Herts Bees has moved....

Please see the new HBKA website

for the latest news and information about beekeeping in Hertfordshire.

This blog will remain here as an archive.

Bishops Stortford news by Paul Cooper

The date of the next meeting is the BSBKA AGM on 12th March. We will be electing new officers so please come along and help to make the Bishops Stortford group grow. We need some new ideas to increase the membership and to keep beekeeping alive in East Herts. The meeting is at Alan's house, not in Widford as previously mentioned.

Please note that BSBKA subscriptions of £16 were due on 1st January. Please send your cheque payable to BSBKA to Valerie Edel.

West Herts news by Brian Norman

The last meeting at the apiary enabled the members to check the status of the colonies. The newer colonies were given some supplementary food even though pollen and nectar were evident by the activity on the alighting boards. One of the members’ hives presented its owner with a small late excess of honey, extraction was still to be done so it will be interesting to hear the outcome.

Reflecting back over this years beekeeping, it certainly has been a year with a difference, our hopes and also that of the bees were raised by the early spring, thereby allowing the opportunity for the colonies to rapidly expand with the early nectar and pollen flow. The less said about the summer weather the better. Smaller colonies struggled to get established, but for all the weather setbacks, a reasonable show in colony strength and a bonus crop at the end of the season seems to be a trend for the seasons to be extended with differing nectar crops, so that the bees are far more active for longer periods of time.

On a sad note, a former member of West Herts has just passed away. Roland Sweet was a very active member of the association and a stalwart member of the committee for many years with very innovative ideas.

Taranov Board - artificial swarming without finding the queen!

This was invented by G.F. Taranov, a Russian Beekeeper, and consists of 2 sheets of plywood (or similar) set with open end propped by struts. A rough length of wood (25mm. square approx.) is fixed under the top board 100mm from the open end - this forms a focus for the clustering bees.

The board is placed with the upper edge 100mm. from the alighting board/hive entrance and set at the same height. A cloth is placed to cover the lower portion of the board. Then frames are shaken onto the lower end of the board. The bees will walk up to the top edge of the board where "swarm" bees will go into the dark region under the board and cluster, along with the queen. The non-swarming bees (mainly older) will fly across the gap back into the hive, which should be left with a frame containing 1 or 2 queen cells to produce the new queen (this frame should have been brushed clear of bees, NOT shaken).

See Dave Cushman's website for pictures for construction details.

St Albans news by Anne Wingate

I hope you are all looking forward to a new year of bee keeping. I know some of you have taken the advice to prepare for the coming season. Let's hope it is a good one.

At present, mid January, the cold weather is encouraging the pigeon and collared doves to destroy the oil seed rape (OSR). In the past this has meant OSR flowers later. The hazel catkins are 1 1/2 inches long in some sheltered spots but the weather too wet and cold for the bees to fly far from the hive.

Thanks to those of you who attended the AGM in January. Your Committee works hard on your behalf, so we need your support.

The first meeting of the year is at 8pm on 15th February at U.R. Church Hall, Chiswell Green and the subject is "Disease Update" by Eileen Remnant. There will be time to talk about early spring management, so come along and meet your fellow bee keepers.

I hope you will see elsewhere the details of Herts AGM. and the speaker Martin Buckle. If anyone can offer help with teas and clearing up please phone me.

Annual Delegates Meeting 2008 by John Brooksbank

On Saturday 12 Jan this year I represented the Herts BKA at the annual Delegates meeting of the BBKA at Stoneleigh.

The quality of the meeting has risen slowly over the years that I have been the HBKA representative, as has the quality of the BBKA executive committee. The propositions were clearly put, and the executive responses published before the meeting. The discussions were well considered and there was no nit picking or “dog in the manger” attitudes as there has been before, it was very refreshing.

As the meeting progressed several salient points emerged, I will list them in the order they appeared:
  • Sir Edmund Hilary of Everest fame who died this year was a well known beekeeper.
  • The constitutions of each of the associations should be sent to the BBKA so that they have a copy.
  • A leaflet on the code of practice of dealing with abandoned hives is to be produced and will be on the website.
  • The VMD situation regarding the use of Oxalic acid is unchanged. Bees are food producing animals, and as such are covered by the appropriate legislature. Discussions are on-going with the VMD to re-classify bees or the use of chemicals on these animals.
  • Research needs. Tim Lovett outlined the following research needs:
- Varroa
- Nosema related to CCD
- Foul Broods
- Small hive beetle
- Husbandry- Queen rearing, mesh floors, hive cleansing, swarming.
- Bee breeding – improvement, resistance, bee genome.
  • The government (Lord Rooker) recognises that there is a problem with funding for bee research, but the government is not prepared to fund any additional research.
  • It was pointed out that many lectures and study courses can be re-funded by running them under local education schemes. Somerset have rec’d considerable funding.
  • The accountants advise that the liquid reserves of a society should cover two years expenditure.

The voting for the delegates was completely uneventful as the number of candidates matched the positions available.

Applications for membership.

There were four association applications for membership, which I assumed would be straightforward on the basis of the more the merrier, but not so, since two had broken away from Berkshire 17 years ago and some felt that they should rejoin. In the case of Sedbergh they maybe too small, and in the case of Northern Irish beekeepers they should join Ulster. At the vote all were welcomed into the BBKA.


All the propositions are listed in full in the Dec. BBKA News.
  • 01/08 That the BBKA membership be maintained on line.
There is variability in the ease of updating the database. HBKA have had difficulty. After some discussion an amendment was proposed and accepted that the executive resolve the problem.
  • 02/08 That a new category of “junior” membership be introduced.
The argument against this is that divisions set the rules for junior membership, and regardless of age you become a member of the BBKA. In the end it was agreed that the executive look into the motion.
  • 03/08 that the constitution be amended to allow Junior members.
This was quickly rejected.
  • 04/08 that DEFRA should introduce Small Hive Beetle traps.
After modifying the proposal to include “other fruit distribution areas” as well as ports. The motion was strongly passed.
  • 05/08 that the draft ADM minutes be issued by Feb
Passed unanimously.
  • 06/08 that the BBKA strengthens its policy regarding working with children and the vulnerable.
The rule is that the member associations are responsible in law for their actions and policies. After some discussion it was referred to the executive for consideration.
  • 07/08 that positive and active approach be taken towards research
This was well supported and agreed. It was suggested that associations with excess funds use some to prime research work.
  • 08/08 that the BBKA produce a pamphlet on the identification of bees for the public
All agreed on this and suggested that it go on the web site as well. A volunteer was requested for this task.
  • 09/08 that the capitation rate from 1 Oct 08 be increased to £14
This was agreed speedily, there was some consternation about the speed in which the vote was taken but not in the outcome.
  • 10/08 that the BBKA be authorised to continue pursuing Apimondia 2013
The risks and benefits were outlined. The risk at this stage being £5000 to cover cost of proceeding. The benefits are the prestige and any profits over the entire costs. The Ukraine are the other main runners at present. Tim Lovett offered to project lead the venture. On this basis I decided to support the proposal and it was carried.
In summary, Herts BKA got the results that the Herts exec committee preferred.

Keeping our Bees Alive

Our neighbouring association in Cambridshire is having a meeting on 8th March 2008. The speakers are Mike Brown, (Central Science Laboratory) "Colony Collapse Disorder - an Update"; Ben Emmett "Town or Country bees?"; Dr. Max Watkins (Vita Europe) "Developments in Honeybee Health"; Terry Clare (BIBBA) " Safeguarding the Future - a Trident Approach". Trade stand. Tickets (£15) from Dr. D. J. Abson, 6 Ascham Lane, Whittlesford, Cambridge, CB22 4NT. S.A.E. appreciated.

North Herts news by John Hill

Yet another year gone!, ........as I get older, everything seems to happen earlier, and faster. At the time of writing .... mid January already!!... and last Christmas has become a sort memory one tries to recall frequently, but unfortunately the event already seems to be getting very blurred at the edges. There’s no doubt that, speaking for myself, short term memory is very fractured, ( I might even have said this before!), Who’s that person,? What’s his/her name? I know that face!? Where’s that book/wallet/credit cards etc. etc.? I give up ,... I just have to live in my confusion,...and life goes on, faster and faster.. Even my diary seems to be filling up fast. Ah...well, Here’s our news,...... If I can remember it!

Our bee-party was a great success. We had about 22 paid up members attending...all brought the plate of their own choice. We made a profit of £23 on the evening including the raffle (£5). There were about 12 prizes in the raffle, and any double winners were ‘persuaded’ to put their ticket back!! Excess wine was auctioned off, and realised £11. It was all very festive, and a pleasure to see everyone “pre-season”, so to speak.

At a recent County Executive Meeting we were reminded that we are expected to organise the yearly “Bee World” event at Capel Manor in 2008. This will require considerable effort from North Herts members,...so please help where you can. Also, there will be a vacancy for County Secretary at the AGM in March, Helen Irving has done a great job, but cannot continue. If you feel you can fill this very interesting, but not too challenging post please come to the AGM and volunteer!

Our February meeting will take place on the 12th. (second Tuesday), at the usual venue, Friends’ Meeting House, Sollershott East, Letchworth, at 7.30 p.m. We are hoping to have a speaker who will give us inspiration!!!.. And, also at our AGM in March , another speaker, whom we haven’t yet ‘firmed up’. We may abandon our Honey Tasting Competition until April, and have a shortened AGM. Watch this space in the March Newsletter. See you all soon!!

Now for Dec/Jan answer to the teaser about the yellow, striped, hairy, bees.... It’s False...Some hairy bees may have 6 stripes,.... But it’s not definite. Ready for another?

See if you can work out the last number in the following pairs of numbers,.. shown with a ‘?’.
589 ... 521
724 ... 386
1346 ... 9764
? .... 485
And finally:- Here are two ‘snippets’ of poetry written by the same well known poet, any ideas who it is/was? There is a “hidden clue”!!
Great things are done when men and mountains meet;
This is not done by jostling in the street.
I give you the end of a golden string:
Only wind it into a ball,
It will lead you into Heaven’s gate
Built in Jerusalem’s wall.
And to end; I hope 2008 will bring you all a satisfying time with your bees, “with loads of Honey”. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Bees for Sale

Two, 6-frame overwintered nucs on BS 14” x 8½” long lug frames. 2007 queens. Disease free. Inspection invited. Buyer to collect from Hoddesdon.

Should be ready mid April. Price £50 each.

If you are interested then please contact the blog editor and I will forward your enquiry.

BBKA Capitation fees

To all Divisional Treasurers:
BBKA have increased Capitation fees to £14.00 for 2008. This new rate will be payable on 1st April 2009.

South East AGM by Derek Driver

Belonging to any organisation confers on its members certain rights and responsibilities. Committees hear a lot about members rights, however, members responsibilities are often ignored.

AGM’s are an important event in the calendar of all organisations, and the coming AGM is no exception. Most members of the Committee, and those stalwarts who always help out with our activities, have either reached the ‘BIG 70’ or are very close. These members can’t continue forever, even if they wanted to, and so if you, the members, want our group to attend Shows, arrange Meetings, organise Beekeeping Courses, and Harvest Suppers etc. then younger members need to step forward and take on some responsibilities by joining the Committee.

New ideas and new energy are required to improve our activities still further. Any of the current committee members would be more than willing to advise and help any newcomer!

If we don’t have any new volunteers then we can only assume that members will be content if all our activities cease, and we don’t arrange a Programme of Events for the Year, and members with beekeeping problems are left to just get on with it!

I find it hard to believe that this is what our members want. If it is, then why do they continue with their membership? So please make time to attend the AGM and speak up for what YOU believe our group should be doing.

Better still Join the Committee and make things happen!

South East news by John Mumford

While checking out my bees, (mid Jan 08), as I do every week during the winter months, I was pleased to find that they have all survived in good condition, even the 4-Frame Nucs look quite strong, and so I should have a few Nucs ready for sale in April.

The mild weather in October and early November allowed the bees to continue raising brood very late into the Autumn. My bees have not used up much of their winter stores yet! But they will do once brood rearing starts, which will be any moment now. It is the big colonies that are most at risk now, and a close watch needs to be kept on their stores situation. Big colonies will sometimes expand so fast in March that they run out of stores and starve in a couple of weeks.

Bees will soon start foraging for pollen and water, and some will get caught out and die before they can get back into their hives. It is normal and nothing to worry about unless it becomes excessive, when disease should be suspected. Colonies will loose half their bees in the next month or so before the new brood starts emerging in sufficient numbers each day to make up for those lost each day.

The late brood rearing last Autumn had one big disadvantage! It allowed the Varroa mites to continue breeding, and I am finding that, (and again it’s mainly with the bigger colonies), mite drops have continued at a persistent 1 or 2 per day right through the winter. I will have to wait another five or six weeks before I can put in a Spring Varroa treatment, and then estimate how big the problem actually is.

The AGM is at 8.00pm on Thursday 14th February 2008 at Hoddesdon Baptist Church Hall.

Welwyn News by Peter Mathews

Annual General Meeting

Wednesday 27th February at 8.00pm, 3 Fearnley Rd, WGC, AL8 6HW. Please see Agenda for the Welwyn AGM. Note that we will have far more discussion than most years.

I am looking for someone to care for the extractor. This should be kept in a clean and dry place. As we have 8 or 9 users it is important that you are readily available.

We are still in urgent need of a treasurer, please give me a call. And, whilst on financial issues, receipts and BDI certificates accompany this newsletter. If you don't have have these it is because you still haven't paid!

Thanks to West Herts Beekeepers

from Margaret Tighe

BEEKEEPING 1957 – 2007

For many years I have wanted to take up beekeeping and, at last, fifty years after my late father first started keeping bees, I am discovering the wonders of the bee world.

I attach a copy of a photograph taken in January 1957 with my first camera. As a child I lived in Essex (yes, I am an Essex girl - I hope it was not too obvious at bee meetings!) and this beehive was situated in our back garden. It was my father’s first hive of bees and it was the beginning of honey for breakfast or tea for many years to come for the whole family (five children altogether).

Last April I joined the West Herts Beekeepers Association and I am writing to express thanks and gratitude to all the people that I got to know as a result of this.

First of all Andy Clavey, to whom I first spoke, was very kind and helpful and an excellent ambassador for anyone thinking of taking up beekeeping. Secondly to Diane and Lindsay, who not only gave me much help and advice when supplying me with essential bee equipment, but also, when a suitable swarm arrived, went to an enormous amount of trouble catching it and helping me transport it to my very first hive!

Throughout the summer, I thoroughly enjoyed the fortnightly meetings at the West Herts. Apiary; everyone (Brian, Robin, Laurie and others who I hope will forgive me for not remembering their names), was friendly and supportive and the teaching was excellent. Once again, a big thank you to you all!

Wanted - 30 beehives to aid cross-pollination

My name is Richard Scantlebury and I farm at Parvilles near Hatfield Heath. I'm intending to grow a crop of spring hybrid oilseed rape for seed production and I'm looking for bees to cross-pollinate the male and female plants. The crop is not genetically modified. The seed that comes to harvest will be a hybrid variety from the cross-pollination of the two varieties that are sown. One variety, so called the female plant, will be sown in a 7.5m wide strip; there will then be a 1m bare strip before a 2.5m strip of another variety, the male plant, followed by another 1m bare strip. This sequence will be repeated across the field. The aim is to get the male plants, in the 2.5m strips, to pollinate the female plants, in the 7.5m strips. Once flowering has finished the male plants are cut down and the female plants are left to set seed, ripen and then harvested.

The crop will be planted in March and will come to flower late May/June. The crop area is 15 hectares and I have been advised to have 2 hives per hectare.

I’m very happy to answer any other questions. If you are able to help then please email me at richard@parvillesfarm.fsnet.co.uk