Bishops Stortford news by Jane Moseley (July 2010)
Top Bar Hives & Friendly Bees
Another beautiful sunny afternoon spent with 22 members of the BSBKA group and an interesting afternoon it proved to be. A big thank you to Paul and Julie Cooper for hosting the meeting and supplying us with never ending pots of tea and a wonderful selection of homemade cakes, including some made from their own honey.
We welcomed Carol & Steve Rogers to the group as new members, who have yet to get their Bees but like so many are avidly absorbing as much information as possible before they arrive.
Paul has 4 Hives, 3 of which are located on the edge of farmland in a neighbour’s field and one in his back garden. As a large group it was deemed that we stay in the garden a look at those there, Paul wanted to see how much had been capped and demonstrate how to remove laden frames from the hive with minimal excitement.
Before we got to see them he unveiled his Top Bar Hive which Paul had made this spring. Although it was without Bees at the time it was a great opportunity to see this up close and personal, hear about the problems he had encountered using this type of hive. Having adapted plans from the internet the Bees had rejected the new hive for reasons he could only summise.
Prior to doing an artificial swarm with his ‘nice’ bees each of the Top Bars had been loaded with a strip of starter wax. This was done by melting a strip of foundation into the channel routed into the bar. One of the bars had been given a section of drawn comb to encourage the Bees to follow suit. Two artificial swarms have been attempted in this so far, the first was done just before the frost snap in May and unfortunately the space was too large and they died as a result of the cold snap. A second attempt was made with another artificial swarm and they drew one comb and then decided that it wasn’t for them and departed.
On inspection of the comb that had been left one thing was very clear to all of us, the cells that they had drawn were much larger than those on the imprinted foundation we all use! Why this would be? The primary notion, recorded on the web, being that these bigger cells help the Bees in their management of varroa, but beyond that we were all in awe. Paul had been toying with the idea of a Top Bar for a while and having now made one he will not be thwarted by its’ lack of success and has learnt so much by his first attempt that he will continue to get it right. Deemed a more natural form of Bee Keeping the Top Bar Hive is, for those who don’t know, a style of hive used in developing countries as it is a simple form of beekeeping. Honey taken is from the outer frames, pressed or used as cut comb, which is a premium product for many.
Problems encountered and questioned include the following - warping of the top bars, which Paul thinks is due to the quality of timber bought from the local DIY store, levels of insulation using the recommended ply density which Paul agreed should probably be greater based on previous experience. We discussed the pros and cons of Top Bar Hives and ultimately we found the whole thing to be VERY interesting.
We moved on to Paul’s WBC which housed a deep national and one of his favorite Queens, highly productive and importantly, as located in the garden - good natured. Unfortunately Paul had had an incident with an aggressive colony resulting in a family member being stung. So they had to go through Queen replacement, and what a lovely Queen she is too - a beautiful long golden body and a yellow bindi.
Although some frames were capped not as many were as ready as Paul had hoped within the 2 supers. The brood chamber was text book, with beautiful brood pattern, pollen, nectar and capped honey. This was an informative and exercise as so many new Bee Keepers were in attendance, brushing the bees off and removal of the laden frames was all shown so that everyone had the opportunity to learn.
We were fortunate that Stan, one of the groups founding members was with us and shared his knowledge and experience with us. He was pleased to see a thriving group and that Bee Keeping was on the up in the area. Malcolm high also joined us for the meeting and it was a pleasure to welcome him.
St Albans news from Christine Aitken (August 2010)
Meeting – held at Prae Wood Apiary
Saturday 10th July 2010 at 3.00pm
The last apiary members meeting of the season and on the topic ‘Current varroa treatments’ by Eileen Remnant was very well attended. Members, beginner beekeepers and visitors all enjoyed a very informative talk and discussion. The following is a synopsis of the talk.
We are still welcoming visitors to our Saturday afternoon sessions and it was good to see Jane Moseley and a beginner beekeeper Ken from Bishops Stortford attending our meeting on the 10th July. Jane came as 2010 President of Herts BKA and says she is enjoying visiting all the divisions and nosing around the apiaries.
St Albans BKA ‘Meet the Public’ events in 2010
Our last event of the season will be at the Earthworks Open Day - Sunday September 5th (Hixbury Lane, St Albans). Co-ordinated by Eileen Remnant. Volunteers very welcome.
15th October 2010 at 8.00pm at Chiswell Green United Reformed Church Hall.
Speaker will be Emma Wright of Rothamsted.
26th November 2010 at 8.00pm at Chiswell Green United Reformed Church Hall is our Honey Tasting Show and Social.
4th February 2011 at 8.00pm at Chiswell Green United Reformed Church Hall is our AGM.
Out Apiary sites
We have recently received offers of out apiary sites in Redbourn and Flamstead. We have a list of possible sites so any members looking for new locations for their hives may like to contact committee members:-
Robin Moore on 01582 762508 firstname.lastname@example.org
or David Brown at 01582 715575 email@example.com
Bishops Stortford news by Jane Moseley (August 2010)
Another Balmy Summer Afternoon
......saw us all convene chez Dennis Osbourne. A fine strong group of Bee Keepers gathered in the garden before making our way to the Orchard where Dennis keeps 3 of his 5 Hives. On entering it was a case of choose your spot n get your gear on, much to the amusement of the residents of the house opposite, ready to inspect the Bees.
The first colony was the result of an artificial swarm that was done in June. It was as a small colony. Dennis saw her emerge from her cell at the beginning of July and so he was keeping a close eye on her build up. Although not seen there were signs of expansion plenty of packed brood stores et al
Hive two was again on the build and was doing OK and this is where Dennis gave an introductory talk about feeding and Varroa. A demonstration of the equipment was given and quantities of sugar needed for feeding in the build up to winter. We were also given an insight into the Varroa treatment he will be using this year - Apiguard pre-sealed and easy to apply.
Hive 3 was doing well and had 2 supers on which were capped and ready to go. Yum! Our non Bee Bee Keepers (does that make sense apart from in my head?) were able to get an idea of the weight of a frame of food again to get a sense of how heavy a super can be.
As we moved into the Brood Chamber it became more hands on, Lesley christened her new gloves and others got a chance to have a good look at what a brood frame should look like and the Queen was spotted.
The wasp catchers were doing their job but there were still plenty hanging around making a nuisance of themselves much to everyone’s annoyance.
Dennis reassembled the hive and we then transformed ourselves to normal looking people and headed back to the house for a cuppa. Another wonderful selection of cakes and steaming teas were ready for us upon our return, where we undertook a survey of training requirements and Harvest Supper attendees.
All in all a wonderful afternoon and a big thank you to Dennis and his wife for hosting this meeting.
South East Herts by John Mumford (August 2010)
After one of the best honey seasons I can ever remember it’s important to get the honey off so that Varroa treatments can begin. But remember, a colony should always have a minimum of 10lbs.. of honey stores at all times and that it is most important that colonies can raise lots of young unparasitized healthy bees to see them through the winter.
Feed until they won’t take any more is a recipe for disaster. Combs full of stores will mean that the Queen won’t have anywhere to lay, and the bees won’t have any empty cells to cluster in at the start of winter. A colony will use about 1Lb of stores per week between the end of October and the beginning of February ((10 to 14 Lbs.). Then brood rearing starts and consumption quickly increases. If necessary candy can be give during February, and syrup in March, after which most bees will be self-sufficient.
SE. Herts will be providing a show at Capel Manor on Saturday 18th. September, together with some help from the Bishops Stortford Division. setting up time will be from 8.00am till 9.45am. the show will open at 10.00am. and close at 5.00pm. It would be nice to see some volunteers other than committee members. If you can help out in any way then please give me a ring. Hive produce for sale would be appreciated. Homey will be sold at £4.00/Lb and £2.50/½Lb.from which a 10% commission will be taken.
North Herts news by Christine Phillips (August 2010)
July saw three apiary meetings in N. Herts, all well attended and each one different. The first, at Standalone had to be held in the evening after visitors to the farm had left and I'm told that the hives were very quickly looked at and much time was spent enjoying tea.
John and Frank hosted the next meeting in John's orchard. The bees were very well behaved and in one hive we saw how John and Frank had managed to cut out some wild comb from a well established swarm and attach it to frames. The bees were in the process of completing the job by joining up the gaps (see photos)
A delicious tea provided by Miriam and Pauline was enjoyed by all.
At Nortonbury a marathon session of teaching/inspection was led by Peter Folge. We started and 2.30 and, with a break for tea the last hive was closed up at 7.00pm. Some hives were full of honey, some were lacking in stores, some were good and strong, some needed uniting, some were quiet and some pinging off our veils, but by the time we reached the last one which was reputedly the most aggressive we were too tired to worry.
Thanks to Peter we learned a lot.
Next meeting: David Massey's bees at Charlton on August 21st at 2.00pm