| A Cross Section
of a Honeybees Brain
Photograph taken during the 1999 lecture by Prof. Robert Pickard
at the National Honey Show
And so to the third issue of the still infant Apis UK.
So how goes it? Well I hope you will see in this issue that it is
going in the right direction with more diverse sources of news AND
we've got reactions from readers. Always a welcome sign even when
critical. Keep the letters coming in; share your thoughts about
beekeeping and about this newsletter - and if you don't like it,
then suggest the changes.
I had intended to concentrate on Apitherapy and indeed this does
get a mention, but genes tended to take over and so on this very
important subject I head this issue. I have heard much spoken on
the subject of genes, GMOs and various action committees, much of
it (but not all) from dedicated, sincere people.
find difficulty in sorting out fact from fiction on this matter,
but what is a fact? We know that GMO crops will continue to be grown,
probably on an ever increasing scale and because of this, beekeepers
(amongst others) need to know how this will affect them. Information
contained in this issue will I hope direct readers in the right
direction for finding out about any regulations that will affect
their craft. But before all that why don't you try seeing a bee's
life as a bee? To get a bee's eye view of bees at work in the cells,
building comb, cleaning cells and even mating on the wing, it is
best to be a bee, but if that's impossible then take a look at 'Tales
from the hive' by Nova films. In this remarkable footage you can
see what the hive is doing from the bees eye view. You can also
see how they made the film and observe all of the photographic techniques
used. So be a bee and click on to: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/bees/buzz.html
Another way of seeing how bees develop the nest is to view a series
of excellent sequential photographs of a swarm at work in a GM
hive taken by Ian Ramsey. Notes are also included. See
how they do it, by going to: http://www.beedata.com/htcomb/index.htm
With these two excellent starts, I hope you enjoy the newsletter.
David Cramp. Editor.
FROM THE WEB
A quick look around the web at various items of bee research and
the results has come up with the following:
DYNAMIC FEET, BEES, AND MEDICAL MINI ROBOTS.
beekeeper (and in fact just about everyone else too), knows that
bees, flies, bugs, lizards etc can walk up walls, across ceilings
and along very smooth vertical surfaces such as glass, with apparent
ease. The geckos in my own house seem to live almost exclusively
on vertical surfaces. Now, a team at the University of Massachusets
have completed a study of how certain types of ants and bees do
this. The team explain that the findings have implications not just
in the field of Biology but also in the development of miniature
robots for use in medicine. The study focussed exclusively on honeybees
and Asian Weaver ants. They found that unlike geckos and many other
insects, that have peel off sticky pads , the adhesive organs in
ants and bees are much more dynamic. When the bee (for example)
tries to walk along a smooth vertical or upside down surface, the
claws try and fail to get a grip. These claws then retract and the
sticky pad or arolium comes into action. It quickly unfolds and
inflates with blood thus protruding between the claws and enabling
the sticky adhesive pad to come into contact with the smooth surface.
The footpad then deflates and folds back. The process takes tens
to hundredth of a second and is repeated with each step. The footpad
also secretes a fluid which helps the arolium adhere. (Similar to
a wet piece of paper sticking to a smooth surface). Thus this dynamic
system provides varying levels of stickiness depending upon the
surface. The claw flexor tendon that retracts the claws on a smooth
surface also moves the footpad into place and it is this combination
of mechanics and hydraulics that has intrigued robotics engineers
who design tiny robotic devices used in medicine.
NOTE. The University of Massachusets at Amherst is the original
source of this article.
These days, genes, genomes, genetics and genetically modified organisms
are very much in the news both in the beekeeping and other presses
and the whole issue has become one of great public concern, and
of great scientific advances in the field of human knowledge.
A recent report in the New York Times describes some research into
exactly what happens when a house bee turns into a forager. Researchers
from the University of Illinois under the well known Dr Gene (no
pun intended) Robinson have identified a genetic component to this
change. Just before the transition, the activity of a gene named
the 'foraging' gene increases sharply in the parts of the bee brain
that absorb and interpret visual and spatial information. They believe
that this molecular surge is the key to the bee's change of vocation.
Bees fed with sugar water laced with a drug that stimulated the
foraging gene, became foragers far earlier than normal.
Dr Thomas Insel the director of the Centre for behavioural neuroscience
at Emory University in Atlanta says that this is one of the very
few examples of complex behaviours being tied to a single gene,
and amongst these few, this is 'one of the coolest'.
The inspiration to examine the genetic link with this behaviour
came from research at the University of Toronto into fruit flies.
They found that there were two alleles of the foraging gene in fruit
flies, one more active than the other. Flies that inherited the
active form searched widely for food sources whilst the others were
content to sit about and eat only what was in the immediate vicinity.
Dr Robinson saw the two fly styles as analogous to the two phases
of bee development. Nurse bees were the sitter flies and foragers
were the rover flies. There is only a single variant of the bee
gene and the researchers determined that the gene affects behaviour
not at the start as with fruit flies but in a stepwise fashion.
Most beekeepers know that if you remove all of the foragers from
a hive, many nurse bees turn immediately to foraging even when only
days old. This always demonstrated that the change of behaviour
was not determined purely by age. Now we know that if this situation
occurs in a hive, the foraging gene in the young nurse bees snaps
into life. The full report can be found in the April 26 issue of
'SCIENCE' and makes interesting reading. http://www.cyberbee.net/news/foraginggene.html
COWS, THE DUCK BILLED PLATYPUS OR BEES?
One way of sorting out the many genetic players in a bee's brain
is through a bee genome project similar to the human genome project
carried out recently by US and British scientists. But these cost
money and there are many other candidates. A chicken genome project
would for example cost about 30,000,000 dollars and that would be
for a draft version. A bee genome project would cost in the area
of 5-10,000,000 dollars. In the US the National Institute of health
is deciding which of the many candidates will be next. Turtles;
dogs, sea urchins or cows for example. All have their backers, but
a report recently in the Wall Street Journal suggests that bees
may have a chance with their main backer being Danny Weaver a well
known queen breeder as well as several prominent scientists such
as Gene Robinson. Danny, whose family have been keeping bees in
Texas since the late 1800s suggests that decoding the bee could
be of benefit to both bee and human health. It would accelerate
the breeding of superior bees resistant to diseases and parasites
(including Varroa), giving a high quality product at a low cost.
For more on this project click onto http://www.beeweaver.com/articles/WSJ_BeeGenome.htm
Still on the gene theme, it has been known for several years now
that there is a genetic component to the behaviour of undertaker
bees. Researchers have found that the bees that undertake this work
are developmentally ahead of their peers. Scientists also found
out that these bees didn't get better at the job with experience
and that they didn't do very well working together. They got in
each others way and slowed their efficiency. This rules out one
of the hypotheses that has been put forward for middle age specialisation:
that social insects will get better and better at what they do.
The researchers under Gene Robinson and Stephen Trumbo found that
these bees had very similar activity levels to other bees, but do
less of the other middle age tasks carried out by house bees. They
also moved onto foraging faster than food storers and comb builders.
They remain on task for a day or two (although one trooper removed
dead bees for 13 days), and they locate the dead by odour and carry
the bodies out to between 50 and 100 metres.
This report was carried in the journal Ethology in the Autumn
97 edition and the original story was gleaned from a press release
issued by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The full
article can be found by clicking onto: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1997/09/970910052734.htm
Knowing exactly what is in honey is the subject of the next two
news items/reports and in these days of food scares and health issues
is a subject of great interest to both food producers such as beekeepers,
and consumers. Commercial purchasers of honey could soon have a
method of at least checking for additional sugar adulteration according
to a report issued by Penn State researchers. Current analysis uses
carbon isotope ratios to determine if sugars were added to the honey,
a process that is time consuming and requiring trained personnel.
They found that simple spectroscopy followed by statistical analysis
could produce the results required with as little as 1% beet sugar
invert added. They add that although these tests do show a difference,
they are not sure why!
HONEY. THE REGULATIONS.
The last issue of Apis UK included reference to the first Bee World
(IBRA) article by Ingrid Williams entitled The EU Regulatory Framework
for GM crops in relation to bees. This regulatory framework controls
the release and marketing of GM foods in the UK. In her second article
contained in the most recent edition of Bee World (2/2002),
she continues with this theme by examining this framework controlling
the marketing of GM foods with reference to bee products and indicates
where further information on this issue can be found. The article
explains who carries out the assessments of GM foods; how they do
it; what factors are taken into account, and the basis for decision
making. Marketing and labelling regulations are examined in detail
and Web addresses are given so that readers can fully update themselves
on the relevant regulations.
The article concludes by explaining that honey that is produced
from nectar from GM crops and extracted centrifugally may contain
GM pollen, but normally in such small quantities that it constitutes
no health concern and the honey is not required by law to be labelled
as containing GM Pollen (although the UK Honey Association intends
to label any honey containing GM pollen as containing GM material).
But changes to the regulations are being revised and a discussion
document has been issued by the EU setting out a range of options.
See this on: http://www.bbka.org.uk/bbkafiles/honey-directive-2001_110_ec.pdf
As an example of the continual advances in the world of Genetically
Modified Organisms the following article says a lot. In the last
issue of Apis UK it was mentioned that bees could produce honey
containing substances possibly dangerous to human health but that
conversely if they could do this, they could equally as well produce
honey of benefit to health. This of course would be a pretty hit
and miss affair and would depend on which plants the bees foraged,
but Dutch scientists at the Centre for Plant breeding and Reproduction
Research in Wageningen have genetically modified plants so that
honey made from their nectar contains medically useful proteins.
This is based on the discovery of a gene promoter that is specific
for the nectary. By expressing proteins under the control of this
promoter, specific proteins are produced which are concentrated
into honey. These proteins can easily be purified out. (Or eaten
in the honey presumably. Ed). Patents have been filed for the process
in Europe, Japan and Korea.
As I mentioned in my editorial I do hope to include more apitherapy
in the newsletter and my bias will be towards (but not exclusively)
scientifically researched information from recognised research institutions.
It is a subject with a future and one of great interest to many
beekeepers and non beekeepers throughout the world. I may be wrong
here but I get the idea that countries other than the UK have taken
a lead in this aspect of apiculture and it is to their institutions
that I will probably receive most information - and there is a wealth
of it, from IBRAs bibliography on Honey in Medicine 1990-1996,
to recent research from New Zealand by PC Molan reported extensively
in Bee World and other periodicals. The Apitherapy Commission of
Apimondia is very active in this field and I have no doubt that
the future is large for this subject. You will have read above,
the GMO aspect of this from the Dutch report. Is this the future?
As a brief starter I have included two short articles on apitherapy
from the web, neither of which is new, but both of interest and
to my mind both indicating that Great Granny's medicine chest was
more up to date than even she thought.
PRPOLIS AS A POTENT ANTICAVITY AGENT.
There has been much anecdotal and scientifically researched evidence
about the medicinal properties of propolis, including some ideas
about its efficacy in dental applications. Researchers at The University
of Rochester Medical Centre in the USA and food scientists at the
State University of Campinas in Brazil have found a propolis from
Southern Brazil that has cut the cavity rate in rats by 60% and
almost stops the activity of a key enzyme that forms dental plaque.
They hope that tests on human volunteers will have similar results.
They stress however that not all propolis is created equal and in
analysing 2500 different samples from Brazil alone, Michael Koo
a dentist and food biochemist, found 12 different chemical compositions.
He adds that because of this, just because there is propolis in
toothpaste, it doesn't mean that it's any good and says that much
of the propolis out there is useless against dental cavities. He
and his fellow researchers in Brazil are working with beekeepers
to create international standards for propolis.
Work on propolis in dental applications is continuing and looks
extremely promising. For further details on this and for the full
article which provides much of the medical and chemistry details
Antioxidants are compounds found in cells that mop up free radicals,
the damaging side products of normal metabolism. Experts believe
that diets rich in antioxidants like Vits C and E may help to prevent
certain diseases such as heart disease and cancer.
In a research report from the University of Illinois, honey was
found to be a source of these antioxidants with levels varying from
low to moderate. All honeys were definitely not equal in this respect
and it was found for example that honey from bees fed on Illinois
buckwheat had 20 times the antioxidant level than honey from bees
foraging on Californian sage. In fact one scientist noted that bite
for bite, the antioxidant level in the buckwheat honey compared
favourably with the ascorbic acid related antioxidant in tomatoes.
For more details on this, see: http://www.cyberbee.net/antiox.htm
FOR YOUR DIARY
Event organisers are welcome to forward dates and details
of their events to the editor (by email) for incorporation on this
COUNTY BEES & HONEY SHOW
July 2002 - Kent County Bees and Honey Show at the Kent
Agricultural Show, Detling, Kent UK. Come and steward and see the
show. Contact Sally Hardy 020-8699-7065. Download Schedule from
the KBKA website: www.kentbee.com/kbbka.htm
July 2002 - Seale Hayne
Conference at Newton Abbot, Devon UK. Speakers include Mark
Winston and Francis Ratnieks. Details from Jane Ducker 01647 221255.
Download more information [pdf 12kb] http://www.beedata.com/files/devon-conference-12-14july2002.pdf
2002 8th International Symposium on Hazards of Pesticides to Bees.
Bologna, Italy. Contact Dr Claudio Porrini. Email: email@example.com
or Dr Gavin Lewis Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
6th to 9th Sept 2002 - BIBBA Conference 2002
at Sheffield University Halifax Hall of Residence, UK.
The BIBBA conference at Sheffield University in September should
be well worth attending. Anyone interested should contact the conference
Secretary Tom Robinson Tel: 01904 626170 or Write to Tom at 71 Broadway,
York YO1 4JP
Programme: Friday 6th September 2002 From 16.00 arrivals
and registration. Evening meal from 18.00 hrs. 19.00 Informal talk
Saturday 7th September 2002 07.30- 8.45 Breakfast 09.00 Arrivals
& registration 09.30 Bernhard Krause - "Beekeeping and
Biodiversity in Europe project (BABE)." 10.30 Coffee 11.00
Janez Poklukar - "The search for Varroa resistance". 12.30
- 13.30 Lunch 14.00 Cecilia Costa - "Conservation and improvement
of bees in Italy". 15.00 Coffee Split into two groups for next
sessions 15.30 * Demo on the use of a computer to measure wing indices
for morphometry * Visit to Apiculture Lab. 18.00 Evening meal 19.00
* Demo on the use of a computer to measure wing indices for morphometry
* Visit to Apiculture Lab. * Half to half.
Sunday 8th September 2002 07.30 - 08.45 Breakfast 09.00 Arrivals
& registration 09.30 Nicholas Chaline - "Genetic Studies
of British Honeybees" (To be confimed) 10.30 Coffee 11.00 Janez
Pokular - "Queen rearing in Slovenia" 12 ,30 - 13.30 Lunch
1400 Dr. Ruth Spinks - "Hygienic Behaviour Studies". 15.30
Coffee 16.00 Dr. Francis Ratnieks "Work organisation in the
bee colony" 18.00 - 18.45 Evening meal for those staying overnight
Monday 9th September 2002 07.30 - 08.45 Breakfast 08.50 Sight-seeing
tour of Derbyshire for those wishing to stay over on the Monday.
Albert Knight BIBBA Groups Secretary
September 2002 - INTERMIOD 2002. Moscow, Russia. 3rd International
Exhibition and Conference. For more information contact: AV Cherekaev.
14th, 15th, 16th November 2002 - The National
Honey Show the biggest honey show in the world at Kensington
Town Hall, Horton Street, London, England UK. The lecture convention
timetable has been published on their website. The show schedule
files should be available for downloading later this month. Visit
the new look National Honey Show website for all the latest news
date: The German Apitherapy Congress due to have been held this
Spring has been postponed. More information can be found at: http://www.apitherapy.com
2002 - Canada/United States 2002 Joint Apicultural meetings.
This series of meetings brings together The American Association
of Professional Apiculturists; The Apiary Inspectors of America;
The Canadian Association of Professional Apiculturists; The Canadian
Honey Council; The Empire State Honey Producers' Association and
the Ontario Beekeepers Association. For more information: http://www.honeycouncil.ca
The Eastern Apicultural Society of North America meeting for
2002 (Honey for Health) can be found on http://www.easternapiculture.org
* Details of the 6th European Bee Conference (subject
to change), are as follows:
Spread of Exotic Genotypes. The Control of Pests and Diseases.
Session Leader: Ingemar Fries. (Sweden)
Ecological Impacts and Regulations.
Session Leader: Kieth Delaplane. (USA).
Session Leader. Juliet Osborne. (UK).
Genetics of Bees and their Predators.
Session Leader: Robert Paxton. (Germany).
Forum. This forum will include :Research Potential; Pathology;
Bee Breeding and Genetics; Pollination and Plant protection; Physiology
and Future Networks:
The Apigen Network
The European Honey Research Network.
Beekeeping and Biodiversity. (BABE Network).
Funding Tools in the 6th framework.
A fifth session
under Bernard Vaissiere (France) "Pollination: how far and
how effective" is also taking shape.
the conference will include bee researchers, beekeepers and bee
scientists from: Finland, Germany, Italy, Brazil, South Africa,
UK, Holland, Denmark, Spain, Mexico, Yugoslavia, France, Slovakia,
Poland, Sweden and the European Commission. Full details on: http://www.ibra.org.uk
The latest issue of Bee Craft offers a wealth of information, advice
and items of interest for all beekeepers in its monthly columns.
The following is its contents list:
July 2002 Volume 84 Number 7
Pollination under glass Phil Cunningham
Queen introduction Adrian Waring, NDB
Profile: Ian McLean Michael Badger
Bee kind to your back (part 5) Sarah Weaver, B Physiotherapy
(Queensland), MCSP, SRP
Beginners' Bazaar Matthew Allan, NDB
Resistance in bee pathogens Ruth Waite, PhD
The egg factory Celia Davis, NDB
Beekeeping in Ireland Eddie O'Sullivan
In the Apiary - Varroa and insurance Karl Showler
Web review Steven Turner
BBKA examination results John Hendrie
Ask Dr Drone
Letters to the Editor
Around the colony
Bee World (Vol 83. 2/2002) from IBRA offers the following:
Guest Editorial. How we can help the beekeeper and others interested
in apiculture. Walter Anzer.
Oxalic acid treatment by trickling against Varroa destructor: recommendations
for use in Central Europe and under temperate climate conditions.
Jean Daniel Charriere and Anton Imdorf.
New Information resources for bee research. William DJ Kirk.
An Introduction to high yielding royal jelly production methods
in China. Shenglu Chen, Sonkun Su and Xuezhen Lin.
The EU Regulatory framework for GM foods in relation to bee products.
Ingrid Williams. (Reviewed in this issue). http://www.ibra.org.uk
APICULTURE'S FIRST NATURAL PROPHYLACTIC
More for the war against Varroa written by Stan Clare. At
first sight there are few similarities between bees, salmon and
humans. However, all become unwilling hosts to blood sucking parasites,
which in every instance are tenacious beasties. Whether one recalls
the head lice acquired by a child at school, reports of lice infection
at fish farms or indeed the spread of mites in our hives. These
insects are incessant attackers that have developed a life style,
which ensures continuing existence and counteracts extermination
systems, in fact often returning when ones guard is only slightly
down. They frequently become resistant to powerful chemicals, with
beekeepers now using formic and oxalic acids both highly poisonous
to humans, to combat Varroa.
However there is hope following research that was studying lice
on farmed salmon. Using a food grade product, a vet observed highly
encouraging results and certainly it had major advantages over the
established products. During these trials, while using a product
called 'Follicel', the researcher was extolling its virtues combating
lice to a friend. Her friend turned out to be a concerned mother
whose children were being plagued by head lice.
The usual preparations had been tried with less than 100% successful
results, plus a complication had through side effects. As a parent,
she declared deep apprehension at putting organo phosphorous (O.Ps)
chemicals on the skulls of her young children. From this chance
conversation, 'Follicel', as a natural children's head lice shampoo
emerged. It was after all - food quality approved, non poisonous
to humans - obviously had to be for the fish farming applications.
Families soon discovered added benefits, the hair also appeared
to develop an improved resistance to new infestations plus, importantly,
it did not stink as most 'over the counter' products did. Gradually,
'Follicel' became established in parts of America, Southern Africa,
Australasia and Europe.
Follicel and its sister product 'Exorsect' are based on fruit extracts.
These appear to affect the airways of insects, but the severity
is dependant upon size. The larger the bug, the less the effect.
Mites and lice do not like it a bit! As with a burglar alarm, the
intruders prefer to go elsewhere.
In continuing trials by beekeepers, they report that bees
tolerate Exorsect even when it is sprayed onto brood. So to Varroa
and Acarine mites, beekeepers on four continents are reporting success
using 'Exorsect' as a hive conditioner and cleaner. Oregon USA,
Manitoba and British Columbia Canada, New Zealand, South Africa,
Jersey, Lancashire and Cornwall UK. All are cleaning up hives on
trials. The techniques vary but the common factors are that besides
being able to use Exorsect at anytime, even at this stage the results
appear equal or better than established treatments.
Two principal techniques are being used at present - smoking and
more recently with conventional pads. Exorsect concentrate has been
applied to juniper wood chips, which after drying are used in a
hand smoker. Alternatively, pads or bags containing inert wadding
are soaked in a solution of Exorsect and are placed in the hive
in the usual manner.
Marabo Ltd, the Preston (UK) based manufacturer claim that Eorsect
is: Non corrosive; hypo allergenic; anti bacterial; anti viral;
anti fungal and non toxic. It has prolonged and significant residual
power and is essentially Generally Regarded As Safe (GRAS).
Concluding, the results of current trials indicate that direct
spraying into the hive gives good results although is time consuming
for large operations. This is not a problem where labour costs are
low. Exorsect is being used mixed with corn sweeteners which is
giving good results in California. Fogging using an electric fogging
machine with a long umbilical hose to reach all parts of the hive
has been tried, and smoking and aerosol applications are also being
tried. Impregnated pads are in use. A 'drip pad' technique used
in Canada has resulted in extraordinary mite fall. In this technique,
a bag filled with inert debris or an absorbent mat is soaked in
This then evaporates and vaporises in the ambient 90 F of the hive.
It has proved to be the most effective application for both cost
and ease of use. Mitefall is equal to the mite fall of 'Checkmite'
but Checkmite can only be used twice a year whereas Exorsect can
be use all the year round.
A suggested programme is available for extended cleaning and conditioning
of the hive. This draws on beekeeper's experiences plus current
thinking as to the life cycle of the mites.
Marabo manufactures a group of useful, often novel products targeting
problems damaging horticulture and agricultural production. Much
of their work is geared towards environmentally friendly solutions.
Exorsect is thought to be the world's first natural prophylactic
for hives. The international reports are encouraging.
note. I'm all for anything new in the fight against Varroa, and
I thank Stan Clare for this illuminating article, but confess to
not having heard of this substance. Does it have an effect on queen
laying? Does it leave residues in the honey which even if of food
quality shouldn't be there? Are there any research reports available?
Has any beekeeper who is reading this used the substance? If so
do write in and tell us the results).
More information can be found on http://www.exorsect.com
Written by John Yates. In the mid 90's, L. A. M. Hassan, at
Cardiff University, while working for a postgraduate degree studied
various aspects of queen mating. He used 3 types of nuclei namely,
micro nuc, mini nuc and normal (presumably BS frames 3 or 4). Observations
of 92 virgins was undertaken with the following results:
- normal nuc
longest - micro nuc
- normal nuc
longest - micro nuc
in micro nucs than any other type
in micro nucs
in micro nucs
none from normal nucs
in normal nucs
(ie. greatest number of spermatoza in the spermatheca)
that the above findings to be extremely important when considering
the type of nucleus hive to use for introducing ripe queen cells
and the subsequent mating of virgin queens. I have never used micro
nucs but I gave up seriously using mini nucs many years ago because
of unsatisfactory results. However, I still do use them on an experimental
basis but the reason for abandoning them was stress which caused
Nosema and which always seemed to be present in mini nucs despite
using Fumidil 'B' whenever they were fed. Nowadays, we use only
4 and 5 frame nuclei using British National or Commercial frames
for producing well mated queens.
The mini nucs (eg Apidea made of polystyrene) were originally
developed and designed to provide an economy of bees and may be
satisfactory in climatic conditions which are more favourable than
those normally experienced in the United Kingdom.
Hassan's results show, beyond all reasonable doubt, that
the normal nuc, with 4/5 BS frames, is superior on all the aspects
that he considered. It is a pity that his findings have not been
more widely publicised.
Many years ago we had trouble with Chalk Brood (Ascosphaera apis)
in our 4/5 frame BS nuclei. It is a stress disease. The fungal growth
can be triggered by a temperature drop in the brood nest from 35
C to 30 C, high concentrations of CO2 in the brood chamber or a
protein deficiency (alias lack of sufficient pollen). The first
requires plenty of bees to maintain the temperature, the second
requires plenty of ventilation while the latter requires an adequate
supply of pollen. All our nucleus hives had miserable little entrances
and changing these to a design extending across the whole width
of the hive cured our problem.
Unfortunately, it is not possible to purchase a nucleus hive from
the commercial suppliers with all the desirable characteristics
needed and, as in many other cases of beekeeping equipment, we have
had to set to and make our own. Apis-UK, as I understand it, is
to provide a publication for not only the well experienced beekeeper
but for those who are new to the craft.
For those who are interested in making a nuc, here is a broad specification
for use with any type of frame.
1. The number of frames and the width.
If the nuc is required for over wintering then 5 frames are most
desirable although we regularly over winter 4 nucs on 4 frames.
With a new queen they winter well no matter what number of frames.
A dummy board is essential because it is likely to start life as
3 frames. Therefore the inside width =5x1.5" plus 1" to
allow a satisfactory clearance for removing the dummy board. More
clearance will be available if Hoffman spacing (1.375") is
2. Top or bottom bee space?
I make all mine with bottom bee space, that is with the top bars
of the frames flush with the top edges of the box. The depth of
the box is sufficient to give a clearance of 1" below the bottom
of the frames. This allows parking space for bees in bad weather.
frames with their short lugs are easier to handle using bottom bee
space. You will have to make up your own mind on this point and
make your own crown board with or without a bee space on the underside
3. Ventilation and the entrance.
Make the entrance as large as possible but make your design so that
the entrance can be reduced to only one bee space (NB Robbing).
it should also be adaptable to exclude mice for wintering. There
is lots of scope for inventiveness at this stage of the design.
For the ventilation to be effective, what goes in must come out
and we have achieved this with a specially designed crown board.
4. Crown board.
This should be designed for top or bottom bee space which ever you
decide to use and should have 2 ventilation slots near the front
and back of the board (the total area of the 2 slots = to the area
of the entrance). The slots should be covered with wire mesh (7
or 8 mesh to the inch). Finally, the crown board requires a feed
hole which can be closed when the feeder is not in use.
Every nuc should have its own travelling screen to replace the crown
board when moving, it should be a robust frame to accommodate the
wire mesh of the size mentioned above.
5. The feeder.
Every nuc should have its own feeder capable of being housed under
its own roof. I use mini Ashforth feeders that hold about 1 pint
of syrup. Again, you will have to make these as they are not available
commercially. The important point is that the feeder is always there
ready for use when feeding is required.
6. The roof.
The main requirements are that it should have screened ventilators
front and back (the total area of the ventilators = to the slots
in the crown board = entrance area), have good thermal insulation
(1" polystyrene sheet) under the surface and to be deep enough
to accommodate the feeder. All my roofs are painted in different
colours to make it easier for the queen to recognise when returning
from a mating flight. Northern Bee Books will shortly be publishing
a monograph that I have written entitled 'Beekeeping Equipment (caveat
emptor)' where details of how to modify some of the ropey commercial
equipment may be found, together with comments on some equipment
that needs completely redesigning.
OF CABBAGES AND KINGS
Written by Mathew Allen. This
last month has been the busiest I have ever experienced in the shop
at Windsor. To the extent that it pains me to point out that pressure
of work forces me to turn down an invitation to do some (I am tempted
to say bravura) television work. It is particularly disappointing
because represents a challenge both in terms of science and technique
and confidence. It may be that some of you were unfortunate enough
to catch a seedy American series, basically showing stupid people
doing stupid things. One of the highlights was a man wearing bees
as underpants. Well, hah! The British can go one better. The phone
rings,'Mr Allan, could you create a bikini of live bees for one
of our models?' (The answer depends as much on the model as the
bees, and the question of legal liability is horrendous. The thought
crosses my mind-would our BBKA insurance cover me for this? I doubt
it somehow.) Anyway, time is not on my side.
I don't think I am giving away any trade secrets if I describe how
to do it. First of all, take the bikini and soak it in a solution
of artificial queen pheromone. Let it dry. Persuade the model to
wear it. Fit ear plugs and nose plugs. Take a good- tempered colony;
remove the queen and shake the bees onto the ground at the model's
feet and let them walk up and cover the bikini. Apply handfuls of
bees where necessary. And keep your fingers crossed. Enough enough.
Let me move on. Some years ago I used to dispose of my cars by driving
them to the scrap merchant in Southampton. If I could drive it into
the yard I got £25. The bus home cost £1, leaving me
£24 clear. Now however, you have to pay to get a car taken
off your hands, which is why every lay-by seems to have an abandoned
car in it. The route I take to Windsor skirts the Queen's forests,
and this road often has its share of such cars. In addition however,
it is not unusual, because of the deceptive nature of the bends,
to find crashed cars in the morning. One bend especially marks the
end of the road for speeding vehicles - and every car that leaves
the road here goes straight into an old oak tree. It's covered in
scars, and the last one went on fire, burning one side of the tree.
Yet Old Man Time just keeps on growing. ('Come on - get to the point!'
mutters Mr Grumpy in the back row.) My musings drift to a creature
that can make an impact on the bark of trees, and that is the aphid.
If you get the chance to look at an aphid under a microscope, look
at the mouthparts.
All insects are built to the same basic plan - a lot of segments,
which have developed to carry out certain functions. The first three
segments of all insects have become the mouthparts, specialised
to carry out a whole load of different tasks, such as biting, chewing,
tearing, fighting, moulding, tunnelling, scooping, drilling and
so on. Aphids live by piercing and sucking, and can force their
slender and delicate mouthparts even through bark. What are they
after? The sweet sap produced in the leaves and which is being transported
all over the plant. Think of the height of say a large lime tree,
and imagine how much pressure is required to transport the sap all
over it. In goes the aphid's mouth and out squirts the sap - straight
through the aphid, in one end and out the other. And that's what
we call honeydew. It's never been near a nectary, so its composition
is different from nectar and consequently honey. It's strong- flavoured
and smelling, dark and often cloudy (and gets the top price in Europe,
where they know about these things). Some beekeepers turn up their
noses at it, but I think it's a real prize. There's lots more to
be said about aphids, so I may come back to them, or English Heritage,
or cabbages and kings...
Honeydew here in Spain sells out in no time at best prices).
BKA member Ian Coleman
has a number of hives in his Brockley, London garden and has recently
expanded his hives and runs an out apiary on the Barriedale Allotment
Association site, next to a busy railway line. Ian's
hives are all home made, his design is based on the Jumbo Langstroth.
Ian has also written this article about the difficulties of getting
bees on a London allotment, telling his story.
OUT OF THE WOODS: THE BEGINNINGS OF A BEEKEEPER
the end of the last century (seems so long ago already),
I decided for the new Millennium to 'do my bit' for nature.
After hearing on the radio that 'our' bees were being threatened
by an invasion of nasty parasitic bugs (Varroa), I decided
that it was bees for me.
the local Association, and on being invited to their club-apiary
to 'meet' the bees, my admiration for the bees and fascination
of them soon outweighed my fears (although always right to
me continually wary). With the club's assistance, I established
a few hives in my back garden.
surviving with the hives and realising that I was not driving
the bees or my neighbours mad / away, and developing a reputation
as the local 'bee - man', I thought it was time to venture
into the big outside world and establish an out-apiary site.
an Allotment Society, which was ideal for bees (in London),
as it was beside richly wooded railway embankments - the green
'motorway' for wildlife into urban areas (although it is a
shame that Railtrack appears to have had a greater desire
to clear embankments than to fix the lines!).
invited to speak to the committee, and in trepidation I went
along to their next meeting. Not having much experience of
public speaking, I needn't have worried, as armed with a jar
of honey, this proved to be the perfect sweetener and 'ice-breaker'
when passed around for tasting.
about bees and allotment - holders being in 'partnership',
since the time Man developed from being a food - gatherer
to food - producer. However, like all partnerships, they need
to be worked at.
that as a registered beekeeper with the national association,
it was our aim to work with the bees and manage them responsibly
for them to produce the most organically known crop at least
risk to them and all of us .I further explained that honeybees,
whilst being a protected wild-life species, could no longer
survive in the wild without our assistance.
like all relationships, bees and allotment - keepers were
not always in perfect harmony, and friction developed when
their paths unnecessarily crossed.
I identified the friction points as; inadvertent flight-paths,
the big S-word (swarming) and extracting the honey. I explained
that being aware of these concerns, responsible registered
beekeepers learn to minimise the risks and inconvenience to
themselves, their bees, and to others.
swarming ignited a lively debate with everyone pitching in
with his or her experiences, worries and anecdotes. This al
least gave me a chance to have a breather and with a quick
finger dipping of my own honey, I was refreshened to remember
that 'there is no gain without pain', and to the end result
(lots of lovely honey) I girded my loins and resurfaced from
that like any member of the public, it was important if swarming
occurred, that allotment holders kept outside the 'swarm-loop'.
That is to stay calm, leave well alone (as the bees do know
what they are doing) and don't try to tackle them. Instead,
ring the local council, who will contact the local association
straight away, who will get their local beekeeper down to
deal with the situation. As the local beekeeper is yours truly,
I said that I would rather manage my bees properly, to anticipate
and reduce the likelihood and risks of swarming, than having
to run myself ragged chasing after the little blighters.
the committee said it would have to consider and consult with
their members before giving their decision.
were to contemplate approaching an allotment group or other
society to keep bees, I would recommend you take and leave
Proof of your registration and membership of your local
Details of the national association's public liability
Copy of the recent government policy guide encouraging
beekeeping on allotments as part of developing an integrated
agricultural policy of diversity (and many thanks to sally
- our unsung branch gem for obtaining it for me).
Last but not least, and just as importantly, a jar
of liquid gold to sweeten up the group and to remind you what's
it all about.
However, it is also important not just to leave it up to the
committee to sell the idea of bees to their members, but just
as importantly to get down there yourself and talk to the
other members. After all, you are the best ambassadors of
the craft and the most knowledgeable to answer their queries
and allay their concerns. I think that it was only with the
word spreading that I was prepared to go down there every
weekend to talk to and meet with the allotment holders, that
a significant number must have thought it was worthwhile to
let me have a chance.
I am the bringer of good news, having just been told that
the committee has agreed to let me keep bees.
if you see any nice bees on their travels (and we all know
that despite them not doing everything we want them to do,
we still love 'em) just point them in the direction of London;
as whilst the streets may not be paved in gold (just grid-lock!)
- there is a nice home awaiting them.
I feel that I am not (quite) ready to take on the world, unlike
England (written just before the Brazil game), I know at least
that I am out of the woods!
View a complete set of images taken at Ian's home apiary and
on the allotment:
The first letter I wished to publish this month was a letter critical
of Apis UK from a disappointed reader. I'm very sorry to say that
this has gone missing. Not I hasten to add because I'm at all scared
of criticism, but because I committed it to a disk and the disc has
disappeared. However the gist of the letter was that the Apis UK 2nd
edition was disappointing because it was all alot of talk with information
given that the reader received anyway from other sources. He finished
with the comment that he wouldn't be reading it again.
Well of course I'm sorry to disappoint any reader, and to lose them
but it is early days yet and the newsletter (which remember is free)
will improve in content and scope. It is difficult to reach top speed
on a new venture straight away. Unfortunately the gentleman didn't
say what he wanted to see in the newsletter. But I take his point
and will try and do better. Ed.
before going to press:
----- Original Message -----
To: "Apis-UK notifications" <email@example.com>
Sent: Friday, June 14, 2002 10:12 AM
Subject: Re: Your Apis-UK Confirmation Required
Frankly, I was not impressed with the June edition - just a lot
of chat and the contents pages from other bee magazines which I
get anyway. Please count me out from now on.
from the editor of the newly revamped Apis US which is worth
a visit at (http://apis.shorturl.com),
I've received an e-mail on source information on Queen Balling,
following the article by John Yates in the issue 2 of this newsletter.
Dear Mr Cramp,
I am reviewing your Apis UK in my Apis USA. Info I found at the
bee bibliography: http://www.barc.usda.gov/psi/brl/bibliography.htm
Article Title: balling a queen bee.
Beekeepers' Record 61(643):76. 1946.
Notes: 'The method of rescue was to drop the ball of bees into a
cup of cold water. That made the angry bees leave the queen and
after being dried on a piece of blotting paper each queen was returned
to the hive from which she came. Keywords: management queen introduction
R,P,S.; Smith, M.V. Dept Zool, Guelph University Canada.
Aggressive behaviour of Apis mellifera L workers towards introduced
queens. II. Role of the mandibular gland of the queen in releasing
aggressive behaviour. Published in the Canadian Journal of Zoology
49(8):1179-1183. 1971. Note: part I appears in the journal Behaviour
39(pts2-4):212-236. 1971. The removal of the mandibular glands from
virgin queens eliminated the balling response of workers towards
them. Worker bees coated with the contents of the queen mandibular
gland elicited aggressive behaviour in sister workers; the aggression
increased with increasing amounts of gland contents. The contents
of glands removed whilst the queen was under complete anaesthesia
appeared to provoke less worker aggression.
Course For Advanced
Dr. Stefan Stangaciu President of the German Apitherapy Society
International Apitherapy Consultant http://www.apitherapy.com
Dear David, You may know that among the healthiest people on earth
are the beekeepers. They live 3-8 years longer than the rest of
the population! One of the reasons why they live so long is that
they usually consume at least one of the main bee products: honey,
bee pollen, royal jelly or propolis. We make an open invitation
to you to start thinking that the beehive products may also help
you, your best friends or your family members ! We offer you the
possibility to learn more of the therapeutically properties of bee
products by joining our Program "Be healthy through Bee Products".
You can join anytime the Internet Course already given in over 38
countries all over the world by Dr. Stefan Stangaciu, our Apitherapy
expert. He is one of the most known figures in the field of Apitherapy,
being a Medical Doctor, specialised in Acupuncture and Ayurveda
too. He is since March 1999 the President of the German Apitherapy
Society. We would also like to offer you the possibility to join
our Program and our Apitherapy Internet Course (AIC). We will also
send you, only if you are really interested, our next message with
the following data: · Why you may need an Apitherapy Internet
Course (AIC) · What are the main goals of AIC · General
structure of AIC · Level One, Level Two, Level Three (list
with the over 95 Lessons) · Fees, technical computer requirements.
We hope that our offer will increase your desire to learn more about
the mystery of a beekeeper's life and help you and your best friends
to live healthier and longer, as the beekeepers do! We look forward
to hearing from you! Sincerely yours, Andrei Stangaciu, AIC Registration
Department E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
in the letters section is a note from the Magdalen
Project originally sent to BIBBA and passed to Apis UK for inclusion.
Project on the Dorset/Somerset border is a 132 acre organic farm
and education centre. We have many residential and day visitorsusing
our facilities and are in the process of setting up a small enviro/ethical
shop for our own produce and other products which fit our criteria.
We are in the process of dividing the farm into a 20 acre small
holding and 80 acres arable rotation with about 25 acres being planted
for willow as a bio fuel. I would be very interested in offering
beekeepers the opportunity of having hives on site. If this or any
of the above is of interest, please do contact me. Gyles Morris
Director Tel: 01460 30068
on the apitherapy theme, a quick look at the subject from
a historical viewpoint.
be surprised at the great difference in the honey which your
bees make at different times of the year.
The best perhaps that I ever have tasted, was made in the
neighbourhood of a number of almond trees while they were
in full flower. It is one of the few cultivated plants that
materially affect the quality of the honey; and may be profitably
grown to a great extent in this country. The honey, also,
from clover paddocks is very plentiful and beautifully white.
Many native trees too, are excellent honey producers; whilst
some few others impart to the honey a peculiar and to some
people a disagreeable twang. This sort should of course be
set aside for physic, as nastiness seems to be one of the
essential virtues of medicine; and you will have plenty of
use for your nasty honey as physic. In one place, last year,
sixty pounds of honey were used as cough mixture alone.
This was taken from 'A Manual for New Zealand Beekeepers'
by the that great beekeeper the Rev WC Cotton, 1848, after
he moved to New Zealand (with his bees!).
David Cramp Submissions
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