June 2010

Editorial by Paul Cooper

Flaming June and the honey flow is in full swing, the supers are filling up and swarms are happening.  Oilseed rape flowers will soon have finished so make sure you get those supers out and spun before the honey sets solid. Don't wait for them to be fully capped as it may be too late. Providing nectar isn't dripping out when shaken they should be ok.

This is a short newsletter this month. I guess many contributors are too busy in the apiary to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard.

It seems that the various recent events went very well. Congratulations to St Albans for organising Bee World at the Herts county show. Did anyone attend the Rothamsted open weekend as I'd be interested to know how it went.

A change to the way that this newsletter is distributed was discussed at the recent Exec meeting. It was agreed to phase out central printing and distribution of the newsletter and this will be taken over by the divisions. This will give savings in both time and distribution costs. I would like to personally thank Peter Mathews for many years of printing and distribution of the newsletter for both me and my predecessor, Oonagh Gabriel.

North Herts news by Christine Phillips

With the swarming season suddenly upon us our new “beeline” seems to be working very well. Helen's good planning and organisation is allowing volunteers from each area to be contacted to collect swarms and those wanting a swarm to receive one, so a big thank you Helen!


After Graham and Derrick's indoor beginners meetings, outdoor teaching began at Graham's apiary in April but will from now on be at our Stevenage Garden Centre apiary where there is, so far, one association hive and several others belonging to individual members.

Please meet in the car park at 12.00 on Saturdays.

Apiary meetings

Graham hosted the first of the year (our chairman does keep busy!) and an interesting afternoon was enjoyed by 16 people, with tea and cakes magically appearing from Graham's bus.

Nortonbury clearup was not well attended but thanks go to Dave Mathews and John Nichol and Graham.

Next meeting will be at Andy Johnston's on June 5th followed by PatVeasey's on June19th


The several public events where N. Herts BKA will have a stall are on the calendar but a new one is Stevenage Fun Day on August 22nd in the Town Centre Gardens. Anyone who would like to participate in any of these events will be very welcome either selling honey or talking about bees. It's an experience worth having at least once! Just get in touch with those running the stall or me.

North Herts news by Christine Phillips (May 2010)

The following should have appeared last month but got lost in the email.

Apologies to North Herts.

Now that our last indoor meeting of the season has passed, a long summer of bees and apiary visits and honey awaits – I hope. All dates will be on the calendar section of the website, but since the last newsletter there are a few new items:

May 15th at 2.00pm Annual clear-up at N. Herts Association apiary at Nortonbury – mainly strimming nettles and chopping down elder. All volunteers welcome.

May 28th at 7.30pm a talk on “Colony Collapse Disorder” at Letchworth Settlement (in Nevells Road, Letchworth). This is one of a series of science lectures and presumably aimed at non-beekeepers. Entry is £5 but free entry is offered to real beekeepers in return for a jar of home produced honey! Contact the Settlement to book your place on 01462 682828

June 5th and 6th. BBC Springwatch is coming to Fairlands Valley Lakes in Stevenage from 12 midday on Saturday 5th June until midday on Sunday 6th. This is linked to something called Bio Blitz and will involve 24 hours of bat watching, bumble bee recording etc. We have been invited to take part. Peter Bracey and Brian Fairey have offered to provide a display of honeybee information, honey for sale and an observation hive, for a few hours each day. As there are likely to be a lot of visitors to this event they would welcome offers of help and need 2 or 3 more people for each day. Please contact Peter or Brian if you can spare an hour or two.

July 3rd at 5.30pm Apiary meeting at Standalone Farm. (Dave Mathews and others) This meeting has to be after the visitors to the farm have left so note unusual time.

July 17th 10am – 3.00pm Earth Day, a new event, in Letchworth town centre. More details later, but again displays of information and volunteers to talk to the public about bees and beekeeping are needed.

I wish everyone a good summer, healthy bees and lots of honey, and hope to see you at some of the events.

Bishops Stortford news by Jane Moseley

WELCOME all our new members. Our membership is now around the 35 mark,  which is fantastic and we hope that you enjoy attending the Apiary Visits, which enable you to have a nose into other folks Hives and to get your hands on frames etc which we hope proves to be useful experience before you get your own Hives. For those with Bees it gives you an insight as to what you may or may not want to see in your own Apiary.

As secretary I endeavour to keep you up to date with what's going on where and when, with a mini review of what happened at the last Apiary Visit incase you missed the meeting. If you take pictures at the meeting, please send me a copies and I can include them in the email review.

A Big Thank you to Julia and her husband for hosting the latest Apiary visit.

For those who couldn't make it you missed a great learning experience down at the Allotments and some scrumptious cakes!

Julia has one hive which had a case of the *Vanishing Queen*. Dennis, our Chair, was called in to get to the bottom of what was going on as the Bees had appeared to swarm as they hung off the rear of the hive, but all rehoused themselves quite quickly. There didn't appear to be an issue,  as everything seemed to have settled down and eggs were present, on the next inspection. Queen cells were present and Julia was keen that today we would be able to get to the bottom of what was going on.

It seems that the clipped and marked Queen had fled and as a flightless lady she was rendered useless, so yes they had swarmed. Eggs were present but the give away was 2 in a cell - a worker had tried to gain the crown and this was reconfirmed by the number of Drones present. With no brood the only option is to re-queen, but how would we be able to achieve this all in one afternoon, it looked like a delve into Julia's purse to buy a Queen :(

BUT no, the tale has a happy ending as John Palombo, came disguised as a Knight in shining wellies, despite having problems removing them unassisted. He has a Queen cell, with which he had just created a nuc and he offered it to our damsel Julia, who's bees will hopefully no longer be in distress.

After such a close inspection, I think the majority of those in attendance managed to get a good look at what was going on, a cup of tea was much needed. We regrouped back at the Old Police Cottage and were welcomed by 2 super dogs who were very friendly and well behaved and had a good old natter about what was what. Malcolm High from South East Herts came to the meeting and it was so nice to welcome him, so many new members & interested parties to the Apiary visit. Malcolm invited everyone to attend the SE Herts meet which he was hosting the following afternoon. - More on that below.

Dennis & I popped round to have a look at Nigel's Bees, what a great location - babbling brook nice level ground, wind protection from established trees and wide variety of food sources for them locally. His Bees were doing very nicely and we saw both Queens and they were laying well. And here is a pic to prove what a tidy spot he's got - see attached.

Next Apiary Meeting

Our next Apiary Visit was scheduled to be at Alan's but unfortunately as is without Bees at the moment following a disastrous winter and as a consequence the meeting will be either hosted by Sherri or myself on 12th June To be confirmed this week. Obviously I will let you know.

Our membership numbers have increased massively over the last month and as a consequence it would be really helpful to all hosts if you could please let us know if you think you will/won't be coming, we don't want anyone to go without cake, tea or a seat so it just helps if you could let me know by return email, or call the host direct - thank you.

With thanks

The WI have very kindly donated £200 to the Stortford group to help us with our Bee Keeping, how we use those funds has yet to be determined but a letter of thanks has been sent. While in thanking mode, Valerie who used to be our group treasurer and has been BeeKeeping for over ?? years is to have her years of service to BSBKA recognised with a commemorative trophy, presentation will hopefully be at the next meeting. Both Valerie and Stan have a wealth of Bee knowledge and are honorary members of our chapter.

Latest Vanishing Queen Update

Julia re-queened her Hive with that donated by John, so all should be well!

St Albans news by Christine Aitken

Meetings - all to be held at Prae Wood Apiary

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.

'BeeWorld 2010'

A very successful Hertfordshire BKA BeeWorld was held at the Herts Show on the weekend of May 29th/30th . It was St Albans turn to host the event and Marian Whittaker did a wonderful job of liaising and pulling everything and everyone together. Thank you Marian.

Assisting us were Welwyn, North Herts and Barnet Divisions and an unending stream of interested people visited the stand in the Horticultural Tent both days keeping all the volunteers very busy. Thank you to all the St Albans members who supported the event and made it the success it undoubtedly was.

St Albans BKA 'Meet the Public' events in 2010

Redbourn Rural Day on Sunday May 23rd on Redbourn Common was a scorching hot day. Fortunately we had our gazebo placed close to the Lime Avenue across the Common nice and cool during the morning but by early afternoon we were in full sun. There were lots of very interested visitors and feed back from the organizers indicate that we were '…a much talked about stand and everybody was delighted to have us there.'

My sincere thanks to my volunteers Sally, Svenja, Marian, Eric, Robin, Mike and Erika and especially to Garri who talked bees and demonstrated the workings of a hive throughout the long hot day. He was a STAR. Oaklands Open Day - Sunday June 13th 10.00 - 4.00 (Smallford Campus, St Albans)

Co-ordinated by Anne Wingate

Harpenden Discovery Day - Saturday June 19th 10.00 - 5.00 (Harpenden Common)

Co-ordinated by Robin Moore

Earthworks Open Day - Sunday September 5th (Hixbury Lane, St Albans)

Co-ordinated by Eileen Remnant

Presidential Report

by Jane Moseley
A big thank you to Malcolm High of the SE Herts group for a very interesting meet on Sunday.
Bishops Stortford members joined SE Herts at Malcolm's lovely home on a very hot afternoon. Malcolm has about 40 Hives and we were invited to have a look through some of those which are situated in his garden. Having taken over his wife's hobby which all started back in 1975 he has a wealth of experience and knowledge to impart and I am pleased to advise that Julia will be helping him from this point on which she is very excited about.
Malcolm bought a range of secondhand equipment which he has adapted to meet his requirements and has developed a coding system using coloured pins to enable him to  know at a glance who is where, their age, strain and health. Very neat as it's weather proof unlike sheets of paper in/on boxes.
A nifty use of excess supers was to use them as a varroa floor - genius idea - especially for those who are not so handy on the DIY front. Take a Super attach Varroa Mesh then put your brood box on the top the Varroa then fall through, if you want to count then obviously you'll have to rig up some way to get your card in but otherwise very efficient way for the little blighters to drop away. A lot of the equipment had big cork bungs in which were an adaptation from the previous owner, who's name escapes me, an elderly gentleman who had devised a system of listening to the Bees via the cork using some sort of microphone device enabling him to listen to his hives to identify when they would be likely to swarm. By listening he only had to go through those that he could hear needed it thus saving his energies for those that really needed work to prevent them swarming. People are so clever, I think this is great - does anyone else listen to their Hives in this way? Holes where the bung had been now served as the Bees entrance.
Malcolm was raising his own strain of Bee from an Italian Queen he had acquired a few years previously and they were very calm and required very little smoke, darker than the Bees many of us keep. We were able to pass frames around the group and new and experienced Keepers handled frames and got involved throughout the inspections.  It was great to see Solar extraction happening on such a beautiful day, although everyone was a tad warm in their attire.  We then part took of refreshment, a mini buffet which was topped off with Ginger Beer - YUM!
Recharged we were ready to go to the Honey Room! Wow, what a great place everything you could possibly hope for. Hopefully, I will get this right so please forgive me if I miss out a step but there was so much to take in.  Malcolm brings the honey in and then houses it in specially made boxes (old equipment reused again) with a light bulb housed within to keep it at Hive temperature.  When he is ready to cap the frames he does this over a specially adapted sink to catch cappings and any honey run off. Frames then make their way to his 20 frame electric extractor and the honey is then put into buckets. These then transfer to a tank where it is drained from the bucket and into a fab device which involves a hoover for suction and rapid flow through the sieves.
From here the honey gets transferred to a tank where it is creamed before it makes it's way down a large hose which is connected to the most brilliant gadget.  I can't recall it's name but it is a Honey splurter which only pours the right amount of the honey into the jar.  You can change the volume according to your jar size. It is excellent and as Malcolm produces between 2-3000 jars a highly invaluable piece of equipment.  Batch numbers are already done for this years honey crop with trays neatly stacked for the fruits of the Bees labours to fill them with the lovely Honey that they will produce.
At the final stages of the Honey Room demo, Derek announced that a swarm had been reported at a neighbours house and that Malcolm was required to do what Bee Keepers do. It was the end to a lovely afternoon and those who hadn't seen a swarm to get a first sighting. With this added attraction the Apiary Visit came to an all action close.
Once again thank you Malcolm for a very enjoyable Apiary Visit.

Beware - thieves!

by Eric Margrave
My 5 frame B.S. Nuc hive complete with new frames has been taken from Pre Wood Apiary between the 1st and 8th May. A reminder not to leave empty equipment around otherwise you might be a victim of theft.