Bee Disease Lecture with a Difference

By Richard Peterson

Eileen Remnant an experienced St.Albans member addressed around 25 members of the Association, mostly new beekeepers, in sunshine on the day after the opening of the London Olympics. Her lecture focussed on how to inspect a colony and what to look for as well as the most likely diseases that might be encountered. She stressed the procedures that would be put in place if a notifiable disease such as EFB or AFB was to be found at an apiary and how best to limit the spread of it to other colonies. A novel visual aid she used was a sheet showing the names of the most common diseases in varying type sizes showing them in order of magnitude depicted by the size of the letters in which they were printed. The most prevalent of them being DWV (Deformed Wing Virus).

She said that we have been very fortunate up until now that we have not suffered a serious outbreak of a notifiable disease and gave the numbers of recorded incidents detected around the country. Again we have been fortunate that most of the symptoms, which had been detected locally in colonies and thought to be of a serious nature, have mostly been caused by sac brood and chalk brood.

Eileen went on to talk about treatments and how they should be used. She said that by the use of some simple procedures like the dusting of the top bars with icing sugar after inspecting the hive in conjunction with mesh floors could reduce the varroa population on the bees by up to 20 per cent. Another item of information given was that when we treat our bees with any of the recognised treatments it was a mandatory requirement that we should keep a record of the serial numbers printed on the packaging and that these records were required to be kept for five years before being discarded.

When we arrived the chairs had been positioned outside the hut in the usual place and on the seats had been placed a photograph of a disease that the occupant was asked to identify, with instructions to look very carefully at them. In my case my sheet was numbered No 22, which was of a small mite sitting upon a larvae. This I quite wrongly identified as a varroa mite so no points for me. It was infact a tropilaelaps but in my defence I can only say that it was very small. It must be said a very high proportion of the diseases illustrated were wrongly identified and this goes to show that we see what we expect to see and not what we are actually looking at. A salutary lesson to us all. This was a very well received lecture given in a novel way and we thank Eileen for the presentation.

After the tea interval which is always used as a discussion forum Eileen gave a demonstration of some of the procedures she had spoken about earlier on how to inspect a colony and how to look for disease after shaking off the bees and removing the queen and placing her in cage and putting her in a safe place.

Finally I must mention that we have had another beekeeper stung at the apiary and having an allergic reaction. Fortunately he was at the time accompanied by his daughter who was able to get him to hospital. This is the second time this month and again I must stress how important it is not to be alone when visiting the apiary. An Emergency Contact Card has been devised which should be filled in and placed in the top pocket of beesuits for future visits to the Association Apiaries. Details provided on this card is sufficient personal information required by the Emergency Services should the need arise.

Hertfordshire Honey Chocolate could be made by Thorntons

Thorntons has just put out the following press release:
Vote For Famous Hertfordshire Flavour In Thorntons Great Chocolate Britain Competition 
Hertfordshire is famous for its great food and drink, and now one of the region’s most popular flavours, Herts honey, could be recreated in chocolate by Britain’s best loved chocolate maker Thorntons.
Kathryn Hearn from St Albans entered the flavour into Thorntons’ Great Chocolate Britain competition that has been running over the summer and now the people of Hertfordshire need to get voting to help the famous flavour top the East region chart. 
Thorntons has been calling for chocolate lovers across the country to submit their chocolate creations based on the flavours they think best represent their region. From hundreds of entries across 11 regions of the UK, three flavours have been chosen per region by Thorntons chocolatiers and the public will now have the final say as to the region’s top choice. 
In the East region, Kathryn’s Hertfordshire Honey Heart, which is a milk chocolate containing Hertfordshire honey and will compete with a milk chocolate with lavender fondant pieces and a white chocolate with Tiptree jam and crystalised sugar. 
The 11 lucky finalists will be announced in the coming weeks and will all be invited to Thornton Park in Derbyshire to make their chocolate creations in with Thorntons kitchens with the help of their chocolatiers. One overall winner will be announced during Chocolate Week in October and as well as winning a year’s supply of chocolate, the winning chocolate will be launched by Thorntons. 
Get voting for your favourite chocolate creations online at 
For further information please contact Thorntons’ PR Manager Emma Tagg on 01773 542070 or
Kathryn Hearn said "My idea for a regional chocolate for Thorntons has been shortlisted and it includes Hertfordshire honey! I entered a competition to get a regional chocolate made and mine is among three now vying for the East region.  I am Hertfordshire born and bred and thought it would be nice to get Herts on the map, plus the combination of honey and milk chocolate sounds delicious."

Please help Kathryn win by casting your vote online.

St Albans News - August 2012

Fortunately the weather held fine for the July meeting of St Albans Beekeepers’ Association held at our apiary at Prae Wood. Crispin Baker gave a spirited account of feeding colonies in preparation for winter to the 23 members that were present. He explained the different kinds of feeders and their individual merits and disadvantages mainly for the benefit of the newer members. He also stressed the importance of cleanliness in the apiary so as to avoid the problems of robbing, which, once started, is extremely difficult to stop.

Crispin also brought to the meeting a large quantity of Ambrosia to fulfil the many orders that he had received from our members. He is able to bulk buy his supplies direct from Germany and provides an extremely valuable service to our association.

Another item of interest can be seen in the photograph. Robin Guest, our Chairman, presenting two of our long-serving members with their certificates of Honorary Life Membership that were awarded to them earlier in the year for services to the association. They were Eileen Remnant (right)), our former Chairman, who stood down at the beginning of the year. Eileen works tirelessly for the association and was responsible for putting together all the notes for our initial beekeeping courses that the association ran in the past as well as lecturing and being an authority on bee diseases, bee anatomy and anything to do with bee husbandry. The other member was Christine Aitken (left), our former secretary. Christine has been a pillar of the association and as well as being an excellent secretary also gives lectures to children in many of the local schools. Christine also gives extremely instructive demonstrations of candle making by the dipping and moulding methods at our winter meetings that are held in Chiswell Green. Another fact that must not be overlooked is that Christine and her husband, Ted, provided our apiary at Prae Wood with a long hive that was constructed entirely by Ted and it is always a pleasure to watch Christine manipulate its deep frames, which are at a very convenient height, and which she accomplishes with extremely little effort. Unfortunately Christine has, for the time being, to refrain from beekeeping as she has had a bad allergic reaction to a sting.

Finally, on the same subject, at the end of the day after the majority of the members had left the site, a small group of beekeepers decided to lend a hand with tackling a very aggressive colony which was in the process of being re-queened as the owner needed help to do some manipulations of the frames. One of this party allowed his face to come into close contact with his veil and received a sting on the chin. After we returned to the hut he became very unwell feeling very sick and becoming extremely flushed. Fortunately we had some Piriton to hand which he took but he started to have pains in his chest, tingling lips, stomach cramps and became very confused so we decided to call for an ambulance straight away although he had no difficulty breathing. First on the scene was one of the ‘First Responders’ team who started to monitor him until the paramedic arrived. He was again examined and as his airways were not compromised he was given the choice of going on to Watford Hospital or going home as the paramedic was confident the administering of the anti-histamine within 10 minutes of receiving the sting had saved the day and sorted the problem. This is a lesson to all of us not to inspect hives on our own in lonely locations as others were able to make the necessary telephone call and remain in touch with the control room until help arrived. Had he been on his own he certainly would not have been able to use the telephone or find the tablets so the incident might not have had such a happy outcome!

SE Herts News - August 2012

by John Mumford

I have received notice that bees around the Standon & Puckeridge area will be getting  a visit from the Bee Inspector due to an outbreak of EFB. This follows an outbreak of AFB a few years ago. This new EFB outbreak could posibly be connected with the one around Wareside but is not yet proven. Bees don’t just develop EFB, the disease is passed around by ignorant beekeepers who either don’t know, or don’t care about their neighbour’s bees. There is also an ongoing outbreak of EFB in the Enfield area. We have managed to keep a clean bill of heath in the SE.Herts ares for many, many years - lets keep it that way. Please be particularly vigilant when purchasing bees or equipment from any source, combs in particular, what may seem a bargain could very well be a poison chalice.

On a brighter note I can report that Adrian Lloyd is out of hospital but must take things easy for a while until things settle down. Meanwhile he is off on a well earned holiday.

I hope those who came to my apiary on 22nd. July didn’t mind doing a bit of my beekeeping for me, especially the novice beekeepers, thanks. I trust they enjoyed themselves. The Queen Rearing Group may be interested to know that of the 10 cells we grafted, 6 were accepted and produced some fine Queen cells, however when I checked a couple of days before the Queens were due to emerge I found a rogue Queen had taken over and destroyed the lot. Back to the drawing board!

It is now time to start getting the bees prepared for Winter. The bees have had a tough time and there is not much honey stores in some of the brood nests, so be careful when taking honey off that the bees have sufficient stores to keep them going until Winter Feeding is started. (Colonies should have a minimum of 5Kg. of honey stores at all times). Tesco’s sugar at £3.99 per 5Kg. pack is still the best buy.

There has been a lot of swarming through July, and I have had reports that there are more than a few colonies that have no brood. Bees are seldom without a Queen unless the beekeeper has been interfering. however if several days after a sunny spell there is still no brood then the bees may need some help. Get some advice from a more experienced beekeeper.

There will be a Committee Meeting at Heaton Court at 8.00pm. on Thursday 23rd August. And September is going to be a busy month. Our next meeting will be 3.00pm. at Bayford on Sunday 9th. September at the Association Apiary. We will be providing a stall at Van Hage’s Garden Centre, times and dates have yet to be decided, and then there is the HBKA Bee World Show at Capel Manor on Saturday 15th. September.