© 2014 East Devon Beekeepers
A Branch of the Devon
UK Registered Charity No. 270675
Queen marking colour for 2017 - YELLOW
Just a reminder to those obtaining Api-Bioxal oxalic acid solution from me, the method of application is outlined below. Please note that solution made with Api-Bioxal may have a faint brown tinge compared to previous solutions. This is nothing to worry about.
Many people have been caught out, thinking that they have very little Varroa. Inserting a Varroa tray and doing a mite drop count every couple of days for a week after treatment is instructive, and gives you a good idea of how many mites are waiting to get into the brood cells when the queen restarts laying in January/February.
Oxalic solution damages the Varroa mouthparts, so they cannot suck your bees haemolymph and over the next few days fall off.
Treatment with oxalic solution does not affect the honey made in the Spring. In fact oxalic acid is found naturally in honey in small quantities.
Oxalic acid only affects the Varroa on the bees. Normally 85% of the Varroa are inside the sealed brood and are safe. Treatment around Christmas / beginning of January aims to catch the Varroa when there is no brood to hide in.
The solution should not be too cold, nearer blood heat would be good. The day can be frosty with the bees well clustered.
Ideally draw up 50ml solution in a syringe.
Have a lit smoker handy (but should not be needed if crown board removed very carefully).
Between the brood frames are 'seams' of bees. Use 5ml for each seam of bees. Only treat the bees, do not put the solution down empty seams/gaps. So if there are only 4 seams of bees only use 20 ml.
Practice with water beforehand so that you know how to deliver 5 ml along each seam. I find that 5 ml is a continuous series of little drops.
If you have a super on top of the brood box and you know the cluster is below it, you can remove the super gently to treat the bees.
Best wishes for a Happy Christmas and a Productive New Beekeeping Year! Peter
The reports discussed at the AGM show the branch has a full programme of activities and financially has managed to break even over the past year.
The Beginners Course was well attended in the classroom sessions and continued to attract good attendance at the practical apiary sessions.
The teaching apiary is now back up to strength after a poor start thanks to the work of David Shale, Andy Legg and helpers. The strimming team were also thanked for their efforts to keep the grass under control.
This year 5 candidates prepared for the Basic Assessment and took the exam with 5 passes, 2 with credit.
Four of the successful candidates with
Hilary Kirkcaldie, President
The Craythorne cup for the Basic candidate with the highest marks in East Devon went to Nick Silver. Congratulations to all of them.
Voting took place for Committee members. Chairman -John Badley, Secretary and Membership - Val Bone, Treasurer - Keith Bone, Committee - Andy Legg, Sue Babey, Mary Boulton, Alasdair Bruce, Ralph Cox, Rosemary Maggs, Colin Osbourne and Richard Simpson.
After refreshments, Ruth and Ian Homer gave a fascinating talk on the 8th International Meeting of Young Beekeepers event, largely organised by them, that was held at Marlborough College in July of this year.
Planning was well under way 1½ years before the event and, as Ian and Ruth explained, there were many hurdles to overcome. In the end IMYB 2017 was attended by 19 teams speaking 13 different languages!
All the participants were divided up into small international teams, each team identified by their own coloured baseball cap. The tasks included activities such as frame making, grafting larvae, inspection and handling bees to show the competitors basic skills. Other tasks required problem solving with discussion and team working.
The assessments took place in the mornings. On the first afternoon the competitors were treated to a tour of Stonehenge and on the second afternoon they all departed for a DCA hunt on nearby Marlborough Downs. This proved to be the highlight of the event for some of the competitors as they had never witnessed the phenomenon before.
The accompanying adults were treated to tours of Stonehenge, Bath and Salibury.
In conclusion, the weather was perfect, the bees behaved perfectly and the competitors and accompanying adults voted IMYB 2017 as the best yet.
It is now up to us to encourage more young beekeepers into the craft.
Peter went on a Wildlife tour to see the mountain gorillas in Uganda. We were treated to some of the stunning pictures he took, including close-ups of the gorillas, leopards and impala.
While on tour he became aware of the Hives Save Lives-Africa organisation which is the brainchild of Richard Unwin, an international businessman who was interested in finding ways of combating rural poverty in Africa.
Richard was searching for a form of aid that would be delivered directly to those most in need without engendering further aid dependency.
Apiculture or beekeeping was the solution.
Beekeeping has a long tradition in Africa, but not as a commercial activity because of lack of resources and training.
In many African countries ‘honey hunting’ rather than bee farming is the norm, whereby natural colonies or traditional log hives are often destroyed to collect the honey, with little consideration given to sustainable management or the potential for income generation.
By introducing better equipment and training, beekeeping can provide a viable income for people who, in many areas, are living on less than 60p a day.
Peter joined the Charity and is now the current Chairman.
HSLA’s work in Uganda
Hives Save Lives Africa create opportunities for self-sufficiency and income generation through beekeeping – helping people to help themselves.
The Charity is currently working in Uganda, where they manufacture the hives that have been specifically designed for local conditions. Protective clothing and equipment, such as smokers, are also made in Uganda, providing more employment.
The aim is to provide a package of hives, training and equipment to projects, followed by ongoing support, from colonising the hives to assisting with the marketing of the honey and other hive products.
Providing practical support as above, delivered directly to those who need it most, ensures the involvement of the beneficiaries. Once the project is profitable the local beekeeping network decide how surplus income should be used.
For more information click or tap the logo.
Are they successful?
Judging by the projects that have been completed so far the answer is a resounding ‘Yes’.
One group had sufficient surplus income to build their own school house in the village, thereby avoiding the need to walk 15km each day to their previous school.
Additional income from the sale of honey and hive products also enables some of the poorest in the community to send their children to school.
The hives used in Uganda are a mixture of a modified Langstroth design and top bar hives similar to the Kenya top bar design. All use local materials and are manufactured by local enterprises.
Two major sub species - Apis mellifera scutellata and Apis mellifera monticola - are found in Uganda. They have a reputation for being tetchy! Obtaining bees does not appear to be a problem. Just put an empty hive out and sooner or later a swarm will move in!
By introducing movable frame hives and centrifugal extractors the quality of honey products has improved to the point where export to places such as Europe has become a possibility. Improved quality brings with it improved income.
Wax is also a valuable hive product with many end uses. We also heard that bee venom commands a good price and being easy to collect, it gives the Ugandan beekeeper another source of income derived from the bees.
Natalie is Senior Lecturer in Neuroethology at Exeter University working in the Psychology Department.She is also a beekeeper. She studies how bees learn colours, patterns and odours of flower displays, how they use sensory information to locate and choose individual flowers and flower patches, and the bees’ learning methods on initial flights.
The Psychology Department carry out behavioural research using insects, commonly fruit flies, honeybees or cockroaches.
The honeybee brain is approximately 1mm3 in volume and consists of 106 neurons, so is minute when compared to the human brain. Nevertheless, the honeybee was the first non-human animal for which colour vision was convincingly illustrated.
Lubbock, in 1882, reported that foraging honeybees repeatedly visited coloured cards when rewarded with drops of honey. Trained bees, and the bees they recruited, quickly learnt to distinguish a rewarded colour from several alternatives.
The experiments of Karl von Frisch in 1914 were the most significant, proving beyond doubt the existence of colour vision in honeybees. He first of all trained bees to a coloured card by rewarding them with sucrose (sugar) solution.
In subsequent unrewarded tests with the trained bees the coloured card was presented together with grey cards of different intensities. He reasoned that if an animal relied on the intensity of a stimulus one of the grey cards would match subjective intensity of a coloured stimulus and the animal would not be able to discriminate a particular shade of grey from the colour card.
These experiments were repeated and extended by other workers to reveal that the honeybee has three-colour vision like humans except that the visual range is shifted towards the shorter wavelengths. Essentially, this means that bees can see beyond blue into the ultra violet part of the spectrum but have difficulty differentiating colour at the red end of the spectrum.
The three types of photoreceptor in the compound eye of the bee have peak performance in the UV, blue and green parts of the spectrum. What does all this mean in terms of flower recognition?
To make efficient foraging decisions bees use colour vision in conjunction with smell/taste, and the information imparted by scout bees during the recruiting ‘dance’ on the comb, to fly from the hive and locate the source of the nectar or pollen. Vision can only start to influence foraging when the bees arrive near the flowers and the diagram shows how human perception differs from that of bees.
Image courtesy of Natalie d’Ibarra, Exeter University
The flowers shown are (top to bottom), Aquilegia, Medlar, Flax, Vella spinosa, Nonea lutea and Dandelion. The figure shows (left to right), human colours, computer derived ‘bee colour’ images and the flower displays projected onto the bee’s eye lattice.
Bees tend to detect flowers much better if they have concentric patterns which exhibit a high-contrast outer ring. This makes them visible from further away and is one way in which small flowers have evolved to compete for pollinators against larger sized flowers.