May 2012 - Welwyn Beekeeper's Association


With the continued wet weather we all need to be feeding our bees to replace the stores which have been consumed whilst the bees are unable to fly. Starving bees go downhill fast. And, it is not good to get your bees through the winter only to lose them in May. Keep them in good condition and they will be out foraging as soon as the weather improves. But, make sure too that supers are not in place whilst feeding, or you risk sugar syrup contaminating your honey.


Members are advised to take a guarded view regarding e-mails on this subject. If you haven’t yet been con- tacted, this campaign relates to the use of pesticides based on neonicotinoides. Although there has been a huge amount of hype on this subject from a number of pressure groups the position is essentially unclear. Just check out the web sites from our leading bee research centres, NBU etc —they remain silent! Yes, I agree it is shameful that there has been no research as to the non lethal effects of these compounds on honey bees. But, that doesn’t mean that they are the cause of all our beekeeping problems. The campaigners are largely ‘alternative (and very political) beekeepers’ and as part of your support are keen to get you to sign up to their cause — only £10/year.

A more balanced view of these pesticides can be found on the BBKA web site or in BBKA News. And, if you do have a spare tenner about your person, I suggest a donation to the BBKA Research Fund as a very worthwhile cause.


Our main extractor is a radial extractor held by Peter Folge. It holds 9 frames. Loan is free of charge for 7 days, and £5/week thereafter. Please ensure the single ball bearing is in place before and after using. Don’t use it without.

Our second extractor is a 3 sided tangential extractor. It doesn’t have a bearing to lose, but that also means it takes more effort to turn the handle. We didn’t promote its use, unless you were desperate, as the cage was flaking paint and rust. We were on the point of replacing the cage with a new one in stainless steel at about £100 when we found someone who could grit blast it and re-coat with a non stick coating for £25. This has now been done.


If you suspect Nosema in your bees then we can quickly check this out. You will need to supply a fresh or live sample of approx 30 flying bees ie not nurse bees. You can collect these in a bag as they return to the hive. If the test is positive, then we can also supply you with Fumidil—but our stock is very limited.


We still need people to act as swarm collectors on the BBKA website. For full area coverage we should have about 30% of our membership ie 20 people. The more people we list then the less work for any one person. Names to Phill Jepson - If we hit target then most people would only get one or two calls.


We are all set to spend an afternoon with Robin Dartington at the end of June.

Robin is the founder of two bee projects in Hitchin and is a member of the BBKA Special Interests Group. The first project is Buzz Works. This is an educational centre and is aimed at visits from local school children. The second project is nearing completion and is Honey Works. This is a beekeeping training centre and is aimed at introducing new beekeepers. Regular open days are held for the general interest of the public. For the future it is hoped to use Honey Works as a venue for special interest groups. From all of this, it should be apparent that Robin is very enthusiastic about the training and education of both new and not so new beekeepers.

Robin is a well known face at the Spring Convention and National Honey Show promoting the ‘Dartington Hive’. This is a modern long hive with moveable, National frames. I am sure Robin will tell us of the hives many advantages which include less lifting, easy swarm management and ease of construction. The Dartington is about the easiest and quickest hive to build for the home carpenter.

Places still available, contact


2/3rd June— ‘Bee World’ at Redbourn. This is a great event at the Herts County Show. Come along, get free entry to the show and meet members from the other branches. Names to Phill Jepson

9th June—ApiTour with Peter Heath. This is being organised by John Peacock e-mail if you want a visit. One of our calls will be to see Robin MacDonald’s long hive.

Peter Mathews

South East Herts - May 2012

by John Mumford (Hon Sec)

The April Meeting at the Association Apiary was well attended despite the cold and rain. The bees were in fine fettle with no signs of any disease and plenty of stores. We checked for sealed brood, (ie. a Fertile Queen present), and put a strip of Apistan into each colony just to see what mite drops we would get, (I have had reports that very high Varroa Populations and a lot of Virus damage has been found in some colonies). A few days later I checked for mite drops and found nothing. I put a super of foundation on each of the colonies, the fields of 'Rape' over the hedge looked very promising. The Apistan will of course have to come out before they start storing nectar. I found quite a few crawling bees climbing up blades of grass in front of the dark mob which made me suspect they may have a Nosema problem, but the sample I took was clear. I think foragers from this lot, (who fly even in the cold), had returned, dropped down to catch their breath, got chilled, and a number died. This is quite normal at this time of year and nothing to worry about.

We will all be making up frames in a hurry shortly - and the Gimp Pin packet often gets knocked over. I have found the neatest way to pick them up off the floor is with a Fridge Magnet, you get them all up without picking up a load of other rubbish.

We got the rain in April that was so badly needed, but my bees have taken quite a bit of punishment in the process. Foraging for nectar and pollen has been almost impossible, and without pollen the bees can't produce brood, some of my colonies are smaller now than they were at the end of March. I have been gently feeding those that needed it (a honey jar of 50% sugar syrup every 3 or 4 days), I didn't want to feed so much that the bees filled up their brood combs and then the Queens have nowhere to lay when the weather does change for the better.

Some colonies, very short of pollen have actually been throwing out their drones and drone brood!

The next Apiary Meeting will be at my Cock Lane Apiary on Sunday 20th. May. I would normally start Queen rearing in early May but this year the bees won't be ready. Every year the weather is different which makes beekeeping so challenging. I just hope I will have something interesting to show off on the day.

The next Committee Meeting is at 8.00pm. on Thursday 17th. May at 13, Heaton Court.