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Apis-UK Issue No.3 July 2002
A cross section of a honeybees brain
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.
I often 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 It's fascinating.
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.

A quick look around the web at various items of bee research and the results has come up with the following:

Every 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

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!

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.

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 see: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/08/010830082619.htm

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

Event organisers are welcome to forward dates and details of their events to the editor (by email) for incorporation on this page.

Kent county bees and honey show

12-14th 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

12-14th 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

4-6th September 2002 8th International Symposium on Hazards of Pesticides to Bees. Bologna, Italy. Contact Dr Claudio Porrini. Email: eporrini@entom.agrsci.unibo.it or Dr Gavin Lewis Email: gavin.lewis@jsci.co.uk

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

11-15th September 2002 - INTERMIOD 2002. Moscow, Russia. 3rd International Exhibition and Conference. For more information contact: AV Cherekaev. Email: expostroy@expostroy.ru

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 http://www.honeyshow.co.uk

The Biggest Honey Show in the World

Change of 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

2-7 December 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 or http://www.ontariobee.com

Details of 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:
The Spread of Exotic Genotypes. The Control of Pests and Diseases.
Session Leader: Ingemar Fries. (Sweden)
Introductions, Ecological Impacts and Regulations.
Session Leader: Kieth Delaplane. (USA).
Natural Bee Movements.
Session Leader. Juliet Osborne. (UK).
The Genetics of Bees and their Predators.
Session Leader: Robert Paxton. (Germany).
Wednesday Forum. This forum will include :Research Potential; Pathology; Bee Breeding and Genetics; Pollination and Plant protection; Physiology and Behaviour.
Existing 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.

Speakers at 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 Email: eurobee@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:

Beecraft July 2002 Beecraft 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
Classified advertisements

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

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 dilute Exorsect.
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.

(Editorial 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:

Type of nuc

Pre-mating periods: shortest - normal nuc
longest - micro nuc
Pre-oviposition periods: shortest - normal nuc
longest - micro nuc
Queens lost: more in micro nucs than any other type
Death of queens: greatest in micro nucs
Abscondings: greatest in micro nucs
none from normal nucs
Spermathecal volumes: greatest in normal nucs
(ie. greatest number of spermatoza in the spermatheca)

I believe 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 used.
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.

Commercial 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 accordingly.
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.

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...

(Ed note. Honeydew here in Spain sells out in no time at best prices).

Bromley 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.


Barriedale Allotment Association Ian Coleman modified Langstroth hives

At 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.

I contacted 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.

After 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.

I approached 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!).

I was 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.

I spoke 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.

I explained 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.

However, 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.

Obviously, 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 the trenches.

I explained 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.

Naturally, the committee said it would have to consider and consult with their members before giving their decision.

If you were to contemplate approaching an allotment group or other society to keep bees, I would recommend you take and leave with them:

Proof of your registration and membership of your local association.
Details of the national association's public liability insurance scheme.
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.

Consequently, I am the bringer of good news, having just been told that the committee has agreed to let me keep bees.

Therefore, 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.

Whilst 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:

Ian Colemen Ian Coleman

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.

Found it before going to press:
----- Original Message -----
To: "Apis-UK notifications" <admin@beedata.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.
Jeremy Quinlan

Meanwhile 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
Malcom Sanford

Author. Brightman, J.
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 Acceptance.

Author: Yadava, 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.

New Apitherapy Course For Advanced
Dr. Stefan Stangaciu President of the German Apitherapy Society http://www.apitherapie.de 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: apither@gmb.ro

Finally in the letters section is a note from the Magdalen
Project originally sent to BIBBA and passed to Apis UK for inclusion.

The Magdalen 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

Still on the apitherapy theme, a quick look at the subject from a historical viewpoint.

Almonds in flower

You'll 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!).

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