SE Herts news by John Mumford

The attendance at Phil Amer’s apiary on 19th July was dismal, just a few committee members and ONE other member. It is not fair on our apiary meeting hosts, when they put in such a lot of effort to hold a meeting in their apiary and it is snubbed in such fashion.
The HBKA Bee World Day at Capel Manor on Saturday 19th. September is fast approaching and I have had no volunteers from members of SE. Herts Division willing to give a little time to help set up and man the event. I suppose it is a reflection of the attitude of all members in todays society, where maximum advantage is taken of everything, and nothing is returned. I am now adopting the attitude that, “if it happens it happens, and if it don’t it don’t, and why should I care either way !”
Not since 1976 when there was a severe drought from February on, can I recall the bees having such a miserable summer. The main Honey Flow never really got started before it finished a few days into July. Supers were left unfilled, the bees took to robbing like crazy, the Wasps and  Hornets plagued the hive entrances; pollen was very scarce, and Queens were taken off lay, and the Drone were thrown out in mid July. My bees had to tough it out with as much help as I could give them, (shade - entrances - ventilation), and I only carried out inspections before 10.00 am. or after 6.00pm.
Swarms continued into August. One swarm had been in the tree for 5 days - the Local Council had advised the householder that if left they would just go away! There was just a trace of wax on the branch they had been on, and by the number of crawling bees I though there was something wrong with them. I robbed my Q’cage Candy Jar and put the contents over the ventilation screen of my swarm box. The next evening when I collected them to take them to my apiary all the candy had gone and the Patio was clear of dead bees. They have since taken down 2 gallons of sugar syrup and are doing just fine.
I have nearly finish my extracting (mid August) and I am having to leave frames of honey on because the brood chambers are absolutely empty.
A simple but effective Wasp Trap. An 8 to 10mm hole in the neck of the bottle. Load with rotting fruit, jam, or old diluted honey. Yes you will trap a few bees, but not as many as the trapped wasps and hornets would have taken anyway.
20th August : - I have just heard of a colony taking down a full FOUR pints of syrup from doughnut rapid feeder in TWO HOURS! Now that may be some kind of a record, but not one to necessarily be proud of.
The final nail in the coffin for all the Grease Pattie Connoisseurs is that Pura has been taken off the shelves at Sainsbury’s, and everywhere else. I have not yet found a suitable substitute. Trex is far too soft and runs all over the place at hive temperatures.
The recent publicity beekeeping has got is not all a good. I have had a quite a few calls from members of the public who think that they would like to take up beekeeping. I tell them to download the Thorne’s catalogue from their web site, and explain that it would cost about £1000.00 to start up. I suggest that the best advice I can give them is to ‘go and lay down in a dark room until the urge wears off’. I then offer them a visit to my apiary to see some bees close up. No one has taken up that offer so far.
It makes you think about why we keep an expensive box of stinging insects at the bottom of the garden and then have a struggle to a) keep them in the box in Summer, and b) to keep the damm things alive through winter. Beekeepers must be bonkers.
The last Apiary Meeting of this year will be at the Association Apiary on Sunday 6th September, when I may need a hand to take off any surplus honey. We meet at Baford Church at 3.00pm.
The next Committee Meeting will be at 8.00pm. on Thursday 10th September at 23 Andrews Lane.

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