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 !!!!