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                                           Charity No. 1121231

                                NEWSLETTER – December 2009
                         Editor: John Catton         Assistant: Richard Simpson

December: time to reflect on 2009, a year of considerable success for the club if not record-breaking honey
crops. A major effort by many of our long-serving members, especially Sr Mary Christa and Beulah Cullen
has seen many new beekeepers get off to a successful start. For that we owe them a very sincere, ‘thank you.’

It’s not long now to the New Year – the ideal time to plan what you aim to do better in the coming season.
One thing many of us could do better is being prepared. If, like me, your hives have been known to exhibit a
mixture of frame types and ends, then you were not ready. If, by the end of March, your spare hive kit has not
been thoroughly cleaned, scorched, repaired where necessary, and placed in a clean place ready for use, you
are not ready. If you have not worked out your beekeeping plan for the coming season, then you are not
ready. Don’t wait for queen cells to appear before thinking about aspects such as swarm control measures,
target colony numbers, siting, equipment needs, colony records and so on. Make a New Year’s
Resolution:“Be prepared.” That is the first of mine; I’m reorganising and stock-taking now.
In your plan, may I make a plea for everyone to have a go at Showing. We still depend on the commitment of
just a handful of members. There are signs of a pick-up with new names appearing on the winners’ lists, but
we could and should be more broadly represented. It is something YOU can do if you put your mind to it.
You’ll be surprised what you learn and it is good fun as well. That’s a second New Year’s Resolution.
2010 beckons: enjoy!
Happy Christmas.

        AGM and Social meeting
                  By Sr Mary Chris                         And then there were the presentation of certificates
                                                           and cups by Derek Taylor – too numerous to
Again, another very successful event! We had all           mention here individually. Isn’t that wonderful?
the usual reports, Ronnie Mitchell, as president,          We also had to bid farewell to Eddy Gadd who has
summed up the year’s events. The committee was             retired to Lincolnshire. He has been a real treasure
voted in unopposed with one change - see later.            in helping new club members. It was good to see
Mike Leon was able to show that our finances are           that Judy, his wife, won the ‘best honey cake’
in a very healthy state, as is our membership. We          trophy. Sixteen of our members received the
are delighted by the enthusiasm shown by our               BBKA Basic Assessment Certificate.
increasing number of new members.
We said ’Goodbye’ to Jennie, our
competent secretary, who is
moving to Canada, and welcomed
Gordon Cutting who will be our
club and programme secretary. Sue
Carter and Mike Tucker were
thanked for the work they have
done for the membership and
library respectively. Sue was
awarded the president’s salver for
her contribution. We also
remembered Allen Mitchell who is,
unfortunately, not well. He has
always done a great job as Trading
Secretary for more years than most
of us have been members.

Then, after all the business we enjoyed some very     By the end of January the brood area is increasing.
tasty refreshments, including wine. Over 50 people    Mite numbers start to rise accordingly. In a recent
attended, some of whom are prospective                article in Beekeepers Quarterly the increase is put
beekeepers. One lady said to me that she was so       at double every 18 days. The NBU quotes double
glad she came! What more can I say? (I could, but     in an average of four weeks. Even using this
I’d better not, the Editor says a picture is          longer interval, 200 mites at the beginning of
worth…….)                                             February will become 1,400 by the end of April.
                                                      So, should you be doing anything about it now?
                    Trading                           The NBU indicator threshold for action is an
                                                      average daily mite drop of 0.5 in winter, assessed
Owing to ill-health, Allen Mitchell is at present     over a minimum of seven days, preferably when
unable to handle the usual Trading function, so       temperatures are warm enough for the bees to
please do not ring or email him for your equipment    move about a little, allowing mites to fall off their
needs. At the moment Allen is in hospital and we      hosts and onto the floor without landing on the
all wish him every success with his treatment.        next bee in the cluster.
More on this as soon as future arrangements have      Instructions for the use of oxalic acid solution are
been determined.                                      contained at
                                                      and an article on p2 of BBKA News Dec 2009
   Congratulations to Jan and Tim                     covers the ground too. For those without access
                                                      to a 20ml syringe there is a ready-made dispenser
Congratulations to Jan and Tim Phillips, two of       bottle from Thornes. Look for Trickle 2 at their
our founding members. They recently celebrated        online shop, listed under Varroa and Integrated Pest
their 50th Wedding Anniversary!                       Management.
For twelve of those 50 years Jan was our              Even working with speed, expect the bees to be
Chairman – from 1985 to 1997.                         angry at the disturbance, so be thoroughly
                                                      protected. Choose a day when the temperature is
                                                      above 5C if possible, but 0C at a push. Do not
              Just 85p per 1lb                        disturb the cluster.
                                                      You must, of course, observe the product
Whilst going through past newsletters to remind       instructions carefully, especially regarding your
myself for just how long Jan was our Chairman, I      own protection, dosage and subsequent storage of
came across a newsletter dated August 1979 - 30       unused solution.
years ago. Members were being asked for honey         Some beekeepers believe oxalic acid stresses or
to sell at the Bucks County Show, Hartwell Park in    harms the bees and use it only in emergency. It
September. The going rate then was just 85p           does kill brood, but in tests adult bees are reported
(with, of course, 10% going to the Society).          to generally tolerate it well at the prescribed
                                                      dosage. Other beekeepers use it prophylactically,
                                                      to ensure that the level of mite infestation is as low
                  Topical tip                         as possible when the brood rearing season begins.
                                                      The whole varroa story is laid out in the NBU
Consider this: you treated your colonies with         booklet         downloadable         at        https://
Apiguard after taking off the summer honey crop,      secure.fera.defra.gov.uk/beebase/pdfs/varroa.pdf.
completing the treatment in early September. It
was 90% effective resulting in, say, 35 mites left.   The organic acids are not licenced veterinary
If this has doubled each month it will now be in      medicines. When sold for beekeeping purposes they
excess of 200. The very little winter brood laid in   are described as hive cleansers. While there is no
December/January suffers multiple parasitisation      need to record the purchase of a generic chemical
as the mites pile in to whatever occupied brood       such as a cleanser, it would be good practice to treat
cells they can find. Too often, the emerging bees     the application as though it is a veterinary medicine.
are therefore deformed and/or infected with           A good habit to cultivate is laid out in the Veterinary
deformed wing virus. Very recently-reported           Medicine Regulations
research states that DWV is implicated in colony      (http://www.vmd.gov.uk/General/VMR/vmgn/VM
losses over winter even without varroa, the virus     GNote16.pdf). Broadly, you must make a note of
perhaps having mutated, (http://planetearth.nerc.     what you have purchased, recording date, supplier,
ac.uk/news/story.aspx?id=554). A heavy mite           name of product and batch number; then, when
infestation can only make matters worse.              you use it, record on which colony, when, quantity

used, withdrawal period. Records should be kept          The comb-web vibrates at about 230-270 Hz, the
for 5 years. This applies to all Approved                same frequency range as the shimmy part of the
Veterinary Medicines. An example form is at              waggle dance.
                                                         In the wild, where the comb does not touch the
                                                         sides or base of the cavity, it is free to oscillate.
Once you’ve finished any treatment you apply,            When comb is held in a frame these oscillations
that’s it; you’ve done your best. If you had 200+        are dampened by the all-round contact between
mites before application, they will have been            comb and frame. To overcome this, the bees
knocked back by about 90%, so you will start the         sometimes gnaw holes in the edges and corners to
brood-raising season with comfortably under 50           restore adequate resonance.
mites. This is now considered to be a maximum            As we know, wax becomes soft if warm and stiff if
mite load for successful over-wintering.                 cold. Both states inhibit vibration. An optimum
                                                         temperature is therefore maintained (max 34C). If
                                                         the net is too saggy it is strengthened by
Our website is read in America too                       incorporating a little propolis in the cell rims.
                                                         Always, the net must be kept in good working
John Catton received the following e-mail in
                                                         order if it is to aid forager recruitment.
Hi John,                                                 As the number of bees that can participate in any
We are moving, trying to sell our home...it will be      single waggle dance is constrained by the need for
good to go on Tuesday, 9/8/09...except for a bee's       immediate contact between the dancer and observers,
nest at our front door that we cannot seem to get
                                                         the net also has a built-in volume control. On a
rid of...do you know any beekeepers that would
like to have these bees? They're FREE to any             sparsely populated comb the summoning vibrations
good home!                                               travel a long way; conversely the mass of a consid-
Thanks so much! Lisa Plummer, Warrington, PA             erable number of bees dampens the telegraphic
18976 Bucks County                                       effect and thereby limits forager recruitment.
That’s just 4,000 miles to pick up the offending         There’s more to comb than you thought!
swarm or nest. Sadly we had to decline.
                                                         From The Buzz about Bees, by Jurgen Tautz

             Can you hear me?                                   Library Recommendations
In June’s newsletter we looked at an unexpected use      With the longest nights upon us and maybe some
to which bees put isolated empty brood cells in an       additional time off work coming up, what can you
otherwise well laid-up comb - for use by heater bees.    be reading to advance your knowledge, or get
                                                         prepared for the new season? Three books,
Unexpected as that revelation was, there is even         available from the club library come highly
more to learn about comb. Of course its prime            recommended.
use is for rearing brood and the storage of pollen
and honey, but it turns out that it is also used to      The first is a favourite of Ian Homer, our October
summon the populace to observe a ritual, rather          speaker, retired RBI and now Extension Officer. Its
like church bells on Sunday. The ritual in this case     title is ‘At the Hive Entrance, by H. Storch.’ It tells
is the waggle dance.                                     you how the state of the colony can be deduced by
                                                         observing from the outside what the bees are doing.
You knew that the waggle dance takes place on
specific areas of comb, identified by smell. But did     The second is a favourite of Nick Grey, our
you know that these combs also have their own            Chairman for many years, a very experienced
‘wiring’ formed of the thickened rims of the cells,      beekeeper and leading show winner. It is by Ron
stretching across the face of the comb like a            Brown and is called Beekeeping a Seasonal Guide.
telegraph system.                                        It is full of practical advice and pictures of self-
                                                         made kit.
Through this wiring, or web, a message can be
                                                         Another good, practical volume for those keeping
sent out as vibrations and received by individuals
                                                         a significant number of hives is Honey Farming,
some distance away ‘listening’ to the signals with
                                                         by R.O.B. Manley. Like the above, it is readable,
their feet, like a spider on its web. Bees standing on
                                                         full of practically-founded advice, written by a no-
the net can thus be summoned to participate in the
                                                         nonsense pragmatist.
dance, and hence learn where to forage.
                                                         Our librarian is Mike Tucker, 01753 880523.

                FERA Award                                                   Colony survey
The Food and Environment Research Agency’s                   The BBKA carries out an annual national survey
(Fera) knowledge management team has won the                 of winter losses by questioning 2,000 randomly
prestigious 2009 Whitehall & Westminster World               selected members. This year the results for the
Civil Service Award for Knowledge Management                 winter 2008/09 were published in September (a bit
& Analysis. The team from Fera, one of only three            late!) and indicated a headline loss of 20%. You
shortlisted from across the Civil Service, were              will remember that last April John Catton carried
chosen for their innovative work on Bee Base.                out a survey amongst Chalfonts members that
See https://secure.fera.defra.gov.uk/beebase/ It             indicated losses locally of 15.6%, but even this is
has lots of useful information, plus you can register        still well above the naturally occurring losses of 7
your apiary or request an inspection during the              – 10% that we used to expect.
active season if you wish.                                   By way of advance notice, we propose to run the
                                                             same survey again in April 2010 with as many
                                                             members as possible taking part. So, could you
              Christmas Treats                               please note how many colonies you had back on
                                                             1st November and make a diary entry to record
Friends coming round, even a party? Use your                 how many queen-right colonies you have on 15th
own honey to celebrate.                                      April 2010. We will of course remind you in April.

Flaming Honey Punch (Serves 6)
Ingredients                                                           Next Year’s Programme
2 oz/50g blanched almonds
2oz/50g raisins                                              The 2010 Programme has been organised by
6 cloves                                                     Gordon Cutting and is in the process of
1.5 cinnamon sticks                                          preparation. Members will receive their copies as
2-3 cardamoms                                                soon as they are available, but look below for
6 tablespoons clear honey                                    details of our first meetings of the New Year.
1 bottle dry red wine
2/3 cup/10tbsp/150ml brandy
Method                                                                    Dates for your diary
Cut the almonds into slivers and place them in a
closely lidded saucepan with the raisins, spices and         Please remember the changed venue for our
honey. Pour in the wine and leave over very                  members’ monthly meetings: St. Joseph’s Parish
gentle heat for about an hour, stirring occasionally.        Hall, Austenwood Lane, Chalfont St. Peter, SL9
Do not let the wine boil.                                    8RY. All meetings start at 8:00pm
Separately, warm the brandy very slightly. Pour
the punch into a heatproof serving bowl and add              Tuesday evening 26th January 2010
the brandy. Ignite immediately and serve with a              Members’ monthly meeting
long ladle while still flaming. Take care not to             Researching Sniffer Bees
burn yourself or break your glassware.                       Mathilde Briens and Chris Beale, Inscentinel

Honey Mango Smoothie recipe                                  Tuesday evening 25th February
Ingredients                                                  Members’ monthly meeting
1 peeled mango seeded and cubed                              What do you need for 2010? + Meet the Mentors
1 tbsp white sugar                                           Vita Europe, Bee Basic + Society Members
2 tbsp honey
1 cup non-fat milk                                           Thornes Sale
1 tsp lemon juice                                            Starts 29th December online (to avoid VAT
1 cup ice cubes                                              increase), or 5th Jan by phone or fax at 17.5%
Method                                                       VAT. Sale prices not available from Windsor
Place the mango, sugar, and honey in a blender               shop.
pitcher; pour in the milk and lemon juice, and
blend until smooth. Divide the ice cubes between
two serving glasses. Pour the mango smoothie
over ice to serve.

                Chairman: Bill Fisher, 01923 284978;        Secretary: Gordon Cutting, 01494 872619
                                         Treasurer: Mike Leon, 01442 833665                                         4

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