April 2010

Editorial by Paul Cooper

The temperature is rising, blossom is beginning to bloom and the bees are flying. We've had the AGM, Stoneleigh is just around the corner and we'll be coping with swarms and set honey before you can say "artificial swarm". How good it feels at the start of a new season.
We welcome Barnet's contribution to the newsletter this month and wish to highlight their showing of a film from 1936 called a Year in the Apiary, a clip of which will be available on this website soon. How beekeeping has changed in 75 years.
Out in the apiary, colonies will be growing rapidly so food supplies will need to be maintained particularly if we have some bad weather. Feed if required with half strength syrup or candy. On a warm day start spring cleaning by removing the entrance block and mouse guard. Clean the floor or replace it with a prepared one from your winter maintenance. Watch the weather to be ready to remove the feeder and put on a queen excluder and a super. Start weekly inspections as  swarming can start as early as late April if we get good weather.

Barnet news by Jackie Andrews

The Barnet beginners' course has been running well since January. Despite the huge interest in the course, this year we have limited numbers to twenty.
In February, South East Regional Bee Inspector Alan Bylam, who works for FERA, gave a very interesting, and useful talk to Association members on hive pests, particularly varroa and small hive beetle.
21st April sees Barnet Beekeepers screening our once forgotten, but nowre-discovered, Barnet Beekeepers' film, "A Year in the Apiary", made by members of the Association who also worked at one of the film studios in nearby Borehamwood back in 1936. A glimpse into the life of the Association and beekeeping in a bygone age. Hives immaculately painted white stand with steam trains chuffing along behind them. Crocuses are marshalled like a floriferous army under bare trees and meadows look like a sea of sunny yellow so dense were the dandelions. No-one wore beesuits but a gentleman would never have been seen in the apriary without a trilby or bowler hat (essential kit for the 1930s). 30 minutes of time travel to see how it was really done in the old days. The 21st April screening at Barnet Countryside Centre, Byng Road, Barnet, EN5 4NP, will be at 7.30pm. Fellow Hertfordshire beekeepers are very welcome to join us.

St Albans news by Christine Aitken

Despite inclement weather there was a good turnout of members for the Apiary clean-up’s on 20th March at Prae Wood and Oaklands. Many hives at the Prae Wood apiary have suffered from unprecedented woodpecker damage this winter even though protection was in place. There is also concern over possible colony losses.


The first members meeting of the season will be held at Prae Wood Apiary on Saturday 24th April at 3.00pm when the topic will be ‘Swarms’ followed by a Q & A session.
Our second members meeting of the season will be held at Prae Wood Apiary on Saturday 15th May at 3.00pm. Topic to be arranged.

Beginners Course

We are now halfway through our beginners course with attendances of 26 at each session.
Thanks must go to those members who regularly turn out to support us with tea making and chatting to and reassuring the course participants.

BeeWorld 2010

A reminder that BeeWorld will be held at the Herts Show on the weekend of May 29th/30th at the Redbourn Showground. The co-ordinators Marian Whittaker and Luke Adams will be contacting the secretaries of each division shortly.

St Albans BKA Web-site

This is now up and running so do read the article by Andrew Copley in this month’s HertsBees. The season is starting well with many interested beekeepers, keen to get started, contacting me mostly on my personal e.mail address. It will be interesting to see in the future how many come via the web-site.

Bishops Stortford news by Paul Cooper

Members of the Bishops Stortford division are pleased to be holding the honorary post of President of HBKA this year. The name will be announced in the next newsletter.
The first apiary meeting of the season will be on 10th April at 14:30 in the garden of John Dockerill in Stansted. See you there.

SE Herts news by John Mumford

The 2010 beekeeping season has begun at last and it’s good to feel the sun on on your back once again. April is an important month to catch up and get things sorted before the colonies get too far ahead. Spring cleaning - new combs - foundation purchases - supers - spare equipment - Queen finding - and Queen marking etc. The bees won’t wait for you they will just carry on and do what bees do, so if you are late don’t worry it’s you who will have the clearing up to do. Having to fight propolise all summer is not my idea of happy beekeeping.
A couple of weeks ago I had a look in at a few Nucs. and Colonies, stores were all OK but there was a lot of variation in the amount and age of brood present, however now that nectar and pollen are freely available there is still plenty of time for the slower ones to catch up.
I got a phone call from Jenifer Rowley about the Association Hives - the woodpeckers had been at work and when I got there all three hives had large holes and only one still had bees. There were even holes in the hive where the bees died out last Autumn. I put some Chicken Wire screens around them and went back to my car to get some drawing pins, as I arrived back a Green Woodpecker flew off! We will have a lot to do at the Apiary Meeting there on Sunday 25th. April. For our new members we will meet in the Bayford Church Car Park by the War Memorial at 3.00pm.

North Herts news by Christine Phillips


At our well attended AGM last week two changes were made to the committee:
  • Brian Fairey has been N. Herts' swarms officer for many years and now hands over to Helen Amey. Helen has a dedicated phone for swarm calls – 07952 010015 - all relevant authorities have been notified so we hope it works. If you are willing to collect swarms in your area please contact Helen. Likewise if you wish to receive a swarm.
  • John Brooksbank and his wife have  delivered the Herts Newsletter for many years (?30) and this has now been taken on by Janet Kirtland.
Our thanks to Brian and John for many years hard work, and to the new volunteers – thank you, and good luck!

Honey tasting

Following the AGM we all tasted the various honeys. Marks awarded this year were rather low – we are all becoming too discerning! But the worthy winners were:
  1. Graham Beesley (first again!) with a rather nice lime honey
  2. John Hill - rape honey
  3. Sam Greenbank - mixed flower honey 

Beginners evening

Derek and Graham are holding a second evening for beginners on April 6th at 7.30pm at Howgills.

April meeting

On April 20th (Howgills 7.30pm as usual) Andy Johnston will give us some good advice on record keeping.
There will be a bring and buy sale during the evening and after the break Graham will lead a discussion on swarms / swarm prevention.

Summer meetings

For new members who may not have been to one before, these are very pleasant afternoons spent in one of our members' apiaries looking at and talking about bees – a good way to learn how to handle bees - and followed by tea and cakes.
So far this year we have the following dates arranged, all at 2.00 for 2.30pm: (please phone first to say you will be coming, or for directions)
  • Graham Beesley's apiary on May 1st near Redcoats Green.
  • Andy Johnston June 5th in Shillington (Andy invites Bedfordshire Beekeepers too, so places at this very popular apiary meeting will be limited to only 10 N. Herts members. Please email or phone Andy if you would like to come; first come, first served.)
  • Pat Veasey June 19th at Gosmore Cross
  • John Hill July 17th at Boxwood
  • Nortonbury Association apiary July 24th (provisionally)
  • David Massey August 21st at Charlton


This season we are planning to order a pallet of honey jars, which works out cheaper than buying smaller quantities. If you would be interested in sharing in this or would be able to provide storage room for a large number of jars please contact Graham or me as soon as possible.

West Herts news by Margaret Tighe

The WHBK Association AGM, which was held on 1st March was, I believe, enjoyed by all who attended.  The dining room at Croxley House, Croxley Green made a very pleasant venue and was filled to capacity with twenty-five members, associate members and potential members.
The meeting was opened by the President, Dave Hill, who welcomed everyone.  He then announced some proposed changes to the Committee as two members wished to retire from the committee, namely, Lindsay Bruce (Chairman) and Brian Norman (Secretary). He thanked them for all their past work and we were pleased to hear that, although they were retiring from committee duties, they would still be very much involved with the Association in other fields.
Diane Bruce, who worked hard all last summer generously giving up her time to collect swarms and providing new bees where required, requested that any beekeepers collecting swarms make sure they don’t remove skep or box until evening, to ensure that all foraging bees have returned to the swarm.  She found it very frustrating to be called the day after a swarm had been collected to remove a "tennis ball" of bees!!
After the Meeting there was a very pleasant hour spend chatting and enjoying refreshments which included delicious, home-made honey and ginger cake, donated by the President's wife!


This year BEEWORLD is hosted by St.Albans Division who have decided upon a change of venue and consequently a change of date for Beeworld 2010. It will be held at the Hertfordshire County Showground, Redbourn, AL3 7PT on Saturday 29th & Sunday 30th May 2010 from 9:00am until 5:30pm.
The coordinators for Beeworld are:
  • Marian Whittaker, 1 The Old Dairy, Kinsbourne Green Lane, Harpenden AL5 3PF, Mobile: 07778 280706, postman@chevaux.co.uk
  • Luke Adams, 53, Park Street Lane, Park Street, St.Albans AL2 2JA, Tel: 01727 768578, Mobile: 07958 324494, ladams@bba.star.co.uk
BEEWORLD will be over two days (three if you include set up) and we need to know which divisions will be present on what days, as well as, what you will be doing on your stand and how many people attending. We do though need to know the number of tables you need by 6th April to pass on to the County Show organisers. Please email or telephone Marian by 6th April.
We will confirm your entry and supply entry passes for the Herts show.
We will ensure that each division providing a display will have 4 passes per day which will be free to the divisions.  In addition there will be a limited number of  show passes which members can buy at the very favourable rate of £10.50 (normal rate £14.50) in exchange for two hours help in manning stands.  HBKA will buy these from the organisers and sell them on at cost to individual members, or divisions can work out their own deal with their members. All tickets deals will only be available to divisions supplying a display and cheap tickets are for helpers only, not all your aunties and cousins!
Last year the following divisions attended Beeworld 2009 doing the following:
  • Bishops Stortford – Honey Extraction
  • North Herts – Display of Nectar Producing plants
  • South East Herts – Observation hive & candle rolling
  • St.Albans – Pollination & promotion of beekeeping
  • Welwyn – Sale of members hive products
We would welcome the same involvement again if divisions wish but please let us know what you are doing and on what days!
We would also very much welcome Barnet and West Herts Beekeeping divisions – please get in touch.

Winter Losses a Mixed Blessing

by Peter Mathews

I think we have all looked at that 'dead' hive......... then noticed the solitary bee emerge. And, as we gradually realise all is well, we can leave things alone and return home pleased with our efforts in winter preparation.One of the great joys at this time of year is to see all our colonies coming through the winter ready for the warmer weather ahead. That is if we haven't lost any!

Several of our new beekeepers have been expressing calamity and woe because they have lost one of their colonies. That, of course, is why we keep more than one colony. Lose one hive out of one and you are out of business. But,if you have two or three hives it is not the end of the world. Looking back to my early years, I must confess I was greatly relieved to lose the odd colony. For someone in their second year of beekeeping after raising bees from a swarm or nuc the prospect of managing a couple of really strong hive scan be a daunting prospect. This is an even greater challenge if you are not provided with the best tempered bees!

So if you are the odd colony down, bringing on a second colony to replace that lost over winter is a much easier task. Do all you can to bring your bees along, and watch out for queen cells. They are now a very welcome sight. Just follow the steps for an artificial swarm , but now don't re-unite, and you have your 'lost' hive back in business. Honey production may suffer a little but you should end the season with full hives ready for another winter.

St Albans website goes live

The St Albans division has built a new website - see www.sabka.org. Whilst the site is in its early days and still has some development work to be done on it, it is already proving of interest as the site is now getting over 160 visits a month and has received enquiries about beginner’s courses and exhibition days.

The site contains the Division’s current calendar, and also contains an area for members only, which will hold contact details, “non-public” information and messages only meant for members.  The site also contains details for the public about swarms and provides some education about what is a honey bee and what is not!

We have linked Herts Bees to the site (as well as the BBKA and the National Bee Unit) and are open to suggestions for further links.  The Met Office report for St Albans is also linked in.

Linked to the build out of the website has been the creation of a number of “Sabka” email addresses which, once fully in used, we hope will separate out the growing amount of bee related emails from our own home emails, making them both easier to manage and also easier for emails to continue to be routed to the right recipient in the event of a change of committee member.

If any Herts Bees readers have any comments (constructive criticism is welcomed!) or suggestions for the site, we would be happy to receive them at AndrewC@sabka.org, or Secretary@sabka.org.

BBKA Capitation

by David Brown HBKA Treasurer

The Primary capiation date is now the 1st April.  Capitation payments, for all members on the division membership lists at 24.00hrs, become payable for the year from the 1st April to the 31st March. The Second capitation date is the 1st September. Capitation payments, at full rate, for all members on the division membership lists at 24.00hrs, who have joined between 2nd April and the 1st September become payable for the year to the 31st March. There are no capitation payments for members registered after the 1st September until the following 1st April.

In February and August BBKA issues a membership list to Pauline Gibbs, the Membership Secretary, who passes this to the divisions to update. The updates are then passed to BBKA.

On 1st April and the 1st September BBKA issue a capitation invoice to Hertfordshire Beekeepers Association for those registered members on the BBKA list, split by division. I then forward that list to the divisional treasurer adding the capitation for HBKA.

The divisional treasurer updates/amends the list as appropriate, using the BBKA standard update form, and then forwards the required payent to me together with the amendment form. The HBKA members list is then amended/updated by Pauline and BBKA notified of the amendments. Payment for BBKA membership is forwarded by the treasurer to BBKA.

Remember that our members do not receive the benefits of BBKA membership until they have been registered with BBKA. So do not wait for the capitation process before registering your new members during the year.

Contact Pauline Gibbs the new membership secretary as soon as you have any changes to your membership list.

Bee Disease Insurance

Brood Diseases Insurance is part of your BBKA membership fees and is £2.00 per annum for 1-3 colonies. Members can insure more colonies for the following additional premiums:

  • Up to 3 colonies, included in your BBKA membership fees
  • Up to 5 colonies an additional £2.00
  • Up to 10 colonies an additional £5.25
  • Up to 15 colonies an additional £7.75
  • Up to 20 colonies an additional £9.50
  • Up to 25 colonies (an additional £11.10
  • For 26 colonies or more please contact your association treasurer.

The insurance becomes effective each year when the annual subscription is paid. Make sure your have sufficient cover as your claim will be refused if you are found to have more colonies than you have cover for.

BDI Compensation Rates (2009 figures)

The rates of compensation for property insured are:

  • British Standard Brood Frame £1:90
  • All other Brood Frame sizes £2:70
  • British Standard Shallow Frame £1.40
  • All other Shallow Frame sizes £2:00
  • Crown Board £11.30
  • Glass Quilt £14.50
  • Saleable Honey (30lb maximum) £1.50/lb
  • Plastic Queen Excluder £4.00
  • Open Mesh Floors £10.00
  • Wire Queen Excluder £14.50
  • Slotted Steel Queen Excluder £6.00

...subject to condition. No other property will be paid for i.e. hives are not covered.

A tale from the past

by Derek W. Driver, SE Herts

For many years I have had two main interests, Beekeeping and Tracing my family tree. As a member of several history societies, an article in one of our journals caught my interest.

A lady member searching the Hertford quarter sessions for 1845 found a William Aylett, who was convicted of stealing two beehives from Buckney wood near Thunderidge. The judge sentenced William to 7 years transportation, but he was a kind judge, and because William was only sixteen the judge decided to delay the transportation until William was eighteen! Whether he ever returned we do not know.

Over the years there have been a number of occasions of hives and equipment being stolen or damaged but I don’t recall anyone being caught and I would guess that anyone reporting such a theft would find the police would consider it a very low priority.

Its interesting to note the different attitude to property and live stock that existed then and now, especially when one considers the current cost of a new hive plus bees.

Ted Hooper MBE NDB (1918-2010)

by Geoff Mills, Hon. Life Member, Essex Beekeepers Association

It is with great sadness that I have to inform you that Ted passed away in hospital last Friday.

Ted was born in Devon over 90 years ago and spent most of his lifetime working with bees and instructing others in the art of beekeeping. He was the County Beekeeping Instructor for Essex for over twenty years, was Chairman of the National Diploma in Beekeeping and Chairman of the BBKA Examination board for many years.

In 1976 his book “A Guide to Bees and Honey” was published and it became the “Bible” of many beekeepers throughout Britain and the world. It has been translated into over twelve languages and has sold over 100,000 copies worldwide. In 1985 in conjunction with Roger Morse, Professor of Apiculture at Cornell University in the USA, Ted co-authored the “Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Beekeeping” that was published by Alpha Books of Sherborne, Dorset, England.

Ted will be sorely missed and our condolences and good wishes go to his wife Joy and their family. I am indebted to many beekeepers for their help in producing this tribute.


National Bee Unit - "Bee Base" Registration

by Peter Folge (HBKA Chairman)

Further to discussions during the FERA Conference last week some of the discussions were based on Bee Base https://secure.fera.defra.gov.uk/beebase/index.cfm.

This site has now been revamped and has been given even more protection to prevent identity of any known apiary sites by not revealing any information of these apiaries and their owners. All previous inspections and diagnostics can be viewed once personally registered by the beekeeper (not by the bee inspector).

Due to "Data Protection" the Bedfordshire Beekeeper's Association have included within their Membership  a clause which automatically gives members consent for their details to be used and given to the National Bee Unit for inspectors to visit as and when deemed necessary.

This is something that we should consider the Hertfordshire Beekeepers to do also, although there will be some divisions who may object? I would like to suggest that {divisions} make provisions to get new members included. So far this has not been an issue and every member has been happy to get involved and new bee colonies have so far nearly all been inspected.

We already have a good case example: Members joined and purchased bees last year but have not renewed. Therefore potentially these beekeepers may never get inspected and if within a disease outbreak area or only needing to obtain new bees they could be a potential source of infection.

A new Welwyn member, at the time, did acquire bees from outside Hertfordshire two years ago which was found full of EFB (European Foul Brood) last year and we will now need careful monitoring in the Welwyn area (5km radius from source) for the next couple of years. From the disease levels the bees must have carried the infection for at least the duration of the year or even brought it with them.

Perhaps we can give this some serious thought and we like the Bedfordshire Beekeepers' can incorporate a clause at the end of our Members Application Forms. This would be simple and easy to administer.

Adopt a Beehive

BBKA has teamed up with Saga to launch the "Adopt a Beehive".  This is aimed at the general public to become involved in beekeeping the easy way. The money raised will fund research into honey bee health and education programmes for beekeepers.  The Bee Health Research Concepts include:

  • Varroa
  • Nosema
  • EFB
  • The Genetic Potential of the Honey Bee
  • Queen Quality
  • Honey Bee Nutrition
  • Husbandry
  • Small Hive Beetle Programme
  • Viruses Programme
  • Agri‐chemicals
  • Medicinal Properties of British Honey
  • Honey Bee Habitat

For which is needed £9m. For more information go to www.adoptabeehive.co.uk.


The HBKA AGM took place in Tewin on 27th March.

Following the main AGM business (and lunch in the Rose & Crown) we had the pleasure of two interesting talks that lasted the afternoon.

Ray Smith spoke about the history of the skep beehive that had been used for thousands of years before the modern day hive perfected by Reverend Lorenzo Lorraine Langstroth in 1851. A medium-sized skep takes Ray about 7 hours to make.

Ray Smith making a skep

  Peter learning how to make a skep

Following Ray's demonstration we had an interesting talk from Dr Juliet Osborne about her team's research work at Rothamsted. It is examining the multiple factors and the complexity of interactions between different factors affecting honeybee colonies, whether these are within the landscape or within the hive itself. The project involves both models and experiments.  The experimental part currently focuses on nutrition and disease, as these are two components that have been highlighted by a plethora of studies as playing an important role in honeybee colony health. The advantage of using a modelling approach is that they can explore the relative importance of, and interactions between, the multitude of factors that affect honeybee colony strength and survival in the landscape, without having to do experiments on each factor individually nor repeat studies for which a multitude of data already exists. For further information Juliet invited us all to the Rothamsted Open Weekend on 22nd & 23rd May.

The BBKA Course in a Case®

Members Announcement

At the Spring Convention, the British Beekeepers Association will announce the launch of the first 'Course in a Case'  - the start of its radical new three year programme to improve the education of beekeepers.  The first CiC will be an introduction to beekeeping for beginners.

As part of the BBKA's commitment to education, each Member Association will receive one 'Course in a Case' (CiC) FREE of charge. Some are also being made available to the WBKA and the SBKA on the same basis by application through their National Secretary.

Distribution will take place in the next two weeks, so that as many Associations as possible will have had a chance to become familiar with the CiC before the Spring Convention.

For BBKA Member Associations, the CiC will be sent directly to the Secretary, but if you wish to collect your CiC at the Spring Convention, please contact  the BBKA office as soon as possible.)

We believe this new approach to training will be welcome by associations and we will be following up to record who will be responsible for the use of the material in the Associations' educational activity and, later in the year, how much use has been made of it and any suggestions for improvement.

This record will also be used to supply replacement parts, updates and information on future products.

Further copies of the CiC will be available on the following terms:

  1. A special offer of one additional copy per BBKA Branch for £50, up to the end of October 2010.
  2. Second and subsequent copies per Branch (and the first copy from Nov 1st 2010) for £95.
  3. Sale to the general public and educational establishments through BBKA Enterprises at any time - £150.

All prices are exclusive of delivery (currently £8.50 for UK mainland). You can also arrange collection from BBKA HQ.

For Sale

Three overwintered 5 frames Nucs at £80 each for collection.
Regards, Caterina (Tel. 01920 420 862)