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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 Then I transfered the 'Out of Date' Apistan Strips that had now been used for 3 weeks in another colony to this colony.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).