Shropshire Beekeepers' Association



Newsletter : June 2007

1.      Editor's Notes

Dr. Johnson described second marriage as “The triumph of hope over experience”. I feel rather like that over the issue of running my bees on a ‘brood & a half’ [b+h]. Since I use WBCs, which only allow ten frames in a brood box, I have long wrestled with the problem of regular swarming, no matter how much space the bees have in the supers. The standard solution to this is to use a super as an additional brood box, hence a ‘b+h’. However, I am also one of those beekeepers who likes to know where the queens are, so I try to make sure that they are marked as soon as practicable. (This gives an illusion of control, though this is regularly undermined by the bees doing the unexpected). Finding the queen in two boxes is trickier than in one because she has more room to hide and it takes twice as long to go through the colony. The experts, of whom we are fortunate to have a number in our association, will say, quite rightly, that as long as you can see evidence of the queen at work you do not actually need to see her. What you do need to watch out for is the appearance of queen cells. This is easier in a ‘b+h’ because these cells invariably appear at the bottom of the half-brood box and can therefore be seen by tilting the box up and scanning along the lower edges of the frames.

Well all I can say is, “Not in my hives they don’t!” In all my attempts to run a b+h the bees have put their queen cells all over the place as usual. In fact the only place they do not put them is along the bottom of the frames in the upper box. I made a special effort this year to give brood space early with the extra box as well as supers ahead of need. The bees’ response? The best one was the colony that created half a dozen queen cells low down in the bottom box where they could only be seen by taking the frames right out. Of course they swarmed before I discovered them. I am now thinking ahead to next season with ideas about trying out deep brood frames i.e. 14"x12". Does any one have experience or views on this? All contributions welcome.


2.      Next Meeting

The date for the next apiary meeting is one week later than originally advertised and will now take place on Saturday 16th June (2.30 p.m.) at the editor’s apiary.


3.      Shrewsbury Flower Show

Members will shortly receive the schedule and entry form for the annual Flower Show, to be held on the 11th/12th August this year. See the article in the July/August issue last year for advice about how to best prepare items for showing in the honey classes - then have a go!


4.      To All New Beekeepers

The organisers of the National Honey Show, which is held annually in London in October, are making a special offer to everyone who has joined – or is about to join – a beekeeping association during the course of this year. The secretary, Revd. H. F. Capener, wites:

Once again we are offering new beekeepers you FREE full annual membership of the National Honey Show. This will entitle you to visit the Show and attend lectures throughout the whole three days of the Show. It will also allow you to enter your exhibits in the competitive classes free of cost. All you need to do, is to get the Secretary of your association to send me – either by Royal or Email - your name and address. We will then write to you personally - but tell your Secretary that I must have your name and address by 31st July – after that it will be too late. [If that information is being sent by email, it would greatly help us if it could sent in Excel format, with details in the following cells: Title. Initials. Name. Address 1. Address 2 etc. Post Code]. In addition to this offer, all first-time exhibitors and those who have not exhibited within the last ten years will not be required to pay any entry fees for the first four classes entered in this year’s Show.


5.      New Regulations on Record Keeping

(This item is based on an article originally published in the March edition of ‘Combings’, the journal of the York & District BKA)

Beekeepers are now classed as keepers of food-producing animals and because of this from now on (actually it was from 1 October 2006) we will have to keep records of the medicines we buy and give to our bees. There are only three treatments approved by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) in the UK for the control of varroa: They are Bayvoral®, Apistan® and Apiguard® The records can be kept electronically or, if in writing, in a durable and permanent format. We have to be able to make them available to a person authorised to ask to see them. The purpose of the records is to:

Here is a table that you might like to use or adapt.

Product & Batch Number Supplier & Date of Purchase* Quantity Purchased Date Given to Bees Colony Number Quantity Given Withdrawal Period† Disposal Details#

*   Records and proof of purchase must be kept for at least 5 years following using or disposing of the product even if the colony dies out.
†   The three permitted treatments have a NIL withdrawal period.
#   This note refers to disposal of the product, other than by treating the bees and should detail the date of disposal, the quantity of product involved and how and where it was disposed.

N.B  Although there are only three registered medical treatments for bees, it would seem advisable to keep similar records for any chemical agent you use in your beekeeping activities, e.g. hive-cleansing products such as oxalic acid and other organic substances.

Those having a masochistic streak can read the regulations in stunning detail on the VMD website here.


6.      Two Contrasting News Items

BEES DOWN A PLANE: Holidaymakers were stranded for 11 hours after their plane was forced to land because a swarm of bees had flown into an engine. Passengers heard a series of loud bangs 45 minutes into the flight from Bournemouth to Faro in Portugal and the pilot had to turn back after reporting technical problems. Mechanics later found one engine and a wing smeared with thousands of dead bees thought to have been sucked in as the Palmair Boeing 737 took off. The 90 passengers had to wait for a replacement plane. Another 106 who had been due to fly back were stuck in Faro. (Reported in the Daily Mail 26th May, sent in by Robert Swallow)

AIRPORT PATROL: Ten hives have been put at the end of the runway at Saint Exupery airport in Lyons to measure the level of pollution by hydrocarbons and heavy metals. The colonies will be analysed three times a year. (Seen in The Apiarian, the Journal of the South Staffs BKA)

Memo: Don’t fly in or out of Lyons if you can avoid it!


7.      Remember This

Is it just me or do you think anyone else might have made the following mistake? I had my National hives set-up on stands sloping slightly forwards so that any rainwater entering the hive could drain out of the front entrance. Last year I invested in some open mesh floors, which involved turning, the solid floors round so the old entrances now faces backwards. Unfortunately I forgot to change the direction of the slope of the stands and the result has been water collecting on the solid floors underneath the open mesh floors. Stupid or what!
(Confession from Stuart Foster)



8.      Committee Meetings

The current Committee has met three times since its election last December. At the first meeting on January 7th John Perkins was appointed as Programme organiser and agreed to draw up a draft programme of speakers and venues. It was also unanimously agreed by the Committee that other towns rather than Shrewsbury be used to host indoor lectures.

Roger Evans gave the Treasurer’s Report, noting a paid up membership of 103 members and a bank balance of £8,174.65. Various ideas for adjusting fees were discussed but no decisions taken. Roger also reminded the Committee that it should be seriously examining the alternatives for resiting the Radbrook Apiary. Any site identified would need to include provision for storage areas, a processing facility and also offer a long-term understanding about security and any continuing expenditure by the Association. A further suggestion was that a charge might be made for the summer tutorials at Radbrook, with £10.00 being offset against membership of the Association in the following year or free Associate membership immediately. Any “nucs” could be charged at a semi-commercial rate, say 50 % of Thorne’s charge for example. To be discussed at a future meeting.

Finally Roger said that he wished to table a proposition to be put to the ADM next year by Shropshire Beekeepers Association regarding Life members who no longer kept bees but were registered by BBKA at the full fee. He felt that bona fide Life Members who had given service to their Association should be exempted from having the full fee paid by their Association to BBKA. Roger undertook to draft a proposition for consideration at a future Committee Meeting

The second meeting, on 27th March, include a consideration of changes to the Constitution. This was last revised in 1992 and it therefore seemed appropriate that it should be reconsidered. The Chairman, Ray Green, put forward a number of suggestions, which were given a preliminary discussion. Peter Woodcock also presented further proposals and it was agreed that all these ideas would be circulated in advance of the next meeting, when they could be considered in more detail.

Peter Woodcock, having accepted the role as librarian for the Association, reported that Dick Powell had handed over the books (approximately 30) to him and he would be listing them to put on the Website for members to view. The Chairman thanked Peter for taking on this new role.

Robert Swallow presented a comprehensive Apiary Report. Some colonies have been lost during the winter but the remaining ones are strong. However it will be necessary to develop or add further nuclei to build the apiary back up to size. Now that we have lost our Association store there is some deterioration of equipment that has had to be left outside. This adds urgency to the search for a new apiary site.

Other future targets relate to making the apiary self-financing through the sale of honey and stocks of bees - and perhaps through charging for practical instruction sessions as suggested elsewhere. This would tie in well with offering the opportunity to prepare for the BBKA Basic Examination. Members who could support Brian in practical work with beginners would be especially welcome.

The minutes of the third meeting, on 8th May have not yet been confirmed but will be reported on in the next Newsletter.


9.      Article on Swarming

Have you seen the excellent description of the process for creating an artificial swarm in the BBKA News No. 164, April 2007 pp3/4 written by Ian Molyneux, Northern Regional Bee Inspector? Can also be read online by BBKA members here.


10.      Round and About

Ludlow & District BKA: Sat. 9th June 2.30 pm: Apiary Meeting at Cleobury North with Bryan Davies and John Yardley. Sun. 1st July: Michael Collier’s Open Day from 10.30 a.m. - Map Ref: SO 614732. Further details: Andy Vanderhook Tel: 01299 841379

Oswestry BKA: Saturday, June 9 at 3 p.m.: Invitation of Mr. & Mrs. A. Rigby, Honeysuckle Cottage, Haughton, West Felton. Demonstration and talk by Mr. B. T. Goodwin. President of Shropshire B.K.A.   Saturday, June30 at 3p.m. N.B. Change From The Printed Programme Invitation to the apiary of the Secretary, where he will demonstrate his management of bees, followed by a strawberry tea. Confirm if attending. Further details: G. Jones Tel: 01691 654448

South Staffs BKA: Sunday 10th & Saturday 23th June: Practical Sessions at the Apiary: 11.00 am, everyone welcome. Details from Tony Burton, Tel: 01785 663340


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