The Newsletter of the North Devon Branch of the
British Beekeepers Association
Winter or not, the branch is still remarkably busy. There's much work to be
done producing merchandise for the new shop. I've just returned from Kevin
Stach's factory where we've been making frame feeders, which are soon to be available
at extraordinarily low prices (advertisement over).
There's also been much discussion about what shape holes to cut into the crown boards
we're making. Should the hole/s accommodate porter bee escapes, Canadian bee
escapes or some other alternative? If you have any views on this, do let us
We're also in the process of re-thinking the library and how to make it more accessible
to members. Consequently, if you've been holding on to any of the library
books, please return them within the next two weeks either to the apiary or to any Tuesday
Group regular so that we can carry out a full stock-take. If you have any
problems returning books, please phone me on 01237 471928. Take care
|Apiary Managers Report:
|Work at the apiary is progressing on a number of fronts, the new hive
bases are now finished waiting for the hives, The power cable is laid to the now completed
instrumented hive facility. Everyone is busy preparing for this new honey and queen
rearing season. The bees look well and are flying on all warm dry days.
Leaders are trying out new (to us) Varroa treatments as part of I.P.M. Things are looking
hopeful but we will see
(For further information on these treatments contact Kevin
Stimulative feeding starts now to encourage colonies to increase ready for an early
crop of oil seed rape, and build up of colonies ready for drone and queen rearing.
The shop is already trading so if you want any kind of equipment, clothing, medication,
tools, or information give David Morris a call.
Our esteemed Treasurer shows off his new
Spring 2006 Beekeeping Outfit
We have had, and will have many more, visitors to Horestone. All are very impressed, not
only with our beautiful tranquil Apiary, our sometimes innovative practices and equipment
but very much with the way everyone works, laughs, supports and pulls together to get the
best out of the beekeeping experience.
|The Answer Lies In The Frame (Or Frame
Malcolm Blake traveled from near Yeovil to give a very
interesting talk. Unfortunately he was greeted with only a dozen members to receive
his talk. This was discouraging for the organisers.
Malcolm explained that to get a good crop of honey the beekeeper obviously needs as
many foraging bees as possible at the right time. Too many beekeepers allow the
colony to operate with unsatisfactory brood combs. These combs can be poor in
several ways. If the foundation is poorly inserted into the frame it can distort from the
flat plane resulting in comb where the cells are too shallow for the larvae to develop and
this will be ignored by the queen.
The comb cells can also be filled with crystallized honey or old pollen that will also
restrict the available brood area. Too many drone cells will also restrict the
production of workers as will misshapen cells. Often there is a substantial gap
between the bottom of the comb and the bottom rails. With worker cells numbering an about
25 to the square inch several poor brood frames can result in a reduced worker population.
Malcolm will reject a brood frame if an area of about 10% is unsatisfactory. The
bottom rail gap can be eliminated by first putting the brood box of new comb above the
queen excluder. The workers will then develop the full area of the sheets of
foundation. Malcolm demonstrated several examples of problem comb. This subject
provoked an interesting discussion and he answered many questions.
I shall be at the
Castle Centre meeting on the 17th March. Please take the opportunity to return and
borrow books. Look forward to seeing you there.
|Brians Microscope Corner:
Power: the product of the magnifying power of the objective x that of the eyepiece
(occular) provided the tube length is matched against the objective, that there is no
intermediate lens and no binocular-head magnification to take into account. The
tube length is the distance between the shoulder of the objective and the top of the tube
where the occular is inserted - usually 160mm. Objectives are at their optimum when
the total magnification is 1000 x the numerical aperture e.g. if the objective is x 100
and its n.a. is 1.2 then a x 12 occular will give a total magnification of x 1200.
In Februarys Which?
Magazine there was a worrying report about the problems of antibiotics in the honey that
is on sale in England. Last October the Food Standards Agency notified Trading Standards
Officers of a problem of honey sold in Hull. Tests indicated that there were residues of
antibiotics. The Consumer Organisation conducted a survey and several samples were
discovered containing antibiotics.
The monitoring of honey for unwanted residues in England has been increased. So
be aware that bee medicines and Varroa control substances should be used according to the
manufacturers instructions i.e. not when there is honey on the hive that is going to
Friday 17th March
at the Castle Centre Barnstaple, 7.30pm. Talk by Kay Thomas on Floral
Biology. Shared supper & raffle.
Saturday 18th March DBKA President's Day
Peter Chalk Building Exeter University from 9.30. DBKA Lectures and
AGM. Also BBKA written Examinations, same place, same time. Lunches
available or bring your own.
Saturday 25th March Course at Chilsworthy organised by Holsworthy
Branch on Varroa Management
Saturday 1st April Train the Trainers Course, Southpark
Centre Buckfast From 9.00
Sunday 2nd April Beekeepers' Auction, Ruishton near Taunton.
SBKA Goods in, 10.30 on. Sale begins 2.00
Monday 10th April Talk by David Charles "Going to
the Heather" Castle Centre Barnstaple 7.30. Shared
supper & raffle
Friday 21st April Members' Day Stoneleigh Convention
Saturday 22nd April Beekeepers' Convention from 9.00
Saturday 29th April DBKA EC and Show Committees from 10.00
Members' support at these events is much valued. Please come along!
A few weeks ago I went to Thailand on a family holiday. It was the
middle of their winter too. But there was no rain and and no frost as the average
temperature was only 30°C. The air conditioning was very welcome. Luckily I had a local
beekeeping contact. Peter Auger had a colleague who worked at the National Bee Unit
at York for a few months last year doing her PhD. Dr. Panuwan Chanterwannakul was
now working at Chiang Mai University teaching bacteriology. Thai people generally do not
use their surnames - only the first name and then they usually have a nickname.
I sent an email to Nu and she replied
immediately. So on arrival in the Thailand second city I gave her a call and next day she
picked me up in her car and together with two of her students we went to National Bee
Centre No.1. There are five such centres in Thailand and this was the main one. I was
introduced to the Manager. He explained that 90% of the population of 60 million people
work on the land and although there were a lot of beekeepers in the country there was no
major commercial production of honey. In fact I discovered that the honey available in the
hotel where I was staying was produced in Switzerland.
The Centre was very modern and had a fine display of
hive products. Although the Thai natural honey producing bee is the Eastern Honeybee (Apis
ceraneae) Nu had recently led a debate at the Asian Bee Conference where it had been
decided that our European bee was preferred as it produces much more honey.
A tour of the site revealed that there were extensive grounds and hundreds of hives all
painted white and sited in the shade of trees to keep cool. The Langstroth hive was used
as well as small half frame nuc boxes
The first hive that was opened gave me my first
sighting of a live Tropilaelaps mite. I was surprised how quickly it could run across the
comb. We opened several other hives as the students wanted to take some samples. All this
was done with the minimum of smoke and no gloves or even a veil. Not one sting nor even a
nibble from the stingless bees was received.
There were several varieties of stingless bees being managed at the Centre. These were
Trigona pagdeni and some Tetragona species bred for their pollination value. Although they
were kept in nuc boxes the entrances were not used. Instead the bees constructed a long
wax tube about 25 mm across that extended up around the outside of the nuc box to the
After a delightful morning at the Bee Centre I treated Nu and her students to a slap up
lunch which cost me less than £5. Things are very cheap in Thailand.
|Honey Fudge Sauce:
4 tbsp rum
85g caster sugar & 85g muscovado sugar
100ml evaporated milk
1. Soak the raisins in the rum for at least 24 hours. If you have time, soak them in
enough rum to cover in a sealed jar for a month or two.
2. Put the butter into a heavy-bottomed saucepan with the caster sugar, muscovado sugar
and honey. Stir over a low heat, until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved
and everything is evenly mixed.
3. Stir for about 4 minutes, always over a low heat. Stir in the evaporated milk, a
little at a time, and then stir in the drained raisins. Bring back to the boil, still
stirring, and then draw off the heat and stir for a minute or two more.
4. If not using immediately, spoon into a hot sterilised jam jar, seal tightly and
leave to cool. Once opened, store in the fridge where it will keep for up to two weeks.
|Edited by Marnie Quy.
All contributions welcome, copy by 19th of month for publication in following