A Hertfordshire event not to be missed....the Spring Convention

Many of the exhibitors will be offering special deals on orders made before the show.  If you’d like to hear about these, please send your email address to John Palombo : secretary@hertsbees.org.uk



12:30 Doors open
2:00 Doug Brown
3:00 Liz Samuelson
4:00 Wally Thrale
5:00 Close


Doug Brown has been keeping bees in Cambridgeshire for 14 years.  He has long been active in the Cambridgeshire Beekeepers Association, running the newsletter and holding the posts of Vice Chairman and Chairman.  In 2011 Doug was elected to be a Trustee of the BBKA and in the subsequent 4 years went on to hold the posts of Vice Chairman and Chairman.  Doug stood down as Chairman in January of this year but remains a Trustee of BBKA and is the lead Trustee for the Technical and Environment Committee.  Doug will be sharing his thoughts and experiences on the “interesting times” that the BBKA is going through at the moment and where that might lead the Association in the future.
Liz Samuelson did her undergraduate degree at Sussex, where she worked at the Laboratory of Apiculture and Social Insects under Francis Ratnieks. She then moved to Royal Holloway, University of London to do a Masters and a PhD with supervision from Dr Elli Leadbeater. She will be talking about the Bees in the City project, an ongoing study looking at the effects of urbanisation on honeybee health and behaviour. This talk will present some preliminary findings from pollen and parasite samples that have been collected from several apiaries around the South East, including a number in Hertfordshire.
Wally Thrale started keeping bees in 1988 on a small scale but gradually increased numbers over the years. When he retired from his ‘day job’ seven years ago he decided to become a semi commercial beekeeper, so beekeeping now takes up a lot of his spare time in the summer months.  Wally will be talking about the EARS project (Eastern Associations Research Studentship) which came out one of the annual Regional Bee Inspector meetings. It allows individual Associations to group together to provide sufficient money to apply for a BBSRC grant. As a result of this, one PhD project is now complete, a second is part way through and a third is now being considered.

BBKA Survey October to December 2015

Please don't forget to complete the BBKA survey.   It is canvassing opinions about the future of your organisation so let your views be heard.  Click here to take you to the BBKA survey login page.

Hertfordshire Beekeepers Association - Spring Show and AGM

28th March 2015 starting at 1.00pm

Tewin Village Hall


The show includes:
  • Honey Competition – three entries from each division
  • Wax exchange – stock-up on foundation
  • Woodworking corner – brush up on hive and frame making skills
  • Microscopy demonstration
  • Bring and Buy stall – chance to pick-up a bargain
  • Sale of new frames, hives, jars, fondant, etc.
  • Quiz
The AGM will be kept very short and only covers:
  • Updates on some of the things going on around the county
  • A small amount of formal business (election of officers)
Please come along.  All welcome.

Advert - nucs for sale

Two overwintered nucs for sale:

  • Local Herts/Essex mongrel bees!
  • 14” x 12” Frames x 6
  • Will be ready for collection from Bishop’s Stortford area towards the end of April
  • £150 each

Please call John on 07881 504538 if interested.

National Honey Show 2014

As you already know, an enthusiastic team works hard all year round to plan and bring you a bigger and better National Honey Show each year.  You’ll be pleased to know that the postponement of proposed building work at St Georges means the venue is available for both our 2014 and 2015 Shows.

As usual, for 2014 we will have lectures by world class scientific researchers in the bee world.  The provisional programme includes Dr Jamie Ellis University of Florida on the subjects of Research there, Honey Bee Biology, and their diseases and pathogens;  Ann Harman, Vermont, US will talk on the topics of sugars and reducing stress on bees, and Pollination; Giles Budge  on the work of the NBU; Prof Nikolaus Koeniger on honeybee diversity, and preventing re-infestation of varroa  and Gudrun Koeniger on mating strategies to avoid inbreeding.  Professor Stephen Martin will talk about life cycles of wasps and hornets, and Michael Badger MBE on maximising  honey production in the urban environment.

The Friday BeeCraft Lectures provisional programme includes whether bees like the taste of honey by Nicola Simcock from  the Institute of Neuroscience, University of Newcastle and Africanised bees by Ann Harman, Vermont, US.

Saturday lectures for those new to beekeeping, and/or just interested in the subjects will include Yearly Beekeeping Activities, and Products of the Hive for Showing.

On the subject of showing, we have two new classes this year: Class 6 for 2 jars of set honey; and Class 41 one bottle of sweet and one bottle of dry mead .

As last year, there will be lectures at 9.30am and 11am on the Thursday morning.  The trade hall will open earlier, at 12 noon on Thursday.  The main show opening ceremony is at 2pm, followed by exhibition of classes which opens after the judging has finished.

We want to encourage more competitive entries, and give our old hands a run for the prizes.  Many of our experts are happy to both talk to newcomers at the show, and share their ‘secrets’ in the ‘how to’ workshops. We appreciate that many people are interested in how the judges arrive at their decisions.  Judges have followed a long path of showing themselves, stewarding, and study to become judges and many are happy to share their knowledge and expertise.  Time constraints prevent detailed comments for every entry, but two of the Gift Classes: Class 5: Two jars of liquid honey and Class 6: Two jars of set honey will have judges’ feedback for every entry.  Many of the judges stay at the show during Thursday afternoon, some for Friday and/or Saturday, and would be happy to answer interested enquiries about the classes they have judged. Any exhibitor is free to approach any judges who are around after judging is complete.

As ever, the National Honey Show relies on a large team of volunteers, and all offers of help are welcome.   Do contact us – you can e-mail the Show Secretary at showsec@zbee.com and he will pass your offer to the right person, if you can spare some time at the Show to help.

In 2013 we were successful in winning National Lottery funding towards the video project, and for the first time, were able to video some of the lectures, the first of which are available for all to view on YouTube.  These have been expertly produced, and have been very well received, with large numbers of people viewing them.  If you haven’t seen them yet and would like to, the simplest way is to put ‘National Honey Show YouTube Channel’ into Google and you’ll get there straightaway.  If you don’t have a computer, your local (UK) library almost certainly offers free internet access and will help you find the videos.  Check out whether they provide headphones and if not, take some along as the lectures are well worth listening to.

We would like to be able to offer this expensive, luxury, but very popular service again in the future and hope to attract National Lottery funding again.  However this is not a reliable or complete source of funding, so we would welcome sponsorship.  In addition, we would also like to expand the National Honey Show raffle to facilitate the funding of future videos.  To this end we plan to increase the ticket circulation and also… (for 2015) the prizes.  We hope you will support this venture and – of course continue to support the National Honey Show itself.

Our spring leaflets, and raffle tickets will be available at the Thornes and Northern Bee Books stands at the Spring Convention, or you can e-mail us (nationalhoneyshownews@gmail.com) with orders.  If you or a member of your association is coming to Harper Adams, do come along and collect some for distribution to your local associations and at your local and county shows.  This will be much appreciated, not just by us, but by the thousands who are enjoying the lecture videos.

We have a unique collection of displays, lectures and networking opportunities at the National Honey Show, and look forward to seeing you at the Show this autumn:  Thursday 30th October to Saturday 1st November 2014 once more at St Georges College, Weybridge.

Bee World at the Bishops Stortford Carnival

by Paul Cooper

The weekend started with rain and
ended with rain. There was also a lot of rain in between. But the Bishops Stortford Carnival on Saturday and the Manuden Open Gardens on Sunday were both a huge success. The new marquee and graphics drew the crowds and we certainly were highly visible despite the overcast weather.

We sold 56 jars of honey and could have sold more if we had some smaller jars. Everyone asked for the most locally produced honey in the Bishops Stortford area.

The candle rolling kept Phil and Tamara plus many children entertained all afternoon, and trying on the small bee suits was very popular with the children. But the central attractions were the two observations hives that John Palombo brought along. Sharp-eyed children were rewarded with "I've seen the Queen" stickers.

We were ably assisted during the day by David and Anne Wingate, Peter Mathews and Tamara Leslie, and we are very grateful that they took the time to come and help out.

The next day we decamped a few miles down the road to the Manuden Open Gardens where we did a repeat performance in Alan Gardiner's garden, but this time with very welcome refreshments. Learning about bees seemed to be very popular for Manuden's green-fingered visitors.

It was a long, tiring but enjoyable weekend with a constant stream of visitors. We are looking forward to doing it all again very soon.

Herts County Show

by Peter Mathews
We once again gathered at Redbourn, the show ground of our County Show. Freak weather for Redbourn - the skies were blue and the sun was shining. This year was also unusual in that the event was not adopted by the county as part of Bee World. Instead the show was organised by St Albans, Welwyn, North Herts and Hertford & Ware. Finances could have been complicated had it not been for some smart negotiations by Phil Jepson in securing our pitch free of charge for this year only.

Our new flyers proved so popular. Whatever did we ever do without them ? But, not as popular as the observation hive which gathered a small crowd throughout the day. If you didn't find the queen in the observation hive, then you might find her in the virtual hive. Other attractions included a honey extractor and a microscope for observing varroa mites. Placing the microscope next to a collection box for the BBKA Research Fund resulted in a steady chink of donations. A bee garden display of bee friendly plants set out by St Albans, together with a collection of plants for sale helped us blend in well into the Horticultural Marquee.

Honey sales were went well with Derrick Richardson topping sales with 95 jars sold. Well done Derrick! Last year the show took place in torrential rain, with many outdoor events being called off. Added to this the event was moved to the Queen's Jubilee Weekend and Thames Pageant. It was so quiet, exhibitors outnumbered visitors. So it is hard to believe with sun and the crowds we saw this year that honey sales were actually down on 2012 - 220lbs sold in 2012, 200 lbs this year.

Next time around, we should think about having a second observation hive, name badges and the new display. Best memory of the show? Think all us old hands were so very impressed by the support and enthusiasm from our newer members. I really think they did such a good job on the observation and virtual hives.

Photos by Richard Peterson & Peter Mathews

Welwyn news - May 2013

by Peter Mathews

Hertfordshire BKA President

We are very pleased to welcome David Wingate of St Albans as our President for 2013-14. And, wish him a highly successful and enjoyable year in office.

On the Trail of the American Honeybee

BBC Radio 4 broadcast on Tues, 26th March at 11.00am—some of the problems confronting American beefarmers pollinating the almond crops in California, still on iplayer:- http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01rg226/On_the_Trail_of_the_American_Honeybee/

Welwyn Shop

Unlike last year, there are no excuses for not preparing for the year ahead. The shop has a good stock of all BS frames and foundation. Prices have largely remained unchanged for the past 3 years. There is one small price ‘rise’, we are replacing DN4 frames with DN5—this is the same thing but with the full width top bar. DN5s are less prone to brace comb. A few DN4s are still available at £8 / 10; DN5s are £9 / 10.
We do not stock anything other than BS. But, please contact me if you use Langstroth, Commercial etc as I can include you in our foundation order, passing on any discount. Some members have also asked about drone foundation. Although, we have a little in stock, there seems little demand. Again, please let me know if you are likely to want this in any quantity.

Prices are approx 10% below list with no p&p. Email; petermathews@gmx.com or Call 01707 321018.

Honey Jars

If you ordered an attic full of honey jars last time round, and had precious little honey last year, then you may well still have a good stock of jars. On the other hand, if your stock is getting low then you may be interested in stocking up, I have a quotation from Freeman & Harding based on one pallet. Price works out at £44 to £50 /gross including VAT and delivery (reflecting full or part pallet). The on line price is £58 /gross including BBKA discount and delivery. A number of local suppliers also have jars for sale, and so we will only place a bulk order if there is sufficient demand.

The jars we use are from Freeman & Harding. These are the best and the only jars designed for a 1lb fill. They also come with fitted lids to avoid contamination. There are cheaper versions eg Wynne Jones currently has jars on special offer at £31 / gross plus £12 carriage. These are from the Bristol Bottle Co – but, were the poorest quality jar when we last did a comparison.

Please let me know if you want jars this summer. I would like to know :- 1) What you want and 2) the Maximum Number you are prepared to take to help make up an order. It’s okay if you are short on space and 1) and 2) are the same thing.

Preparing for The Modules

Following on from our successful Preparing for The Basic, we are now offering a workshop over 2 evenings Preparing for Module 1. This is based upon the workshop run at The Spring Convention by Margaret Murdin and will use her material. The first evening will look at the syllabus, dealing with FAQ, reading list, sources of information etc. The second evening will deal with exam technique, past papers and what the examiner is looking for. The workshop is intended for those wanting to take Module 1 in the Autumn or next Spring.

In other associations prospective candidates form study groups to get best value out of the BBKA correspondence course. Our aim is to do something similar.

Please register your interest with our Training Officer, Mike Goodhew, email :- mike.goodhew@ntlworld.com

General Husbandry

Christine Phillips is still collecting names for people interested in attending a General Husbandry Course. This is to be covered in 10 sessions, which may be run over at weekends. Cost is likely to be £35, although there may be a subsidy on this. Contact Christine:- christineyallop.phillips@gmail.com


The European Food Safety Standards Committee will be voting on Monday 29th for a moratorium involving a 2 year ban on select pesticides. Nature posted a pre-vote review last week -


The real question is ‘What is going to replace them?’ Organophosphates would seem a worse option.

Diary Dates

Social Evening at The Waggoner’s, Ayot Green
We resume our informal social evenings at the Waggoners on Tuesday, 7th May from 8pm. Just show up. Please let me know if you want me to bring along foundation or frames.

Herts County Show
Sat. 25th & Sun 26th May—Redbourn, County Show Ground. This year the event is not part of BeeWorld, but is a joint event between St Albans, North Herts and Welwyn. As usual we need honey and other hive produce and helpers. This is now the top country show, after losing that at Hatfield House. Participants enjoy an excellent day out with free entry to the rest of the show. Please contact Phill Jepson to secure your ticket tel 01707 881095 email p.jepson@ntlworld.com

Hatfield House
Garden Show Friday 31st May—Sunday 2nd June

Welwyn Street Market - Saturday, 22nd June
We have been participating in the Welwyn Festival longer than any other event. It has proved to be one of the best for honey sales typically 100+ sales in the space of the morning. Offers of help and produce for sale to Peter Folge: tel 01438 816211, email the_beekeeper@hotmail.com

Rain didn't stop play

THIRTY members of St Albans Beekeepers’ Association attended the first apiary meeting of the year at Prae Wood on Saturday, April 27. Unfortunately the weather proved to be a little inclement, so the planned talk had to be given in the apiary shed and with this number of members present it became a little crowded inside.

It fell to Richard Peterson to open the meeting and he started by welcoming all members, old and new, to Prae Wood and then introduced David Wingate as the new HBKA president. He explained for the benefit of the newcomers that the HBKA’s president was appointed annually on a rota basis around the branches within the Association and this year the honour fell to St Albans to provide a candidate. David was invited to fill the post, as one of our most experienced beekeepers, and this has proved to be a popular choice.

David’s first duty as president was to present Peter Tomkins with the BBKA’s certificate for achieving fifty years of beekeeping and, as he interjected, he was not due to retire until next year. He started beekeeping at the age of fourteen and is now an octogenarian, he had passed that milepost many years ago.

After the formalities Anne Wingate gave a very well received talk on artificial swarm control which was aimed primarily at the new beekeepers and demonstrated with the aid of a couple of new brood chambers and frames, as visual aids, the procedures to be gone through to complete the procedure. Anne also explained, that persistent tearing down of swarm cells in order to prevent swarming, as many beginners mistakenly think they can do if they are really careful, is not an option as they will inevitably miss a cell and the bees will swarm anyhow, She then spoke about the virtues of leaving a couple of queen cells in the original box to hatch as sometimes the bees can encapsulate a worker inside a queen cell and the bees are fooled into thinking that the cell is viable and do not raise an emergency queen. Therefore if only one cell was left the colony would be left queenless and so cannot recover.

The members were then invited to partake of tea and cake and continued with an informal discussion outside as the rain had by then abated.

Some of the new beekeepers were anxious to do some beekeeping and open their hives but were advised against it as the weather had turned too cold to sensibly open up. The meeting finally closed around 5 pm

The next apiary meeting at Prae Wood will be on Saturday, May 18 when the subject will be ‘Questions & Answers Discussion’, hosted by Luke Adams and Eric Margrave. Everyone is welcome at these meetings so please do come and join in. You never know you may just learn something!

Meet your President 2013/2014 – David Wingate (St.Albans)

My son would only eat honey on his bread or toast, so I bought honey from a chap at work who kept bees in Welwyn Garden City. He had had a bad year though with none for sale so I took up beekeeping in 1975. My father kept bees during WWII so I had some idea of what to do. I joined St.Albans BKA then and bought a WBC hive from Arthur Samphier (Treasurer?).

In the first year I spent around £125 and got 25lbs of honey. I kept the hive on an allotment but a number of old chaps got stung by bees collecting sweat off their naked backs, so had to move them. Anne helped but in 1977/78 I started doing a lot of travelling for work so she took over and became very keen. Since then we have done it together or separately depending on who was around.

I was a flight engineer on Comet and Trident and then a pilot on the DH125 business jet at DHs which became Hawker Siddley then British Aerospace. I retired in 1993 and as Anne and I have both got older we need each other for the lifting. Currently we have 5 hives, WBC’s and Nationals but have had as many as 15.

The thing I enjoy I most is swarm catching. The one I remember most was a swarm in a tree in St.Peter’s Street, St.Albans at a bus stop. The council was very worried so they sent a man with a truck and a large step ladder so that I could reach. The truck was parked half on the pavement, tilted and Anne held the rather rickety stepladder. I had a nice email from the council thanking me and saying that in the event of a blue moon and another swarm, they would try and get a Cherry Picker. My car was parked next to the truck at the bus stop and a traffic warden was about to write a ticket until he was told where to go by the council truck driver.

About 2 weeks later there was a blue moon with another swarm in a tree outside the Town Hall in St.Albans - it was much easier and more fun using a Cherry Picker!!

Bee deaths: EU to ban neonicotinoid pesticides

From BBC News

A vote in the EU has paved the way for the European Commission to restrict the use of pesticides linked to bee deaths in scientific studies.

Neonicotinoid chemicals in pesticides are believed to harm bees and the European Commission says they should be restricted to crops not attractive to bees and other pollinators.  But many farmers and crop experts argue that there is insufficient data.

Fifteen countries voted in favour of a ban - not enough to form a qualified majority. According to EU rules the Commission will now impose a two-year restriction on neonicotinoids - and the UK cannot opt out.

The UK did not support a ban - it argues that the science behind the proposal is inconclusive. It was among eight countries that voted against, while four abstained.

The Commission says it wants the moratorium to begin no later than 1 July this year.

Click here for the full article.

Starvation Risk update

by National Bee Unit

Following our post about bee starvation and what looks to be another few weeks of terrible weather, it is advisable to start thinking about feeding your colonies some form of pollen substitute. By now the winter bees will have started to die off and the production of brood to replace these loses are important. However, without suitable protein and nectar, the development of brood will be damaged and in some instances may not happen at all.

It is always better to source a pollen substitute from a commercial/ equipment supplier because the consistency of the product will always be assured and they are specifically designed to help boost a colony. However, if you cannot source a pollen substitute it can be made up by mixing 3 parts (by weight) soybean flour, 1 part dried brewer’s yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) and 1 part dry skimmed milk. Prepare a solution of 2 parts by volume of sugar to 1 part hot water.

Let the solution cool and mix one litre of this solution with 400 grams of the substitute. Form it into a cake and wrap in grease proof paper, if necessary they can be stored in a freezer. When using cut a small hole in the paper and place the package hole side down on the top bars over the cluster and preferably over open brood. The bees will tear the paper away and feed on the cake. It is important that the cake remains moist or bees will ignore it, so maintain the paper cover over the top or wrap it in several layers of cling film and pierce a hole big enough for the bees to get in and feed on it.

The amount fed is variable depending on the strength of the colony and external conditions. A small colony on three frames may only need 50 grams a week whilst a very strong colony may require more.
Maintain feeding substitutes until there is an adequate natural pollen crop as it may be detrimental to the colonies development to stop beforehand. This is because brood food production may be affected leading to the starvation of larvae.

Remember homemade pollen substitutes can be very variable in nutritional value due to the different ingredient brands. Generally it is better to obtain a commercial honeybee pollen substitute as the quality is assured.

Pollen substitutes must not be used if the colony is starving because it is more important to get feed into the colony rather than protein. One your hives have suitable food stores, you may then place a pollen pate on the top bars, if there isn’t already a natural source coming in.

Finally it is also worth noting that in some parts of the country, bees are still reluctant to take liquid syrup but will use invert syrups such as ambrosia. If you find that your bees are taking neither then stick to fondant until the weather warms up.

Starvation Risk – Important Information about Colony Food Level

by National Bee Unit

With the continued poor weather looking to persist through to the end of March, colonies may be starting to run out of food (if they haven’t already). It would be advisable to check the food levels by opening the hive and making a very quick observation on their store levels. Key points to remember are:

• The colony may still have stores available which are at the other end of the brood chamber to the cluster of bees. If there are ‘empty’ frames between the two then the bees could still starve, despite food being in the chamber. Move the frames of food directly next to the outer frame where the cluster resides, ensuring that you score each frame of food (not excessively, but enough to stimulate feeding). Be sure not to knock or roll the bees when doing this and to be as quick as possible.

• If the colony has little or no frames of food then give them a block of candy or fondant. You want to aim for about 2.5 kg per hive and although this may seem to be a great expense, it is far less than the money you will have wasted should the bees die.

• Mini plastic bags that are used to store loose fruit in from the supermarket are perfectly acceptable for holding the fondant and cost nothing. Pack the candy in the bag and then pierce holes in the appropriate place once you get to the hive. If the bag seems fragile then you can double bag it (just be sure to pierce both bags).

• At this time of the year we would usually start feeding sugar syrup but with these temperatures it is still too cold. Place the fondant directly above the bees, turning the crownboard if necessary so that one of the porter bee escape holes is above the cluster.

Please be aware that this should be done as quickly and carefully as possible and although it may seem too cold to open the hive now, it is far better to do so knowing the bees are ok than not to and find later that they have died.

For more information please refer to Best Practice Guideline Number 7 – ‘Emergency Feeding’ (https://secure.fera.defra.gov.uk/beebase/downloadNews.cfm?id=121).

Annual General Meeting

Hertfordshire Beekeepers Association
Annual General Meeting

11.00 am on Saturday, 23rd March 2013

Tewin Village Hall, Lower Green, Tewin, AL6 0JX

  1. Apologies for absence
  2. Minutes of the previous Meeting and Matters arising
  3. Officers' Reports
  4. Election of Officers
  5. Bee World 2013
  6. Training
  7. Swarm Collection
  8. Pesticides
  9. Any Other Business
  10. Date of Next Meeting - 15th March 2014
The afternoon speakers are:
  • 2.00 pm: Dr Stephen Wolf, Rothampstead Research – Radar Tracking of Honey Bees
  • 3.00 pm: Caroline Luxford, Buckinghamshire BKA – A Beekeeping Gap Year in New Zealand
This year Hertford and Ware BKA will be providing the teas at the County BKA's AGM and as in previous years, donations of cakes for the 'refreshment breaks' would be gratefully received.

Welwyn News - November 2012

by Peter Mathews

You should have received your letter reminding you to renew your subscription. If you wish to benefit from a discount on ‘Bee Craft’ then you should make payment without delay as the cut off date is 22nd Nov.

Please note the additional Bee Diseases Insurance. The number of colonies insured should be the maximum    number of colonies you expect to have next summer, and not the number you have now.

You are strongly urged to tick the Swarm Collectors box. The more members we have covering our area, then the fewer calls any one person will have and the shorter their journey to collect a swarm.  If you keep bees, then you should be prepared to collect swarms. But, please do not sign up if you are work away from home much of the time.  If you are already paid up, but didn’t tick the box, you can always change your mind.

Many thanks to everyone making prompt payment. This makes life so much easier all the way down the line.

Most of our new members have been asking for further training. Here it is!  Our first session is on Tuesday, 27th November, at Woolmer Green Village Hall at 7.30pm. We don’t have anyone to call upon to deliver this, so we will follow the old maxim……. ‘the best way to learn is to teach’. We can only start from where we are, unlike some parts of the country we don’t have anyone with the National Diploma or Master Beekeeper on the door step. The plan is to teach ourselves.  Many other associations have been doing just this for some years and it appears to work.  Bucks run study groups based on these lines. Three of their branches have got together and each is responsible for delivering two of the BBKA Modules. Material is prepared and delivered by group members.

These evenings are aimed at all members not just beginners. The plan is to follow the syllabus for the various modules, starting with Module 1. This Module is also an excellent preparation for anyone wanting to take the   ‘Basic’ next year. Although the evenings will follow the structure of the syllabus they are not intended solely for those taking the Module exams. In Bucks, only about a quarter of those attending the meetings are interested in  taking the exams. But, by following the syllabus we should cover everything in a logical fashion at the same time giving  preparation for those who do want to take the exam.

We intend opening the sessions to other branches, hoping that they will, in turn, pick up on this and  run similar sessions covering other Modules.

  • Introduction
  • Outline of the BBKA training scheme
followed by 2 short talks from the Module 1 Syllabus
More details to follow……..
After organising our highly successful beginners’ courses for two years, Rachel is stepping down from the job.  Would you like to take this role on? You do not need to have any great knowledge of beekeeping, just the ability to set up meetings, enrol candidates etc. We are all involved with publicity.

If you would like to help run our association, but are not happy as Training Officer then you may prefer to take over as Secretary ?  Tamara is prepared to move to training if we can find her a replacement. Secretary is our prime contact with the public as well as looking after our regular committee meetings.

We need more members to act swarm collectors— just tick the box on your subscription form or let us know.

This hive is illustrated in Bee Craft ( Oct 2012, p13—The Future Of Bee Keeping) . The egg shaped hives are a favourite of Heidi Herrmann of the Natural Beekeepers Association. Heidi demonstrated the hive on Country File, shown on BBC on 21st October (and available on i-Player for 12 days). Talking to the programme presenter, Julia Bradbury, Heidi described the Sun as a bee friendly hive. Ordinary beekeepers (eg Welwyn members) do not care for their bees, and as a result of years of poor practice their bees are now sick. Heidi is working towards healthy bees. Her hives are encircled by crystals which provide  natural energy to the bees helping their well being.    Ordinary beekeepers (Welwyn members again) have to dress up in toxic waste suits in order to inspect their bees. This just demonstrates how badly they are looking after their bees. The great advantage of the Sun hive is that no protective clothing is quite unnecessary…….at this point a distressed Julia asked Heidi for help with sting just  below her right eye. Hmmm, I will think about it especially covering my hive with cow dung.

  • 25, 26, 27th October  - National Honey Show in Weybridge. I can give you a lift, or take orders for equipment etc. Planning to go down on the Friday.
  • Tuesday 6th November  - Social Evening, Meeting at The Waggoner's, Ayot Green at 8.00pm
  • Saturday, 17th November—Winter Bazaar, Applecroft School, 11am—3pm    contact Phill Jepson
  • Tuesday 27th November—  ‘Further Beekeeping’ at Woolmer Green Village Hall, at 7.30pm
Further Ahead :-
  • Tuesday 5th March 2013 -  Welwyn BKA, Annual General Meeting at Woolmer Green Village Hall

Honeybees bite too

by Vita (Europe) Ltd

Vita researchers have just revealed startling findings about the bite of the honeybee in the prestigious scientific journal, PLOS ONE. The researchers have discovered that honeybees can bite as well as sting and that the bite contains a natural anaesthetic. The anaesthetic may help honeybees fend off pests such as wax moth and the parasitic varroa mite, and it also has great potential for use in human medicine.

Read more about this news here and the detailed scientific paper is here.

Bee wary

Person Posing as Bee Inspector

The National Bee Unit has received reports that a gentleman in his mid-fifties and claiming to be a Bee Inspector recently attempted to gain access to an out apiary in Nottinghamshire.

The NBU would like to remind beekeepers that the Seasonal Bee Inspectors have now finished for the year and all contact with the Inspectorate until 1st April 2013 should be through the NBU office, National Bee Inspector or Regional Bee Inspector - see contacts page on BeeBase for details.

All Authorised Bee Inspectors carry photographic i.d. from the NBU and beekeepers and land owners should ask to see this if there is any doubt. The Inspector would not normally approach the landowner of an out apiary to inspect the bees unless the beekeeper couldn’t be traced and the apiary was in a disease risk area.

Welwyn News - October 2012

by Peter Mathews

Tuesday,  2nd October at The Waggoners, Ayot Green 8.00pm.  Let me know if you want me to bring frames, foundation etc. I also have a small supply of Fumidil if you suspect nosema in your bees.

In spite of a very wet summer, the sun shone again on the Hatfield House Country Show. The Friday was busy with a lot of families taking advantage of the free entry for children. Saturday was okay, with sales going well. Our stock of honey was beginning to look low by the end of the day. Remembering an absolute manic Sunday last year, would our stock last out?  Nic and Sue came to the rescue with last minute supplies.  Sunday came……and, the weather was fantastic……perhaps a little too fantastic……think most people either flaked out in the garden or went to the seaside. They certainly didn’t come to the show. The Sunday was very quiet, and sales flat.

Although the number of visitors to the show were well down on last year our sales were exactly the same. Well the sales were slightly up, takings slightly down with a rare discrepancy accounting for the difference. Most of our sales were made on the first two days. A big reverse of last year when most sales were on the last day.  This was much better than Knebworth where takings were barely half those of last year.

Our display of stock was taken down each evening and put up the next morning by the new team. Note – I must take photos of each display another time. The new set up should avoid any honey having a favoured spot on the bench.

Candle sales were poor, but they did help provide a nice decorative feature to the display. These should sell better at Christmas Fairs.

A few  members print their own designer labels. Some of these have proven to be particularly successful. Last year Nic’s Ayot honey easily outsold everyone else. But, never second guess the customer!  It was quite apparent this year that the designer labels did less well. The best selling label was the traditional ‘cottage garden’. Roman Gorski (N Herts) sells honey in all the local markets and has experimented with all sorts of designs, and had come back to the ‘cottage garden’ as his favourite.

The extra space this year allowed a display of bee diseases (above) which was very popular with visitors and was an excellent introduction to the ‘Help The Honey Bee’ collection for the BBKA Research Fund (right).  Our microscope with varroa had folk reaching for their pockets!

Many thanks to everyone who came along to support the event and especially North Herts members. And, a big thank you to Graham Beesely for providing the observation hive. We had about a dozen people  along each day with 5 or 6 on the stand at any time —2 on sales, 1 or 2 on diseases, 1 on the observation hive (dedicated) and 1 on the BBKA collection, honey tasting etc.

Like Knebworth we attracted the attention of local bees; we have several apiaries on the estate. And, decided it would be tactful to abandon honey tasting on the Sunday. I did notice the sweety stalls and bakers were getting far more attention than us.

All in all a very enjoyable and successful weekend. It was good to share the event with North Herts and to have a visit from our President, John Mumford.

25, 26, 27th October  - National Honey Show in Weybridge
I can give you a lift, or take orders for equipment etc. Planning to go down on the Friday.

BBKA Basic Assessment

The following beekeepers have all passed the BBKA Basic Assessment:
  • Jeanette Collins
  • Helen Cullen
  • Marie Anne Beere
  • Collette Booth
  • Anne Phillips
  • Maggie Cartmell
  • Paul Craig
  • Phil Hughes
  • Jon Rogers
  • David Seal
  • Steve Carter
  • Robin Guest
Many congratulations to all.

Anne Wingate

Bee Disease Lecture with a Difference

By Richard Peterson

Eileen Remnant an experienced St.Albans member addressed around 25 members of the Association, mostly new beekeepers, in sunshine on the day after the opening of the London Olympics. Her lecture focussed on how to inspect a colony and what to look for as well as the most likely diseases that might be encountered. She stressed the procedures that would be put in place if a notifiable disease such as EFB or AFB was to be found at an apiary and how best to limit the spread of it to other colonies. A novel visual aid she used was a sheet showing the names of the most common diseases in varying type sizes showing them in order of magnitude depicted by the size of the letters in which they were printed. The most prevalent of them being DWV (Deformed Wing Virus).

She said that we have been very fortunate up until now that we have not suffered a serious outbreak of a notifiable disease and gave the numbers of recorded incidents detected around the country. Again we have been fortunate that most of the symptoms, which had been detected locally in colonies and thought to be of a serious nature, have mostly been caused by sac brood and chalk brood.

Eileen went on to talk about treatments and how they should be used. She said that by the use of some simple procedures like the dusting of the top bars with icing sugar after inspecting the hive in conjunction with mesh floors could reduce the varroa population on the bees by up to 20 per cent. Another item of information given was that when we treat our bees with any of the recognised treatments it was a mandatory requirement that we should keep a record of the serial numbers printed on the packaging and that these records were required to be kept for five years before being discarded.

When we arrived the chairs had been positioned outside the hut in the usual place and on the seats had been placed a photograph of a disease that the occupant was asked to identify, with instructions to look very carefully at them. In my case my sheet was numbered No 22, which was of a small mite sitting upon a larvae. This I quite wrongly identified as a varroa mite so no points for me. It was infact a tropilaelaps but in my defence I can only say that it was very small. It must be said a very high proportion of the diseases illustrated were wrongly identified and this goes to show that we see what we expect to see and not what we are actually looking at. A salutary lesson to us all. This was a very well received lecture given in a novel way and we thank Eileen for the presentation.

After the tea interval which is always used as a discussion forum Eileen gave a demonstration of some of the procedures she had spoken about earlier on how to inspect a colony and how to look for disease after shaking off the bees and removing the queen and placing her in cage and putting her in a safe place.

Finally I must mention that we have had another beekeeper stung at the apiary and having an allergic reaction. Fortunately he was at the time accompanied by his daughter who was able to get him to hospital. This is the second time this month and again I must stress how important it is not to be alone when visiting the apiary. An Emergency Contact Card has been devised which should be filled in and placed in the top pocket of beesuits for future visits to the Association Apiaries. Details provided on this card is sufficient personal information required by the Emergency Services should the need arise.

Hertfordshire Honey Chocolate could be made by Thorntons

Thorntons has just put out the following press release:
Vote For Famous Hertfordshire Flavour In Thorntons Great Chocolate Britain Competition 
Hertfordshire is famous for its great food and drink, and now one of the region’s most popular flavours, Herts honey, could be recreated in chocolate by Britain’s best loved chocolate maker Thorntons.
Kathryn Hearn from St Albans entered the flavour into Thorntons’ Great Chocolate Britain competition that has been running over the summer and now the people of Hertfordshire need to get voting to help the famous flavour top the East region chart. 
Thorntons has been calling for chocolate lovers across the country to submit their chocolate creations based on the flavours they think best represent their region. From hundreds of entries across 11 regions of the UK, three flavours have been chosen per region by Thorntons chocolatiers and the public will now have the final say as to the region’s top choice. 
In the East region, Kathryn’s Hertfordshire Honey Heart, which is a milk chocolate containing Hertfordshire honey and will compete with a milk chocolate with lavender fondant pieces and a white chocolate with Tiptree jam and crystalised sugar. 
The 11 lucky finalists will be announced in the coming weeks and will all be invited to Thornton Park in Derbyshire to make their chocolate creations in with Thorntons kitchens with the help of their chocolatiers. One overall winner will be announced during Chocolate Week in October and as well as winning a year’s supply of chocolate, the winning chocolate will be launched by Thorntons. 
Get voting for your favourite chocolate creations online at www.thorntons.co.uk/greatchocolatebritain 
For further information please contact Thorntons’ PR Manager Emma Tagg on 01773 542070 or emma.tagg@thorntons.co.uk
Kathryn Hearn said "My idea for a regional chocolate for Thorntons has been shortlisted and it includes Hertfordshire honey! I entered a competition to get a regional chocolate made and mine is among three now vying for the East region.  I am Hertfordshire born and bred and thought it would be nice to get Herts on the map, plus the combination of honey and milk chocolate sounds delicious."

Please help Kathryn win by casting your vote online.

St Albans News - August 2012

Fortunately the weather held fine for the July meeting of St Albans Beekeepers’ Association held at our apiary at Prae Wood. Crispin Baker gave a spirited account of feeding colonies in preparation for winter to the 23 members that were present. He explained the different kinds of feeders and their individual merits and disadvantages mainly for the benefit of the newer members. He also stressed the importance of cleanliness in the apiary so as to avoid the problems of robbing, which, once started, is extremely difficult to stop.

Crispin also brought to the meeting a large quantity of Ambrosia to fulfil the many orders that he had received from our members. He is able to bulk buy his supplies direct from Germany and provides an extremely valuable service to our association.

Another item of interest can be seen in the photograph. Robin Guest, our Chairman, presenting two of our long-serving members with their certificates of Honorary Life Membership that were awarded to them earlier in the year for services to the association. They were Eileen Remnant (right)), our former Chairman, who stood down at the beginning of the year. Eileen works tirelessly for the association and was responsible for putting together all the notes for our initial beekeeping courses that the association ran in the past as well as lecturing and being an authority on bee diseases, bee anatomy and anything to do with bee husbandry. The other member was Christine Aitken (left), our former secretary. Christine has been a pillar of the association and as well as being an excellent secretary also gives lectures to children in many of the local schools. Christine also gives extremely instructive demonstrations of candle making by the dipping and moulding methods at our winter meetings that are held in Chiswell Green. Another fact that must not be overlooked is that Christine and her husband, Ted, provided our apiary at Prae Wood with a long hive that was constructed entirely by Ted and it is always a pleasure to watch Christine manipulate its deep frames, which are at a very convenient height, and which she accomplishes with extremely little effort. Unfortunately Christine has, for the time being, to refrain from beekeeping as she has had a bad allergic reaction to a sting.

Finally, on the same subject, at the end of the day after the majority of the members had left the site, a small group of beekeepers decided to lend a hand with tackling a very aggressive colony which was in the process of being re-queened as the owner needed help to do some manipulations of the frames. One of this party allowed his face to come into close contact with his veil and received a sting on the chin. After we returned to the hut he became very unwell feeling very sick and becoming extremely flushed. Fortunately we had some Piriton to hand which he took but he started to have pains in his chest, tingling lips, stomach cramps and became very confused so we decided to call for an ambulance straight away although he had no difficulty breathing. First on the scene was one of the ‘First Responders’ team who started to monitor him until the paramedic arrived. He was again examined and as his airways were not compromised he was given the choice of going on to Watford Hospital or going home as the paramedic was confident the administering of the anti-histamine within 10 minutes of receiving the sting had saved the day and sorted the problem. This is a lesson to all of us not to inspect hives on our own in lonely locations as others were able to make the necessary telephone call and remain in touch with the control room until help arrived. Had he been on his own he certainly would not have been able to use the telephone or find the tablets so the incident might not have had such a happy outcome!

SE Herts News - August 2012

by John Mumford

I have received notice that bees around the Standon & Puckeridge area will be getting  a visit from the Bee Inspector due to an outbreak of EFB. This follows an outbreak of AFB a few years ago. This new EFB outbreak could posibly be connected with the one around Wareside but is not yet proven. Bees don’t just develop EFB, the disease is passed around by ignorant beekeepers who either don’t know, or don’t care about their neighbour’s bees. There is also an ongoing outbreak of EFB in the Enfield area. We have managed to keep a clean bill of heath in the SE.Herts ares for many, many years - lets keep it that way. Please be particularly vigilant when purchasing bees or equipment from any source, combs in particular, what may seem a bargain could very well be a poison chalice.

On a brighter note I can report that Adrian Lloyd is out of hospital but must take things easy for a while until things settle down. Meanwhile he is off on a well earned holiday.

I hope those who came to my apiary on 22nd. July didn’t mind doing a bit of my beekeeping for me, especially the novice beekeepers, thanks. I trust they enjoyed themselves. The Queen Rearing Group may be interested to know that of the 10 cells we grafted, 6 were accepted and produced some fine Queen cells, however when I checked a couple of days before the Queens were due to emerge I found a rogue Queen had taken over and destroyed the lot. Back to the drawing board!

It is now time to start getting the bees prepared for Winter. The bees have had a tough time and there is not much honey stores in some of the brood nests, so be careful when taking honey off that the bees have sufficient stores to keep them going until Winter Feeding is started. (Colonies should have a minimum of 5Kg. of honey stores at all times). Tesco’s sugar at £3.99 per 5Kg. pack is still the best buy.

There has been a lot of swarming through July, and I have had reports that there are more than a few colonies that have no brood. Bees are seldom without a Queen unless the beekeeper has been interfering. however if several days after a sunny spell there is still no brood then the bees may need some help. Get some advice from a more experienced beekeeper.

There will be a Committee Meeting at Heaton Court at 8.00pm. on Thursday 23rd August. And September is going to be a busy month. Our next meeting will be 3.00pm. at Bayford on Sunday 9th. September at the Association Apiary. We will be providing a stall at Van Hage’s Garden Centre, times and dates have yet to be decided, and then there is the HBKA Bee World Show at Capel Manor on Saturday 15th. September.

Welwyn news - August 2012

by Peter Mathews

Look forward to seeing you tomorrow ie Tuesday 31st at The Waggoners, Ayot Green. Let me know if you want me to bring frames or foundation. I will also have my rota and tickets for Hatfield House.

On 8th August the Bishops Stortford Beekeepers Association is holding a talk by John Carr on the Small Hive Beetle.  This free talk is open to any member of HBKA.  The venue is Hopleys Plants in Much Hadham ( www.hopleys.co.uk) starting at 8pm. Space is limited so RSVP to Paul Cooper, propolis@me.com

Saturday 4th at Knebworth Golf Club 10.30am.  Directions to the apiary are attached separately.
Hatfield House & Knebworth Country Shows—Help
We need lots of Honey and You!  Unless we hear otherwise, unsold produce from Knebworth will pass on to  Hatfield House.
Final details will be sent out to helpers for both events nearer the time.

We need helpers and honey at the Knebworth Show with 3/4 people to set up our pitch on the Friday.
Contact, Peter Folge:-   the_beekeeper@hotmail.com

I now have tickets for Hatfield House. Please let me know your preferred days.  It will make things easier to get tickets to you sooner rather than later. This is a very enjoyable day and is highly recommended. This year we have more space which we will use for a display  covering bee diseases.
This year we are sharing the event with North Herts—so lots of new beekeepers to meet and swap tales. Our Herts BKA President this year is John Mumford from South East Herts. We look forward to meeting John and Jill on the Saturday.  We are also invited to drinks with Lord & Lady Salisbury at 6.30 pm on the Friday.
Contact :- petermathews@gmx.com

A few weeks back I noticed that one of my hives had a single sealed queen cell bang centre in the middle of the frame. The location and time of year suggested this was a supercedure cell. So I decided to leave it be. Next visit, a week later I could not find the original queen, but I did find a beautiful new queen. The colony was still very strong, so am sure, or fairly sure, they did not swarm. Some days later I got a call from Nick to say that he had found, what could only be, the original queen in the grass about 20 m in front of the hive with a handful of attendant bees. So that’s what happened to her!  Am quite surprised that a queen with both wings clipped short could make it so far. My previous clipped escapees have never managed more than about a metre.

31st July, Tuesday -  Social and bee chat evening at The Waggoners, Ayot Green at 8.00 pm
Suggested we might go through the syllabus for the Basic Assessment ? Or, whatever.
Let me know if you want me to bring along frames or foundation. I will have tickets for Hatfield House
4th August, Saturday Apiary Meeting at 10.30am at our new apiary at Knebworth Golf Club
8th August Wednesday— Talk on The Small Hive Beetle (Bishops Stortford)
11,12th August— Knebworth House Country Show, — organiser Peter Folge, setting up on the 10th
17,18,19th August— Hatfield House Country Show — organiser Peter Mathews, dropping off on the 16th.

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Welwyn news - July 2012

by Peter Mathews

Whilst we did not enjoy a hot, sunny day we were extremely grateful for a dry morning. The Street Market is one of our more successful events as far as honey sales is concerned. A very late sale took our last jar for a complete sell out. Sales were up on last year with 107 honey sales made up of 85 1lb jars and 22 cut comb. Think we have always reckoned to sell 100 lbs during the 3 hrs. This is about 4x that of most other events.

A dozen of us enjoyed a wonderful afternoon hosted by Robin and Christine. Robin is the inventor of the Dartington Hive which offers a number of novel features designed to make your beekeeping that much easier. Construction is quite simple and is traditionally in marine ply, which is good for DIY beekeepers and those wanting to make savings. With a greater horizontal spread the full hive is lower than an equivalent National box—good if you are not very tall. The higher working height and smaller boxes are also better in avoiding back problems.

The Dartington, or in its manufactured form ’The Omlet Hive’ is very stable and is popular among the new roof top beekeepers in London. Older members will remember Dale Emery’s rooftop apiary in Welwyn Garden—Dale was one of the first users of the Dartington long hive.

We finished the afternoon with a wonderful tea and lots of bee talk. The weather was kind with a short sharp shower breaking a largely sunny afternoon.  Many thanks to everyone bringing cakes. Kerry’s chocolate cake was a winner.


We were very pleased with our visit to Knebworth Golf Course. The service track running alongside the greens and separated by mixed woodland leads to almost unlimited apiary space with good access, security with locked barrier and easy parking. What more do you want?  It is one of the best apiary sites we have been offered and is ideally located for most members. We will be following up on this, more to follow…....

A run on foundation means that we are out of stock of 14x12 foundation. We have plenty of foundation of super and std brood size, and all sizes of frames. We also have pins and Fumidil (Nosema treatment). I will be re-stocking in October…….must remember to get more 14x12.  I am also out of jars.

Peter Johnson  - We welcome Peter to the committee as Social / Events Secretary. If you have a new event etc please contact Peter first just to ensure we are not already treble booked. Also give Peter a call if you have any ideas for a meeting, offers of a garden meeting etc.  E-mail p.johnson293@ntlworld.com

We need helpers and honey at the Knebworth Show with 3/4 people to set up our pitch on the Friday.
Contact, Peter Folge:-   the_beekeeper@hotmail.com

I now have tickets for Hatfield House. Please let me know your preferred days.  It will make things easier to get tickets to you sooner rather than later. This is a very enjoyable day and is highly recommended. This year we have more space which we will use for a display covering bee diseases.
Contact :- petermathews@gmx.com

Don’t forget to check that your bees have adequate stores. With colonies at maximum strength and continued wet weather, colonies are consuming more stores than they ar bringing in. I have heard of people finding dead  colonies.

Herts Bees is back!  The Herts BKA website is up and running again with lots of news in and around the county, including this newsletter. You can find us at :- http://www.hertsbees.org.uk/

14th July, Saturday—Apiary Meeting at Raffin Green, at 10.30am

31st July, Tuesday -  Social and bee chat evening at The Waggoners, Ayot Green at 9.00 pm.
Suggested we might go through the syllabus for the Basic Assessment ? Or, whatever. Let me know if you want me to bring along frames or foundation. I will have tickets for Hatfield House.

11,12th August— Knebworth House Country Show, — organiser Peter Folge, setting up on the 10th

17,18,19th August— Hatfield House Country Show — organiser Peter Mathews, dropping off on the 16th.

Time for a Change

by Luke Adams

For over six years now St.Albans have been running their annual Beginner’s Course at the beginning of each year attracting an oversubscribed number of people to their fortnightly theory evenings to be ready for the practical hands-on beekeeping sessions come the Spring. This was then complemented by mentoring from experienced beekeepers at their two out-apiary’s Prae Wood and Oaklands College. However now St.Albans have decided to take a bold new step and take an entirely new approach to training these beginners.

The two main organisers of this year’s course, Marian Whittaker and Anne Phillips decided to run the practical mentoring sessions first and then carry out the theory sessions the following winter. This means that the theory training will still take place in January but this will be to the beginners who have undergone a beekeeping year with mentors at one of the out-apiary’s.

It was felt that serious beginners would find out what the practical side of beekeeping is all about and any that are unsure of whether they will like it or not will definitely know during the practical sessions rather than going all through the theory and then giving up which may waste valuable training time and also take up a beginners space on the course.

Marian and Anne together with a few other members have come up with a brilliant Beginners Pack which consists of an Apiary diary of when they are visiting the out-apiary, who their mentor is and also some basic bee information. The brilliant bit is that they have a course tick-box training plan that their Mentor’s sign when they think the beginner has achieved that appropriate task. Bearing in mind these are beginners, who haven’t learned any theory yet, all of the tasks are at a very basic level; like how to light a smoker, how to recognise a drone etc but their Mentor varies with each visit so they can see a variety of ways of doing things.

Another clever part of this idea is that their Mentor will be a Junior Mentor (ie a beekeeper who has been on a previous course less that 3 years ago) and they will show them the practical sides of opening up a hive and carrying out the examinations. On hand also will be Senior Mentors (experienced beekeepers) who will do the signing off process for the beginners Course training plan.

It is hoped that with their gained practical knowledge they will go into their theory course with a greater knowledge and they can be taught more detailed and important aspects of beekeeping.

We will give updates on how this new approach is working but it started the first week in April.

General Husbandry Assessment

by Peter Mathews

HBKA members, have you thought of taking the BBKA General Husbandry Exam? Well, next year you can take it for free.

Hertfordshire BKA have one of the lowest number of people taking the Basic Assessment across the country. One reason for this is that we are desperately short of examiners. To be an examiner you need to have been successful in the BBKA General Husbandry Assessment, followed by an examiner training session at the BBKA apiary at Stoneleigh. We will fund exam fees together with travelling costs to Stoneleigh. To qualify for funding you will agree to act as an examiner and to be involved in coaching members preparing to take the Basic.

Now is a good time to think about it as you will need to show your 2012 hive records for the 2013 assessment. You will also need to have the Basic Certificate and have kept bees for 3 years. And, you will also need to have 3 strong hives available on the day of assessment.

Further information including application form and syllabus together with guidelines are available on the BBKA website: www.bbka.org.uk/learn/examinations__assessments/general_husbandry_certificate

Workshops outlining what is involved are held from time to time around the country. There will be a session at The National Honey Show at Weybridge in October together with a workshop at The Spring Convention in April.

If you are interested then contact our Examination Secretary, Phil Raine e-mail: phil@fourpharm.demon.co.uk.

The closing date for applications is the end of February. Funding decisions will be made in January.

"College apiary creates a buzz" - The Herts and Essex Observer

The Bishops Stortford branch has been helping Bishops Stortford College create an apiary for the benefit of the senior school. This was recently covered in the Herts and Essex Observer.

SE Herts News - July 2012

by John Mumford

The Apiary Meeting held in Roy Cropley's garden on a miserable Sunday afternoon (10th June) proved to be very interesting. Roy showed us several Nucs with Queens that were waiting around for a spell of suitable weather to get out and mated. Roy also showed members his honey extraction facilities.

This year has been the most challenging that I have ever experienced in my time keeping bees. Never have I had to feed so much to full colonies in May and June. There has been a lot of swarming, and there have been a lot of colonies with no brood whatsoever, new Queens taking a long time to get mated because of the bad weather. [Less bees - less honey]. If the weather doesn't improve then there will have to be a lot of feeding done this Autumn. There have been times this years that, foragers, when they could get out, where coming back with less than they went out with.

At my Apiary meeting in May I grafted some Queen cells - two of the cells were finished and now the new Queens are up and running. I find that I get much more fun raising Queens than I do lugging heavy supers around. The Nuc we transferred into a hive are doing very well but have needed a lot of TLC to help them draw out the new frames of foundation. At the end of June they needed a super for extra space.

When taking off honey I still prefer the Porter Bee Escape as a means of clearing bees from supers of honey. The gap in the springs needs to be adjusted to 3mm. any smaller and the bees wonít go through, and any bigger, and they get back up.

Our next meeting will be at Pinewood School (SG12 9PB), Adrian Lloyd's Apiary on 22nd July. Please let Jo know if you are going so that she can get the catering right.

Broxbourne Council Open Day 7th July - Roy Cropley will provide the Observation Hive. Setting up and delivery of hive products for sale from 11.00 till 1.30pm. John Mumford, Derek Driver and Tom Dawson. All Vehicles must be off site by 12.15pm and will not be allowed back until at least 5.15pm. There is plenty of free parking in the grounds of the Cheshunt School opposite. The show opens for sales at 2.00pm. 2.00 till 5.00pm. Tom Dawson, Roy Cropley, Maria Fitzjohn, and Tina Rawlings. The show closes at 5.00pm when the stall will be closed down and any unsold goods can be taken away.

EFB Outbreak

One of our members who lives midway between Ware and Widford has been notified by the National Bee Unit that a new outbreak of European Foulbrood (EFB) was confirmed on 25th June within 3km of their apiary.

The NBU advises:
Please be vigilant and examine your colonies carefully, advising us if you have concerns. For help in recognizing disease, you can view our Foul Brood leaflet, or for more information please visit BeeBase online at http://www.nationalbeeunit.com. Priority Inspection Visits of apiaries will be continued in areas where disease has been confirmed. 
Contact details:
Name: Peter Heath (Seasonal Bee Inspector: April - September inclusive), Mob: 07775 119429, Email: peter.heath@fera.gsi.gov.uk
For privacy reasons, NBU won't be any more precise than "within 3km".  But if the owner of the apiary doesn't mind going public, please get in touch with editor@hertsbees.org.uk.

Advert - Maisemore Apiaries one day event

Dear Beekeeper

We are having a one day event only held here at Maisemore Apiaries on Saturday 30th June, lots of 2nd quality hive parts and frames for sale at great prices so please come along and bring your beekeeping friends as this is on a first come first served basis, we have a lot in stock but do not know how long it will last.

Hope you will be able to come along and get some great bargains!

Please see our website www.bees-online.co.uk for any updates.

Best Regards
Maisemore Apiaries

Welwyn news - June 2012

by Peter Mathews

Dodging a determined bee in the garden, Lieva’s husband Andy took a nasty fall resulting in him lying flat on the ground completely paralysed. The good news is that the ambulance arrived in 3 minutes and rushed him to Addenbrooks where they pinned everything that could be pinned. He had broken a couple of vertebras trapping the spinal nerve. Only three days later, Mike Goodhew from across the way called Lieva before setting off to visit Andy in hospital only to be told that Andy was home again and walking about.
We wish Andy a speedy and full recovery.

Whilst on an injury theme......over the years too many members have been forced to give up beekeeping as a result of a bad back. Take care when lifting heavy loads. Keep your back straight when lifting and bend your legs. When carrying supers, keep them close to your body. Where possible keep loads light - use small boxes for delivering honey. Wait for help with heavy lifts.

Once again we had a very enjoyable day with Peter Heath. Although the weather was not the usual hot and sunny day we have come to expect, it was still a dry day after a very wet week. We visited 8 apiaries and something like 20 colonies. There was an excellent turnout at each stop with people joining and leaving through the day.
No serious problems but we did see:-

  • Chalk brood— hive needs re-queening as this is a generic tendency to fungal infection.
  • Brood Laying Queens—again the colony needs re-queening. This is likely to be a common problem this year and is a reflection of the wet weather. Virgin queens need to mate within a week, and this needs a fine day.

With the cold weather, honey from OSR needs to come off fairly quickly before it crystallises in the comb. You need to extract as soon as you take off the supers. Honey will set faster once it is off the hive. Keep an eye on your bees after taking off their stores the weather continues to be wet and we are in the ‘June gap’. Be prepared to feed again in the coming weeks.
Many thanks to everyone taking part with special thanks to those providing refreshments. And a big thank you to John Peacock for organising a terrific day.
Stefan’s hives— well, only half of them, an impressive collection after only a year of beekeeping.
Huge thanks for everyone coming along to Bee World at the Herts Show in Redbourn.
Saturday was wet, and Sunday was very wet. The new start time of 8.30am was not too popular. Just how many people do you expect on a wet Sunday morning? The Jubilee Celebrations on the Thames did not help. Sales on the Saturday were just about double those of those on Sunday as were the numbers of visitors.
Special thanks goes to Phill for organising this event for the second year.

Saturday Team
Sunday Team
More about Bee World can be found here.


  • Honey Works Visit on Sunday, 24th June
  • Knebworth House Country Show, 11,12th August—organiser Peter Folge, setting up on the 10th
  • Hatfield House Country Show 17, 18, 19th August—organiser Peter Mathews, dropping off on the 16th.

Nucs, honey, thymol and jars for sale

by Peter Folge

I have 20+ (5 frame British National) nucs for sale £140.00 These are very gentle and prolific in nature and am happy for beekeepers to view before they buy.  These are ready for dispatch.

I also will be selling summer honey in 30lb buckets anyone interested. Price negotiable.
Also have 1lb honey jars and thymol crystals available.

Please contact me, Welwyn: 01438 816211

Cuprinol and bee hives

Information from the manufacturers of Cuprinol confirm that none of their products are suitable for bee hives.  The Twickenham and Thames Valley beekeepers have more on this story at i-buzz: Cuprinol and bee hives.

Starvation Risk

A warning about colony starvation has just been released by defra's BeeBase:
With the continued spell of poor weather in many areas of the UK, reports are coming in from Regional and Seasonal Bee Inspectors of starving bee colonies, where the beekeeper is not aware that the bees are severely short of food, or the colony(s) have already starved to death.
Feeding advice and further details can be found here.

New Varroa research results from University of Sheffield

Dr Stephen Martin and his team from the University of Sheffield have said that a particular strain of Deformed Wing Virus is the main cause of harm to colonies that are infected with the Varroa mite.  Their report has just been published in Science and the BBC covered it extensively on the Today programme and on their website - Honeybee decline linked to deadly virus and Honeybee virus: Varroa mite spreads lethal disease.

Bee World at The Herts Show

by Peter Mathews

The Herts Show at County Show Ground outside Redbourn rarely disappoints when it comes to the weather. Saturday was wet and the Sunday very wet. Trade was brisk on the Saturday, but at 8.30 on Sunday morning it was exceedingly quiet - just how many people do you expect at this time on a wet Sunday. From here we never really got going. Competition with the Jubilee Celebrations in London did not help. We sold 131 lbs of honey and 24 half pounds plus 18 candles. Sales on the first day were about twice those of the Sunday. Discrepancies in takings were £1.40 in our favour - well done team!

Welwyn manned the sales bench, St Albans put on a display showing the role of bees in the environment, Mike spent a couple of days putting his frames together whilst Graham brought his observation hive.

Our information desk was kept busy advising on planting for bees, attracting bumble bees and 'what's happening to our bees', diseases etc. We received only 4 membership enquiries compared with 40+ last year although we did help several people from outside the county. I thought I was doing really well in attracting a new member when he asked if there might be problems at 1,200 ft! He didn't say what part of Hertfordshire he came from, but I fancy it was well North of Hitchin. One of the more unusual requests came from a commercial photographer who wants to photograph honey emerging from the frame as it is spinning in the extractor - it sounds very sticky.

Our BBKA collection box for the Research Fund and the Adopt A Hive scheme were both vastly more popular than I would have expected. Am guessing that we took at least £50 in donations based on the number of booklets given out. At later events, the plan is to put the box at the end of a display of bee diseases.

Many thanks to everyone who took part and helped put together another very successful BeeWorld. We are especially grateful to Phill Jepson who organised the day for the second year running. Whilst everyone was hugely indebted to June, steward of the Horticulture Marquee, for providing us with free tea and coffee for a donation to Mencap.

My Labrador enjoyed lots of attention and loved every minute.