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Somerton & District Beekeepers' Newslet ter - April 2013

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1 SBKA website www.somersetbeekeepers.org.uk Volume no 20 Issue no 3 April 2013 The Newsletter Promoting Beekeeping There are many occasions throughout the year when members of Somerton Division attend functions and events to promote beekeeping and at most events, also have the chance to sell bee related products. Every year, we ask if anybody would like to help out at these events by representing the division, but every year it is the same old story and the same people who get involved. So, if you would like to break with tradition, you will be made more than welcome. Here are just a few of the events where help is needed. I know it looks like a lot of hives, but this is all the honey I got last year
Page 1: Somerton & District Beekeepers' Newslet ter - April 2013


SBKA website www.somersetbeekeepers.org.uk

Volume no 20 Issue no 3 April 2013

The Newsletter

Promoting Beekeeping

There are many occasions throughout the year when members of SomertonDivision attend functions and events to promote beekeeping and at mostevents, also have the chance to sell bee related products. Every year, we ask ifanybody would like to help out at these events by representing the division,but every year it is the same old story and the same people who get involved.So, if you would like to break with tradition, you will be made more thanwelcome. Here are just a few of the events where help is needed.

‘I know it looks like a lot of hives, but this is all the honey I got last year

Page 2: Somerton & District Beekeepers' Newslet ter - April 2013


Drayton Street Fair takes place on August 31st and for the first time, we will behaving a stand. More details later.

Baltonsborough Village Day is on August 26th this year and Alison Dykes islooking for help to manage the Somerton Division stand at this event. It is anideal time to sell honey and an opportunity to let people know what we do andhow they can learn the skills. Alison’s contact details are on the back of thenewsletter.

If any member of the association would like to have a stall in their own rightat the Lowland Games, they should contact Simon - 0779 9750272. The eventis held at Thorney, near Muchelney on July 28th and has such wonderfulevents as mud wrestling and wife carrying. The organizers charge for stalls atthis event.


Calibrating Refractometers

Have you wondered how accurate yourrefractometer is? Bob Logan revealsthe secret. Due to the remarkably con-sistent properties of Extra-Virgin OliveOil, one drop of it on the slide will al-ways read between 71 and 72 on the“Brix” scale – the middle one in mostrefractometers. If you set the lock-nutto show any such oil at 71.5, you will have correctly calibrated the neighbour-ing scale at the same time.

Glen Kinch – Notts BKA, courtesy of Ebees

Out Apiary required

Suzy Perkins is looking for an out apiary, preferably in the Langport, Somer-ton, Long Sutton area. If you know of anything, please contact Suzy on 01458250095 or at [email protected]

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Jackie MosedaleBeekeeping Supplies

Approved Agent for EH ThorneStockist of

Hives, frames, foundation protective clothing, feeders, treatments

and much more.

Broadacres, Chilton Polden Hill,Stawell, BridgwaterTel: 01278 723320

Email: [email protected]

Located on the A39

Introductory Practical Classes

As Trevor Adams has mentioned in another part of the newsletter, we had atremendous turnout for the theory section of the course this year and we arehoping that the practical sessions are as popular. The revenue from the theorycourse is being used to update the division’s stock of protective clothing, so10 medium and 10 large bee suits have been ordered and will be available foruse by the time that the practical sessions start. In the past, we have hadpeople wandering around in some strange combinations of attire and thisshould alleviate that situation, to a degree. If you are coming along andcontemplate getting bees this season, we would recommend getting your ownsuit in advance of the course. We have also decided that it would be a goodidea to supply disposable gloves at each session, so as to reduce possible crosscontamination to a bare minimum.

The first sessions will be held at Lytes Cary Manor and Jackie Mosedale’s apiary

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at Chilton Polden on Saturday April 6th. The dates for the alternative (midweek)venue at Montacute have not been decided as yet. I was talking to CatherineFraser on Saturday and she will update me when appropriate. We will coverInspecting the hive for the first time in the season. What will we find?

I will email exact details for getting to each venue, closer to the dates.


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Bailey Comb Change

A manipulation in beekeeping to displace old or diseased comb and replace itwith fresh wax that has been drawn from foundation or starter strips. It wasproposed and publicised by Lesley Bailey, the Rothamsted expert on beediseases. This technique is also infrequently referred to as "the Bailey framechange". My version is a little more fastidious than Bailey's original, but myreasoning is that many hives carry high levels of virus these days, due to varroaand that the extra work is worth undertaking... We can't see the viruses, butanything that we remove from the hive and clean, will lose whatever virus loadit had.

Part of what we intend by this manipulation is an improvement in cleanlinessof frames comb and the hive in general so any hive part that can be removedand replaced with a freshly scrubbed one, that has had a lick over with theflame from a gas torch, will be of benefit. So regardless of the instructionslisted below, if you can swap any item at any time during the period that the

process is running for a freshly sterilised one, take the opportunity to do so.This is not wasted effort as this Bailey method is not inherently as 'clean' asshook swarming and so anything we can do to reduce virus load will be to ouradvantage.

Many sets of instructions start by saying change the hive floor for a fresh one,I will go further and say change it at the start of the process and again at theend, when the old brood chamber is removed.

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I have not mentioned specific timing, local variations in conditions and knowl-edge of them will vary the times. Basically we are going to do this in earlyspring as the brood nest is about to be expanded and we are likely to be takingfive or six weeks for the comb change process.

1.Remove any unoccupied frames and melt them down. Centralise whatframes are left and fill the outside spaces with dummy frames. Place a freshbrood box on top of the original and put in one central frame that has adiagonally cut triangular sheet of foundation, Make up this box with framesfitted with starter strips until there are as many frames as occupied ones in thebox below, then fill out the spaces with dummy boards or frame feederscontaining syrup. Take this opportunity to use a fresh crown board, and add acontact feeder if you have not used frame feeders in the second box.

2.One or two weeks later, check that comb is being drawn and introduce aqueen excluder between the two boxes, ensure that the queen is in the upperportion, add one or two frames with starters strips to the outer edges of thenest, if the bees are advanced enough to be working on all upper box frames.If comb drawing has not progressed as far as that ensure adequate feed is stillavailable.

3.Three weeks after this point we will remove the old box and old frames, butin that interval we need to check whether extra frames with starter strips areneeded and perhaps top up with syrup feed.

4.The last part of the comb change is the removal of the old box and frames,but this is not the end of the process. When I have done this in the past (andshook swarming) I have moved the whole hive to one side and placed a freshstand, floor and brood chamber on the old site, then transferred the upper boxframes, one by one, in the sequence that they were in. Finally filling out withframes that had starter strips, frame feeders or dummies according to condi-tions. If this upper box was full of frames that were mostly drawn, I would puta super on. the old frames would have any remaining bees shaken onto a hivingboard temporarily attached to the entrance.

5.In the few weeks after this point the bees will build up rapidly, so rapidly thatany congestion could trigger a swarm several weeks later.

Apologies, but I am unsure exactly who I borrowed this information from.


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SPAM email

During the past few weeks, I havereceived about 40 emails from mem-bers of which they must not beaware. These automatically generat-ed messages kidnap your email ad-dress book and send all entrants amessage. These emails contain onlya website address (hyperlink) sellingvarious products. As I distributeemails to over 150 members on aregular basis, it is entirely under-standable that I am liable to receiveSPAM email of this kind and that

members are unaware that their computers are sending the messages out. Ithas happened before and will probably happen again, but I ask you all to do asecurity scan of your computers. If you do not have the software on yourcomputers which will enable you to do this, it may well be that yours is one ofthe computers sending this stuff out and you may have a problem that you donot know about. I scan my computer on a regular basis to ensure that I do notsend such things to you.



It is with sincere regret that I have to tell you that there will -e no newsletterfor the month of April. The normal practice of delivering the newsletter - efore

the 1st day of the month, will simply not happen, -ecause of matters completely-eyond our control. The cold weather has meant that mem-ers have -een too-usy ensuring that their-ees survive and consequently have had no time tosu-mit any copy for this month’s issue. We apologise profusely and hope thatwe will have a -umper volume next month.

Other mem-ers are reporting that they have lost all their -ees.


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On the trail of the American honeybee

This programme was broadcast on Tues-

day 26th March on Radio 4 and I urgeyou to listen to it on the BBC radioiplayer and it will probably be there for7 days from the broadcast date. DrAdam Hart meets the migratory beekeepers of America as they travel to theannual Almond bloom in California, thelargest single pollination event on Earth

Each year, from the end of February to

early March, a thousand square miles of almond orchards bloom in unison,

turning much of California's Central Valley white. 75 per cent of the world's

almonds come from these orchards and to ensure successful pollination, farm-

ers need bees - a lot of bees. Around 1.5 million hives, over 30 billion bees,

swarm over the bloom for three weeks a year, before they're packed up and

driven on to pastures new, be it Washington Apples, Maine Cranberries or

Florida Citrus. Welcome to the extraordinary world of migratory beekeeping.

This isn't about the honey, it's about the money.

David Mendes is the 'marathon man' of migratory beekeeping. Every year, he

moves 15-20 thousand hives from Florida to California, on dozens of flat-bed

trucks, at a cost of half a million dollars. It's the start of a ten-thousand mile

journey which entails many risks, not least the possibility of spilt bee hives.

Beset by viral diseases, pesticides, starvation and the ever-present threat of

colony collapse disorder or CCD, even a vigilant bee-keeper can expect 20-30

per cent of their hives to die-off in any given year. So why bother? "This is what

we do" says John Miller, "I was born to keep bees in a box". Miller's great-

grandfather invented migratory beekeeping, which thanks to increasing de-

mands from farmers, can earn even small to medium-sized keepers, millions of

dollars just from almonds alone. Each hive earns $150 per season and there are

two hives per acre. Each 1000 hives require 1200 – 1500 queens per year.

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Swarms and Mentors

With the large influx of new beekeepers this year, there is a higher than normalrequirement for mentors and swarms. It is fully appreciated that many existingmembers will want to build up their hive numbers, so badly hit by the foulweather last year, and new beekeepers will be made aware that swarms willgo to members first. This will hopefully, encourage them to become members.

Mentors will be sorely needed too and the new beekeepers needing a helpinghand are located in Langport, Low Ham, Long Sutton, Henley, Compton Dun-don, Muchelney, Long Load, Wigborough and East Lambrook. If you can help anew beekeeper, or two, in any way, they will be very appreciative. Somementors have already come forward, so please contact me if you can assist.

Stewart Gould - 01749 860755 or [email protected]

We Need Some Land & Your Help

Simply put, we need your help to find a piece of land for a divisional apiary.

This subject has been mulled over and over and over, with the last foray intothe topic grinding to a halt in 2010 when it was thought that the first prioritywas to find somebody who would be prepared to manage it. The priorities,advantages and disadvantages have been revisited and it has been decided topursue the possibilities more fervently than ever before.

Several members of the committee recently visited Quantock Division’s brandnew apiary and were very impressed with what they have achieved. On a ¾acre site, they have stands for 20 hives, a wildlife pond and a large agriculturalsteel clad building, which is a pleasing olive colour. The purpose of the visit wasto see what can be done and to find out how it was done, not necessarily toemulate, or outdo them. We have to thank Ken Edwards and Nick Wills fortheir hospitality and guidance.

The first priority is undoubtedly to find a piece of land that can be leased. Theideal situation would be a plot of approximately ½ to ¾ acre on a working farmthat the farmer would lease to us. Somerton is at the centre of our division

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geographically and would be the preferred location, but nothing is written inblood and if you are aware of any land which you think might be suitable,please make contact with a committee member, so that we can take theproject forward.

There have also been discussions as to the expectations of an apiary. Obviouslypractical demonstrations and teaching are high on the list, but a hive rentalscheme for new beekeepers would also be a major consideration, as wouldqueen rearing. The size and location of the apiary would dictate what we do,to a degree and it would also determine what we could place there. A divisionalapiary is a viable proposition, so find us some land and we can start the ballrolling. You have far more knowledge of your area than we do. Contact detailsof all the officers are on the back of the newsletter.

Stewart Gould – vice chair

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Chairman’s Ramblings March

As the cold weather continues, it could mean that we have had the coldestMarch in the last 50 years. The winter has not helped the bees after the mostdifficult season last year. Despite large quantities of syrup fed last autumn andcandy on the hives since December, sadly 3 of my 7 hives have already suc-cumbed. They appear to have starved, with small dead clusters, despite storesbeing available in the hive. I believe that they have also been weakened by lastyear’s problems. Currently I have candy and small feeders of syrup plus vita-feed on the remaining 4 hives.

At the recent committee meeting, concern was expressed about the likelihoodof a number of new members with just 1 hive, which has died. It was agreedthat we must do everything we can to keep these members as active beekeep-ers. Details should be elsewhere in the newsletter. ( Not in this issue - ed.)

The large number of attendees at our beginner’s theory course has meant thatour practical course, starting in April, will be held in 2 venues. We just have tohope that the weather improves by then.

Please read the notes about our search for a Divisional Apiary. Your committeeis determined to try and push this forward this year.

Trevor Adams

Very Desirable Out Apiary

One of our members recently told me that some friends of hers were anxiouslyseeking a beekeeper to keep bees in their orchard. I immediately thought of ahome for the proposed divisional apiary and visited on a cold morning in earlyMarch. The orchard of about half an acre is part of private grounds surroundinga very nice house in East Pennard. We discussed the possibilities at the lastcommittee meeting and considered that as it was situated right at one end ofour area, it might preclude members from the other end. Although the ownersof the land have said that they would not mind having 20 cars parked in theirdriveway on odd occasions, it might prove too much to have that many peopletramping across their well manicured lawns, to reach the apiary.

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This leaves a problem. The family concerned, would love to host an out apiaryin their orchard and if anybody would like to pursue the possibility of keepingbees in very desirable surroundings, contact me and I will put you in touch withthe owners, who would rather that their details were not published for all tosee.


American Beekeepers on the Warpath

Following on from the articlerelating to the Trail of theAmerican Honeybee, Nation-al Public Radio in the USA isreporting the following.

Environmentalists and bee-keepers are calling on the USgovernment to ban neonico-tinoids, They are used to coatthe seeds of many agricultur-al crops, including the big-gest crop of all: corn.Neonics, protect those cropsfrom insect pests, but they

may also be killing bees.

Christian Krupke, a professor of entomology at Purdue University in Indiana, isamong the scientists whose research has alarmed beekeepers. Last month, Icaught up with Krupke at a DoubleTree Hotel in Bloomington, Ill., where hewas giving a talk to several hundred farmers and the agricultural consultantswho advise them about seeds, fertilizer and pesticides. The meeting wasorganized by GrowMark, a farm supply company.

This was a skeptical audience, filled with people who make their livings usingor selling pesticides. They listened quietly as Krupke laid out the reasons whyneonicotinoids have fallen under suspicion. These pesticides are typically ap-

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plied to seeds — mainly of corn, but also other crops — as a sticky coatingbefore planting. When a seed sprouts and grows, the chemicals spreadthrough the whole plant. So insects, such as aphids, that try to eat the plantalso get a dose of poison.

But could they be killing more than aphids? Krupke put up a picture of abeehive surrounded by a carpet of dead honeybees. In several places acrossthe Midwest, there have been reports of bees dying in large numbers like this.And tests detected the presence of neonics on them.

It seemed like a mystery. How could bees come into contact with chemicalsthat are buried in soil with crop seeds? Krupke put up another slide: a pictureof a huge machine that’s used for planting corn. This equipment is apparentlypart of the answer. These machines use air pressure to move seeds fromstorage bin to soil. A slippery powder keeps everything flowing smoothly. Theair, along with some of the powder, then blows out through a vent. Krupkeexplained how he tested that planter exhaust and found amazing levels ofneonic pesticides: 700,000 times more than it takes to kill a honeybee. Thattoxic dust lands on nearby flowers, such as dandelions. If bees feed on pollenfrom those flowers, that dust easily can kill them. A tell-tale clue: These beedie-offs all happened during corn-planting season.

Last week, a coalition of environmental groups and beekeepers sued the EPA,demanding that the courts force the agency to revoke its earlier approval oftwo of the most prominent neonicotinoids — clothianidin and thiamethoxam.

Neonics also show up in the pollen of corn, canola and sunflowers that growfrom treated seed. Bees feed on that pollen. The amount of pesticide they getis so small that it won’t kill the bees outright. But Towers says it may have othereffects: “Disorientation; reduced ability to gather food; impaired memory andlearning; and lack of ability to communicate with other bees.”

Bayer CropScience, the biggest seller of these pesticides, insists that moststudies show that neonics are quite safe.

Bayer CropScience is reacting to reports of bee kills. The company is workingon a new system for planting corn that replaces the powder in planting ma-chinery with a waxy substitute. The company says just making that changecan cut the amount of neonics released from corn planters by 50 percent.

Dan Charles, The Salt at NPR Food (25/3/13)

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Just what can a queen bee do?

Back in early December, Sarahand I were inspecting our bestperforming hive. They werebringing in lots of honey andthe queen was laying well andno signs of supersedure. Whileinspecting the bottom box wepulled up a frame completelyfull of honey and there was thequeen moving leisurely be-tween honey cells and seem-ingly having a good feed. Wewere stunned as we'd alwaysbeen told that the queen is unable to feed herself. Sarah managed to take acouple of photos, but unfortunately being a bit rushed even the best photodoesn't really capture the feeding well. As far as we know (google imagesearch) this is a unique photo After talking with a few senior beekeeepers, theywere unconvinced and Common Knowledge stood firm- Queen bees are una-ble to fend for themselves!

When we had to requeen a cranky hive shortly after, we took the opportunityto see if the queen is able to feed herself (albeit outside of the hive-artificialconditions) and this is the result. She had no problem at all feeding herself andwas quite keen to do so. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VjVp_q1LToU Ireckon it might be an issue of expediency rather than inability. If we were alienobservers and went back 20 years in time, we could observe Obama or Gillardmaking themselves a sandwich. Move forward to today and we would see alltheir meals being brought to their table. Would it be a fair assumption to makethat they are unable to feed themselves? When a queen first emerges shespends the first couple of days, before she is mated and recognized as queen,feeding herself. Nothing about her mouth parts or feeding equipment haschanged upon mating, so why assume inability? I think it just makes sense forthe queen to be fed where she lays rather than have her waste time runningback and forth to find a honey cell. It also allows the workers to control thequeen’s diet.

From the newsletter of ACT Beekeepers Association - Australia

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150th Bath & West Show - Stewards Needed

Entries for the Bees & Honey section of the Royal Bath & West Show are now

being taken online @ www.bathandwest.com   Paper entries closing date is 4th

April, online entries close 11th April.

Last year Somerset won back the coveted Bath & West Challenge Shield fromWiltshire, we want to make sure Somerset retain the shield again this year, sowe are relying on the Premier Somerset Division ( Somerton)  to put in lots ofentries this year to ensure the shield remains in its rightful home.

Don't forget, even if you haven't got lots of honey to enter (or any honey),there are plenty of other classes i.e. Photography, cookery, inventions, wax &candles to name just a few.  Every winning entry gains points for Somerset.

Also if you would like to have a free day out at the show, contact  Ken Tredgetof Frome division (01373 464736) who is coordinating stewards for this year’sshow.  Even if you can only spare half a day, all help is much appreciated. Thisapplies to all members - new and old.

Bernie Perkins has a small supply of entry forms and schedules if anyone is notable to either download or enter on line.  I have also advised Somerset web-master, so link etc should be on website imminently.

If anyone has any queries or wants any advice they can contact  Bernie [email protected] or on Twitter @Thechoirboy (He sings in the Lang-port Community choir)


This cold Spring has exercised the culinary credentials of many beekeepers asthey try to ensure that the temperature of the syrup reaches that magic 234⁰C,so that the moisture content is reduced enough to form a soft set. Onebeekeeper, whose advice I normally take with a pinch of salt, assures me thatfeeding a stiff sugar mixture in patty form during this extreme cold will beexceptionally good for the musculature of the bees, especially those of thestomach. ‘Remember’, he says. ‘Fondant makes the Abs grow heartier’


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Dates for your diary

Introductory Beekeeping Course

1st Practical Session‘The first Inspection’

Lytes Cary Manor and Chilton Polden

Saturday April 6th - 10.00am

BBKA Spring Convention

12th - 14th AprilHarper Adams University College,

Newport, Telford & Wrekin,Shropshire TF10 8ND

Special LectureHazlegrove School, Sparkford

Wednesday 17th April - 7.30pm‘The pesticide conundrum’

Maryann Frazier of Penn State UniversityFree to members

PresidentJoe King

01749 890357

ChairmanTrevor Adams01458 832051

Vice ChairmanStewart Gould01749 860755

SecretaryJackie Mosedsale

01278 723320

TreasurerSteve Horne

01278 662335

LibrarianDr. Richard Kinsman

01458 210288

Honey Show SecretaryPost Vacant

Newsletter EditorStewart Gould01749 860755

[email protected]

ProgrammeJoe King

01749 890357

County DelegatesJoe King

Pat LehainAlison Dykes

Stewart Gould

Members without portfolioSuzy Perkins

Catherine Fraser