May 2010

Editorial by Paul Cooper

May is "busy bee" month for beekeepers. All of a sudden, after a late start to the spring, we're faced with queen cells & swarming and probably, like me, wondering why you didn't spend more of the winter months preparing for the sudden demand for new frames, supers and brood boxes. Don't you think that Stoneleigh could be about a month earlier in the calendar?
A shorter than usual (and later, sorry!) newsletter this month.  The bees will keep you busy this month so you won't have time to read the newsletter anyway.
May Tips
You should be inspecting weekly by now as our colonies are well into their swarming season. Thoroughly inspect all of the brood and if any of the comb is old then start to work it to the outside so that it can be replaced with foundation placed on the outside of the brood nest. Try and replace a third of it each year. Start by removing outer frames that are full of last years crystalised honey – the bees won't use it anyway. Add supers (they can fill in a week at this time of year) to ensure that there is plenty of space. Congestion is the main cause of swarming. If you plan to expand your apiary then have spare hives at the ready for a real or artificial swarm.

North Herts news by Christine Phillips

Please call Andy on 01462 711937 as places are limited at the 5th June apiary visit at Shillington.

Barnet news by Jackie Andrews

We had a great turnout for the viewing of the Barnet Beekeepers' Association 1936 film. Approximately 35 people attended and we were delighted to welcome beekeepers from other Hertfordshire groups. We all enjoyed the film and marvelled at how little beekeeping equipment has changed over the years. We're hoping to continue the momentum and arrange a reguar, monthly gathering with different speakers and topics. We're also hoping to set up a queen rearing  group in the near future.

Our beginners' course is progressing well and the group is now  moving on to handling bees at long last.

SE Herts news by John Mumford

Yesterday (20th April) I went through a few of my colonies, marking and clipping Queens  and putting on a few supers, and was very pleasantly surprised at how well advanced they were after the long cold winter. I never cease to be amazed at how quickly the bees shake of the effects of winter, and how quickly colonies develop once pollen is freely available. But in just ten more weeks the honey flow will be over for most of us, and we will be looking to prepare the bees for winter once more. The beekeeping season is over before some realise it has even begun!

Last Autumn I got a bit worried that it was taking longer than usual to get the Varroa Mite Drops Numbers down to what I consider to be acceptable, and so I gave each of my colonies a strip of Apistan. It worked and now my bees now look fine. I have recently given some of my colonies a dose of “HIve Clean” after hearing some good reports about its effectiveness  - either my bees are well free of any Varroa mites - I have not applied it correctly - or it doesn’t work - it’s difficult to prove a negative.

Our Next Apiary meeting will be at  Malcolm Highs Garden Apiary Braughing Friars on Sunday 23rd. May at 3pm.  Malcolm has said he wants to see some of our newer beekeeper going through his bees to give the older members a rest. Malcolm would be pleased to welcome beekeepers from Bishops Stortford or any other division who would like to come along and see his facilities, please phone me for details of how to find him.

The next committee meeting will bee at 8.00pm. on Thursday 13th. May at Pinewood School.

St Albans news by Christine Aitken

Meetings – all to be held at Prae Wood Apiary

  • Saturday 15th May 2010 at 3.00pm - At our second members meeting of the season Eric Margrave and Luke Adams will demonstrate the art of ‘Making a nucleus box, stocking it and uses of…’
  • Saturday 19th June 2010 at 3.00pm - For the third members meeting Crispin Baker will explain ‘Winter feeding, how and what…’ 
  • Saturday 10th July 2010 at 3.00pm - The fourth members meeting will be about ‘Current varroa treatments’ and will be demonstrated by Eileen Remnant.

Beginners Course

Our highly successful beginners course ended on the 23rd April. We counted 26 in and 26 out!

There will be a ‘Meet your Mentor’ session on May 1st at Prae Wood.

Thank you to all the Association members who turned up for each session to help to set up the Hall and clear away afterwards, to talk reassuringly to the course participants during the refreshment break and who helped make the teas and washed up afterwards.

A special thank you to Eileen Remnant who once again did a magnificent job pulling everything together and to all those who gave the talks and demonstrations. Without you all there wouldn’t be St Albans BKA Beginners Courses each year, we wouldn’t have a thriving Division and there would be a lot more frustrated potential beekeepers out there. So thank you - and see you all again next year…..? 

BeeWorld 2010

A reminder that BeeWorld will be held at the Herts Show on the weekend of May 29th/30th at the Redbourn Showground and arrangements are well in hand. The co-ordinators are Marian Whittaker and Luke Adams.

The Herts Show organizers are very keen to have us back after an absence of many years so to all members of Herts BKA – please make the effort to support us and make it a really successful ‘Meet the Public’ venture. 

St Albans BKA ‘Meet the Public’ events in 2010

  • Redbourn Rural Day - Sunday May 23rd   9.30 – 3.30 (Redbourn Common)
  • ‘BeeWorld’  Herts Show - Sat. & Sun. May 29th/30th (Redbourn Showground)
  • Oaklands Open Day - Sunday June 13th 10.00 – 4.00 (Smallford Campus, St Albans)
  • Harpenden Discovery Day - Saturday June 19th 10.00 – 5.00 (Harpenden Common)
  • Earthworks Open Day - Sunday September 5th (Hixbury Lane, St Albans)

National Trust ‘Bee Part of It’

Anne Wingate informs us that she is involved with the National Trust ‘Bee Part of It’ project with the BBC Local Radio/T.V. The provided WBC Hive will be at Shaws Corner, Ayot St Lawrence, Herts alongside the 2 WBC’s she and her husband David manage already for the Trust. Launch date is 17th May 2010.

Bishops Stortford news by Jane Moseley

It was lovely to see those of you that managed to make it to the Apiary visit on 10th April. Thank to John Dockerall for hosting the meeting. We welcomed 3 new members and enjoyed a special visit from Derek Driver from SE Herts, who demonstrated and talked us through the benefits of Queen marking and clipping.

John had lost one of his hives over winter but we went through the surviving hive which although small had a good store of food and some healthy brood, the Queen is definitely active and is now clipped and marked, without losing any limbs! We had a look through the failed hive so we could see what had happened and there didn't seem to have been that many bees in the colony. A successful Apiary visit followed up by a wonderful afternoon tea. A motion was passed at the meet that we would all donate our usual contribution of £1.00 and the funds would be given to the host as a contribution toward costs incurred of yummy cakes and tea that are all enjoy.



Photographs from Pauline Gibbs' apiary visit courtesy of Glyn Knowles.  This meeting was attended by over 20 people, a record in Bishops Stortford, with about 10 new members. Welcome to all.

The next meeting is on 22nd May at The Old Police Cottage, Thorley Street, Bishops Stortford, CM23 4AS (tel 01279 504391).  Please park opposite in the car park of the Coach and Horses pub.

West Herts news by Margaret Tighe

Our first apiary meeting was held on 17th April. It was a little later than usual this year as the one scheduled for 3rd April had to be cancelled due to inclement weather.

The 17th was a lovely warm spring day and the meeting was very well attended. It was especially nice to welcome Alan Parrott, who is based in France, and then it is not usually able to attend our apiary meetings. 

The two new Association hives where in situ and, following an introductory talk by Bob Whittingham, it was decided that it would be useful to divide the new members and interested parties into two parts. Having done this Alan Parrott along with Andy Clavey and Lindsay Bruce taught one group about frame making, whilst the second group watched Bob Whittingham go through the first Association hive.  The two groups then changed places and the second hive was looked at whilst the others had their frame making lesson.

There seems to have been very few colony losses reported from our more experienced beekeepers so we look forward to a few pounds of spring honey - hopefully not too dandelion flavoured!!

Bee Diseases Insurance Ltd

by Peter Mathews
Our annual subscriptions include a contribution to BDI Ltd giving insurance cover for brood diseases i.e. American Foul Brood or European Foul Brood. Divisions pay £2 to BDI for all registered members giving cover for up to 3 hives. Further hives can be added for an additional premium. It is important to declare, and pay for, the maximum number of hives you may expand to during the summer. If you don't, you may find that you are not covered at all. Payments to BDI  are due on the 1st April at the same time as BBKA capitation.
For people acquiring bees from April onwards, payments from their divisional treasurer are due on the 1st September i.e. same as BBKA autumn return. If you fall into this group you are covered 40 days after the payment date on your BDI certificate (don't lose these!).  If you are a new member, make sure you pay your subscription in good time. Treasurers should ensure they date receipt-certificates when they receive payment and not two weeks later. Your treasurer holds certificate copies on behalf of BDI until these are sent in with the autumn payment.

Stoneleigh 2010

by Peter Mathews
Good to see so many HBKA at Stoneleigh this year. Sales at the  exhibition were even more manic that last year. Getting served was a nightmare. BBKA need to give some real thought to expanding the show, or maybe holding it over two days ease congestion.
As always, the various talks and workshops are an important part of  the weekend. I understand the two queen rearing workshops were sold out within a week or so of tickets going on sale. Get in early next year ! Unfortunately, most speakers from abroad were unable to get there as flights were cancelled due to that dust cloud. To make matters worse, speakers from NBU were not permitted to address an audience in the run up to an election. Stand-ins and repeat lectures were appreciated. The wax workshop was twice repeated and still oversubscribed.
This was the first convention when I have stayed over. It offers a  big advantage in sneaking a convenient parking spot by avoiding the marshals.

Events in May

Bee World 2010
Don't forget Bee World at the Herts County Show on Saturday 29th & Sunday 30th May 2010 - 9:00am until 5:30pm at The Showground, Redbourn, St Albans, AL3 7PT. Click here for details.
Rothamsted Open Weekend
Please go and support Dr Juliet Osborne and her bee research team at Rothamsted Experimental Station, Harpenden, AL5 2JQ on Saturday 22nd May & Sunday 23rd May 2010 - 11am until 5pm. Free admission. Rothamsted's science supports sustainable agriculture and the environment and ranges from the molecular level to ecosystem and landscape studies. Visit the world class laboratories, meet the scientists, explore the Rothamsted estate by foot or by bus and have a cream tea at the 16th century Rothamsted Manor house. Click here for details.

Small Hive Beetle

by Peter Folge
Today it has been announced that the Small Hive Beetle has been found in Hawaii it is also present in Australia. Many imported queens come from these regions especially Hawaii. So please take all precautions and consider carefully if and when purchasing bees from outside your locality.
Read the article and links from Beebase: