Report on HBKA Annual Meeting by Paul Cooper

The 55th AGM was well attended with about 40 members present. Anne Wingate welcomed everyone to the meeting, gave a brief chairman's statement and reminded everyone that more support is required, particularly from divisions other than St Albans. Anne is unable to organise Bee World this year (more on this later).

Phillip Manning presented his Treasurer's report and reported a surplus of £568 for the year giving us a balance at 31st December 2006 of £4636. (This does not include the balance of funds held by the divisions.) Phillip warned us that we must continue to undertake activities for the Hertfordshire community in order to retain charitable status. The capition fee will be £15.50. There is still confusion around the change to the constitution of BBKA and the impact on when the capitation fee is due and how much. (I will try and get clarity on this in a future newsletter.)

Phillip was stepping down from his position as Treasurer. When asked how long he had been doing it he said "It is too long to remember." The committee had not received any nominations for his replacement and so a proposal was made to outsource the book-keeping to a commercial company who were offering special 'charity rates'. Before we could vote, Tom Chapman very kindly volunteered to step into Phillip's shoes so we are most grateful to him and wish him the best of luck. A vote of thanks was given to Phillip for his long service as Treasurer.

The new officers are as follows:
  • President - Peter Hills (Welwyn) (rotating position, not elected)
  • Chairman - nominated by county executive
  • Treasurer - Tom Chapman (newly elected)
  • Secretary - Helen Irving (re-elected)
  • Auditor - no change
  • BBKA delegate - John Brooksbank
  • Examinations secretary - Robin Dartington (but will try to persuade a division to take this on)
  • 3 National Honey Show representatives - John Mumford / Robin Dartington / TBA
  • Bee World organiser - rotated around divisions (but not with the presidency)
There was a proposal from Oonagh Gabriel to change the distribution of the newsletters with a view to making cost savings. More on this in a future newsletter.

Special recognition was made for long service to beekeeping but, as that person wasn't present to receive the award, the name of the person shall remain anonymous for now.

The date of the next AGM is to be decided.

There followed two very interesting talks by Andy Wattam (local bee inspector) and Norman Carreck (Entomologist and recently ex Rothamsted). A full report of their talks will be in next month's newsletter but here are some of the highlights:
  • The recently reported heavy loss of colonies in the US may be due to the over-use of varroa treatments or over-use of antibiotics
  • Research into the promising fungal treatment for varroa mites has been halted - no funding
  • 660 research posts have gone since 2000, including the bee unit at Rothamsted
  • Varroa doesn't kill. It is a virus (e.g. Slow Paralysis Virus) that the varroa mite passes from bee to bee that kills.
  • There is lots of evidence to suggest that an interaction between the life-cycles of bees, varroa mites and viruses is the cause of a rapid decline in bee numbers during the winter months. This has been recently experienced in the US. (Didn't we have our heavy losses 12 months ago with some people reporting an 80% colony loss?)
  • Norman was surprised to see Apistan still on sale in Hertfordshire when pyrethroid resistance is already here.
More on their talks next month.....

Bishops Stortford news by Paul Cooper

Our AGM took place on 14th March and was attended by 9 members. Alan Lewis, our outgoing secretary, gave his report on the year and this was followed by Valerie Edel who presented her treasurer's report.

The membership fees for 2007 are £16 (up to 3 hives), £18 (up to 5), £21.25 (up to 10). Family membership fees are £5 which is the same as the fee for a member who does not keep bees. The bundled subscription to Bee craft Costs an extra £19.80 at present.

The officers were duly elected: Gerry Jeanes (chairman), Valerie Edel (treasurer), Frances Luck (secretary). I will produce the BSBKA monthly article for the Herts Bees newsletter, Susie Brickwood will do the newsletter distribution and Dennis Osborne will be the local contact for swarms.

The dates and locations for the 2007 meetings are:
  • 12th May - Susie Brickwood, Widford
  • 16th June - Paul Cooper, Albury
  • 14th July - Dennis Osborne, Widford
  • 15th Sept - Alan Lewis, Bishops Stortford
  • 12th Mar 2008 - AGM
Yours truly was awarded the Charlie Page Competition Cup for producing the most honey in 2006 - 630lbs from 5 hives. Charlie Page, who died about 20 years ago, lived at the Old Forge, in Much Hadham. He kept bees in a beehouse - the only one in Hertfordshire.

There were no takers to organise a Bishops Stortford display. Members were reminded that there is a divisional hive (National) and a two-frame extractor for members to borrow. Stan Brownridge announced that he has a deep comb observation hive if anyone would like it.

A vote of thanks was given to Alan who has stepped down from being divisional secretary - a post he has held with enthusiasm for many years.

South East news by John Mumford

Our Beekeeping course is coming to its end and I would like to thank all those who made it happen, it has been fun. I took some of our students to look into a few hives just before the recent cold spell of weather. The bees were just great. We saw a few Queens, open, and sealed brood, and although eggs were present they were found more difficult to see. In the excitement the brood development times had all been forgotten and it was therefore difficult to explain how the colonies would expand over the following couple of weeks. Practice - practice - practice and after 30 odd years I still make mistakes. There is a lot to learn about bees and their habits, and never enough time. The first five years are the worst!

SWARMS:- Members wanting swarms should let me know and I will put their names onto a list. For our new members. It's strictly First come First served. I collect the swarm and ring the name at the top of my list. The swarm then has to be collected within TWO DAYS else it is offered to the next name on my list. The name who has refused the Swarm then goes to the bottom of the list. With swarms you get what you get and sometimes the bees are not very nice.

Our first Apiary Meeting will be on Sunday 15th April at Daphne Rooke's Apiary. See map enclosed. Would those who intend coming please ring Daphne on 01992 .... (number in newsletter) so that see can make suitable provisions.

West Herts news by Brian Norman

The AGM was well supported, thereby enabling the society to start the Bee keeping and Apiary year with a progressive calendar.

From April Apiary meetings will be held at 3.00pm on the first and third Saturday of each month until autumn. Judging by the previous two years, late crops of honey could still be obtained. This year will start with a clear out of one of the sheds, that will be duly replaced
by a new one. All hands to carry out this operation will be greatly appreciated.

Those wishing to keep a hive in the Apiary, please contact the Apiary Manager (Bob) as there is limited space so first come, first served.

With the first signs of warmer, drier weather, the bees could be making an early strong start but check that your colonies have sufficient stores to carry them through the next few unpredictable months.

Brian Norman: 01923 ....
Andy Clavey: 01923 ....

St Albans news by Anne Wingate

At the time of writing the catkins are finished and the pussy willow bushes in the hedgerows are balls of yellow with bees gathering the pollen when the weather is warm. There is a field of oil seed rape (OSR) showing a very large area in flower in mid March! Will it be a good year for honey?

Our next event is the Apiary clean up on Saturday 21st at 10am - 12 midday. Teas, coffee and buns will be provided. Please come along with gardening tools i.e. gloves, cutters and fork to prepare the Apiary for the coming season. New members are most welcome and hive sites may be allocated to those taking part in the "Loan-a-Hive" scheme.

Thank you to all the helpers at the HBKA AGM. It takes the pressure off when people lend a hand.

Hitchin Bee Centre

The project outlined last month is powering on with the intention of getting hives on site in April. We have planted a hedge around part of the site plus a willow arch over the entrance. The Probation Service Young Offenders continue to clear the rest of the area. The Council has allocated £500 to prime the project, on top of the private donation of £100 that paid for hedge plants.

The project continues to be aimed at developing and demonstrating hobby beekeeping to the public but it is now intended to limit the number of visitors to only six at any one time – plus at least two demonstrators. The allotment gardeners will object to sharing the car-parking else.

North Herts BKA has decided that it would not be right for it to take responsibility so a new association (Hitchin Bee Centre) will be formed whose objects will exactly mirror those adopted in BBKA’s new Constitution in January this year:
  1. to promote and further the craft of beekeeping
  2. to advance the education of the public in the importance of bees in the environment.
HBC will join BBKA as an organisation and so any members not already covered will obtain third party liability insurance (£5m). The intention remains to work closely with BBKA’s new apiary at the National Beekeeping Centre and act as a local delivery point for publications and training programmes.

The site is ideally positioned right on the northern boundary of Hitchin, with an open field on one side, a river and nature reserve on another, waste ground on the third and allotments on the fourth. The nearest allotmenteers have been approached and a public meeting arranged for 31 March. Any beekeepers interested will of course also be welcome – ring Robin Dartington on 01462 ..... (phone number in newsletter).

North Herts news by John Hill

As stated in last month’s ‘Herts Bees’, the Committee were directed to meet during March to ‘elect’ a new Chairman. This they have duly done, “and the winner is”......(sorry, I shouldn’t be flippant to do this, but ‘those’ pauses do infuriate me!). I can say now, that the new Chairman was elected, nem com , and I have great pleasure in welcoming Graham Beesley to the position. I’m sure he will bring a ‘the new approach’ that our retiring Chairman was so keen to see. The meeting of the Committee covered some items that members should be made aware of, and I deal with these below :--
  1. Details of the extractor hire (that was kindly given to the Assocn.), were discussed, and Terry Pierson has agreed to administer and ‘let’ the item to members, (who should contact him first, pay a £5 (weekly rate) of which £3 will be returned, when the extractor is brought back in a clean, usable, condition, £2 will go to NHBKA funds).
  2. The April Meeting of 10th. at The Friends’ Meeting House, Letchworth will start at the usual time of 7.30 p.m. This will be the last indoor meeting until next October.
    The Committee have agreed to have a debate/discussion on “What to do I do in the Spring”, some views on ‘the Future of Beekeeping ‘ and a “Bring and Buy” of some items any members wish to buy/sell. So bring your unwanted items or duplicated presents, and also bring some cash!
  3. The 'future' of the Hitchin Market Sales Pitch will be explored.
  4. Some “publicity’ aspects of our hobby will be explored, i.e. via the local library or some other local organisations.
  5. The Hitchin Bee Centre Project, as mentioned in last month’s ‘Herts Bees’ by Robin D., was discussed by the Committee, who concluded that “whilst the North Herts BKA wished to encourage the project, it would have to be run by dedicated volunteers and be a separate organisation, financed apart”. The Cmt. all thought the idea to be an excellent one, but the nearness of an Allotment might realise Insurance problems. Robin thanked the Committee for being constructive and commenting accordingly.
Now, .... to the Apiary meetings for 2007. These have been ‘firmed’ up as follows, and will all commence at 2.30. p.m
  • 13th May 2007 - Nortonbury Clear-up .
  • 19th May 2007 - Boxwood.
  • 2nd June 2007 - Robin Dartington, Letchworth.
  • 16th June 2007 - Pat Veasey, Gosmore Cross.
  • 30th June 2007 - Roman Gorski, Benington. (details of location later).
  • 14th July 2007 - Nortonbury ( 6 members Apiaries).
  • mid August 2007 - Andy Johnston. Shillington.
Members should ask the Secretary if directions are required.

Last Month’s Teaser:- The ship was the ‘Titanic’, which hit an iceberg in fine weather, with calm sea. If the weather had been worse, the lookouts would, possibly, have heard waves breaking on it and any movements could have been heard. (Icebergs ‘groan’ when they move). The rest is history.

Finally:- What author opened their definitive work with following? What was the book? “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”

Queen clipping and marking

One of the jobs for spring is to find and check the condition of the queen, clip her wings and mark her. There is an excellent article by Michael MacGiolla Coda that covers this subject extensively.

As it is 2007 any new queens that emerge later in the season should be marked yellow.

Spring Notes from Peter Folge

Our warming climate does seem to be affecting bees especially hives that have been sheltered from cold winds.

Its now only 16th March and on today's first apiary inspections the 3 hives at one sheltered apiary site (breeding stock) in Welwyn are so advanced that they already all have drones and one colony has made a few large, well formed queen cells. I assume these to be supercedure which have been removed. The queen is laying well with eggs present and winter stores are still plentiful. I have increased space with the addition of one super per colony.

Two of these hives were on open screen floors (one a WBC and the other a National) the OMF's did not stop them building up early.

I also noted, like others, that drones were around until late in the Autumn last year - until end of October. If they are emerging now this means that the bees had already started rearing beginning February.

Varroa on the other hand seem none existent or at least have not made me aware of their presence so far this Spring and this could be due to thymol crystal treatments in August/September?

Our other apiary site (all nationals) at Raffin Green is more exposed to the prevailing winds and all hives are also building up but not as advanced as at my other sheltered site.

Even with all the rain over the winter there was no evidence of mouldy comb within any of the colonies. This would indicate that the warmer average temperatures have perhaps prevented condensation building up on the underside of the crown boards. Also thymol being at antifungal may have a lot to do with this?

Welwyn News by Peter Mathews

We welcome Peter Folge as our new Chairman, with Phil Jepson replacing him as Vice Chairman. At the same time we extend a huge appreciation to Geof Emmerson on his retirement from the role. Geof put in a huge amount of work during his many years as Chairman and has been a great inspiration, always showing up at meetings and always there with help and advice. He's going to be a tough act to follow.

Diary Dates
  • Apiary Meetings at Raffin Green on the first Saturday of the month at 10.30 am starting, 5th May subject to weather. Contact - Peter Folge 01438 ......
  • Welwyn Street Market is Saturday 16th June, setting up from 8.30am. Contact Peter Folge.
Swarms - Geraldine & Nick Savage need swarm(s) tel 01707 ......

Foulbrood booklet - correction

Message to all beekeepers who have already got a copy of the new foulbrood booklet or have/intend to look at it on the web. When you get to page 22, the conceptual graph, figure 35, has a printing error: 0.9 should be a green line and 1.0 should be a red line.

Defra are going to issue an amendment. All confirmed by Andy Wattam, after my failure to get direct communication with CSL!

Eileen Remnant, St. Albans.

Bees and the Community

Following the offer by North Herts District Council of some land to be used for beekeeping, the North Herts division are making a proposal for a public Educational Bee Centre and wish to consult with other HBKA members for comments. Below are some extracts from the proposal. If you have any comments please send them to Robin Dartington.
It is proposed to establish a fully-equipped public Educational Bee Centre (EBC) at which beekeeping can be developed and demonstrated to visitors (families and groups). Hitchin EBC (HEBC) would consist of: 8-16 hives within a netted safety area plus storage shed; a toddler-proof picnic/amenity area; study/workroom to hold 20-30 visitors plus honey/food processing room, toilets and first-aid. Equipment would include: workshop tools; video camera/microscopes and projection facilities; publications.

HEBC would be a not-for-profit organisation constituted as a self-governing branch of HBKA or NHBKA and be eligible for financial support from charities and local/government. Staff would be volunteers able to sell produce and recover expenses. Nationally HEBC would act as a satellite of the new BBKA Demonstration Apiary at the National Beekeeping Centre, Stoneleigh Park.

HEBC would seek grants and donations for buildings, site works and equipment. The value to be insured on completion would be approximately £10,000.
Current provision for beekeeping

Beekeeping is suited to all ages and all levels of strength and skills provided proper instruction is available and suitable equipment is selected. Beekeepers generally work alone or with a partner and are self-reliant. The downside is that opportunities to share experience are limited and technical standards generally remain low.

In North Herts, beekeepers can join NHBKA (30 members) which also confers membership of HBKA (270 members) and BBKA (10,000 members). NHBKA arranges 4 winter indoor meetings and six summer visits to member’s private apiaries. Whilst interesting, this provision is inadequate as a structured programme for improvement of individual beekeeping.

BBKA acts for beekeepers nationally and provides a day of high level lectures at an annual Spring Convention. BBKA runs a graded examination scheme but there is no requirement on beekeepers to develop competence through study for any of the BBKA certificates

Beekeeping instruction is delivered locally through the network of county and branch associations affiliated to BBKA. However, in 2006 BBKA reopened its demonstration apiary at the National Beekeeping Centre in the grounds of the Royal Show in Stoneleigh Park. It can be hoped the central demonstration site will act as a national focus for developing training aids and publications and where demonstrators can themselves be offered training to raise the standard of local beginners’ courses.

There is currently no site or facilities within North Herts where a formal training programme could be based but courses are run by St Albans BKA, East Herts BKA and Barnet BKA using on-site meeting rooms. St Albans and Barnet BKA have both recently obtained Lottery grants for improving their equipment (hives, microscopes).

NHBKA manages an association apiary at Nortonbury where members currently rent space for 28 hives at £1 per hive. The site is not suitable for adding a meeting room. Further hives in North Herts (estimated 200) are placed on private land where opportunities exist. There is no public right of entry to those sites.
Hitchin educational bee centre (HEBC): outline proposal

Aims: HEBC would provide publicly accessible facilities for:
  • providing a public face and information/advice centre on bees and beekeeping
  • developing and demonstrating beekeeping of a high standard to visitors (families and groups in particular school children)
  • promoting beekeeping as a recreation
  • providing facilities for delivery of structured training courses for beginners and improvers (as a satellite of the National Bee Centre).
  • Organisation: HEBC would be a charitable or not-for-profit organisation staffed by volunteers, affiliated as appropriate to BBKA, HBKA, NHBKA.
  • open-topped area enclosed by 8 ft high netting for up to 16 hives
  • store shed for spare hive boxes
  • strip of sample plots each 1 m sq for a collection of bee plants
  • amenity area with picnic table and toddler-proof fencing
  • open-sided loggia for protection of visitors when viewing demonstrations
  • linked to: Meeting Room for 30 plus demonstrator with ancillary toilets/baby change / wash basin / first-aid / coffee maker and kitchen store cupboard – electrical services via petrol generator for lighting / heating / demonstration equipment. (Room constructed of 28mm interlocking planks).
  • Honey Room with extraction and bottling equipment, sink and wash-down floor.
  • secure equipment store for: video camera and projection screen plus computer/microscopes.
  • Beekeeping using 6 hives owned by HEBC plus 10 owned privately by Centre volunteers – processing of honey, beeswax, pollen & propolis for sale
  • ‘Introduction to Beekeeping’ – demonstrations for visitors and groups during advertised ‘open hours’ using opened hives and video link for close-ups – advice and leaflets – sale of honey
  • Beginners Courses (theory and practice)
  • Improvers Courses – weekly demonstrations of seasonal tasks throughout the year.
  • Annual Lecture Programme – audiences of 30 – visiting lecturers and DVD’s followed by hosted discussions.
  • Local studies – bees and local plants using sample plots
Comments are welcome. Maybe other divisions could follow the lead of North Herts?

Barnet news by Kaye Hoggett

After consideration the Association has decided to change to Dartington hives. To this end on Saturday 3rd March at 15:30, Roger Hedgecoe will give a demonstration of how to build a Dartington hive.

West Herts news by Andy Clavey

The WHBKA apiary meetings this year are as follows:
  • 7th & 21st April
  • 5th & 19th May
  • 2nd & 16th June
  • 7th & 21st July
  • 4th & 18th August
  • 1st & 15th September
  • 6th October
All at Croxley Green Apiary at 3pm.

Bishops Stortford news by Paul Cooper

The Bishops Stortford BKA's year kicks off with a meeting at Alan's house on 14th March at 19:30. Apart from receiving Alan's generous hospitality, we will be holding our AGM and planning the group meetings for the remainder of the year. There are some apiaries that we never get to visit so please come along and volunteer your back garden for a half day this summer.

We also need to elect the officers for the Bishops Storford Division. The post of Secretary will become vacant as Alan has decided to step down. Thank you Alan for many years in this position. It was your article in the local newspaper that was the catalyst for me to start keeping bees.