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Northern Lights

The Newsletter of the North Devon Branch of the British Beekeepers Association


Chairman's Notes:

This has so far been a warm autumn; there is plenty of ivy pollen and nectar being brought into the hives.  In the middle part of the day the bees are working very keenly, especially if the sun is shining.  Make sure your mouse guards are in place, Apiguard can come out now, but if you are feeding syrup keep feeding as long as the bees will take it.   Oxalic Acid treatment for Varroa will be used in November.   It is very promising to see so many hives at our Apiary going into the winter with strong colonies.  Who knows what the winter will bring.

Big plans are being laid for the future of the Apiary and of the Branch.  There is much talk, many ideas, a lot of enthusiasm.  So think about it, beekeepers. Come along to our meetings, give us your own ideas and take your part in the shaping of 2006.  We need to hear what you have in mind.   There is everything to gain and with care, much to our advantage and interest.  Apathy belongs to the past!

Apiary Managers report:

The Honey House will soon be ready and awaiting the first crop of the new season. Bitz4Bees our shop is just about up and running, and still so much more to do and plan for it.

Numbers of members attending each week has risen; we have a mammoth parking problem on our hands, which we are seeking to solve with the help of the farmer who owns the field across the road.

This month we will establish a new queen rearing area, clearing the undergrowth, leveling it and setting up hive stand bases, to decide on the numbers of Apidea we will need as mating hives and make space for these by extending the present site.

Maintain the meeting room externally, attempt further refurbishments much needed to the interior.  Although the toilet facilities have been greatly enhanced by having collected running water, I think even Crocodile Dundee would worry about what might crawl out of the woodwork, so work is needed here. 

As always we will have a happy band of willing workers pulling together to dispel doubts anyone might have about which is the most progressive branch and the best apiary in Devon.

And finally I’m sure that all our readers will join me in saying happy birthday to Alan James whose 90th birthday celebrations were last week

Sue Tait presenting Alan with a picture of the "Tuesday Gang"


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Librarian’s Notes:

We have kindly been donated a lovely collection of 'bee' books by Heather Weaver. We are selling some to boost branch funds and the remainder are to make a very useful and interesting addition to the branch library.  Contact me if you would like an updated list of available books. I don't want to chase individuals but some books have been on loan for a long time.  I haven't been able to track down 'Practical Beekeeping by Clive de Bruyn' at all so if it, or any other library books, are languishing on your shelves, please return them at the AGM in November. Many thanks.
Elizabeth Reynolds

Last month’s 100+ winners were Tony Wright & Beryl Smailes first & second respectively.
Branch Honey Show:

There is still time to enter the branch honey show on 5th & 6th November at St John’s Garden Centre. Please return your entry forms to Beryl as soon as possible – it makes life a lot easier for those of us involved in the administration of the show if we have a steady stream of entries rather than a rush at the last minute. Contact Beryl for more forms or have a look on the branch website. We have been allowed more space this year so we need to fill that space with an impressive number of entries & give the judges something to do! Entries may be staged either on Friday evening, 4th November from 5.00pm until 7.00pm or on Saturday, 5th November from 8.30am.  Judging starts at 10.00am on Saturday.  Our Judges this year are David Charles (Honey, Wax, Photography and Mead) and Stella Burrows (Honey Cookery).  Note the change of Cookery Judge.  Volunteers to assist in the stewarding should report to Tony Wright first.  It is going to be a lot of fun, and very interesting. Even if you are not entering you can still show your support by attending.

Brian’s Microscope Corner:

IMAGE - REAL:  An image formed by a mirror or lens at a point through which the rays of light entering the observers' eye actually pass.  This image can be projected onto a screen.

IMAGE - VIRTUAL - An image seen at a point from which the rays of light appear to come to the observer, but do not actually do so; e.g. the image in a mirror. Such an image cannot be projected onto a screen. 

* In looking through a microscope there is a tendency to forget that we are looking at an image of a specimen and not the specimen itself.

Branch AGM Speaker:

November 26th Saturday - 6.30 pm followed by a talk by Dr. Dhafer Benham on "Bagdad Beekeeping". Dhafer is in charge of Buckfast Abbey beekeeping with about 300 colonies and he and his family are refugees from Iraq where he worked as a Consultant Dermatologist.  He gave a talk to the DBKA AGM this year and some of us met him when he visited Horestone Apiary last summer.  As usual we will have a shared supper and a draw.

Talk on Apimondia 2005:

I attended the Castle Centre meeting on Tuesday 18th October entitled "Apimondia in Dublin", which turned out to be a double act by Messers Stach & Utting!

What is Apimondia? It is the world international conference on beekeeping, to promote beekeeping worldwide & it is held every 2 yours in a different country. The first one was held in Belgium in 1897 & countries vie with each other for the honour of holding it.

There were 470 scientific papers given, 200 presentations, stands on Apitherapy, stands with new equipment – high density polystyrene hives from Poland which were very cheap & a fascinating brood box with round frames which rotate using a battery operated motor, the idea I believe is that it reduces the Varroa count and swarms.

The Two Ronnies gave an excellent display of photographs, 140 I was informed, mostly of pretty girls! Well done Chris!

Here are a few snippets of information:

  • Slow Paralysis Virus spread by Varroa Destructor is on the increase.
  • Small Hive Beetle has spread to North West America but has failed to survive…why?
  • Peter Newman of Germany has developed a Small Hive Beetle trap which is a plastic box in the bottom corner of the brood frame with a slit cover just big enough for SHB to get through but not back – it is attracted to the smell of cider vinegar.
  • 95% of honey imported into Germany has AFB spores

The next Apimondia is in Melbourne in Australia in 2007. I am sure that a large contingent from NDBKA will be going with The Two Ronnies.

The presentation was once again excellent but it would be nice to see more new faces. These lectures & presentations are for the members and should be better attended.
Peter Warrillow

October’s quiz answer was Nectar & Ambrosia.
Edited by Marnie Quy.     Email:     
All contributions welcome, copy by 19th of month for publication in following month’s newsletter.

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