for the coming year in which all members may take part. Of necessity these activities must take place in the spring or early summer so as not to clash with other beekeeping events, holidays etc.

Social Aspect.
Generally about four events are arranged to take place on Sunday afternoons during April, May and June. We have the occasional indoor meeting such as a Morphometry workshop but mostly they are outdoor activities and usually include one event in which non-beekeepers such as family members are more than welcome to participate. In the past we have had such popular events as garden walks, woodland walks and hedgerow walks. These are usually led by one or two members who have a fairly good knowledge of plants, shrubs, and trees, including bee flora. We have found that all these activities both the beekeeping ones and those dealing with related flora and fauna of the countryside afford members and their families a wonderful opportunity to get better acquainted. We try to further promote this social aspect of our activities by having a little picnic at the conclusion of each event.
Evaluation and Recording.
The year 2000 was a typical example when we started the season with a visit to Carrigmore, an apiary in the Galtee/Vee Valley in Co. Tipperary. This was a demonstration on the manipulation of bee colonies and the main theme was colony evaluation and recording. Each member present was given the opportunity of handling the bees and assessing their behaviour under manipulation as well as evaluating the condition of the colony including development, strength, stores of pollen and honey, evidence of queen cell production, and presence or absence of disease. Particular emphasis was placed on the performance of the queen as this apiary contained a number of queens that had been earmarked for selection for breeding as a result of their colonies' appraisals on the previous year's evaluation records. The catching, clipping and marking of queens were demonstrated.
The results of each colony's evaluation were written up on a display board and the importance of these records in the process of bee improvement through selection and culling was fully discussed. Each member was provided with a handout giving details of the group's system of evaluation and recording which is being practiced by many members for a number of years and appears to be quite adequate for our bee improvement programme. An added benefit of this demonstration was the experience of working bees under circumstances that were far from ideal. On the day the weather conditions were not ideal for opening hives. The afternoon was reasonably fair to start with, dry but quite cool and breezy. As the demonstration progressed we had the odd thunder and flash of lightening. However all colonies were capable of being worked without gloves except for one which was unacceptably aggressive. The record book showed this colony to be aggressive the previous year and its queen was down for culling. Even though we found that the queen of the previous year had been superceded naturally the previous autumn the aggressive behaviour still persisted. A subsequent visit confirmed this position and the colony was then requeened. At the end of the demonstration the party had the usual cup of tea and a chat beside the apiary and we were just finishing the second cup when the rain started and we were forced to run for the cars. We felt that the weather clerk had been most kind to us.

Michael Woulfe's Apiary.
Our second outdoor meeting took place at the apiary of Michael Woulfe in Co. Cork. This demonstration again consisted of colony evaluation and recording. This facilitated members from the western end of our breeding zone or who were unable to attend the demonstration at Carrigmore. Despite the odd heavy shower most of Michael's bees were reasonably well behaved. One over-aggressive colony had been previously dequeened and a queen was introduced to that one after cutting out all the queen cells. One other colony was deemed to be too aggressive also and was marked down for requeening as a matter of urgency.

Mount Congreve Gardens.
Due to the involvement of so many of our members in the Varroa information seminars which took place in various parts of the country on Sundays, we had only one other outdoor meeting in the year 2000. This proved to be a most enjoyable occasion when we visited Mount Congreve estate in Co. Waterford. Family members and friends came to join with the group on a lovely Sunday afternoon in June for a wonderful walk through the famous gardens and well-wooded demesne. The sun shone gloriously and a most enjoyable social outing was had by more than forty people who took part in this event in such pleasant surroundings among the trees and shrubs and flowering plants.

Next Year - 2001
Each year we try to vary our activities both in the content and in the location. Thus most of our members' tastes are catered for and we are indeed fortunate in our area to have such a variety of facilities and such good contacts among our members. We look forward in 2001 to visiting James Power's apiary at Carrick-on-Suir on the border of Tipperary and Waterford, and Sally Perceval-Maxwell's apiary and garden near Tallow in West Waterford. The group is most grateful to Sally and James for their kind invitations. We look forward also to the first visit of the group to our new Dun Aonghusa breeding apiary in the Galtee/Vee Valley with demonstrations in the various methods of queen rearing including grafting and also instrumental insemination. Another suggestion that we may follow up is the investigation of some possible Drone Congregation Areas. Whatever the event the weather is all-important. So let us hope that the sun will shine on our outdoor activities as well as our beekeeping and queen rearing during the year 2001.

Michael MacGiolla Coda

Editor's note:-
What an excellent idea; to have pleasurable outings that help beekeeper's to become more knowledgeable of the flora of the countryside, and to make these social occasions to involve non-beekeeper's.

Dartford Bee Breeding Group.
The group consists of three members; two having a background involvement with Brian Palmer and the Hadlow Bee Unit. I personally had been producing queens based on material from BIBBA and Ireland (Michael MacGiolla coda)
Although the season was a bit hit & miss, we managed to re-queen 10 of the apiary's
colonies and produce 9 x 5 frame nuc's. Including queens used by members, in all we produced 25 viable queens, I am hoping to arrange some Morphometry assessment
during the winter.
As apiary manager of Dartford Branch, I suggested at the AGM that we should incorporate a bee-breeding programme as an interesting project for our summer meetings and a source of gentle bees for our members.
Dartford Branch has suffered from falling numbers and apathy amongst some of the remaining members, so this project was also an attempt to inject some beekeeping
interest into the branch. The first meeting of the group was used to identify the material we could use. This consisted of an Apis m. m. queen from a French commercial queen breeder. Also available was some first and second cross queens mated in an apiary flooded with selected drones. Using the branch apiary as the mating site, we incorporated queen rearing as part of our summer programme of demonstrations. We were fortunate to have Brian Palmer come along to speak. After a practical demonstration of simple methods to produce queens, he gave some useful advice to help the project.
Our summer programme also included the making up of mini nuc's, 5 frame nuc's and re-queening colonies. This complemented the breeding project.
I am involved with "Local Agenda 21" and have included the native bee-breeding project as part of the "Bio Diversity programme". Dartford Council has shown an interest as part of their commitment to LG21.
I hope you find this information of interest and I will keep you informed as the project develops.

Peter Fry

Report from the North Tyneside Group
By Bill Tindal

The North Tyneside group are planning to have a better season in 2001. I always say we are going to do better next year, in fact every beekeeper I know says the same.
Here are some thoughts on ventilation and hygienic behaviour. Some years ago I picked up a National brood box from a beekeeper who gave up the craft, this had a 50mm hole drilled in the centre, and for several seasons I have used this hive at the oilseed rape, clover and heather, with a normal floor, the lower entrance left open to facilitate the removal of debris. The bees seldom use the lower entrance but favour the higher one, and this winter I have blocked the lower entrance to test the bees ability to clean the floor.
I have a hive with a metal floor (manufactured), the rear half is perforated and invariably gets gummed up, the front has an aluminium landing board. This tends to chill the bees early in the season when they are water carrying so I inserted a thin sheet of plywood at the entrance. In spite of all the floor ventilation I noticed a slight amount of mould on the outer combs.
I have made some mesh floors and I find there is a lot of pollen in the debris below these. Pollen is invaluable in the early part of the year, and I believe the metal causes heat loss by the bees due to conduction, and is not conducive to brood rearing. I have some 5 frame nucs that I have used for many years and these have two 3 inch circles of mesh in the floors at the rear, this seems to solve the problem of the bees chilling on the cold mesh early in the season.
Metal mouse guards can cause heat loss due to conduction of heat from the bees, so I use wooden blocks with just a bee space and I provide plenty of top ventilation.

Hygienic Behaviour
Hygienic behaviour is difficult to assess, all the colonies I have tested by destroying bee larvae with a needle were removed within a few hours, so I decided to monitor floor cleaning as a guide to hygienic behaviour, and regarding any colony that had a clean floor as hygienic. The mites found on the floor being examined under a microscope to see if they have damaged inflicted by the bees.
We all want hygienic bees that will kill Varroa mites and I think the cure/prevention is in the hands of geneticists and scientists.

I am the Director of an organic farm and it really hurts me to have to resort to chemicals to keep our bees.

Editor's notes

There has been a good response to the appeal for articles for the January Bee Improvement magazine that should see this magazine out by the end of January. However it must be an ongoing effort in getting articles, for without copy no publication can fulfill the aspirations of the organisation producing it.
It is not intended that this newsletter should deprive the magazine of articles, the aim of the newsletter is intended to be news about groups, even if this is just a mention of the existence of a bee breeding group, for I often get asked by BIBBA members for information of a group near where they live, so I will list below the groups I know.


Dartford Bee Breeders
East Midlands Group
Galtee Bee Breeders
North Devon Bee Breeders
North Tyneside Group
North York Moors Honeybee Conservation Group
Peak Bee Group
Blackburn Group

If your group is missing from this list please let me know.

I hope the reports in this newsletter will inspire others to adopt some of the ideas these groups have discussed. Beekeepers are helpful, and are noted for this, and I am sure groups can mutually benefit in many ways from co-operating with one another.

The next newsletter is planned for April.

Albert Knight Email: albert@bibba.com

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