Document Sample
                                               Charity No. 1121231

                                 NEWSLETTER – March 2008
                           Editor: John Catton, Assistant: Richard Simpson

                                   Bringing beekeepers together
Beekeeping is simple: pop out and buy a hive and a colony of bees and keep them at the bottom of your garden!
Indeed it is suggested that half the beekeepers in this country do exactly this. The BBKA boasts over 11,000
members, but according to Thornes’ database twice that number of people buy bee equipment in the UK.
‘So what?’ you ask. The unexciting answer is that beekeepers owe a duty of care to fellow beekeepers by
keeping up to date with contemporary research and not, for instance, allowing diseased bees to swarm and
pass on problems. It is usually only by chance that Bee Inspectors learn of such colonies and have a chance
to inspect them. Another reason is what these solitary beekeepers miss out on. Joining a local association
encourages an exchange of information (and commiseration on colony losses!) in a social environment, a
chance to learn more about your hobby and attend many beekeeping lectures and events.
This brings me to the 12th annual Bucks County Seminar that was held in Wendover on 1st March. Ninety-
six beekeepers from as far afield as Cambridge and Wales, met to hear four speakers talk on a diverse range
of topics. Prof. Robert Pickard spoke about how man, animals, and of course bees, moved around over the
millennia as the earth’s plates shifted, so surviving and adapting and ending up where they are today. Kirsty
McIntosh, one of our members, took the audience through ways to avoid back problems when beekeeping.
Dr Juliet Osborne gave an overview of the importance of bumblebees and the work of the Bumblebee
Conservation Trust, and finally Dr Michael Keith-Lucas explained how and why many plants have evolved
and adapted to attract just one vector for pollination.
Three Buckinghamshire beekeepers, John Crick, Ken Gorman and Donald Thomson were presented with the
BBKA’s “50 years of beekeeping” certificates and a raffle raised £161 in support of the CB Dennis Trust
which supports independent research projects, primarily into bee disease, and encourages young bee
scientists with research bursaries.
The lone beekeeper also missed out on meeting fellow beekeepers, visiting the various exhibits there and
enjoying an excellent lunch…all for £10! Still, there is always next year.

    Members meeting: 25th March                            Norman says he has yet to meet a beekeeper who
      (Sheila Borwick – Programme Secretary)               doesn't put off until tomorrow what he should
                                                           really do today. So his talk will be about the perils
Our next meeting is on Tuesday 25th March when             of doing that - although he adds that sometimes a
Norman Hughes will, according to the talk title, be        bit of procrastination is a good idea......?
Procrastinating!                                           Come along in anticipation of a good evening's
Usual venue, Parish Reading Room, Chalfont                 discussion about practical beekeeping.
St. Giles, usual time 8:00pm
Norman Hughes, lives near Basingstoke in
Hampshire, has kept bees for more than twenty-                       New Year’s resolution
five years. During that time he has been active in
every aspect of beekeeping, at local, county and           Much to her annoyance and embarrassment Sara
national level - he is a past Chairman of the              Robb (our February speaker) was late in getting to
BBKA. Now retired from engineering, he spends              Chalfont St. Giles, thanks to problems on the
many of his days in his out apiary in North                Central Line! Fortunately, we had just enough
Hampshire where, together with his wife, he                forewarning to think of something to occupy the
currently enjoys fourteen colonies. A strong               time until she could get to us.
advocate of better beekeeping, his services remain         Richard Simpson had resolved this year to be more
in constant demand to educate, entertain and to            diligent in record-keeping and, in preparation, had
spread the word for keeping both within and                printed off a hive record card produced by the
without the craft. Currently he is Deputy Chairman         Derbyshire BKA (not Devon as erroneously
of Hampshire Beekeepers.                                   credited at the meeting – same initials, DBKA,
                                                           wrong county).

The brief delay and said record card gave Beulah            John Milton - Any Questions?
Cullen the unexpected chance to talk us through the
benefits of keeping hive records. These are            This year the Chalfont St.Giles Literary Festival is
sometimes regarded as an extra chore, but vital if     celebrating the quatercentenary (i.e. 400th year) of
you want, to quote Ted Hooper, “to see where you       “local” poet John Milton’s birth.
have made mistakes in colony handling season by        As part of the festival the BBC is inviting an
season, and avoid them in the future.”                 audience representing as many local organisations
Records may be a card per colony (kept in the hive     as possible to the broadcasting of Any Questions?
between the crown-board and roof) recording in a       We are one such organisation and have been
simple, taken-in-at-a-glance style, the state of the   offered a limited number of tickets (free), on a
colony, when visited, and what you did. But if,        strictly first-come-first-served basis.
like Beulah, you have several colonies in various      The programme will be broadcast live on Friday
locations, a loose sheet per hive in an Apiary         18th April at Dr. Challoners High School, Cokes
Binder is probably a better option. Before Beulah      Lane, Little Chalfont. If you would be interested
sets off to an out-apiary she will read up on each     in attending please contact our Secretary, Jennie
colony and go prepared.                                Wood, on 01494 729446.
Asked if she had a “top tip” Beulah replied,           Jennie writes: The audience must arrive between
“coloured drawing pins!” These are essential if        6:45 and 7:15pm. (Tea and biscuits will be served
you are moving frames around between hives to          to keep everybody happy till the broadcast
remember where they originated.                        begins!). The ticket includes a portion for the
The DBKA example, reproduced with permission,          audience to write a question if they so wish. These
will be sent to members separately. A record card      will be sorted on the night and appropriate / topical
will be down-loadable from the Society’s website in    ones chosen for the broadcast. Children under 14
due course. There are many other formats and a         will not be admitted.
pre-printed form can be purchased from Thornes.

                                                                        In the apiary
      Soap making – February’s talk
                                                       I started February’s topical tips with “As with last
It's a long time since I've seen the members so        year the weather is all over the place, warm one
enthralled with a speaker! Part of the reason was      day, wet the next and frosty during the night!” I
the accessibility of what Sara Robb was                can now add snow flurries to that!
demonstrating - we all ended up feeling soap           If recent days are anything to go by there won’t be
making was well within our capabilities after all.     much difference in the rest of March, so, with this
Indeed one member, Eileen Tanner, was one jump         in mind March’s apiary activity should be pretty
ahead and brought some of hers along!                  well as I wrote for February. The main points are:
Dr. Sara Robb has a scientific background and             • Do not disturb colonies more than is necessary.
started making soap 5 years ago. It came about            • Get your stored supers and frames ready.
through boredom: what could she do whilst                   Indeed now is a good time to check all your
looking after her daughter? (Number 2 is on the             equipment, make sure you have sufficient of
way, but Sara still battled on!) Sara’s award-              everything and that it is in good order (see
winning hand-made soaps can be purchased                    below for what to do if you need more kit).
through her shop in North Finchley or via:                • Check hive weights and feed as necessary. Alternatively, you can make             Fondant is easiest, but small quantities of thin
it yourself and that was what the evening was all           syrup can be fed using a contact feeder when
about.                                                      the weather gets warmer.
The process is essentially straightforward,               • Add a super to strong colonies towards the end
requiring only a few ingredients and a modicum of           of the month so the colony does not become
care. It falls into two parts: the making of a base,        too crowded. Lack of space at this stage is a
lye solution, and the mixing in of your choice of           factor in early swarming.
oils. It’s as easy as cooking, says Sara, “just dump      • If we have some really warm days later in the
all the ingredients in together and stir!”                  month you could change or clean the floors.
Rather than fill pages of this newsletter with            • Do not be in too much of a hurry to remove
instructions, Sara has very kindly sent me her              mouse guards. Bees will cluster on cold nights
recipes (and method) which are attached. They               and mice will certainly take advantage and
will also be on our website.                                move in!

           What’s in flower now?                                              “A New BUZZ”
As we’ve seen the weather varies day by day. On               This is the title of an excellent article in April’s
warm days our bees are out and about, but what                edition of Fresh, a magazine for those who
plants are there for them? Here are some: alder (p),          appreciate fresh eating, fresh living and fresh
almond, butter-burr, celandine, coltsfoot, crocus,            thinking.
elms (p), gorse, hazel (p), laurustinus, popular (p),         Why mention it here? Well the article in question
pulmonaria, prunus, snowdrops, violet, willows,               was written by Henrietta Clancy, one of the
winter aconites and heathers and yew (p).                     members of our Beginners Course, and illustrated
Those marked (p) are pollen only, no nectar.                  with lovely pictures of both Sheila Borwick (I can
This list has been taken from “Plants for Bees”, one of the   tell it’s Sheila by the red shoes!) and her bees.
“Beekeeping in a Nutshell” series of titles.                  Henrietta’s excitement about the prospect of
                                                              keeping bees is obvious, yet so too, as a beginner,
                                                              are her (understandable) worries.
        2008 Equipment Price List
There is nothing more infuriating that having your                  IPM workshop Sat 10th May
hive open and only then realising you do not have                   (Sheila Borwick – County Education Secretary)
the equipment you need!                                       We've come to accept that varroa control is a part
One of the benefits of Society membership is                  of every beekeeper's life, and that there are no
obtaining bee equipment at discounted prices. Our             longer any easy fixes with chemical controls.
Trading Secretary, Allen Mitchell, holds stock of             Integrated Pest Management systems are now
the most commonly used items of equipment - see               today's mantra and every beekeeper has to have, in
the attached list. As a rule of thumb the prices will         their portfolio, a breadth of knowledge about
be about 10% below the “retail price”. There will,            varroa behaviour and a range of methods of
inevitably, be times when particular equipment                limiting their devastating effects on the beehive.
companies have promotional offers on, so this                 Help is at hand, as Ian Homer, our Regional Bee
saving will not always be made, but remember,                 Inspector has, with the help of his seasonal bee
Allen is generally cheaper, is local, and any                 inspectors, put together a really helpful and
surplus goes into the Society’s coffers. The 2008             informative workshop which will show you, in a
Price List is coming to you separately.                       very practical way, the different measures you can
                                                              take to control your varroa problems. Being early
                                                              in the year, it's great timing to help you ensure
   Spring Convention & Exhibition                             healthy colonies going into the autumn. If you're
                      April 2008                              thinking of taking your Basic Assessment this
                                                              year, it's un-missable!
One of the highlights in the beekeepers’ calendar             The day’s workshop is to be held in the
is the BBKA’s 3 day Spring Convention held at                 Winchmore Hill Memorial Hall – Start 10.15am
the Stoneleigh Park Exhibition Centre in                      and finish by about 4.30pm. The Memorial hall
Warwickshire CV8 2LZ.                                         is situated on the Common at Winchmore Hill, just
This year it is being held from Friday 18th to                across the road from the Plough Inn, (whom we
Sunday 20th April.                                            hope will provide the refreshments in the form of a
For those of you new to beekeeping this is a three            buffet). There are 36 places available, with
day extravaganza of lectures and demonstrations               preference being given to Chalfonts Beekeepers
alongside numerous trade stands where you can                 but please book your place early, so that we can
often get equipment at bargain prices.                        ensure a maximum take-up before offering places
Full details and tickets are available through the            to neighbouring bee associations.
BBKA website:, but to
make life even easier, June Walsh, wife of our                Please contact Sheila Borwick, preferably by e-
March speaker Norman Walsh, will bring some                   mail, or by telephone:
Convention tickets along to our club meeting on               01494 729315 before 19 April
Tuesday - 25th . Tickets purchased in advance are             There will be a modest cost for the day, to cover
cheaper than the on-the-door price. A good talk,              hall hire and refreshments from the Plough. It
with the opportunity to snap up some Convention               should be under £10.
tickets at a good price and virtually delivered to
your door, what could be better?

                 Bee Culture
                                                       He thought that some of the Chalfonts members
This is the title of an excellent American magazine    might like to hear Prof. David Warrell, of Oxford
of which I happen to have the Nov 2003 edition.        University and the John Radcliffe Hospital, talk
Scanning the Obit’s, as one does, I was fascinated     about “The Dangers of Bee Venom”. This talk is
to read a resume of the life of Prof. Harry H.         to take place on Wednesday 16th April at the
Laidlaw Jr who died on Sept 19th 2003. One of          Bowls Club, Dobbins Lane, Wendover at
the remarkable things about him was that he died       7:30pm. If anyone is interested and needs
aged 96, having kept bees for over 90 years. He        directions, please contact John Catton (01494
was, however, more famous for being the ‘father’       726616).
of artificial insemination in honeybees. In fact, at   As an aside, and by way of reassurance to the
the age of 16 he had figured out a method to mate      beginners, I know of two Chalfonts members who
virgin queens and drones by “holding the drone in      have been through a de-sensitisation programme
position behind the queen and stimulating him to       conducted by Prof. Warrell!
evert his genitalia into her”. Don’t ask me how
you stimulate a drone…… Of course that was only
the beginning. He went on to discover the valve-                    Dates for your diary
fold, a part of the queen’s bursa copulatrix (mating
chamber) that had previously been undetected, and      Members’ meetings and the Beginners’ Course
that was responsible for much of the ‘miss’ in the     are, unless otherwise stated, held in the Parish
‘hit-or-miss’ success rate of AI up to then. He        Reading Room, Chalfont St. Giles.
improved many aspects of AI instrumentation in a
                                                       Tuesday 18th March 7:30pm
very long career with bees, publishing his final       Beginners’ Course (5): Pollination and plants
work on the subject aged 87. I wish I had had this
information to-hand when giving a talk some            Tuesday 25th March 8:00pm
while ago in which I mentioned AI of queen bees.       Procrastination: a talk by Norman Hughes.
There was a farmer in the audience. Pigs, cows,
                                                       Tuesday 1st April    7:30pm Garden Centre, CSG
even chickens he could understand, but bees……
                                                       Beginners’ Course (6):
I’m sure he went away convinced that beekeepers        Queen rearing and swarming.
are lunatics.
                                                       Tuesday 8th April   7:30pm
                                                       Beginners’ Course (7): Pests and diseases.
         What pollinates Cocoa?                        Tuesday 15th April   7:30pm
                                                       Beginners’ Course (8):
This is a “trivia” question for members who did        Hive Products and Honey cake competition
not attend the County Seminar, or come to the
Beginners’ classes last Tuesday.                       Wednesday 16th April 7:30pm
In his fascinating talk about how plants have          Mid Bucks Beekeepers – Wendover:
adapted over the millennia to accept just one          “The dangers of Bee Venom” Prof David Warrell
vector as their pollinator, Dr. Michael Keith-Lucas    Friday 18th – Sunday 20th April
touched upon the Cocoa tree, which has tiny            BBKA Spring Convention.
intricate pink or whitish flowers that grow along      Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire.
the trunk and main branches.
Cocoa is not pollinated by bees, so what vector is     Tuesday 22nd April       8:00pm
the pollinator?                                        Big bees, little bees and bees that don’t sting:
(A vector is any agent that can move pollen from       a talk by Clare Waring.
anther to stigma).                                     Saturday 26th April
                                                       Beginners Course (9): Apiary session.
  Venom at Mid Bucks Beekeepers!
The Chalfonts Society is one of four substantial               PROGRAMME AMENDMENT
beekeeping associations in Buckinghamshire, and
                                                       Regrettably, the August event indicated as TBC in
members of each are always welcome at the
                                                       your pink programme card has had to be dropped
activities / meetings of the other three.    This
                                                       owing to the retirement from beekeeping of John
welcome is neatly illustrated by an e-mail I
                                                       Furzey. Members will be informed if another
received from Frank Rickett, Chairman of the Mid
                                                       event is organised.
Bucks Beekeepers.

Step by step instructions to make soap

1. Making the Lye Solution                                 Move to sink and place water jar in the sink.
                                                           Slowly pour the caustic soda into the large jar
Caustic soda is the chemical sodium hydroxide              containing the water. You can swirl the jar to
(NaOH). You may have this in your house. It is             begin mixing the caustic soda into the water.
commonly used to unblock drains. If you do not
have caustic soda, you can purchase this at your           6. After you have added all the caustic soda,
local chemists, at a hardware or DIY store. While             use the wooden spoon to stir the caustic
sodium hydroxide is a common household                        soda. You may wish to have a dedicated
chemical, it is a potentially dangerous chemical              spoon for mixing lye, rather than a spoon
and safety should be observed. When using this, or            contaminated with “cooking odour”. The
any other household chemical, please read the                 odour might transfer from the spoon to
safety warning on the label. The lye solution                 your lye and into your soap. In my
(caustic soda in water) is the potion that converts           opinion, onion-scented soap is not very
the oil to soap. Sodium hydroxide reacts with the             desirable.
oil to make glycerine and soap. During this
process, all the lye is consumed and therefore is          7. The solution will warm up as the caustic
eliminated from the soap, leaving the gentle                  soda dissolves into the water. Ensure all
glycerine and soap molecules behind. Table 1                  the sodium hydroxide has dissolved into
outlines the amount of water and caustic soda                 the water. Continue to stir until there are
(sodium hydroxide, written chemically as NaOH)                no crystals floating in the solution. As the
used in this method. It is imperative that the                sodium hydroxide dissolves into the water,
quantities used do not deviate from those specified           the solution will get to approximately 90
in the table.                                                 C. Leave the jar in the sink to cool for 30
                                                              minutes to decrease the temperature to
           Table 1: Lye Solution                              approximately 50 C. Make sure it is out of
 Water              Caustic Soda (NaOH)                       reach of children & pets.
 250 grams          125 grams
              Safety Advice:                               8. You do not need to measure the
     Always add caustic soda to water!                        temperature but the solution should cool
                                                              for at least 30 minutes. While the lye
    1. Gather the following: rubber gloves,                   solution is cooling, get the oils and
       water, caustic soda, large glass jar, small            additions ready.
       plastic or glass bowl, scale, wooden spoon,
       and the timer.
                                                       2. Selecting and Mixing the Oils
    2. Place the large glass jar on the scale and
       either tare (re-zero) the scale to eliminate    The Super Market Soap method requires you
       the jar weight or note the weight of the jar.   choose one oil from each column. The oils in
                                                       Column A are liquid at room temperature and are
    3. Weigh the water into the jar so the water
                                                       base of your soap recipe. Column B oils are also
       weight is 250 g. Remember, if you are
                                                       liquid at room temperature. Column B oils are
       unable to tare the weight of the jar, the
                                                       more exotic oils that will give your soap different
       weight on the scale will be the jar weight
                                                       qualities and colours. Finally, the oils in Column
       plus the 250 g of water.
                                                       C are solid at room temperature and in general
    4. Put the jar of water to the side and put on     help to make the soap hard. The qualities of the
       your gloves.                                    soap will change with the oils you select. You can
                                                       experiment with various combinations. The only
    5. Place the small plastic or glass bowl on the    rule is you must select and use 350 grams of oil
       scale and tare out the weight of the bowl       from Column A, 250 grams of oil from Column B
       or re-zero the scale. Carefully pour the        and 400 grams of oil from Column C. You must
       caustic soda into the bowl until you have       not change the weights of each specified columns
       125 grams of caustic soda.                      or the formula will not work. It is also a
                                                       requirement that only oils in each column are
   ALWAYS ADD THE CAUSTIC SODA POWDER                  selected to use in the amounts for the column.
              TO THE WATER
             Table 2: Choose oils from each column and add by weight
              A                                  B                               C
Olive Oil                           Sweet Almond Oil            Coconut Oil
Soy Oil                             Sunflower Oil*              Lard
Peanut Oil                                   Oil
                                    Hazelnut Oil                Vegetable Shortening
Safflower Oil                       Hemp Oil
Corn Oil                            Avocado Oil
350 grams TOTAL                     250 grams TOTAL             400 grams TOTAL

  1. Select the oils from Table 2. It is necessary     7. Stir all oils together well using either a
     that all ingredients be measured by weight.          hand blender or whisk.
     Be sure you have enough of each oil.
     When weighing water, 500ml weighs 500             8. Your oils are now ready to go. You should
     grams, so a 500ml bottle gives you 500               have a plastic container with 350g Column
     grams of water. Oil weighs less than                 ‘A’ oil; 250g Column B oil, and 400g
     water and so a 500ml bottle will be less             Column C oil. This plastic container will
     than 500g. Many of the oils in Column B              serve as your soap mould so there will be
     are available in 250ml bottles. Again,               no need to transfer the oils to an additional
     250ml will not give you 250g. You will               container.
     need to buy two, 250ml bottles.
  2. Gather the following: Oils, scale, plastic            Section for your notes when ‘cooking’:
     container, microwave safe bowl (if the                ….
     plastic container is microwave safe, you can
     use this), and hand blender or large whisk            ….
  3. Place the plastic container on the scale and
     tare the weight, or re-zero the scale. Pour
     your chosen Column A oil into container
     until you have 350g.
  4.    Re-zero the scale and pour 250g of the
       Column B Oil you selected into the
       container. You now have a total of 600g
       oil in the container.
  5.    If your container is microwave safe, re-
       zero the scale and add the Column C oil to
       the container until you have 400g. If your
       container cannot be placed in the
       microwave, weigh the selected Column C
       oil, the solid oil, into a separate microwave
       safe container.
  6. Place either your container of mixed oils
     or your container with just the column C
     oil into the microwave and microwave on
     medium power until the oil is melted. The
     reason to melt this solid Column C oil is to
     ease the mixing with the liquid Column A
     and Column B oils.