BuzzWorks - Hitchin Bee Centre by Robin Dartington

The group continues to meet each Saturday to build the Bee Centre – joined now by John Symes, bringing us to six regulars drawn from Stotfold in the north down to Barnet in the south. There is always a job to do!

Eight colonies are set aside for the move. Somewhat disturbingly however, three of my colonies (of 20) have dwindled to nothing since supers were removed in August, leaving combs full of winter stores but only a fistful of bees and a small patch of sealed brood. These are similar symptoms to those for CCD as reported in US. Let us hope it is some minor local problem, not indication of a major problem in Hertfordshire.

The site plan develops steadily, each revision getting us closer to a convenient and economical layout. WREN only grant projects open to the whole public at least 104 days a year. As mentioned earlier, the Plant Nursery failed the test – so its public availability has been upgraded to allow visitors to plant seeds of bee plants that they can later plant out in the garden. Some children, especially flat dwellers, have no opportunity to garden in any way and can miss out on a vital experience while growing up. A smaller area is still provided as the service area (eg dustbins). The Demonstration Platform is now proposed as a Market for sale of both honey and allotment surpluses, strengthening the bond with the allotment gardeners. The museum is upgraded to a ‘Discovery Centre’ – ambitious, as designing an interactive bee gallery will take more time and a further grant but fun to do and it will turn the site into a true ‘visitor attraction’.

Success with the grant depends crucially on showing wide support from the general public, in addition to specific groups such as schools and beekeepers. So a petition has been launched in Hitchin’s historic Market Place on Apple Day. Leafleting 200 nearby homes attracted the local herbalist and a special needs teacher to offer help over approaching the church and Guides groups – one step leads to another. Local shops, community centres and schools will also be asked to collect names from visitors / parents.

We would now like to ask Hertfordshire beekeepers to express individual support by signing the petition at winter meetings. We are not asking anyone for money, only support for opening the site to the public in 2008. If preferred, please email saying simply: ‘I support opening ‘BuzzWorks’ in 2008’ and giving your name and address. The Brochure is available by email or post for anyone who wants to check the details of the current proposal and the Site Plan is shown below.

St Albans news by Anne Wingate

Our next meeting is on MONDAY 12th November (the only available date) at 8 pm at the United Reformed Church, Watford Road, Chiswell Green.

The subject 'Anatomy of the Honey Bee' will be revealed via the microscope and monitor. See picture on Page 2 in October's Herts Bees. This should be a very interesting evening.

The December meeting will be at 8pm on Friday 7th December at the above address. This meeting will be 'Honey Tasting' followed by Social Evening. All you need to bring is a 1lb jar of liquid honey produced by your bees.* If you have no honey please come to taste and enjoy the many different flavours produced by other people's bees. On 12th November I will be giving basic advice about how to prepare honey from granulated to liquid. Or, you can hear an expert honey judge speak at the North Herts Meeting on 13th November - see October's edition of Herts Bees for details.

* Along with your jar of honey please bring a plate of finger food which we will share together. Your spouse/partner are welcome to join us.

Please remember to return your membership renewal forms by 16th November to qualify for the £10 reduction!

National Honey Show by John Mumford

The National Honey Show normally marks the end of the beekeepers year, a time to catch up and meet old friends, and look around the bee book stalls for something to read over Christmas.

The number of entrants, and the number of entries this year were about the same as last but it seems that the standard of some of the entries could have been better - only a VHC in Class 1 out of 13 entries! It has been a difficult year for beekeepers generally and honey takes have been very variable in Quantity and Quality (water content too high!).

There are moves to try to find a new venue for the Honey Show but nowhere is going to be perfect. It takes me just half an hour to get there by car and the easy parking is entirely FREE. The food and beverages are at Motorway Prices, but there are ample provisions inside to consume your own, and if you get bored with the Honey Show then the RAF Museum is Free and very interesting.

William S. Mundy stepped down as President after 50 years in the job and was presented with a Certificate to acknowledge his valuable contribution to the show. Dr. H. R. C. Riches (Middx.) was then elected as the new President.

South East news by John Mumford

The Harvest Supper was well attended, and I trust enjoyed by all. Many Thanks to those who helped with the organisation and preparation of the event, and to those who donated Raffle Prizes. The Skillman Shield went to Gordon Lake for his Jar of honey.

The Winter Meeting to be held on Thursday 15th. November at the Hoddesdon Baptist Church Hall will be centred around Varroa, Varroa related problems, and Varroa Treatments. Our newer members, and those who completed the Beginners Course in the Spring and now have bees of their own have asked for more information on the subject.

As I sit writing this report I am looking out over the remains of a heavy overnight frost - Autumn is definitely here. There is nothing much beekeepers can do from now until the Spring to assist their bees except put on blocks of candy if it is necessary to feed, but once started they have to be continuously renewed.

North Herts news by John Hill

Once again, bees tucked up for the Winter apart from a final ‘dribble’ of Oxalic Acid Solution in December? They seemed to have gained some strength in the last two months or so, and they certainly took the feed syrup down with enthusiastic gusto! Let’s hope the forthcoming Winter months are not too severe, and Varroa don’t get the upper hand in early Spring. Things tho’ never turn out to be as you expect them to be..… such is life!! (Keep taking the tablets!).

We had an extremely good turn out at our first meeting of the Autumn period, when 20 members listened to Andy Wattam, the Regional Bee Inspector, give a lively talk on “Integrated Pest Management Relating to Bees”. This title sounds an awesome one, but the review that Andy gave covered, in a very light-hearted manner, was a complete gamut of the examination and treatment of the various diseases and pests associated with our “hobby”. His ‘Rogue’s Gallery slides were of high quality and very informative. All who attended, I’m sure, were extremely grateful for Andy coming all the way from Loughboro’ on a rather ‘dirty night’ to entertain us and share his knowledge with us. Considering that the postal-strike was in force, which preventing members receiving their ‘Newsletter’ in time, the turn-out was commendable,... (thanks to the many ‘phone calls our Chairman made).

Now to Details of our next Meeting: As usual on the second Tuesday in the month, viz: November 13th at the Friends’ Meeting House, Letchworth, at 7.30 p.m. start we are welcoming Martin Buckle from Beds. Association to talk to us about “Bottling, Labelling, and Exhibiting Honey”. Members are especially asked to bring in a sample of their produce for “constructive criticism”. “Bring a Jar and Learn a Lot”!! It is hoped too that at this next meeting we shall have some information about the Christmas Party,... at a ‘straw poll’, held at the October meeting, there was quite a response for one!!!

After the November Meeting, there will be a break until after the New Year, with the next one to be held in Letchworth in February 2008 (the 12th to be exact). So mark the date in your new diaries.

Now the answer to last month’s ‘Teaser”...the blunder in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night:---- ‘The identical twins Viola and Sebastian are different sexes. This is impossible!!!

Here’s this Month’s teaser. “A mother only has five potatoes, but six children to feed. How can she feed them equal amounts of potatoes without any using fractions?”

Now here is a couple of verses by Walter de la Mare from his poem called trees, there are four short verses but I relate here the first and last:
Of all the trees in England,
Her sweet three corners in,
Only the Ash, the bonnie Ash
Burns fierce while it is green

Of all the trees in England,
Oak, Elder, Elm, and Thorn,
The Yew alone burns lamps of peace
For them that lie forlorn.
I must admit I do not understand the meaning of the last two lines, I would be interested to learn from anyone who reads this to advise please. Perhaps it is because the Yew of course dwells in Churchyards where people ‘lie forlorn’? But why ‘burns lamps of peace’?

Bee students?

Someone from the Royal Veterinary College near Potters Bar has approached HBKA to find out whether some of the students could visit our apiaries to learn about bee health problems. Foot & Mouth and Bluetonge have made farm visits impossible. He was wondering if any HBKA members would like a visit by 2 or 3 final year students who would look at preventive measures or alternate treatments to bee problems. The format would be that the students would visit for an hour or so (at the convenience of the owner) either on a Monday afternoon /evening or on a Tuesday. They would use the resources of the college to examine /identify the problem and send a report to the owner by the following Tuesday. The owner may attend the presentation the students give to the relevant staff on the Friday following the visit.

If you are interested then please contact me for further details.