Hitchin Bee Centre news by Robin Dartington

Work has continued through the summer on constructing the Bee Centre – the lawn, fence and bee shed. Choosing to make the Shed from planks, rather than buying ready-made, was brave – it has produced a building exactly as needed but nailing up under site conditions has been laborious. Still, almost there now. Expenditure on materials to date has been £1,450 – the final cost after installing 8 hives will be a bit over £3,000. That is my limit for investment in this scheme as a ‘social entrepreneur / non-profit developer’ – so continuing the plan to develop a Meeting Room/Exhibition, Community Bee Garden and Bee Plant Nursery will depend on obtaining grants in advance. The new association will also have to get support to buy out the facilities already created for the Bee Centre or be burdened by debt, with consequent need to be more ‘commercial’ in its operations than originally intended.

Obtaining guide prices for the major grant application to be made at end September must start in earnest. Work will include: tree surgery; earth moving; water supply; supply/erection of log cabin (Meeting Room/Exhibition); Exhibition design/install; design/build of garden; design/build of horticultural area (Plant Nursery).

Jif Smart, a Hitchin-based gardener, has been identified to design, build and later maintain the garden. John Cliff, a Hitchin-based Horticultural Therapist, will design the Plant Nursery – and hopefully use it later for a project with disadvantaged people. Gillian Sentinella will advise on design of the Exhibition – she was involved when Beds BKA invested over £2,000 a couple of years ago in creating a Bee Gallery at Stockwood Park Luton - soon to close when the Museum is upgraded to a Discovery Centre (incorporating a new Bee Gallery) with a £6m Lottery grant.

There was no response to the invitation in July ‘Herts Bees’ to join in pre-design research, or to suggest additional sites worth visiting, so the group continues on its own.

Peter Bracey caught working on the Bee Shed

Some strong colonies finally did well in 2007 – Robin Dartington’s best

SE Herts news by John Mumford

Peter Dalby volunteered to host the July Apiary Meeting when no-one else had made their apiary available to fill the vacancy. I was then very disappointed when Peter rang me on the Friday evening before the meeting to say that no-one had phoned to express their intention to attend the meeting.

I was in favour of cancelling the meeting, but Peter said he had people from other divisions who had said they they would like to come and he didn’t want to disappoint them, so the meeting went on. As always Peter had a lot of different things to show us, and as always Barbara had prepared her usual array of refreshments. Eventually just four members turned up after phoning Peter on the Saturday evening and Sunday morning. Now I don’t think that is acceptable! When someone puts themselves out to host an Apiary meeting they should not be put under the added stress of not knowing how many people will attend till the last minute, in order that proper provisions can be made and lots of food doesn’t go to waste. Please be more considerate and appreciate that these events are for your benefit and the costs are borne by the person hosting the meeting.

The ‘Bee World’ event on 22nd September starts at 10am with setting up from 8am. SE Herts will be providing an Observation Hive and I would like a little help at sometime during the day. Any Volunteers? See elsewhere in this Newsletter regarding Produce for Sale and other details. Those manning the exhibits will get free entry but ALL others will have to pay the normal entrance fees.

The next Apiary Meeting will be at the Association Apiary on Sunday 9th September at 3.00pm. The Harvest Supper will be held on Saturday 13th October at 7.30pm. The Next Committee Meeting will be held on Monday 3rd September at Heaton Court.

St Albans news by Anne Wingate

I know many members are experiencing a dilemma of when to start treating for Varroa and feeding. The unusual late nectar flow has confused the normal timings. It just goes to reinforce what long standing beekeepers have said all Summer 'Beekeeping is a life long learning experience'.

Some new beekeepers are extracting honey, if you need a small number of jars I may be able to help (phone ☏). While you are extracting please put aside one or two jars of honey to enter our low-key honey tasting/ judging evening on 7th Dec. We look forward to sampling the many different flavours.

The other meetings plan for the autumn are aimed at giving a more in-depth understanding to some of the subjects covered in the Beginners Course at the beginning of the year. Your Committee have decided not to run a Course in 2008, but are welcoming new enquirers to attend the Apiary sessions each week and come to the evening meetings.

The meetings are at United Reformed Church, Watford Rd. Chiswell Green St. Albans at 8 pm.
  • 26th October - Swarming
  • 12th November - Anatomy of the Bee
Please join us, put these dates in your diary now.

Unused honey jars - free

We have two boxes of new unused honey jars of 1 lb size left over from our past bee keeping in Hertford some years ago. There may be as many as 24. If any of your members are interested in them perhaps your member could phone us on [email Editor for details]. We live in Tring. We would not expect payment for them. Mrs. P. Yates

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister...

...to Increase funding for research into honey bees at the National Bee Unit and other institutions.

The honey bee is an often overlooked but absolutely vital part of the environment and agriculture. Bees are said to be worth about a billion pounds to agriculture and horticulture but their role in general pollination and the environment is beyond measure. Recent reports from the USA and UK about massive losses in bee colonies indicate that urgent research needs to be done to understand and counter this trend along with combating the rise in antibiotic resistant varroa mites and other threats. However research funding to the National Bee Unit and other institutions by DEFRA has been cut hugely in recent years with the loss of many jobs and the consequent dispersal of knowledge. This petition urges the Government to put significant extra money into the relevant organisations that study bees and work with beekeepers both commercial and amateur to ensure that this essential creature is protected and encouraged.

Click here to 'sign' the E-Petition

Microscope Fair

I am not a beekeeper, but I belong to the Quekett Microscopical Club - a long-established society for amateur (and some professional) microscopists.

You might be interested to know that the Club is having a "bring and buy" fair called "Microscopium" at St Stephens Church hall, Watling Street, St Albans on Saturday 20th October, 10.00-16.30. If any of your members was interested in acquiring a secondhand microscope or related equipment at a reasonable price, this might be a good opportunity.

Presumably you have an e-mail system for passing on this kind of information to members. With thanks.

Yours, Mark Shephard