Beware of high winds

During the very strong winds recently my hives got knocked over (I thought the bees may have all frozen but they soon zoomed out and let me know they were ok). I had attached 'z-clip' fastenings in case of attack by badgers, however these were not strong enough to hold the boxes together. Anyone else who has been advised to use these fastenings should consider using something else - I will be using straps.


Veterinary Medicines Directorate and Organic Acids

Ladies and Gentlemen.

Following numerous queries over the last couple of weeks, I would like to clarify the situation with regard to the Veterinary Medicines Directorate, Use of Organic Acids, Use of other products and also record keeping.

This information has been clarified by Heather Oliver of the VMD this week.
1) Use of Organic Acids for Varroa Treatment:
The VMD has stated that to remain within the law any beekeeper using Organic Acids must be in possession of a Veterinary Surgeons Prescription (issued under the Veterinary Cascade System). This is not as difficult as you may think and a sample letter has been prepared by the NBU (and used successfully). This is attached to this e-mail. Vets cannot charge for the prescription but may charge a small consultation
fee - although this has not always happened.
2) Use of Other products for Varroa Control approved within the EU:

The VMD has stated that to remain within the law any beekeeper using other products which are approved within the EU (Such as Apivar Strips) again must ask their Veterinary Surgeon to obtain it for them under a Veterinary Import Certificate (Cost £15).

3) Record Keeping:

The VMD has clarified that as keepers of 'Food Producing Animals' - Beekeepers are required to keep records of the treatments they administer to their colonies. The records should be kept for a minimum of 5 years and be available for Inspection.
Attached is a record sheet which can be used (available for download), or, alternatively an Animal Medicines Record Book (my preference) which can be obtained from the following sources can also be used.

These books are put together in line with National Office of Animal Health Guidelines (based in Suffolk - the books are also available from them) and cost around £3.50. from whichever source.

Should you or your veterinary surgeon wish to discuss this the person to speak to is Heather Oliver at the Veterinary Medicines Directorate on 01932 338316.

I hope this information proves useful,


Andy Wattam
Central Science Laboratory

Postscript: Andy has confirmed that the above advice does not apply to our normal treatments such as Apiguard, Apistan and Bayvarol. We can continue to purchase and administer these as before.

Veteriary Medicines

There is good news on the future availability of bee medicines in the UK. There was a possibility that medicines that we currently use for varroosis would no longer be available from our current suppliers. The reason for this was the Veterinary Medicines Regulations 2005, which implement the European Directive, 2004/28/EC. Under the new regulations all medicines for food producing animals (which bees are), would in future be available on veterinary prescription only. This would have meant taking our bees to the vet or having them come to our apiaries and was a recipe for farce, massive cost increases and ultimately inadequate treatment of this condition.

The BBKA has been in discussion on the new legislation with the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) here in the UK for more than a year. Pressure from BBKA and other beekeeping organisations across Europe resulted in the European Commission putting forward revised proposals which would see criteria laid down centrally and exemptions granted by nation states. However, these proposals do not cover the other agents used in controlling varroa and for which formal approval as veterinary medicines was unlikely, not least due the cost of obtaining such an approval and the inability of the applicant to protect their investment, as these are generic substances.

After several meetings with the VMD BBKA have reached a position which ensures that we can continue to manage bee diseases properly.

Firstly, the criteria have at last been approved by the EU Commission. These now go to the European Parliament and will adopted into UK law during 2007, taking effect from October 2007. The VMD has agreed to make exemptions for currently approved medicines, namely, Apistan, Bayvarol, Apiguard, Fumidil B and Certan. Until the date of adoption and thereafter, these medicines will continue to be available through existing channels. Oxytetracycline, used to treat EFB, is not exempted and will continue to be supplied via the NBU inspectorate. Other medicines which may be approved in other EU states e.g. Apitol and Apivar are not exempted and thus their use continues to be illegal in the UK.

Secondly, the VMD has stated on the authority of the Minister, that they have no intention of pursuing those who supply, possess or use oxalic acid and similar substances as hive cleansing agents or to help control varroa. The BBKA is free to provide advice to its members on the safe and proper use of these substances and a leaflet is in preparation to achieve this. Their preference is for ready made solutions of oxalic acid syrup rather than extemporaneous preparations made by bee keepers from oxalic acid crystals.

This is good news for beekeepers and we should be grateful that BBKA has been working hard for us on this. Please see the Herts Bees newsletter for a copy of the letter from BBKA containing full details.

Barnet news by Kaye Hoggett

We are looking forward to our new beginner's course starting on 6 January 2006, for ten weeks. Please contact if you wish to attend.

We have a couple of events programmed for early in the New Year. On 20 January, Robert Coselli is doing an introduction to microscopy and on 24 February, Robin Dartington is going to demonstrate his "Dartington Hive". Both are held at 2pm at Whalebones.

St Albans news by Anne Wingate

Our next meeting will be our AGM which is at 8pm on Friday 19th January 2007 at the United Reform Church, Chiswell Green, St. Albans. Your Committee's aim is to make this part of the evening as short as possible so the minutes of the AGM 2006 will be available to read at 7.45pm. Afterwards the enjoyable part of the meeting will be the Social. Please come along and get to meet your fellow members and support your hard working committee. Subscriptions should have been paid by now. I wish you all a very Happy Christmas.

Beginning beekeeping course

St. Albans Beekeepers are holding their 3rd Course for Beginners starting on Friday 9th February 2007 at the United Reform Church Hall, Chiswell Green, St. Albans. The Course will be 6 lecture evenings and 2 apiary practicals. For details and booking please contact David Brown on 01582 xxxxxx.

Due to the loss of email for November's news the following was not included...

Thank you to everyone who helped with our second "Bee World" at Capel Manor in late September. I was pleased to see some new faces in with the stalwart helpers of many years. This and other events need to be supported by the members with help before and on the day. Events don't just happen. I am hoping a new organiser will come forward to run this event in September 2007.
Anne Wingate

Welwyn news by Peter Mathews

No special news from Welwyn except to wish everyone A Very Merry Christmas and A Hippy New Year. No not a misprint.....just that I'm working myself up to a new hip joint. I might need a bee sitter come the Spring.

North Herts news by John Hill

Last month's meeting was very well attended by 20 members, when our Chairman Frank E. gave us a slide show of his, that he normally gives to Womens' Institutes and the like. His commentary was nicely balanced for the expert and beginner alike, so there was something for everyone. We even had a recording of a Queen 'piping',..... (nothing to do with bagpipes!),.... in order to locate her adversaries, so that she could kill them off as challengers to her superiority. The Queen must have almost sat on the microphone, which had been placed in the hive, as her high pitched sounds were so clear. Many thanks to Frank, and also to our 'stand-in' refreshment team for providing tea etc. (Although I understand that Rosemary had cooked her usual 'wonderful sponge cake' for us).

During the break in the above proceedings, both myself and Frank reiterated our plea for a replacement Chairman, (at our AGM in March '07). Also the plight of the County Executive needs for a new Treasurer, and a new Organiser for the County "Bee Day" event were explained. It seems to me to be a problem with all organisations such as ourselves, to find willing volunteers to continue these Offices. This situation brought to mind a little 'Story' which is very relevant to the above pleas, a copy of which I print below:-
Once upon a time there were four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody. There was an important job to be done, and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, Nobody did it.

Somebody was angry about that because it was Everybody's job. Everybody thought that Anybody could do it but Nobody realised that Everybody didn't do it.

It ended up by Everybody blaming Somebody when actually Nobody could accuse Anybody.
........... So is there Anybody out there? Somebody will have to do it, Anybody might do!!!..........

Now to lighter themes. It's almost Christmas and we are having our Party earlier this December. Those of you that look on the 'blog' site of Herts BKA will see the date as Friday 8th December at 7.30 p.m. at Boxwood, those receiving and reading the posted copy will only have one or two days to react. I still have a few tickets £4 each (bring a sweet or savoury dish as well), further details and directions can be obtained from me on 01438 xxxxxx.

Being as it is almost Christmas, and at the request of our noble editor, here is a recipe which includes, some, but not much honey. This is taken from "The Complete Confectioner" ca 1790, given by Hannah Glass, and is called 'Whim-Wham', you will soon see why.
For each Person:--- Take One Boudoir Biscuit (Sponge Finger), One tablespoon of Sweet Sherry (or Muscatel Dessert wine) into which One Tablespoon of Runny Honey has been mixed, Two large Tablespoons of Double Cream, 1/2 teaspoon roasted Hazelnuts, and two small leaves cut from Angelica.....Break the biscuit into Four pieces, and place in a small custard cup. Pour over the sherry/wine/honey. Pile the whipped cream on top and decorate with nuts and angelica OR candied citron/orange. Avoid glace cherries, which would be from the wrong period!! Wait quietly for the Whim-Wham to take effect!.
Apparently Dylan Thomas once said:- "One Christmas was much like another... I can never remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve, or whether it snowed for twelve days and twelve nights when I was six!!!"
Happy Christmas!! John Hill

SE Herts news by Jon Mumford

BeeCraft - anyone wishing to take BeeCraft in 2007 should contact our Treasurer Roy Cropley on 01992 xxxxxx and let him know before 20th December 2006. It has nothing to do with the divisions, it is the way BeeCraft want to do business.

There is no Newsletter in January so we need to start thinking now about February 2007. The AGM will be held at 8.00pm on Thursday 15th February at the Hoddesdon Baptist Church Hall. This is the chance for members to have their say in the running of the division and put forward their thoughts and ideas about what the division should be doing, and to volunteer to help with the divisions activities.

We have a Committee Meeting arranged for Wednesday 10th January 2007 at (details in newsletter) when we will begin planning our activities for the new season.

Have a Happy Christmas and Best Wishes for the New Year to you all, and may your Bees also enjoy a Healthy and Prosperous New Year.

BBKA Revised Constitution

There is a revised draft of the British Beekeepers Association constitution available for viewing on the BBKA website. Please take a look as it is the document that the BBKA Executive Committee will propose for acceptance at January’s ADM.

Carribean Beekeeping by Peter Dalby

At the last Apimondia conference held last year in Dublin Barbara and I met up with an old friend from Tobago, Gladstone Solomon. Some of you will have met him at the National Honey Show or when he has stayed with us in Cheshunt. Gladstone has been trying to persuade us to visit the Caribbean for a long time and this time he was successful with the added incentive of attending the fourth Caribbean Beekeeping Conference in November Some of you may also remember 3 beekeepers from the Caribbean who attended the South East Herts BKA meeting in November 2000 and shared a little of their beekeeping with us. They were visiting England to attend the National Honey Show, where other Herts members may remember meeting them. Ramesh Jadoo and Anthony David are both with the Trinidad Ministry of Agriculture and Francis Forbes is now the vice president of the Tobago Beekeepers Association. Ramesh. Anthony and Gladstone were involved with the organisation of the conference. Originally I booked into a hotel but Ramesh invited me to stay with his family and so the hotel booking was cancelled and I spent a week outside the conference staying up in the jungle, the only white person in the community. The whole community made me feel at home with jokes such as “Why does a group of black men take a white man swimming?" Answer "The sharks see the white man first."

The Jungle comes to within a few feet of the houses in the community and even the telephone wires have Bromeliad plants growing on them and flowering, So many plants were growing wild that we regard in England as delicate houseplants, some of them to enormous size. Philodendron species 50 or more feet high growing up trees, Crotons growing as hedges. The highlight of the week however had nothing to do with bees but another small creature. Ramesh took me to visit his watermelon plantation on a hillside in the jungle one night. In the inky darkness there were 10s or even 100s of thousands of fireflies twinkling away all over the hillside like random Christmas fairy lights. Ramesh runs around a hundred hives of his own (all Africanised bees) but I never got an opportunity to look at them in daylight. Those of you that are interested may like to know that despite their reputation the stings felt no different to those that our own bees can inflict.

The week long conference was attended by beekeepers from all over the Caribbean, and a few from further a field, the USA, UK, S America, Holland and Tanzania. There were sessions on adding value to bee products, international trade, stingless bees, bee diseases, beekeeping on different islands and more.

The Friday of the conference was given over to technical visits and I opted to look at stingless bees Mellipona trinitatis. Our host for the day (Harry Ramsamooj) runs around 50 colonies and a larger no of colonies of honeybees. These are probably only half the size of our honeybees and have much smaller colonies. They do not produce large quantities of honey and harvesting is done using a 50mil syringe to suck the honey from the honey “pots”. There is growing interest in possible therapeutic uses of this honey. The honey was rather watery, with a mildly bitter taste and from what I could gather fetches a good price. Harry generously supplied me with a quantity to forward to University College Cardiff for their research.

On the Saturday a number of people flew over to Tobago for a weekends beekeeping and sightseeing with Gladstone before departing homewards. I stayed on with Francis and his family on the island. Most of the second week was spent on Tobago staying with Francis Forbes and his family. Francis and Shirley made sure I saw a lot of the island in my few days with them. The coral reefs seen through a glass bottomed boat are spectacular, and for a little culture "Sunday School" which I was surprised to discover was an evening of steel band music on the waterfront.

The honeybees here are European and easily to handle, at least the bees in the apiaries I visited were. I was surprised at how weak many of colonies were but the beekeepers assured me that this was normal and they were capable of producing crop in February. In late November (end of the rainy season) all the apiaries were being fed, mostly the feeders were trays holding several gallons of syrup set out in the open and when I asked about robbing I was assured that this was rarely a problem. I suspect that with the discovery of foul brood on the island which is easily spread by communal feeding this may change. On the Wednesday Wellete Toby-McMillan showed me around some of the government agricultural stations and here was the only example of in hive feeding that I saw. The beekeepers were feeding a light brown semi-refined sugar and water mix which was cheaper than white sugar, but the bees can fly all year round so this does not cause any problems.

All the apiaries on the island had lizards running around and in one apiary a number of the hives had large cockroaches inside on the walls but away from the area occupied by the bees. Apiaries of 50 or more hives seem to be normal and whilst most of the honey bees are kept in Langstroth hives I saw a number of Kenyan Top Bar hives in use.

Since his visit to England Francis has become well known among the beekeeping fraternity on the island for his mead making. I would like to thank all the beekeepers on the islands who shared their homes, their bees, and their islands with me.

Bees for Development are running a safari to Trinidad and Tobago from the 29th January to 8th February 2007. Details can be found in the newsletter.

Wanted - Honey Queens

I would like to take the opportunity of using this blog to appeal for the participants to join in the hunt for the next British Honey Queen.

Have a think. Is there anyone in your club who might make a good ambassador for beekeeping? Some one who could communicate well with the press and public? The person may not already be a beekeeper or even a member of your club.

Could this be a great way to recruit new members who might have an interest in becoming honey queen? Is there an event in your beekeeping club year that would benefit from a publicity boost? Could this be used to stage the selection process for your club honey queen?

At the county level, have any other clubs found honey queens? Could a County Honey Queen competition be the thing your county honey show needs to increase member and public attendance?

My route to becoming British Honey Queen was relatively painless but now we have a brilliant opportunity to generate much press and public interest in beekeeping. Please start the hunt for your club honey queens. Time is running out. Now Apimondia in Australia is having a Honey Queen Competition, we need to find the next British Honey Queen.

Ceri Cryer - World Honey Queen

West Herts news by Andy Clavey

This seasons Apiary meetings have been well attended and we have welcomed 2 new members Val and Rita, both have received swarms of bees and are now bonafide Beekeepers.

The association apiary has 2 strong hives going into winter, these produced a surplus of 35lbs of honey that has now been sold or donated to Croxley House, many thanks to Rita for providing the venue for the extracting.

One of the association sheds is in disrepair and we have permission from Croxley House to replace it, we will need to get a working party together to dismantle the old shed and assemble the new one; please let me know if you are willing to help.

This year we bid a sad farewell to our president Dr Harry Riches who has is standing down as he has now moved to Devon. Dr Riches has been a member of WHBKA for nearly 40 years and has served as chairman & president. His organization and hard work have been instrumental to the past success of the association, not to mention his work with the BBKA and as author of numerous beekeeping books. We wish him the best of luck in his new home.

More picture of Bee World

Bee World by Richard Peterson

Capel Manor was again host for Hertfordshire Beekeepers annual showcase of beekeeping and the event, held on Saturday, September 23, was blessed with lovely warm autumn weather that drew in a fair number of visitors to the Centre.

The major exhibitors were St Albans with their display on forage, pollen and pollination, South East Herts with their observation hive and candle rolling and Bishops Stortford Beekeepers with the ever-popular demonstration of extracting honey from the supers. These were supported by Welwyn Beekeepers with honey sales, Brian Fairey with a display of fruits and flowers frequented by bees and Robin Dartington with a stand dedicated to his Long Hive beekeeping system that also gave visitors a glimpse of what is contained within the hive.

‘Bee World’ again attracted a steady flow of visitors as it was situated in a room adjacent to the foyer and had to be passed by people as they entered the building on their way to the ‘London Farm and Garden Show’s City Harvest Festival being held at the Centre that day. It was a pity that ‘Bee World’ was not listed amongst the advertised events on the billboards as this might have increased the number of visitors to our promotion, as this is probably the major beekeeping event held in Hertfordshire and one of the best events for recruitment.

Take up the challenge
We understand that the display of beekeeping has been invited to return next year so we are looking for some new blood and different ideas to give the promotion a fresh appeal. We have used the same or similar displays for the last two shows so it is time for a change. Anne Wingate who has organised the events in the past will be unavailable next year owing to some family commitments so we all have been given plenty of notice for somebody to throw their hat into the ring and make next year’s show a bigger and better event in the interest of...

Bishops Stortford news by Alan Lewis

There is nothing of note for the news letter this month except to advise our members that the Bee Craft are asking for the subscription by the 30th of November the cost being £30.00. Also the beekeepers subcription for the coming year is £16.00 plus £2.00 for four or five colonies and £5.00 for those who do not keep bees, payable to our treasurer (details in newsletter).

Varroa Update

I make no apologies for banging on about Varroa treatments, it is the most important problem we have at the moment now that Synthetic Pyrethroid Resistant Varroa Mites are about. I know of some beekeepers who are not giving the problem the attention it deserves and their bees will take the rap.

The colonies of one of SE Herts members I reported on in last months Newsletter which were still heavily infested with Varroa after applying Apiguard as recommended after the supers were taken off, phoned me a few days ago. Both colonies are now working very well taking in big lumps of pollen, and the mite drops are are down to 3 to 4 mites per week after dropping some 2000 mites since early September.

A few days ago I had a beekeeper ring me asking if he could purchase a nuc from me. He had been referred to me by our County Secretary (thanks Helen), he was not a member of any association. He had purchased nucs from Thornes, collected swarms, and continued to lose them winter after winter. I will not supply bees to anyone who is not a member of their county association. This IDIOT had no idea why his bees had died and knew little or nothing about Varroa control. These are the kind of people who put bees into brood disease contaminated equipment, give their neighbouring beekeepers hell, and should not be encouraged.

For those who are, or are thinking about using FORMIC ACID treatments I would suggest paying a visit to The guy seems to have done a lot of research into the application and monitoring. He also keeps some 2000 hives in Kelowna BC Canada. I am not on the internet so I don't know what you will find.

I have had several people ring me about making Thymol Grease Patties. They have used a soft fat and their mixture has turned out all runny with a layer of liquid fat on the surface! 'PURA' is a 100% pure vegetable oil. It is supplied as a solid block wrapped in greaseproof paper with no additives, ie no water, emulsifiers, preservatives, or colourings. It is primarily sold as a deep frying oil. It becomes a liquid when warm to the touch (approx 45°C). It is sold in Sainsbury's at around 57p for 500 grams. I am told that when properly mixed grease patties should have the texture and appearance of mashed potatoes.

SE Herts news by John Mumford

The Harvest Supper was a great success. Thanks go to all the ladies who bought and provided the food. The Skillman Shield was awarded to Daphne Rooke for her jar of honey.

The association apiary colonies have now been fed and treated with Thymol. I was a bit concerned as the mite drops proved to be much higher than I expected (60 per day), since at the September apiary meeting the bees looked quite good, but they have now come down to an acceptable level. The exceptionally warm weather during October has meant that the bees have continued to maintain large amounts of brood. Although this is good as regards having lots of young bees to carry the colonies through winter it does mean that any Varroa mites surviving the Autumn treatment have multiplied also.

The winter meeting at 8.00pm. on Thursday 16th November at the Hoddesdon Baptist Church Hall will be about 'Keeping Hive Records'.

Anyone dithering about whether or not to enrol on the Beekeeping Course should make up their minds quickly. The numbers will be limited to not more than TWENTY and space is fast running out.

Welwyn news by Peter Mathews

Nothing special for Welwyn members this month. But, I can't believe only 4 members have e-mail …or, maybe they just don't read the newsletter! If you haven't already done so, please e-mail me so that I can put you on my Welwyn contact list.
Thanks, Peter

How do bees navigate?

Professor Mandyam V. Srinivasan of the Visual Sciences Group at the Australian National University in Canberra should know. He has just won the Australian Prime Minister's science prize for his work and receives a gold medal and a cheque for A$300,000. His research interests are:
Understanding the principles of visual processing in small animals, such as insects, that possess relatively simple nervous systems but nevertheless display a rich behavioural repertoire. My research seeks to elucidate principles of flight control and navigation, and to explore the limits of the "cognitive" capacities of small brains.
He applies this work to help produce small pilotless aircraft controlled by computers with the same power as a bee's brain.

North Herts news by John Hill

Our first meeting of the Autumn was very well attended by sixteen members who turned out to listen, and contribute, to a general discussion regarding the '06 season. The chair, was taken as usual by FE, who, incidentally had a terrible cold. He began by stating that the year had been very 'strange', some members seemingly had had a productive season, whilst others had virtually negligible honey (including myself). One member with 'active' bees, found that they were flying as far as seven miles, each way, to a borage crop near Walkern. Quite a number of members had lost bees, up to 30%, (including myself). Some had, what FE called 'non-active' queens, i.e. the hive was thriving with plenty of stores, but nothing going into the supers.

When it came to Varroa Control, there had been "very small drops of mites" for those using Apiguard, and some members were treating again as late as early October with alternatives. Apistan users were getting 'largish drops', and those using the dreaded "F" word solution, as 'a disinfectant', seemed to be carrying on as usual with plenty of crop from strong colonies.

So we proved in discussion that indeed,... it had been a 'Very Strange Year'. Perhaps '07 will bring normality? Some members found that bees were ignoring rape crop in favour of tree and flower nectar. Some 'lazy' bees were still flying on sunny days in mid-October.

Part of the evening was given to a 'Chat' by DR, who described a neat way of combining two hives in a 'stress less' manner, by using a special floor above the first hive with an 'openable panel within' which, can be at the beekeeper's discretion when to open it, and thus allow combination to take place. He also described in some detail the three types of queen cell, and distinguishing differences, viz....the 'emergency' cell, the 'supersedure' cell, and the 'swarming' cell, the former being produced usually in the centre of the frame, with the other two at the bottom. The differences explained for the two latter were associated with the 'roughness' of the outer structure

Altogether, a fine evening! Most members contributed too, which was much appreciated. What's more we had a prospective member turn up....always welcome!

Also, the refreshments were prepared (and cooked by Rosemary F.). Many thanks!! Who else gets Chelsea Buns AND Jam Sponge??

So what's on next month? Well, by popular request, FE, our revered Chairman, will present a slide show... the sort of production that he has done for many W. Institutes in our area, but a bit more technical? So please reserve the date: November 14th, (second Tuesday), usual venue @ the Friends' Meeting House, Sollershott East, Letchworth, starting at 7:30pm. You will not be disappointed!

And now I thought I would finish with a few relevant Proverbs I have gleaned from a "Handbook of Proverbs" dated 1888, that I bought from a second-hand book shop many years ago for three shillings and nine pence (old money)!
Honey is sweet, but the bee stings
Honey in the mouth, saves the purse
Honey is too good for a bear
Sweet-heart and honey bird keeps no house
He that would an old wife wed, must eat an apple before he goes to bed.
(the explanation being given in the book is "which by reason of it's flatulency is apt to excite desire."). !!!???

Just starting.....

Here is an interesting account (with pictures) by a complete beginner.

Honey helps wounds heal

When our dog got bitten (by another dog) the wound was quite deep and clearly painful. As the vets was not open for a few days we decided to treat it ourselves and turned not to the medicine cabinet but to the larder. We applied some honey and the wound stayed clean until we could take her to the vets where the wound was stapled. A day later she removed the staples herself so we continued applying honey. A few weeks later and the wound has repaired itself without any problems.

For further information about the healing effects of honey (and many other interesting articles) see the September edition of the Apis-UK newsletter.

75th National Honey Show, 19-21 October 2006

RAF Museum, Grahame Park Way, Hendon, London, NW9 5LL

For details click here.

There is still time to get your entries in.

Pictures from Bee World

To show, or not to show.....that is the question

I am writing this as a show virgin, so to speak – though I have been Bee Keeping for about 13 years, I have never entered honey in a show. I am probably supremely ill qualified to write this!

My Association, though, encourages members to enter honey shows – Shows, have been important to the Beekeeping scene, an opportunity to learn, to buy, to meet old friends, to make new ones. Members are encouraged by winning prizes, and of course are much more likely to attend the show (and patronize traders who also support it) if they enter.

Click here to see the rest of the article by Andy Pedley of Ealing and District Beekeepers Association ( This article is used with the permission of Andy Pedley.

Varroa Treatment by John Mumford

I have found the number of Varroa and the degree of Pyrethroid Resistance in my colonies this year to be very variable. Those I treated with Thymol immediately the honey came off are now dropping only very few mites ( 5 to 30 per day ). I discovered some Apistan strips in a re-sealed pack which were a year past their expiry date and put them into a colony that had had a Thymol treatment for a week and was dropping 130 mites per day. In the next 24 hours they dropped 380 mites. The mite count then quickly went back to 130 mites per day. After 3 weeks of the Apistan treatment the mite count went down to 4 or 5 per day.

When I got some of my colonies back from the Heather I immediately put one of them onto an Open Mesh Floor and started to monitor the Natural Mite Mortality. I recorded 8 to 10 mites per day. When I got their Heather honey off I gave them a Thymol Treatment and recorded 30 mites per day. Then I transfered the 'Out of Date' Apistan Strips that had now been used for 3 weeks in another colony to this colony. To my utter amazement they dropped 790 mites in 24 hours. After 2 weeks of the Apistan Treatment the mite count went down into single figures.

While Re-Queening one of our members colonies I was surprised to find a lot of bees with deformed wings. The beekeeper assured me that he had applied Apiguard exactly as per the instructions as soon as he had taken their honey off. The colony had given a good account of itself during the season and had now gone down hill fast, it covered just 3 or 4 frames with very small patches of brood. There was starved and dead brood present, and the bees were hardly flying at all. We immediately applied a Thymol Treatment and I told the beekeeper that it would be touch and go whether the colony would survive till Christmas. The colony started dropping Varroa mites at over a 100 per day, and after a few days started working normally. He then applied Apistan, the mite count increased to nearly 300 per day! Two years ago at the end of September I saw a colony in almost exactly the same condition which when treated with Thymol dropped 500 mites per day, that colony went on and survived winter. It takes at least 13 days after any treatment is applied before there can be an improvement in the emerging bees. The bees emerging in the following 13 days will have been poorly nursed as grubs by parasitised bees. It will then take yet another 13 days before there is any significant increase in the proportion of un-paracitised bees to produce the bees that will take the colony through winter. The tenacity with which a colony will strive to survive against overwhelming odds is awesome to watch. So much now depends on the what weather we get in the next 4 to 6 weeks as to whether this colony will survive or not.

I don't advocate the wholesale use of Apistan, but if it works why not?

"The price of peace is eternal vigilance" J. F. Kennedy.

South East Herts news by John Mumford

The September Apiary Meeting, 'Winter Preparation', turned out to be great fun. I gave the hive tool to Tony who has no bees of his own and said, "get on with it". "What are we looking for ?", he replied. What a good question! We are fast approaching that time of year when there should be little or nothing more that can be done to ensure our colonies have the best chance of surviving winter. The bees have to tough out winter on their own and nothing much can be done to help them out apart from giving them the odd block of candy. So now is the time to get stuck in and make sure they have all they need. We need to estimate the amount of stores present, '30lbs minimum or feed'. Check that we have a laying queen 'look for eggs and young larva', or unite after making absolutely sure that the colony with no brood is in fact Queenless and healthy. Check that the hive is secure on it's stand, that it is bee-tight, and the roof doesn't leak. The mouse guards can go on later when the bees are not so active bringing in the late pollen. Tony did a good job after being instructed how to inspect a frame on both sides AND keep the comb vertical. Congratulations Tony you did very well for your first attempt.

Many thanks to those who gave up some of their time to help out with the Capel Manor 'BEE WORLD' event. It makes my job so much easier when I don't have to scout around to find someone to take over from me for a few minutes while I have a Comfort Break.

The Harvest Supper is on Saturday 7th. October 7.30pm for 8.00pm. carriages at 10.30pm. Please let Daphne know if you are coming so that adequate refreshments can be provided. Raffle Prizes will be appreciated. And don't forget that jar of your best honey to compete for the Skillman Shield.

The November winter meeting will be 'Keeping Hive Records'. How often does one get to their bees and to find that they can't remember exactly what they did last week, and the super the bees needed so desperately has been left behind?

Bishops Stortford news by Alan Lewis

On Saturday afternoon in the middle of September we had a lovely day and opened my hives. On both hives I had removed all the supers, treated with thymol and fed several days earlier. The first hive we opened appeared to be reasonable for the time of year regarding the amount of brood and stored food and still had a lot of sugar in the feeder which had not been taken down and stored. It was thought that the thymol which was nearly under the feed hole position was restricting the access. The second hive that was opened was unbelievable as it had 4 frames covered with sealed brood on both sides, not a great deal of honey stored and an empty feeder. The Queen was found and there was even an uncapped drone cell in the middle of one frame. Both of my commercial hives were reassembled and the outer WBC sections were put in place to give the hives an extra skin for the winter. A small swarm that I had taken during the summer was inspected and found to be very healthy but in need of food. We all retired to have a cup of tea and generally discussed the various ways of controlling Varroa. We welcomed two prospective members John and Emma Dockerill and wish them good luck with their bee keeping.

Welwyn news by Peter Mathews

Although I have everybody's name, address and telephone number, I realize that I have only a few of your e-mail addresses. As this is the most useful way for me to give you any up to minute information, I thought it would be worth having a Welwyn distribution. So, if you wish to be included, please e-mail me a "Hallo!" to petermathews(at) If you need to reach me quickly remember you can call me at work 01707 ......, or e-mail peter.mathews(at) Suggest you e-mail me even if you think I have your details.
Thanks, Peter

Honey Trap

Click here for an interesting article by Gail Hunt that appeared in Food Manufacture magazine in June 2006.

St Albans news by Anne Wingate

See last months newsletter for details of meeting on 27th October. Now make a date for Honey Tasting evening on Friday 24th November at the same time and venue. While you are extracting please put aside one full jar of honey for this meeting. Further details next month.

Welwyn news by Peter Mathews

One of the joys of being a divisional secretary is fielding inquiries from the press. Although, I can't honestly say that exactly fills my week. Just had an enthusiastic call from "Welwyn Times" about the local "No Way To 10K" campaign. The aim is to stop the building of 10,000 new homes in Welwyn Hatfield as recommended by the Eastern of England Regional Assembly (don't ask who they are). And, they would like to include beekeepers amongst their supporters.

"How would the building of 10,000 new houses affect local beekeepers ?" After a little thought, I asked our journalist if she could think of an area of the country quite near here with lots of beekeepers producing some of the finest honey. "Well, No" she couldn't. "As a matter of fact, it's Greater London - just how would you like to continue with this interview?" To put things another way all that's green doesn't produce nectar. And, fields of cereal crops and livery stables are of little interest to the bee. Even dense housing is fine if provision is made for parks and open space, more especially if these include the planting of trees such as chestnut, acacia and lime - all of which are wonderful forage, producing first class honey.

To put things another way all that's green doesn't produce nectar. And, fields of cereal crops and livery stables are of little interest to the bee. Even dense housing is fine if provision is made for parks and open space, more especially if these include the planting of trees such as chestnut, acacia and lime - all of which are wonderful forage, producing first class honey.

North Herts by John Hill

I had occasion to visit Gloucestershire with my wife in August for a two day stay at a very pleasant hotel near Tewkesbury. The intention was to look at the countryside in the triangle Gloucester, Tewkesbury, and Ross-on Wye. Travelling back from Ledbury, a lovely "High Street" town, we saw a signpost on the B4215 which stated "To the Bee Shelter and Hartpury Church"; it was one of those 'Brown Signs' put up by English Heritage. So being inquisitive we followed the directions to the Church, wondering what on earth-- was a bee shelter? After about 4 miles in the middle of nowhere, but in beautiful rolling Cotswold countryside, we stopped at the Church. Another sign said that the bee shelter was at the back of the Churchyard. We looked around the church first, this was a Grade I listed building with modern stained glass but with mediaeval openings near the porch, which housed an unusual "Green Man" carving opposite of which was an unknown figure. We then walked through the ancient Churchyard past enormous trees and strange tombstones, whereupon we saw the Bee Shelter. According to the literature, from the Church, this was a nationally important structure regarded as unique by the International Bee Research Assn. The structure was 8ft. high, and 30ft. long and housed compartments for 33 boles to house straw bee skeps. As we know these skeps became redundant once the wooden hive had developed. The Shelter as such was built in Nailsworth, near Gloucester, by a stone mason, Peter Tuffley between 1824 and 1852. It was threatened with destruction in 1968, so it was rescued and moved to Hartpury Agricultural College,--because of further deterioration English Heritage restored the Bee Shelter, and found a permanent site in the Churchyard, where it now stands. It was opened in 2002. Made from lovely Cotswold stone, from Minchinhampton Common, it is a most elaborate structure. Its size suggests it was made by the Stone-mason as a "test piece". There is no evidence that bees were ever housed in it.

The whole site is well worth a visit, a wonderful 'day out'!. Anyone seriously interested, I do have a small amount of literature they can borrow. [Ed. details can be found here]. Also, I am sending the editor a photograph which hopefully he can 'scan' into this Newsletter.

Now to our meeting in October, at the usual place... The Friends' Meeting House, Sollershott East, Letchworth at 7.30 p.m. on October 10th (second Tuesday). We shall be having an open discussion on members' experience over the season re: yields and treatments and some members will be bringing unusual "Bits and Tips", for your interest. Come along and meet new faces,... we have some new members this year, and we look forward to meeting them. I am hoping that Rosemary F. will be serving up examples of her wonderful cooking ability for your delectation. ("Flattery gets you nowhere").

And so finally:-
"Besides the art of getting things done,
There is the nobel art of leaving things undone.
The wisdom of life consists of the elimination of the non-essentials".

"If it ain't broke, don't mend it!!!"
(Anon, again).

St Albans news by Anne Wingate

The end of another season and time to prepare our colonies for winter. Autumn feeding and varroa control treatments should be well under way. Honey yields have been variable, with our student beekeepers realising how valuable it is to have some drawn comb. When storing combs spray with Certan, available from Thornes, as it will help control the dreaded wax moth. Eileen and Eric have arranged the Saturday afternoon Apiary sessions all this season. The input, with the help of other members, has given our new beekeepers an insight into beekeeping. Next season the seven
students will be well away with swarm control and honey production.

St. Albans beekeepers enjoyed the day at Earthworks, which is a project to assist people with learning difficulties to find out about flowers, vegetables, fruits and the environment. It was very hot and the wax for candle rolling had to be kept cool!

Our first Autumn meeting will be on Friday 27th October at 8pm at United Reformed Church Chiswell Green. The topic for discussion will be 'The Year's Review' with input from everyone. Please all come along with your views of how we can improve the Courses and your Association.

LOST - Eileen Remnant has lost the HONEY
REFRACTOMETER (for measuring the water content in honey) last seen July2005. The instrument is in a small black box 6” x 2” approx. It was bought with money from our first Lottery grant and is for members to borrow. Turn out your bee basket, boxes, drawers and cupboardsand please leave it at the Apiary with her name on the bag. Several members wish to use it. Please help. Thank you.

I hope to as many Members as possible will coming to
'Bee World'.

North Herts news by John Hill

Once again, I am writing this early because of holidays interfering with the submission date for copy to the editor. So I hope the news is not `old hat'. At this point in time we are all either feeding, or treating for Varroa. What a strange year it has been. All my colonies have been gradually building up from the `stressful' winter. As a result, I have had no honey deposited in the supers, and Frank E. who keeps his bees in the same apiary as myself has also had a disastrous time. Between us we have lost four colonies out of eight. On the other hand, some of our members at Nortonbury have had very good yields, and specially some of the newer members I'm pleased to add.

During the hot weather in August, we paid a visit to Andy Johnston's Apiary in Shillington, (a joint meeting with Bedfordshire BKA.), -- 25 in total turned up, with about 8 members from North Herts. Quite a number of queens were marked that day, and most hives were thriving, although a small number were suffering, and trying to survive. One hive was packed solid with waxmoth remains, with hardly a bee therein. Fortunately, that one was in the minority. Andy was well organised and sported a note-book, in which he recorded all the relevant details etc. A lesson to be learned by all of us present. The highlight of the visit was, dare I say it, the tea, which was consumed with relish, and was beautifully prepared by Val. Both Andy and Val were duly thanked by both visiting N. Herts. and Beds, representatives, and we all expressed our support in the usual manner before resuming our feast, and umpteenth cup of tea! Thank you both once again.

Our first meeting of the Autumn/ Winter programme will be on the second Tuesday in October (viz. the 10th to be precise). This to be held, as usual, at the Friends' Meeting House, Sollershott East, Letchworth, commencing at 7.30 p.m. At this time, ( mid-August), the details of the meeting have not been decided, but the next Newsletter will have fuller information. Put the date in your diary now! We hope that all the newer members will attend! I expect we shall hold a forum comparing experiences of treatment, with some expert controlling the proceedings!

Members may be interested to learn that Peter Heath's test for Varroa immunity to Apistan, that he did for one of our hives at Nortonbury in July, only turned out to be 60-70% effective. He recommended that Apiguard should be used this year. But we all guessed that didn't we?

Now to July/August's poser re: the eight wine glasses. "First move 2 and 3 to the far end; then fill the gap with 5 and 6. Fill the gap with 8 and 2; then finish with 1 and 5." Incidentally, I think we've had enough of these puzzles (Hooray?), so, in future I'm just going to stick with `sayings and quotations' or even a bit of poetry.

So.... here's a tiny bit to finish off:- "Books are the bees which carry the quickening pollen from one to another mind". James Russell (1849- US Poet and essayist).

South East Herts news by John Mumford

We owe Malcolm and Val High A GREAT BIG THANKYOU for hosting the July Apiary Meeting. Smoked Salmon, Strawberries and Cream, and Cake washed down with pots of tea. What more could you ask for! Malcolm has worked hard to improve the temperament of his bees with great success, and is now able to handle them without gloves and clouds of smoke. Many of our older members may recall how, not too long ago, Peter Heath paused, while demonstrating how, and what to look for when examining a stock for brood disease at Malcolm's Apiary, and getting well stung for his efforts, said, " Just a minute, I think I will go and put some gloves on ". I hope our new members were not overawed while touring round Malcolm's honey extraction/processing/bottling room, remember Malcolm does run some forty colonies, and can't mess around as those with just a few colonies do. Congratulations Malcolm and thanks for a superb afternoon.

After a poor spring and having to feed in early June the weather turned very hot and the bees went barmy. By the middle of July everything dried up and turned brown. My bees have done very well and averaged 80lbs per colony, but now, at the time of writing this, with the cool wet weather they are doing absolutely nothing. I dare not open a hive for more than a few minutes for fear of robbing, and with the numbers of bees per colony I am struggling to get the extracted supers off and safely stored for winter so that I can start treating for Varroa.

The bees are hardly flying at all, and brood rearing has almost stopped. These conditions are ideal for the rapid build up of tracheal mites in the young bees which are so necessary to take the colony through winter. Frow Mixture and Folbex Strips are no longer permitted treatments for tracheal mites, but fortunately, Thymol does help to combat them.

The topic for the next Apiary Meeting on 17th. September at Bayford will be ' Winter Preparation '. I would suggest that members start preparing their bees for winter now. Take great care when feeding not to spill any syrup that could start robbing, and remember that the object is to raise as many HEALTHY YOUNG BEES as possible in order to get the colonies through winter. Over feeding so that the Queen has nowhere to lay, and the bees nowhere to cluster later on is not good practice. Six or Seven BS. brood combs of stores, (30 to 35 lbs stores ) leaving Four or Five combs for the Queen and winter clustering will do just fine.

On Saturday 23rd. September there is the HBKA ' BEE WORLD ' event at Capel Manor where SE Herts will be providing an Observation Hive, it would be appreciated if a few members would volunteer to help man the hive and talk to the visitors.

On Saturday 7th. October there is the Harvest Supper at Hoddesdon Baptist Church Hall, entry is free to members and partners.

Barnet news by Kaye Hoggett

The past couple of months have been quite busy, apart from the honey flow and all that entails. The 21 nucs. we ordered back in March have now all arrived and been installed, so all our old hands who lost bees are back in business as well as all the members of the Class of 06. Congratulations to all of you on completing the course and becoming beekeepers. You will also be pleased to know that all our candidates for the BBKA Basic passed the assessment this year. Again congratulations to all of you. According to my calculations we will have at least 10 people taking their Basic next year, it could be more if our older members put their names forward.

Turning to another subject you will all be aware that we have apiaries at Whalebones and Arkley Manor Farm. Well we are running out of capacity on these sites, so we are in the process of opening a third at Byng Road, which will go live next year.

Looking forward can I remind everybody that honey should be taken in mid August and Varroa treatment commenced at the same time.

Assuming that you take my advice, that leaves 6 weeks to prepare your honey for the Honey Show (30th Sep) even if you don’t have any honey there will be a class you can enter. N.B. All beekeepers there is a new Class this year Hive Record. In parallel with the Honey Show we are holding a members lunch for Members and one guest. We tried this last year and even with a cancelled honey show (The Judge pulled out you will recall) it was a great success. The schedule for the show has been sent out by post or e-mail, please at the very least let us know early if you are coming to the lunch, which is on the same day, Saturday 30th September.

We have also been recruiting for next year. It’s surprising how many people are interested in becoming beekeepers all they want is a little encouragement. Can I ask that all members make an effort of looking for new beekeepers and pointing them in the direction of Roger Hedgecoe . I find that a comment like “ my bees won’t like this weather” invariably grabs interest.

Welwyn news by Peter Mathews

Honey Prices
Checking honey prices in the West Country, I found £4 to £4.50 / lb to be fairly typical as a shop price. Prices were higher on the coast and tourist areas, as one might expect. I only found one shop at £3.50.... this was a post office / general store in the middle of nowhere. Best price was the Maritime Museum in Falmouth at £4.50 for 12oz, or £6 / lb.
Sainsbury’s English Honey is £3.50 / lb
Waitrose are selling 12oz jars of Rowse's 'English
Honey' at an equivalent price of £4.50 / lb.
This year English honey is virtually unobtainable below £3.50 / lb. except from beekeepers with minimal marketing skills. Or, are they saying their honey is second rate?
Peter Folge can supply Thymol crystals from a bulk order at £13 / 500g plus p&p. The following method has been found effective to treat the colonies:
A plastic screw-top lid (from a small plastic container approx. 5cm diameter – honey jar lid will do) on top of the brood chamber/frames and kept this topped up on a weekly basis for 4 weeks adding 8g per week as necessary. This should be carried out in August as soon as extracting has finished as this treatment is temperature reliant – the lower the temperature, the less effective.

St Albans Apiary Tour by Eric Margrave

The Apiary Tour with Peter Heath was held on Saturday 8 July, whilst still in the heat wave period there was a pleasant breeze which helped to keep everyone cool. The tour took in three different and distinct locations showing the variation of bee keeping apiaries. It was pleasing to see so many of the beginners from the recent course that St Albans had held; they joined in fully with the tour.

Location 1 was David and Elizabeth Brown’s house in Harpenden, before the work started with inspecting David’s hives the group was treated to morning coffee and biscuits. A long deep Darlington hive and a 14 x 12 deep national hive was inspected by Peter. He explained to the beginners about pollen collection and the flight pattern of bees, due to the landscaping of David’s garden the flight path of the bees could be clearly seen. Peter gave the beginners the opportunity to find the queens among David’s New Zealand colonies.

Then onto location 2 in Gustard Wood which is home to Anne Wingate’s Standard Nationals. The hives are located in a small clearing in a wood next to an apple orchard. The flight path of the bees at this location was fascinating, up like a chimney until they had cleared the trees and then only then did they disperse. Using Anne’s good hive examples Peter talked about disease prevention. As Anne had extracted honey only the week before the bees were busy filling the supers with nectar. After the task of inspecting the hives, the tour stopped for a picnic lunch in the apple orchard. During the lunch break Peter was treated to an intense question and answer session from all the beginners, who were amazed to know how many hives Peter managed as they were still struggling to get to grips with their own.

After lunch the tour moved onto the third and final location, St Albans Apiary on the Goranbury Estate. Peter was soon put to work and over 10 hives were inspected, he took time to inspect each beginners hive and gave advice pertinent to their own hive. The beginners were exceptionally keen to show off their hives and were practically walking on air once Peter had worked his magic. The busy day was finished off with afternoon tea and cakes, a gentle way to wind down from the excitement of the day.

It was an extremely pleasant day and pleasing to note so many new faces joining the old and familiar ones. It is always a pleasure watching Peter working with the bees. He gave invaluable advice to the members who kept bees at the St. Albans Apiary. They had experienced a high percentage of swarms due to queen cells being capped between the weekly examination. His recommendation was to clip the Queens to give that important extra time between examinations.

Thanks to all those who took part and helped organise the tour.