The Newsletter of the North Devon Branch of the
British Beekeepers Association
|IMPORTANT NOTICE !! Would
all members (& would be members) please note that subs should have been paid by the
end of March. If you havent yet paid please can you do so immediately.
|Vice) Chairmans Letter:
Id like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to all the active
members of North Devon Branch who have made this one of the best branches in the country.
With all this energy and enthusiasm on offer we will become the best.
As always we continue attending shows and other events where we
put on eye catching displays; our regular talks are well attended and on a wide range of
subjects - this year, courses on skep making and wax handling were rapidly filled and,
with increasing public interest in beekeeping there are two courses on basic
beekeeping. But thats not all. Throughout the winter months, in spite of rain,
sleet, snow and freezing conditions, fifteen to twenty people have unfailingly turned out
at the apiary on Tuesdays to knock down the old shed, put up the new quartermasters store,
clear ground, plant, lay slabs, tend bonfires, plumb in the loo from the rainwater tank
and build new hive stands. Oh! And drink tea, eat cake and chat. What an amazing team.
Dont forget theres an apiary open day on Sunday 10th
April which will give you the opportunity to see the transformation. Here, a special
mention must be made of the new hive stands made by Kevin Stach. They are made of
powder coated steel with integral stainless steel varroa floors, monitoring trays and
mouse guards innovative, practical and they look great.
The next big project is to convert one of the sheds into a honey
extraction and bottling unit to a professional standard. This will be funded by The
100+ Club organised by Kevin Stach. The stake is only £12 per person per year
and offers excellent odds for monthly cash prizes. Join up while places are still
Remember that this is all on top of the regular routine work
carried out by the committee members, branch secretary, treasurer et al.
Hope to see you on 10th April. Prepare to be amazed!!
Chris Tozer (Beryl is away)
|From the Apiary:
After all the recent hard work building, making improvements and generally
maintaining the apiary we finally had a day warm and sunny enough to fully inspect the
bees. We currently have 11 hives plus a nuc and most are doing well. There was plenty of
sealed & unsealed brood & eggs and bees were bringing in yellowy pollen which we
suspect may have been from the crocus. One or two hives didnt seem to be as active
and queens werent evident but the bees were easy to handle and well tempered so we
are keeping our fingers crossed and will inspect again very soon to see if there has been
any change. The bees that were relocated over the cold period to the new hive stands seem
to have adapted to their new home without problem. And so starts the beekeeping year
Tony Wright (Rashid is away)
The Editor said we had a space which
amounted to 120 words to report on the microscopy course run by Brian Marchant at
the Hallsannery field centre, Bideford. Some hope!
We were shown how to set up both compound and high powered
microscopes. We had bees to examine, dissect, and mount on slides looking for some of the
easier to recognise bee diseases.
Session two was about Palynology. Brian explained how different
flowers are pollinated, and by which creatures. We went on through all the stages of
panning the pollens, staining, mounting and then examining them at magnifications up to
x1000. We looked for pollens in honey until I broke the centrifuge!
Brians relaxed way of teaching makes the subject both
exciting and interesting. "Go for it" - its great and cheap (which reminds
me I still havent paid).
|Microscopy Course (cont'd)
Subject to Members expressing an interest I propose to run a further one
day course later in the year with the object of making up a series of anatomical slides
whereby each participant goes home with their own set of micro-slides showing for example
- proboscis, mandibles, cornea, ocelli, antennae, sting, paired legs, abdominal segments
and paired wings. Bees, previously softened and decalcified, will be provided
leaving Members to dissect, mount, ring and label with as much help as they may need - to
that end I am inclined to limit the class size to a maximum of six with provision for a
repeat class if required.
Note also that I have a number of microscopes available for loan
Brian Marchant - Branch & County Microscopist
Saturday 16th April
The BBKA Stoneleigh Bee Convention is now imminent. There are a
few places left on the minibus if anyone is interested. Contact the editor (details at end
of newsletter) or Kevin Stach - email: firstname.lastname@example.org
New to the UK extreme competitive beekeeping. A
sport that originated in New Zealand and has gone from strength to strength
over the last 18 months. Mixed teams of 4 vie with each other to see who can fully inspect
a complete hive whilst wearing as little as possible. Additional points are gained by team
members liberally covering themselves in heavy sugar syrup or even honey if stocks allow.
Points are lost if any of the team inadvertently cry out this is known as an eek.
There is talk of setting up a South West league and as usual North Devon Branch is in the
forefront. So if any intrepid members are interested in trialing for the team full details
are available at the end of the newsletter.
Membership of the 100+ Club is proving popular but we still need more
people to join so that we can get started properly. Over 60 have already joined and so we
need about another 35 members so that the draw can start. This is an opportunity to enter
a draw with fantastic odds of winning up to £25 and helping to fund the work at the
apiary at the same time. We need to raise these funds! So dont be shy, contact Kevin
Stack right now. This fantastic opportunity isnt restricted to members so do
your bit and sell to family & friends as well. Contact Kevin on email@example.com
You can also fill in the form with this newsletter or there is
one to download on the website. See end of newsletter for 100+ club
We are now online. The North Devon Branch website is live. If anyone still
hasnt done so you can visit the site at www.northdevonbees.org
Comments would be welcome. Please either address your comments to
The Editor or contact the webmaster Kevin Tricker on firstname.lastname@example.org There is all
sorts of information even a copy of this newsletter! We expect to keep on expanding
the site so any suggestions would be very useful.
On Saturday 12th
March fifteen people gathered at our apiary to learn skep making. Our teacher was Mick
Male who gave good, concise instructions in an entertaining way and really didnt
seem to mind how often he had to repeat himself.
Having first made the necessary tools needles &
collars in various shapes and sizes, we set about making the skeps from long straw.
No-one thought it was going to be simple but in reality it turned out to be quite tricky.
The level of concentration and determination on the faces of the apprentice skepists was
Everyone remained focused and as the layer of crushed and
discarded straw grew deeper so did our skeps grow. Well, actually most of us ended up with
something that looked like an oversized beer mat. We all went home with some homework
straw and rattan to finish off before the next lesson. A most enjoyable
|Castle Centre Meeting Monday 14th
Honey, that was the title of
our Monday evening meeting at The Castle Centre. Perhaps it should have been entitled
honeys for there they all were spread out anonymously on the table as
varied and subtle in their individual characteristics as any wines. This was truly a
unique experience. We sniffed and we tasted, we considered bouquet, texture and
aftertaste. Fifteen different honeys! Our noses and our taste buds tantalisingly travelled
from the arid soils of the acacia and the eucalyptus to the temperate glades of the
chestnut and the lime. Could we put the right name to the right pot? Not many of us, but
we tried. It was great fun. Thank you Chris
|Honey Show Champions!!
Would the winners of last year's honey show trophies please get them to
Brian Marchant ASAP so that they can be engraved. Contact Brian to make arrangements.
|DBKA Presidents Day 2005:
President's Day this year was held in the prestigious Peter Chalk Centre
on the rather down-at-heel Exeter campus; by 9.30, the ornate Buckfast Lecture Theatre was
packed with a mass of unusually excited beekeepers high on Colombian coffee and free
samples of a particularly potent mead offered by one of the exhibitors; ranks were swelled
by a number of W.I. ladies who had wandered in, attracted by the mead and the bonhomie. As
usual, genial Gen Sec Glyn Berrington warmed up the ranks with hilarious stories of
his experiences with mites, beetles and drifting drones! By the time suave Chairman Bob
Ogden entered, the members were in a state of high elation - chanting ancient rhymes
that only beekeepers know. Singing and chanting rose to a crescendo as DBKA President
, our very own Kay Thomas, took her place at the rostrum. Proceedings got
under way swiftly as members, under Kay's baton, made a spirited rendering of the
traditional " Land of Wax and Honey ". This was an emotional moment - not a
dry eye in the house. The agenda items passed in a blur of emotion and goodwill; cheer
upon cheer as Officers were returned unopposed for the umpteenth time. Suddenly
AOB had arrived and your representatives Chris and Mike took the floor in some
trepidation. The atmosphere in the theatre was electric - akin to waiting for a swarm to
settle; the proposal to change our title - dismissing 100 years of apicultural history
- was made and the sudden silence was tangible - would we be dismissed as mavericks?
As rebellious troublemakers? An intake of breath and a roar of applause, more cheering and
wild shouts of support. A sudden thought took hold - should I seize this moment of
euphoria and deliver a master stroke? No time to hesitate - I took the plunge:
"The North Devon Branch is resolved to disassociate and reform as North Devon
Beekeepers Association". But the serried ranks were on their feet - applauding,
stamping their feet, delirious. "And we've put a legal restraint on our assets!"
I cried; we were carried from the theatre shoulder high. Free at last!
More later from Mike on the Presidents Day/AGM.
|A Somerset Bee Day:
The Somerset beekeepers held their annual day of beekeeping lectures on
Saturday 19th February. This is always an enjoyable and interesting event, and great value
for the £12 charge, which includes lunch and coffees. A fair-sized hall is invariably
filled with cheerful beekeepers, many having driven a long way; all muffled up against the
cold of the Bath & West show grounds at Shepton Mallet.
There was a full programme of lectures, so I can only really tell
you about two of them. Firstly, Michael Badger and his talk on practical beekeeping
tips. Michael is a past President of BBKA, and has been keeping bees since 1951, so I
reckon he knows a thing or two about it.
Keep to one theme. By that I think he meant decide what you are
going for, and keep to it. e.g. if honey is your aim, go for a strain of queen that
produces good honey gatherers, and select queens with that in mind year after year.
Autumn is the start of the year, so invest then for a year ahead.
In January or February, place your hand over the hole in the crown board. If you can feel
the warmth, the queen has young brood in the brood box. In November, this warmth could
Two books for reference: The World of the Honey Bee by Colin
Butler, and The Biology of the Honeybee, by Mark Winston.
In summer, wear a sweat band across the forehead. Always keep
plenty of drones. A good fuel for your smoker is dried rotten wood, especially willow.
Have a Butler cage in your pocket whenever you are working, for holding a queen. Practise
marking a queen first using drones. After about 30 drones, you will be quite good at it.
For swarm catching, first get yourself a skep, and keep a swarm in it for 4 or 5 days.
Bees will then always be happy in that skep. Drones on the wing mean swarms are likely.
Take a bucket half full of water with you, wash your gloves and
hands regularly as you work through the hives. For cut comb, use an eke, that is a more
shallow shallow box than a super. Fill this box with narrow frames to fit, but with no
bottom bars, and no foundation. (Try a starter strip). Under this box lay some thick
plastic, 17" square, over the box below, and the bees will not fix the comb to its
top bars, the queen will not come up into the shallow box.
If you are dealing with a bad tempered colony and want to find
the queen to replace her, get some wet tea towels, roll these up, and place one in the
entrance of that hive and of all the hives nearby, completely blocking the entrances. The
bees returning will stay on the wet towel, while you find the queen in peace
Next, Richard Ball's excellent advice on IPM. To be brief,
what Richard is planning for this season, and believe me that's a good enough guide for
you and me, is this:
Treat your bees in the spring with your chosen two methods. Use
drone culling, Exomite, Apiguard, or the Apivar when it becomes licensed in this country.
Every second year use the shook swarm method for clean comb, or make an artificial swarm.
Later in the autumn, when there is little or no brood, e.g. in
early November, have some oxalic acid at suitable strength, in a measured syringe, and
dribble 5mls into each seam between the brood frames. The oxalis solution will not harm
the bees or the queen, is 97% effective, and it is cheap. It is essential to minimise the
mite population before the winter. But take all precautions with the acid, and only use it
once. Remember that treatments are always changing, as research continues.
|Barnstaple Twinning Association:
North Devon Beekeepers have been cordially invited to join the party of visitors organised
by the BTA, to visit their opposite numbers in the town of Velzen, North Germany, on 14th
- 19th July, 2005. The cost would be very low, as our visitors would be staying with the
German people. Of course, our visitors would be expected to host the Germans for the
If any of our members would like further details, please contact Chris Utting on 01237
474500 or email: email@example.com
|Competition for Queen Bee!
The monarch butterfly, Alabama's official state insect since 1989, could
be replaced by the queen honey bee. A bill, sponsored by Rep. Sue Schmitz, would end the
monarch butterfly's reign as a symbol of Alabama and substitute the queen honey bee as the
official state insect.
|Dont Forget: First 2005
Horestone Apiary Open Day on Sunday 10th April 2.00 on. Be there! Bring
something to eat (cake etc) & share.
|Brians Microscope Corner:
In the first of an ongoing series Brian Marchant gives his A to Z
definitions of common microscopy terms which will come in useful for anyone using
microscopes or attending one of Brians excellent courses.
ABERRATION - all lenses are subject to imaging
faults due to their prismatic effect e.g. chromatic aberration results in coloured haloes
obsurring the image and spherical aberration results in a blurred image when peripheral
rays forming the image are bought to focus nearer the lens than axial rays.
ACHROMATIC - most common type of microscope
objective lens in which chromatic aberration is corrected for two colours and
spherical aberration corrected for one colour.
APOCHROMATIC - superior quality objectives where
chromatic aberration is corrected for three colours and spherical aberration
corrected for two.
BERTRAND LENS - incorporated in some microscopes.
In association with the eye-lens it forms a telescope with which to view the back focal
plane for purposes of setting up the microscope.
BINOCULAR MICROSCOPE - term used to denote a
compound microscope with two eye-pieces. Not to be confused with the stereoscopic or
dissecting microscope which, by definition, has two eyepieces.
CONDENSER - lens system beneath the stage of the
microscope used both to illuminate the specimen and match the acceptance angle of the
CORRECTION COLLAR - graduated scale on the barrel
of some microscopes which adjusts the internal lenses thereby
correcting spherical aberration due to varying thickness of cover slips.
COVER SLIP - circular or square glass slips used to
enclose the specimen and for making permanent mounts. Their thickness is determined
by the objective lens and is shown on the lens barrel. Slips are commonly
designated by a number e.g. No 1 is 0.17mm thick.
|DBKA PRESIDENTS DAY and AGM (again):
As in past years, the Day was held in the Peter Chalk Conference Centre on
the Exeter University campus; proceedings began fairly promptly at 10.00 when our
President Kay Thomas opened the meeting , sadly with disappointing news. Kay had
invited Ruth Waite, a principal scientist at the National Bee Unit, to give the
keynote address but Dr Waite and a succession of her colleagues had withdrawn. As it
turned out, our RBI Richard Ball gallantly stepped in at late notice and gave us
his usual cogent and down to earth views on the future of the NBU and beekeeping and
honeybee health - a pretty gloomy picture on all counts:
- by 2008 the proposed NBU budget cut will effectively reduce the
RBI/SBI service by 50%.
- beekeepers will have to be more self-reliant in fighting disease
- AFB has declined to 0.5% of colonies but EFB is rising rapidly
- Exotic pests ( eg Tropilaeps, Aethina tumida et al ) pose
- Varroa losses could soar leading to loss of beekeepers, honey,
- some hopeful signs an electronic diagnostic system
("taqman") giving rapid disease diagnosis
- research into biological controls eg Varroa mites destroyed by
- imminent EU legislation may result in vets being the sole source
of bee health medicaments
- concerns over the use of oxytetracycline (OTC) and residues in
- the effectiveness of the shook swarm technique anti-varroa,
anti-EFB and often good for honey yields
- vital importance of using an integrated programme different
techniques as the season progresses
- there is no fixed IPM menu new elements and techniques
- organic acids e.g. 4.5% oxalic acid in syrup effective against
varroa dribbled over broodless frames.
A packed theatre of 40 odd members then moved on to the AGM
> General Secretarys Report: there was some discussion
of the final paragraph (Complaint, p63, Beekeeping March 2005 )
> Treasurers Accounts retiring Treasurer David
Milford urged DBKA and Branches to spend more of their growing cash assets (
preferably on much needed education and training MC)
> the Officers proposed for 2005/6 were elected en bloc; new
President Dr Mick Street
> the Downing Bowl for services to Devon beekeeping went to
> Northern Branch is now North Devon Branch
> no more DBKA honey jar labels will be purchased
Kay Thomas closed the meeting thanking members and others for
Kay announced a considerable sum raised in aid of Sri Lankan beekeepers.
After lunch, a sadly depleted audience gathered to hear a talk by
Dr Dhafer Behnam, an Iraqi scientist and beekeeper formerly of Baghdad and now in
charge of the Buckfast Apiary. He talked mainly about beekeeping in pre-invasion Iraq;
although his English is not fluent, with the aid of PowerPoint, two screens and a mobile
he gave a graphic account of the highs and lows of beekeeping in Baghdad.
The day ended with questions and a blessing at 15.20.
BKA would like to invite you to the SBKA 2005 Special Lectures.
Date: Monday 18 April 2005 at 7.30pm
Venue: The Theatre at Hazlegrove School, Sparkford, Somerset (off the A303)
Speaker: Michael Mac Giolla Coda, Galtee Bee Breeders Group, Ireland
Lecture Title: Development of a Bee Improvement Group. Additional for 2005
Date: Friday 15 July 2005 at 7.30pm
Venue: The Theatre at Hazlegrove School, Sparkford, Somerset (off the A303)
Speaker: Robert Brewer from USA.
Lecture Title: To be confirmed.
There will be no charge for these evening lectures, hence there
is no need to book tickets for these event. With no tickets SBKA will not know who
is coming to the lectures, so if there is a cancellation as there was in 2004, it is
difficult to inform everyone. You may like to check with Sharon Blake or Caroline
Butter, prior to the event, that there have been no changes. Please park in the first
car park you come to when you arrive at the school.
|Quiz Question for April: Which popular
singers most recent album is called The Beekeeper?
The answer to the March question was
|Extreme Beekeeping: Anyone interested in
joining the new team should pay more attention to the date. Oh, and maybe you need to get
out a bit more! April Fool. You may also presume that the first report by Mike Canham on
The DBKA Presidents Day was another! Or not
|Edited by Marnie Quy.
All contributions welcome, copy by 19th of month for publication in following