West Herts news by Margaret Tighe

This month experienced members have been busy collecting swarms; seven in total. Once again Diane and Lindsay generously gave up their time and, having collected swarms, enabled two new members to have their first hives of bees.

Unfortunately one less experienced member recently lost a hive due to EFB. The hive was destroyed, rather than a creating a shook swarm, owing to the small amount of bees in the hive. The Bee Inspector found all other members hives were in good order.

The West Herts Beekeepers, although having a small membership, have excellent, informal apiary meetings every second and fourth Saturday of the month, at 3 pm, from April to October. Anyone wishing to learn more about beekeeping from experienced beekeepers, are more than welcome to come along.


Fighting the Varroa mite with 100% all natural Follicel

All natural Follicel has proven to be successful in eliminating sea licefrom Salmon and Trout and following this successhas also dealt with headlice amongst children and their parents. With nochemicals it is a product which does not have side effects.An American beekeeper who used Follicel emailed the following report: "Afterspraying the bees, the following day we caught approx. 300 bees in a halfquart jar. We only found 2 mites after the treatment, and it did not affectthe bees whatsoever. Can you give me the prices for buying in bulk?"We are offering sample bottles of Follicel free of charge or you canpurchase 500ml bottles of Follicel at the special price of £9.50 postagepaid which is a 50% discount on the normal price. See our website www.bibiheadlice.com.

Regards & thanks

Jack Marcovic
Follicel Division,Harlow Lubricants Ltd, 405 HendonWay, London NW4 3LH
T:- 020 8203 9493
F:- 020 8202 0033
Email:- sales@harlube.co.uk

Visit to BuzzWorks, Hitchin’s Community Bee Garden

by Clive Hill, High Wycombe & District BKA

On 13th June, eighteen HWBKA members visited “Buzzworks”, which Robin Dartington has established at Hitchin, Herts. It has an interesting location: with an Allotment site of many acres in front and a stream, then a large wood, behind it. More rural than suburban, but on the edge of a large town. Our aim was to see the present status of Buzzworks and to see Dartington Long Deep hives in use.

Robin and his small team greeted us and let us look round. The team included Christine Gray, the BBKA’s Hon. Press officer, in charge of catering. Robin explained how Buzzworks was started and is fast becoming active as a Bee Education resource. They have a small number of very smart buildings, a lovely but very new garden; and a very effective apiary stocked with Dartington hives – see for yourself, in the accompanying photos.

We donned Bee-suits, then went into the apiary, where Scott Rutland, Julian Parker and Raymond Chamberlin led small groups examining the bees. It was a warm dry afternoon.

The bees were working hard and very docile. Meanwhile, Robin kept up a running commentary and joined in the fun! Although they seemed very bulky, the hives were a dream to use – with everything at a good working height, well designed and very accessible. We had an enjoyable, instructive and very hands-on afternoon.

The many beginners amongst us must have gained a great deal from the event and at least two of them bought a competitively priced nucleus colony to take home.

Following the apiary work we were provided with a light tea, which included slices of delicious Cherry Cake, made with Ivy Honey. I was very pleasantly surprised, because I hate the smell or taste of this honey when the bees bring it back in the autumn! Bob Hunter, our Chairman thanked Robin for our making us so welcome, our really interesting afternoon; and thanked Christine for the lovely food.

As an educational establishment, Buzzworks is still finding it’s feet. They have already started taking school parties: but still need to develop their display material. There are many parallels with the way HWBKA has developed it’s School Visits and educational displays. Christine Gray was able to built a very useful contact with our Sylvia Chamberlin, who has led the BBKA’s work in the field of Bees in the Curriculum.

Many thanks to Robin and his team of volunteers; and to Julian Parker, who had organised our visit. HWBKA will make a donation to Buzzworks as thanks: and our education knowhow can also be available to them.

SE Herts news by John Mumford

Gary Barnett's Apiary meeting on 24th May was an interesting affair. Gary wanted to make up a Nuc with the Old Queen and to raise a new Queen in the Colony. It got a bit scary when after I had marked and clipped the Queen and we later found the bees trying to Ball her. I gave them a good heavy smoking, rescued the Queen, and made up the Nuc. We then found the Queen on the ground in a very agitated state after someone removed the Nuc crown-board to put another frame in. The Nuc went down to Gary's garden and was let out late in the evening. I am glad to say that Mother and Daughter are now both doing fine. The following tea and cakes in Gary's garden with his Canaries, Ducks, Chickens, Pigs, Goats, Sheep, and a Turkey ended a very pleasant afternoon. Thank you Gary.
The Apiary meeting at Pinewood School had much to interest everyone. A small swarm hived just three days previously had drawn comb and the Queen was laying but not seen. Another colony had tried to swarm only that morning so we went through it. We heard and saw a virgin Queen PIPING, she took off but quickly came back, so that we could then safely break down all remaining Queen Cells. Thank you Adrian and Jo for an interesting afternoon.
Have you got, or, had a touch of swarm fever this year? There's been a lot of it around, and it's still going on. Many swarms are no bigger than a grapefruit. Queens start to lay within a few days of being given comb only to be quickly followed by occupied Queen Cells!
As I sit writing this report I have just received a plea from a school in Bushey that have a swarm in their playground and can't find anyone to deal with it.
I had one of my colony's swarm on 22nd. April before I could get round to mark and clip the Queen. I then went through them and left two marked open Queen Cells breaking all the others down. On the 28th April I broke all their wild Queen Cells down and one of the marked cells. On 14th. May I saw a Queen but she was not yet laying. On 26th. May the Queen was mated and laying. On 20th June no Queen to be found, no open brood, very few bees and half the them are drones, just about a dozen bees in their only super (no honey). An ideal opportunity to throw the remaining bees out, and have a clean start with a young Queen from a different stock and new comb.
I fully understand and sympathize with all those new Beekeepers who are encouraged to take up beekeeping. They are often given no backup or support and are left to stew when situations occur that would perplex even an experienced beekeeper. They are often exploited and charged the earth for Bees with Old Queens together with Faulty Secondhand Equipment.
I have only received offers of help from committee members for the Broxbourne Council Open Day event on the 4th. of July, and only one offer of help from SE. Herts members for the HBKA Bee World Show at Capel Manor. It seems that members are selfishly taking all that they need from the Association and are not prepared to put anything back! It's getting very disheartening and I might just take the same attitude at the next AGM.

St Albans news by Robin Moore

I read somewhere that 90% of the population’s reaction to bee stings is no more than a slight swelling and soreness that quickly resolves. Of the rest, only a tiny number will react severely and require medical intervention. Like, I expect, most new beekeepers, my reaction to this information was “It’ll never happen to me!”

As far as I knew, I had never been stung until last year. The reaction was pretty normal, a local swelling and some redness that subsided after a few days.

In April this year after removing my veil I was stung on the ear. This time the reaction was more severe and my ear swelled significantly much to the amusement and merriment of my not very sympathetic family and friends!

Only five weeks later, I was stung again and this time the reaction was a whole lot different. I had removed my gloves to mark the top of a frame with a drawing pin. A bee found its way into my glove and reacted as only bees can when I put the glove back on. It took about twenty minutes before intense itching began and another ten minutes before I experienced chest discomfort and a constriction in my throat. I drove myself home which in retrospect was not sensible. By then, I had a classic rash over my arms, chest and back and was beginning to feel that my tongue was swollen. A 999 call and a paramedic was reassuringly by my side in minutes, closely followed by the ambulance. My subsequent treatment in A&E was speedy and efficient.

I now carry an EpiPen at all times and I am awaiting an appointment with an allergy specialist to discuss the possibility of undergoing desensitisation treatment. I am still managing my bees but never alone and I am exercising extreme vigilance. Ultimately, I hope that my beekeeping activities will continue for a long time yet.

You cannot keep bees and not expect to be stung but the chances of you reacting badly are extremely low. Don’t let my bad experience put you off but be aware that it could, just maybe, happen to you too.

Member’s Activities

We will be meeting the public again at Earthworks on July 5th. Volunteers are needed to chat about bees to interested people at this event. If you can spare an hour or two, please contact Christine Aitken on 01582 792316.

The next apiary meeting is at 3pm on 11th July at Prae Wood, when the subject will be ‘Making up nucs and requeening’. All members and visitors are welcome.

Weekly meetings continue at the Prae wood and Oaklands apiaries, Saturdays 2-4pm. Members visiting the Prae Wood Apiary are reminded not to leave the heavy metal entrance gate open.

Welwyn news by Tamora Leslie

The First Saturday of the Month June Apiary Meeting and Api Tour were both a great success. Some new beekeepers saw their first new queen grub and royal jelly on that day. One heavily laden hive was divested of it's honey.

Two of our new members have just taken on their first bees. Please would new and existing members remember that if you get new bees you may need to have Bee Diseases Insurances, cover for 3 hives is included in your subscription. Please email me with any new details.

The Co-operative Group has recently joined up with BIBBA (Bee Improvement and Bee Breeders’ Association) to help map the native black bees in Great Britain. If you see a black bee, email a picture of it, along with details of when and where it was taken to campaigns@co-operative.coop On their website BIBBA ask for 30 actual bees to be posted to them! Is that number of black bees likely to be found in Hertfordshire?

Next month’s events:

11th July Ayot Horticultural Show (1400 to 1600)

12th July Mill Green Museum, Hatfield (1400 to 14:30)

North Herts news by Christine Phillips

June has been a busy month for the bees with lots of honey and many swarms, and for the beekeepers with talks and demonstrations. John Hill, Graham Beesley and Frank Everest have all given talks to different WI groups and others have been in schools introducing the children to the ways of the honeybee. The observation hive has been out and about and will be again this weekend when Derek Richardson takes it to Stevenage Garden Centre with John on Saturday and Frank on Sunday.
At Pat Veasey's apiary last Saturday eleven people including three beginners looked at and rearranged Pat's bees and found and marked three queens. This was followed by the Veaseys' usual wonderful tea.
Our next meeting is at Standalone Farm on Saturday 18th July at the usual time of 2.30pm. Both of our Seasonal Bee Inspectors, Peter Heath and Peter Folge hope to be there so it should be a very interesting and informative afternoon. Please phone for directions if you are not sure how to get there.

Future events where N. Herts BKA will have a stand are Stevenage Gardeners and Allotment Holders Day on 12th September and Hitchin Apple Day in October. If you would like to take part in these events, or any others please let me know. It can be an enjoyable if exhausting couple of hours and we really need to talk as much as possible to the public while bees are so much in the news and everyone seems to be interested in them.

July/August 2009



Apologies for the late publication of the newsletter this month.

Paul Cooper
July 2009