The Newsletter of the North Devon Branch of the
British Beekeepers Association
As the beekeeping season starts with the coldest March in years, another
related season comes into view - the show season! The Branch Honey Show at the
end of the year, the North Devon Agricultural Show, the County Show and all the smaller
ones like Rosemoor all need willing hands to put up and take down the displays, talk
to the public and sell produce. In return, the helpers receive free entry and
time to look around at the rest of the show.
If you can help in any way, please contact Chris
Utting or me for more information.
On a different subject,
if you have any ideas about courses you would like to attend, talks you would like to hear
or themes for the Apiary Open Days, please contact Tony Wright, Beryl Smailes or
me. This is your club and we want to respond to your interests.
Please, please respond -
we need your help and feedback, I look forward to hearing from you.
At the moment all the teachers at the apiary are holding their breath,
waiting both for the weather to improve and for the bees to be able to forage, without
which the colonies cannot build up and replace the winter bees. If the weather patterns do
not alter and improve greatly, the colonies could well be in crisis.
Despite several Tuesdays when the weather has been less than kind we have enjoyed a
full house with in excess of twenty five stalwarts.
We really will have to consider extending the main meeting room by several feet to make
more sitting down space.
|New Soap Being
Made In Appledore:
No, not a Devon version of Eastenders.
On a wet Tuesday morning, four intrepid members of North
Devon Branch made the long trek to Appledore to visit the home of Maggie Curtis.
Although a clay sculptress by trade (look at some of her amazing work on www.maggiecurtis.co.uk) she has recently started
making soap and other bathroom products, and had kindly offered to share some of her
knowledge with us.
After the customary tea and cakes (delicious) we buckled
down to the purpose of the visit by looking at some of the products she had made, and
studying some of the many leaflets and recipes Maggie had downloaded off the Internet.
Maggie gave us some recipe sheets, all based on honey or beeswax, for us to take
away. She then talked us through making bath bombs and then the "cold-process"
method of making soap which ironically involves heating the ingredients!!
After a rather lengthy question-and-answer session, we eventually moved in to the kitchen
to experience the real thing.
The initial process involves the careful use of a rather nasty product caustic
soda (or Sodium Hydroxide to you technical types) a corrosive alkali which has to be mixed
with water, giving off unpleasant fumes and heating rapidly to near boiling point.
Whilst that was cooling off, the oils and fats which form the other main ingredient were
melted, and we stood around for a time waiting for the two pans to reach similar
temperatures. Finally, Maggie could not bear to listen to our questions any longer
and mixed the contents of the two pans together. Much whisking then ensued and we
were able to see the mixture reach "trace" an all important step in soap making.
One final ingredient needed, the honey, and the final result was
..a black gooey mess!!! The mixture had been too hot
when the honey went in and it had burnt.
Maggie was mortified, but we assured her that it was a valuable demonstration of how
things can go wrong when you are rushed. Anyway, we had already seen some of her
finished products, and they were perfect. The fault was all ours for trying to hurry
Time was now pressing, and we took our leave, but not until
we had been shown around her clay workshop and admired some of her wonderful
All in all, a fairly brief, but very interesting insight into soap-making, and our
heartfelt thanks must go to Maggie for sharing her knowledge with us, and for providing us
with delicious refreshments. If anyone is interested in learning more, try
looking at www.thesoapkitchen.co.uk on the
Internet. This is the website of a shop for soap and candle-making supplies
conveniently located in Torrington and it contains lots of useful information for budding
Certificate Training Course:
Enclosed is an
information flier and application form. This is going to be a popular course judging
by the response and members applications will be on a first come - first served
basis. It is at a bargain price of £20.00 with an accredited trainer coming up from
Plymouth. Application forms with cheque made out to 'DBKA North Devon Branch' to Beryl
By popular request another one day course is being organised with Jenny
Buckle at her beautiful thatched cottage in Ashburton. Details later.
Brian Marchant has agreed to run another of his microscopy
courses at Halsannery Field Centre for members who have already attended the basic course.
More details later.
By Kay Thomas:
There was a very good turnout last month to Kay's talk. She
confined her talk to the flower and explained the basic structure of different flowers and
how they become pollinated and then fertilised. The many variations of the
structures and arrangements were explained.
Kay thenmoved on to describe the floral detail of many of
the more common families of plants such as compositae and ranunculacea using her new
skills with a PowerPoint presentation.
Monday 10 April: Talk by David Charles on
"Going to the Heather" Castle Centre 7.30pm.
Raffle & shared supper
Tuesday 18 April: Show Sub Committee meeting Horestone 4.30
Friday 21 & Saturday 22 April: Stoneleigh Beekeeping Convention
Tuesday 25 April: Branch Committee meeting
Nearest distance of
distinct vision - The nearest distance to the eye at which an object can be placed so
that it may be seen in sharp focus by the normal eye = 250mm
Numerical Aperture - Resolution of a microscope
depends on two factors, the wavelength of the light employed and the numeric aperture of
the objective lens, this latter is important because the resolving power depends on this
quantity i.e. the resolving power is linear and a lens with an N.A. of 1.2 will resolve
twice the detail of an objective with a N.A. of 0.6. These quantitative values
equate to the refractive index of the medium between the object and the lens, e.g. air,
immersion oil or water, and the sine of half the intake angle of the lens.
Up on the hill, something is stirring. Surely this cold
cold spring will suddenly give way to warmth and to big bee action at the
Congratulations to all involved in the work which has been accomplished over the
winter. There is much to look forward to now, and we need members to consider how they are
going to help with the running of our 2006 programme. For instance, how about phoning
Chris Utting and offering to come on to the Shows sub-committee. Or take
a lead in organising the Apiary Meeting Hut spring clean. We need active leadership, and
this means using your famous initiative. Don't sit back and leave it all to a few
over-busy people. Meanwhile, Chris has one or two super courses lined up for you. Make the
most of them!
|Edited by Marnie Quy.
All contributions welcome, copy by 19th of month for publication in following