Warning - Check Your Bees!

by Peter Mathews

Once upon a time we looked upon July as the month of peak honey flow. This was in the days before we enjoyed  field after field of oil seed rape.  Today we still think of July as a month of plenty with an abundance of food for the bees. With the swarming colonies out of the way, having either swarmed or been controlled, many of us are sitting back and letting our bees get on with for a few weeks.........

Imagine my shock when checking a very strong colony from an artificial swarm. It was doing incredibly well, except there were absolutely no stores. In some 30 years of beekeeping this is the first time I have fed a colony in the middle of July. I suspect that I am not alone. If you haven't inspected your bees for a while, I suggest you get along at the next opportunity. I am afraid that some beekeepers will lose colonies in the coming weeks.

My best price for sugar is 79p/ kg from Pound Stretcher.  I understand Booker are selling at 82p/kg.

On a more serious note, Fragile Planet have recently supplied bees with American Foul Brood. If you have any suspicions regarding your bees then contact Peter Folge immediately:- the_beekeeper@hotmail.com.

North Herts news by Graham Beesley

What a busy month June has been.

My impression has been that members have had good quantities of early season honey which, having been made up of rape, has presented the usual problems with extraction. I learned this year that rape honey is mostly glucose sugar which causes it to crystallize as quickly as it does. The Lime is in flower as I write and smells beautiful, the blackberry is covered in bees and hopefully we will have a fruitful second harvest.

We have enjoyed two member’s apiary meetings in June, the first at Nortonbury, hosted for us by John and Jenny Nichol. I didn’t get too involved in going through the hives, being in charge of the tea making. Not too much time was taken inspecting the hives and a very pleasant picnic was enjoyed by those who came.

The second meeting was at Pat Veasey’s home. We managed to miss the showers and the hives were very swiftly dealt with by Frank Everest and John Hill, who performed the necessary with great alacrity. It was another good turnout, with a very nice tea provided by Jennifer and Jane, Pat’s Wife and Daughter.

At the beginning of the month Derek Richardson and I spent a very pleasant day at Bee World, organised this year by Welwyn Beekeepers Association, at the Herts County Show. Bee World was a great success, with the observation hive thronged with people all day long. Thanks to Lorraine Moir who was visiting the show and gave up some of her day to help out.

I gather from Helen Amey that members who have requested swarms have been supplied and hopefully the swarming season is coming to an end. Having said that, my bees, having tried to swarm early in April and May, have gathered strength and are having another go now.

Looking to the future our last apiary meeting for this year is at Standalone Farm on Friday, 8th July, at 5.30pm. Please note the date, not the 5th, as I had previously informed you.

For those of you with a thirst for peering into other peoples hives we will continue to meet at the Garden Centre on a Saturday morning right through the season. These meeting are well attended and we have had up to a dozen new and interested beginners in attendance. Weather permitting we meet at 10.00 a.m. in the car park.

I wish you all a pleasant summer and will hope to meet you at one of our indoor meetings which begin in October.

North Herts news by Graham Beesley

I have to beg your forgiveness for the lateness of this newsletter. What with controlling swarms, making up frames /boxes and now getting in the honey harvest I have been a little busy. Every year I think I've got it covered and find myself caught out.

We have several interested newcomers and beginners who have been coming along to the Garden Centre apiary on a Saturday morning. Any other members who are interested are welcome to come. We meet at 10.00am at the Stevenage Garden Centre.

Helen is starting to provide swarms for those who are waiting for their first colony. Strangely, given early spring and the speed of the build up of the colonies, there seem to be very few swarms about. If anyone knows different please let Helen know. She has a long list!

I have now finalised the apiary meetings for the summer. They are:
  • 04/06/2011, The Association apiary at Nortonbury, kindly hosted for us by John Nicoll. Meet at 2.30pm.(This is short notice I know, do come if you can). Ring/email John or myself for directions.
  • 18/06/2011, Pat Veasey has invited us to visit his hives at his home, Gosmore Cross. Againthe start time is 2.30 pm. Please ring Pat or myself. 
  • 05/07/2011, David Mathews has arranged for us to visit the Apiary site at Standalone Farm, Letchworth.( Note, this is a Friday evening)! Start time is 5.30 pm. Standalone Farm will be googleable, (have I just invented a word there)?
If anyone else would like to invite members to peer at their hives, give their opinion and retire for tea and cake we would be very pleased to accept an invitation. Please contact me to arrange.

I look froward to seeing you at some or all of these events.

Some members may not be aware that at the Herts Beekeeper's AGM in March, one of our members, Derek Richardson, was elected as President of the association for 2011. This is an honoury role which rotates between the associations.

Derek has, I know, a strong commitment to forging links between the associations in Hertfordshire. To do this he is keen to encourage members to visit other association's apiary meetings and events. If anyone is interested in visiting with Derek and seeing how beekeeping is done in other parts of the County, I am sure he would be pleased to hear from you.

This weekend is BEEWORLD where Herts Beekeepers association meets the public, kindly hosted for us again by the County Show. The event is held at the County Showground, Redbourn. Derek and I will be meeting the public on the Sunday and demonstrating the observation hive.

Closer to home is Preston village open gardens where one of our members Chris Mercer will be selling honey and having an observation hive.

Back to the harvesting!

Best regards.

Mobile phone-induced honeybee worker piping

By Daniel Favre, biologist and apiary adviser

The worldwide maintenance of the honeybee has major ecological, economic, and political implications. In the present study, electromagnetic waves originating from mobile phones were tested for potential effects on honeybee behavior. Mobile phone handsets were placed in the close vicinity of honeybees. The sound made by the bees was recorded and analyzed. The audiograms and spectrograms revealed that active mobile phone handsets have a dramatic impact on the behavior of the bees, namely by inducing the worker piping signal. In natural conditions, worker piping either announces the swarming process of the bee colony or is a signal of a disturbed bee colony.

Click here to see the full article.

Caustic Caution !

by Peter Mathews

More beekeepers are becoming aware of health issues with their bees. And, more of us are taking precautions which we didn't bother with in the past. One of these little rituals is washing equipment in a solution of Washing Soda. You may have noticed that after a visit from your local bee inspector, he will wash his hive tool and anything else he has been using.  This will sterilize his equipment and avoid passing on possible infection to the next beekeeper on his round.

I have noticed several people in conversation confusing Washing Soda with Caustic Soda. The two are quite different!

Washing Soda ( Sodium Carbonate) was used for removing temporary hardness in water. I remember it being used for washing up the dishes in the days before detergent based washing-up liquid or rubber gloves. In other words, it is not too harmful to the skin although it will remove protective oils and lead to dryness.

Caustic Soda (Sodium Hydroxide) is used for cleaning drains, stripping paint etc. It will also remove the enamel on your posh French saucepans. And, it is very good at removing the skin from your hands! Caustic burns are very deep and usually infected. They require medical attention.

Be warned - Do not use Caustic Soda for cleaning your beekeeping equipment !!!!

Hive record keeping in the 21st century

Keep your hive records online at www.beetight.com or by using a smartphone.

Nucs for sale

Four 5 frames nucs for collection in May- June 2011.  £90 each.  Please call 01920 420862 for more information.

Sustainability In Practice Lecture - How Not To Keep Bees!

Speaker - Bill Turnbull, Thursday 5th May, 6.30 - 8.00 pm
Hong Kong Theatre, Clement House, Aldwych (London School of Economics)
Free ticketing so arrive early to be sure of getting in.

Bill Turnbull is a presenter on the BBC Breakfast programme.  He is a keen beekeeper, and is author of mishap memoir "The Bad Beekeepers Club".

Bees seal cells of contaminated pollen

Honeybees 'entomb' hives to protect against pesticides, say scientists. By sealing up cells full of contaminated pollen, bees appear to be attempting to protect the rest of the hive.

See www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/apr/04/honeybees-entomb-hives for more on this story.

Book advert

I am writing regarding a new book which I feel may be of interest to you and your members. "Travels in Blood and Honey: Becoming a Beekeeper in Kosovo" by Elizabeth Gowing, is one womans fascinating account of how beekeeping enriched her life. The book is available through Amazon and directly through us at Signal Books. If you are interested, Elizabeth is willing to tallk about her experience to groups and organisations.  If you have any queries then please don't hesitate to contact me
Samantha Halstead (Signal Books)

North Herts news by Graham Beesley

Apologies that there was no newsletter for March.  I'm feeling the loss of Christine Phillips as secretary. Our AGM was, as usual, very well attended. Congratulations to John Hill for lifting the trophy in the honey tasting.

Our next indoor meeting, the last before the summer will be, as usual, the third Tuesday of the month, 19th, April, at 7.30 at Howgills, the Friends Meeting House, Letchworth. Peter Fogle, the Seasonal Bee Inspector, will be our guest and will be speaking on " Bee Disease Recognition - what to look for and what to do".

Can I make a plea that all those who feel able to offer their apiary for one of our summer meetings come along, or contact me, with a suggested date. I would like to kick off the year with a never to be repeated date, an antidote to the Royal Wedding, the 29th April, 2.00 pm at my apiary at Titmore Green. Some idea of numbers would be appreciated by return please.

For beginners I would like to extend an invitation to visit the Association apiary. We haven't had enough enquiries this year to warrent running indoor introductory meetings but will be running  week by week sessions where members will have the opportunity to observe hives being opened and participate in handling the bees if they so wish. The first meeting , weather permitting, will be on 23rd April, 2011. Meet in the car park of Stevenage Garden Centre, Gravely Road at 12.00 pm. If you would like to attend and don't have protective clothing please contact me on 01438 369770 to allow me to arrange.

Hertfordshire Beekeepers Association 59th Annual General Meeting

Saturday 26th March 2011

Tewin Village Hall, 11 Lower Green, Tewin, Welwyn, Herts, AL6 0JX


  1. Apologies for absence.
  2. Matters arising from 58th Annual General Meeting held on Saturday 25th March 2010.
  3. Chairman’s report.
  4. Treasurer’s report.
  5. Membership report.
  6. Election of HBKA Officers:
    • Secretary
    • Treasurer
    • Auditor
  7. Beeworld 2011
  8. AOB
  9. Date of next AGM
Lunch break 12:30 – 1:45pm
(Please bring own lunch or you could walk to either pub – “Plume of feathers” or “Rose & Crown”)

AGM Speaker 2pm

After lunch, Ricky Kather will talk on the Eastern Associations’ Research Studentship (EARS) project – a bee research project at Sheffield University.

Tea break  2:40pm

Second Speaker 3:00 – 3:30pm
After tea, Robin Dartington (North Herts) will bring us up to date with the work at “BuzzWorks”, Hitchin’s Community Bee Garden and “HoneyWorks” Bee Training Centre

Close meeting 3:30-4:00pm

Globalisation and agriculture industry exacerbating bee decline, says UN

Globalisation is killing bees, as bee pests and diseases are being passed swiftly around the world thanks to the opening up of trade, says a UN study. Attempts to industrialise pollination are making the problem even worse, the authors found.

Unexplained bee deaths have become an increasing issue around the world in the past five years, a phenomenon labelled "colony collapse disorder". Bees in the US, Europe and Asia have been affected, though it is hard to gather reliable data on how many of them died. Some bee colonies die off naturally all the time, chiefly in winter, but the scale of the demise reported by beekeepers has prompted governments and scientists to examine why bees appear to be under threat, and in some cases to try to get around the problem by changing the ways bees are kept.

Click here for the rest of this Guardian article by Fiona Harvey

Solway Bee Supplies

Dear Sir/Madam,
We are manufacturers of Cedar Bee Hives and would like to ask if you would include us on your links page of the Hertfordshire BKA website. We manufacture a full range of wooden beekeeping equipment and supply a selected range of beekeeping sundries. We are a family based business and our aim is to supply quality beekeeping equipment at a competitive price with a quality service.
Many thanks,
Jim O'Rourke

Solway Bee Supplies
Unit E
Kempleton Mill


St Albans & District BKA Report for March 2011 by Christine Aitken

Our AGM on Friday 4th February was attended by 32 members and 2 visitors. In her report the Chair, Eileen Remnant, stated that the committee had recently decided to have designated persons to cover existing and new posts on the committee.
  • Education, Training & Beginners Course Officer to be Marian Whittaker. She agreed to be responsible for future Beginners Courses, continued mentoring and support afterwards and future BBKA exams.
  • Meetings Officer - Andrew Copley agreed to take on this role with responsibility to arrange Hall bookings for beginner’s course and winter meetings, Apiary and winter meetings content, Honey social and AGM. He would also produce an annual Members Programme for distribution.
  • Public Events Officer - will be Robin Moore. Each ‘Meet the Public’ event to have one co-ordinator responsible for arranging volunteer helpers and stand content.
  • Apiary Management Officer - Richard Peterson agreed to take on this role with overall responsibility to committee for Prae Wood, Oaklands and any future apiaries. Sub-committees to be set up.
  • Web Site Officer - Andrew Copley agreed to continue in this role.
Election of Officers – the present officers continue in office until 2012.
Chairman - Eileen Remnant
Treasurer - John Garbutt
Secretary - Christine Aitken
Committee re-elected were: Marian Whittaker, Andrew Copley and Robin Moore (in his absence). Other committee members are Luke Adams, Richard Peterson and David Brown. The meeting concluded with an excellent wine and cheese social.

Please note change of date Apiary Clean-up Day is Sunday 27th March (so as not to clash with the Herts. BKA AGM) We meet at Prae Wood Apiary for a 10am - 12pm session. Following on from the hedge planting working party earlier in the month it is planned to clear new areas where we can site the returning hives. This will be a large task so plenty of volunteers please. The Oaklands Apiary session is from 10am - 12pm.

Reminder Hertfordshire B.K.A. Annual General Meeting on Saturday 26th March at Tewin Memorial Hall 11.00 am to 5.00 pm

West Herts news by Margaret Tighe

The WHBK Association AGM included many "thank you's" to all the people who kindly give up their time throughout the year to ensure that newcomers to, and members of, the Association could receive advice, equipment, tuition and much more.

The work involved (as I'm sure many beekeepers reading this will agree) is not always easy or straightforward! Lindsay Bruce pointed out that his role of taking calls from worried members of the public regarding swarms which need collecting is made difficult, when the description of the location is inaccurate. He gave an example of arriving to collect "a swarm in a tree 'about' 6ft high", with a step ladder, and then finding it is more like 12ft high!

Sadly, for personal reasons, I am going to stop keeping bees and am currently looking for someone to adopt my bees! What a wonderful, unforgettable experience it has been for me - the kindness of fellow beekeepers, the smell of the honey as it is extracted, the hum of the bees on a summer's day …..

Solutions Magazine

The third issue of The Food and Environment Research Agency's new partner and customer newsletter - Solutions - is available to download now.  Please use the following link to download the current edition of  Solutions.

Updates from the National Bee Unit

Please find below a link to the recently updated Managing Varroa leaflet as well as the new Small Hive Beetle which contains a few small amendments.

It is our intention to have a limited number of hard copies available before April. If and when these do become available a note will be added to the website.

We hope that you find this information useful, any feedback is gratefully received.

Letter to the (outgoing) Editor

I was saddened to read the Herts Bees Newsletter for February 2011 and to learn that I would not be receiving it any more.

I understand that producing the newsletter must be a significant, difficult and time-consuming task.  You are to be congratulated on the contribution that you have given as editor.  I also realise that there are other sources of information and means of communication.  You suggest that the newsletter has become superfluous.  Perhaps I could give you another view.

I am no longer a member of Hertfordshire Beekeepers Association, age and injury having forced me to give up keeping bees a few years ago.  However, neither I nor anyone else has removed my name from the circulation list of the Newsletter and I remain interested in the art (or science) and like to keep abreast of developments.  The Herts Bees Newsletter has been my main, indeed only regular, source of knowledge of current developments, as well as providing news of my old friends.

I find that beekeeping increasingly crops up in conversations with friends, acquaintances and strangers and in such conversations I can sometimes correct misunderstandings and sometimes encourage people to think seriously of keeping bees themselves.  The newsletter has helped me to do this.

So thank you for your efforts as editor. They have been appreciated by me.  I shall miss the newsletter in future.

Yours sincerely, Peter Thring

February 2011

Hertfordshire Beekeepers AGM
Saturday 26th March, 11am to 5pm
Memorial Hall, 11a Lower Green, Tewin
11:00 AGM
12:30 Lunch (please bring your own or visit the nearby pub)
14:00 Talk 1 - tba
15:00 Talk 2 - tba

Editorial by Paul Cooper

It is February already and hopefully we've seen the last of the bitterly cold weather. Catkins are out (at least here in East Herts) and they supply useful protein in the form of pollen for a growing brood. I saw a green woodpecker in my apiary this morning and as they are probably hungry it was a useful reminder to check that the chicken wire is still secure. It is a good time to give the bees a spring feed and a tried and tested recipe for candy/fondant can be found in the tips section of this website. I hope that all your colonies have come through the winter without any losses.

I have been wondering over the past few months whether the monthly Herts Bees newsletter has run its course? I don't know and would welcome your views. One thing that I am clear about is that it is increasingly difficult to find relevant material to put into the newsletter that is not readily available elsewhere through many different sources. I know that not everyone uses the internet but for those that do it provides access to a wealth of news and information about beekeeping. If you do not use the internet there are various magazines available and, as Peter Mathews reports further down, the excellent BBKA News is soon going to be published monthly.

In terms of local news, our local divisions are making greater use of email, twitter, blogs and local websites. I see very active email discussions taking place and the divisional websites that have been created are excellent. (Note, if your local website is not linked from the Contact Us page then please let me know.)

So if Herts Bees is not able to compete with national news & information and has been replaced at the local divisional level by email, websites, etc, then what is the role of a monthly Herts Bees newsletter?

I have thought about this for a number of months and have decided that I can no longer fulfil the role of editor of the monthly Herts Bees newsletter and I am sorry to say that the March newsletter will be my last. I will however remain responsible for the rest of the website, such as the contact details, beekeeping tips, honey map, calendar, etc.

So if you have some fresh ideas for the HBKA newsletter or feel passionate that it should not cease then there is a vacancy for someone to step-in and take over from me. If you are interested then please let me know or come along to the AGM and find out what it entails.

There is an alternative to a monthly newsletter and I will be creating space on this website for the divisions to post news and other information that they feel has wider appeal across the county. Then if a division still wishes to distribute a printed newsletter, someone could print a copy of the posted items once a month for local distribution. I will be notifying the current newsletter contributors how they can post items themselves.

Finally please don't forget the Calendar. This is our county-wide diary of all events and meetings so please use it and make sure that it is up to date. If your division cannot yet update it then please contact me. Alternatively if you want me to update it then please just send me details of your local activities during the year. Remember that we want cross-pollination, i.e. beekeepers from other divisions to come to our meetings, so the Calendar is the one place that you can waggle dance.

North Herts news by Graham Beesley

Christine Phillips has asked me to write something for North Herts Beekeepers contribution to February’s Herts Bees. Christine, Colin and Andy are overwintering in New Zealand with their son, a resident there, who is also a beekeeper.

She writes:

It really didn't seem like Christmas here - nice to be warm and see the sun though.
 We have been looking at Nick (son's) bees. Lots of nice placid yellow bees, five supers on in some cases and no varroa! That's how beekeeping 
should be. It almost seems too easy.

Well, I’m not sure what I can report. Our Christmas party, which John and Miriam Hill kindly offered to host at Boxwood, was cancelled on the day due to a heavy fall of snow. I favour Jennifer Veasy’s suggestion that we re schedule with a barbecue at some time in June.

Thanks to our members Chris Humphries and Nick Brett Who alerted members with hives to the fact that green woodpeckers are creating carnage at our association apiary at Nortonbury. They seem to have developed the facility to attack hives even though they have been shielded with chicken wire. I guess the long cold spell must have made them desperate in their efforts.

Our next evening meeting, the first for 2011, is on 15th February at 7.30 at Howgills, the Friends Meeting House, Letchworth. Our speaker for the evening is Chris Woodard, Stevenage Borough Councils head of pest control, who is a specialist in all things creepy crawly and should have some interesting anecdotes to tell.

West Herts news by Margaret Tighe

Now that the days are gradually getting longer we can start to look forward to a new season of beekeeping. With this in mind he WHBK Association is holding their AGM at 8pm on Wednesday, 23rd February 2011.  It will be at the same venue as last year, namely, the dining room at Croxley House, Croxley Green, WD3 3JB.   This is the one event in our calendar at which the majority of members, associate members, potential members all get-together.  There will be tea and coffee after the meeting and this is a great opportunity to chat with fellow beekeepers.

Bishops Stortford news by Paul Cooper

AGM - 9th February at 8pm

Each year the member of Bishops Stortford Beekeepers Association come together to determine the future path of the group and elect the Executive members, who will run the group on their behalf.  In addition to the usual administrative stuff, we will be planning the schedule of apiary visits for the year, receive an update on the beginners training course and discuss bulk buying. There will also be a guest speaker.  I hope to see you all there.

Training Course

The beginners course starts in a few weeks time and we have got quite a few confirmed bookings so far. Please contact Julia (juliaesaunders@yahoo.com) if you want to attend.  It will be held every Wednesday from March 2nd - April 6th inclusive, 7.45pm - 10pm at the Bishops Park Community Centre next door to Tesco supermarket.

St Albans news by Christine Aitken

We start our Beginners Course, with 24 participants, on the 9th February 2011.

St Albans Beekeepers’ have a full programme of  ‘Meet the Public’ events lined up for 2011 as well as our usual Apiary meetings at Prae Wood and winter meetings at the United Reformed Church Hall. The programme will be posted on the SABKA website as well as the HBKA website and those members without email will receive a paper copy.

Apiary Clean-up Day is Saturday 26th March. We meet at Prae Wood Apiary for a 10am - 12pm session. Following on from the hedge planting working party earlier in the month it is planned to clear new areas where we can site the returning hives. This will be a large task so plenty of volunteers please.

Oaklands Apiary session is from 2pm - 3pm.

Prae Wood Apiary

It is intended to move hives back into Prae Wood in the Spring. As this is our main teaching apiary, Richard Peterson is preparing a new hive location map to incorporate existing apiary members and prospective new beekeepers on our ‘Hives for All’ scheme. Apiary members will be expected to mentor the beginners. The same expectations apply to Oaklands Apiary.

As seen in the January 2011 newsletter of the St Albans and District Centre of the National Trust:

National Trust news from Shaw’s Corner, Ayot St Lawrence by Sue Morgan, House Manager

We were part of the National Trust ‘Bee Part of it’ project, which introduced bee keeping to properties throughout the country and gave new hives to established beekeepers. Our beekeepers Anne and David Wingate, won second prize in the National Trust Honey Competition. Their success will come as no surprise to any of us who buy and sell this fabulous product. We know that people make the journey to Shaw’s Corner especially for the honey….

So no wonder David won the Cup at our November Honey Tasting Social. Congratulations to you both.

Barnet news by Linda Perry

Barnet beekeepers held their first ever Christmas social in December which was very well attended. We combined this with a honey tasting competition, congratulations to the winners.

We have now begun our beginners course. We have approximately 20 very keen and enthusiastic people who turn up on Saturdays to learn all about beekeeping. Our theory course will run until March/April when we hope the weather will be ok to start doing some apiary visits. We have Alan Byham coming to do a session on Varroa and bee diseases/ pests for all members on February 19th. We have just set up a new association apiary at some local allotments so it will be interesting to see how the colonies develop there. One of our other apiaries had very bad woodpecker damage this year – a reminder of the need to protect well for the winter period! It is too early to judge how our bees have overwintered but hopefully our autumn preparations and feeding have given them the best chances!

Varroa still a problem in the 21st century – IBRA conference report

by Pete Kennedy, St Albans BKA
The International Bee Research Association (IBRA) held a conference at the University of Worcester on Saturday, 29th January, on what is considered by many as still the greatest threat for beekeeping:  the parasitic mite Varroa destructor.  The event was well attended with over 180 delegates registered and the lecture hall packed close to capacity.  No surprise considering the quality of speakers invited.
  • Dr Stephen Martin (Sheffield University) led the packed programme of talks by summarising what is known about varroa biology and offered some hope in how current US work on sequencing the varroa genome may further aid our understanding of its biology.
  • Dr Joachim de Miranda (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences) followed and spoke about the long association between honey bees and their viruses, and how the arrival of varroa changed this relationship.  An EU-funded project is currently underway developing a diagnostic device (similar to that used for AFB and EFB) to help beekeepers and researcher test for 6 common viruses in their colonies.
  • Dr Max Watkins (Vita (Europe) Ltd) spoke about chemical control of varroa, costs & effort involved in developing & registering a new product, and the benefits of using a registered vs unregistered (often not fully tested) products.  On a question of whether varroa could develop resistance to thymol, he explained that it is theoretically possible but none has been seen so far.
  • Prof. Keith Delaplane (University of Georgia, USA) focussed on IPM approaches to deal with varroa.  Emphasis is on utilising a variety of control tactics acting on different stages of its life history.  Although they may differ in effectiveness, it is the combination and/or rotation of approaches that is important.  Chemicals are still part of the arsenal, but utilised within a programme of tactics as a last resort based on thresholds, thus reducing side effects and residues.
  • Dr. David Chandler (University of Warwick) explained how commercial growers of greenhouse crops have used IPM for over 50 years and now rarely resort to chemicals.  Despite parallels between greenhouses and bee hives, being controlled environments in which chemical resistance by pests is an issue, he emphasised the in-depth knowledge and variety of control options needed.  He presented work on entomopathogenic fungi, from around the world, as a promising option within varroa IPM.
  • Norman Carreck (IBRA & University of Sussex) reviewed progress in breeding honey bees for varroa tolerance but emphasised caution:  Some examples of untreated colonies surviving have on closer inspection been due to isolated changes in the varroa mite rather honey bee tolerance.  The COLOSS project is currently testing 16 strains across 16 countries to evaluate them under standardized test conditions.  Work at Sussex is using DNA markers to guide efforts in breeding for hygienic behaviour.
  • Dr Jochen Pflugfelder (Swiss Bee Research Centre) concluded the day by summarising research directions and priorities identified at recent international research workshops focussed on varroa.  The number of such recent events draws attention to the continuing problem varroa still represents in the 21st century.
In the words of Keith Delaplane, the 1-day IBRA conference offered a “good bang for the buck”.  A book based on the conference will be published in April.  If you are interested in research related to bees, then why not check out IBRA’s website (www.ibra.org.uk) and consider becoming a member.

Statement from the BBKA on Neonicotinoid Pesticides

The BBKA shares the concerns expressed relating to reports of possible harm to honey bees that may be caused by the neonicotinoid group of pesticides. It calls for an urgent review of all the available data on the effects of these compounds. The BBKA has consistently urged for more research into this group of compounds as evidenced in its paper Honey Bee Health Research Concepts (Jan 2009) and earlier papers submitted to Government. The BBKA itself is funding research on pesticide residues in bee colonies at Keele University.

This urgent review, based not only on existing literature but also encompassing any new and as yet unpublished data, should involve a thorough re-evaluation and up to date risk assessment of these agents and their effects on honey bees by the Chemicals Regulation Directorate in the UK and competent European authorities, the outcome of which must lead to appropriate action.

Martin Smith
24th January 2011

BBKA ADM report

by Peter Mathews 

A few notes from today's ADM. These are very brief and more details will appear on the BBKA website and 'BBKA News'


  1. Increase in capitation of £1 pppa. This was CARRIED. Capitation for Registered Members will be £15 from next year.
    N.B.  This is not linked to the cessation of pesticide approvals.
  2. Review of the Development of Intellectual Property. CARRIED.
    This will allow BBKA to be involved in a wide range of collaboration with other bodies, including manufacturers of agro-chemicals.
  3. BBKA cease any commercial relations with agrochemical companies incl use of BBKA logo on approved products. CARRIED.
    After suitable amendment by BBKA, this motion was carried. Martin Smith (President) made a special plea to all delegates to support this motion. In its amended form the proposition simply reflects the announcement on cessation of pesticide approval made in November. Thus the vote approves what has already been done.
    In its orginal form the proposition from Twickenham would have resulted in anomalies [eg some of last year's stand holders at the Spring Convention would attend free of charge].
  4. Partner / Junior Membership
    This would allow juniors to join as Partner members correcting an anomaly. CARRIED.
  5. Introduction of a new category of Junior members.     CARRIED
    The Exec originally advised against this proposition on administrative grounds eg Criminal Record checks etc. In practice there will be no involvement by BBKA. Any special legal requirements to accommodate juniors will be down to the divisions.
  6. British Queen Raising Programme.   CARRIED
  7. Changes to Rules describing Membership Database Updates. CARRIED

There is one application for a new association (Cleveland) and two special groups.  CARRIED

Please refer to 'BBKA News' for more detail of the actual propositions.


  • Jane Moseley was formally adopted as General Secretary and presented with her badge of office - Well done Jane !
    In her reply she said that she intends visiting associations to gain a better understanding of how they work, and what they want from the BBKA.
  • Tim Lovett and Norman Carrick were awarded Honorary Membership.
  • The new BBKA website will be launched at the Spring Convention [the sample page looked pretty similar to Herts Bees to me!  I did suggest they look at our website last year]
  • New sponsors for Adopt a Hive are Berts Bees products.
  • 'BBKA News' is going colour and monthly. It will not replace 'Bee Craft' and will contain completely different information. The newsletter goes to all members. Only about 30% of the membership take 'BeeCraft'.
    [This largely gives support to Paul Cooper's question, "Do we need a separate Herts newsletter?" - a question he posed before this announcement. Perhaps not, Paul.]
  • The new 'Yellow' Course In A Case (for Novices) is now available. £50 for first, then £95.
  • The changes to the Rules regarding the database have an important consequence. The list of members issued by BBKA in Spring and Autumn will be used for billing right or wrong. In other words, there will be no scope for correcting the list after the due date. The onus is on us to ensure all additions and amendments are made in good time. It will be especially important to delete lapsed members otherwise they will be charged (strictly no refunds).
    Currently, associations have been correcting the list way into the summer with capitation coming in 3 or 4 months late. Whilst the rules are harsh, life should be simpler for all. And, if we overpay, it is simply down to our own inefficiency.