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Volume no 19

Issue no 11 December 2012

SBKA website

The weather again contrived to ruin things, but nineteen hardy, but drenched, souls turned out in the sodden conditions. There were many apologies for absence and it has transpired that several people considered the weather too dire to risk the outing. The meeting was opened by our president Joe King and the formal business followed. The subject of a divisional apiary is not dead, and our chairman Trevor Adams said that the committee had agreed that the 1

subject should be revisited using the report that Pat Lehain, Joe King and John Webb had compiled last year. The treasurer’s report followed and as this is so important, a précis of it is being circulated with this newsletter. The chairman’s report covered the events of the year. A version, which he has edited, is included later in the newsletter. Next came the election of officers. There are a few changes in the line up. Richard Kinsman has been appointed librarian. Dan Govier has resigned from the position of Honey Show Secretary, to concentrate on family duties and nobody came forward to offer their services, so that is one position that desperately needs filling. Finally, Alison Dykes is now a full county delegate and detailsof the full can be found on the back page of the newsletter. Concern was expressed regarding the loss of members over the year and the smaller number of people at the introductory course last winter. Various views were expressed as to why this should be. Some considered that the bubble of popularity may have burst. It was also mentioned that if beekeepers are not renewing their membership, but are still keeping bees, they are not insured, either against disease, or for public liability. There were other worries relating to the reporting of disease, especially in the light of this year’s EFB problems. The date of next year’s AGM was set as 28th November 2013 and the small throng dispersed to demolish the mince pies intended for far more people than were present. editor

With the AGM comes the first mention of membership renewal and subscriptions are due by the end of the year. It was decided at the AGM that subscriptions should not change for 2013 and so a full membership will still cost you only £27.50, which includes membership of the BBKA as well as Somerton & Somerset BKAs. There is an option to include a further £2.00 for bee research. Please remember that Bee Disease Insurance for three hives is included in your membership, hut if you are contemplating getting more colonies, or producing 2

nuclei, they need to carry additional insurance. A guide to the increased premiums is given on page two of the renewal form, but basically, if you have, or are expecting to have four or five colonies during 2013, your BDI premium should be increased by ÂŁ2.00. Details of supplementary premiums for other numbers of colonies are also given. Under insuring will negate your cover. Please pay your membership subscriptions promptly by sending them to Steve Horne and remember that if you do not renew by 28th February 2013, your membership of all bodies will lapse, as will your insurance. Even if you renew immediately after that, your insurance will take 120 days to become effective again. editor


1. Which seasonal bee inspector, living in West Somerset, retired this year? 2. In South Somerset, what is the earliest forage likely to be available to the honeybee? 3. How many ungues does a honeybee have? 4. What is the maximum water content permitted in honey? 5. How many wings does a honeybee have? 6. Who is the editor of the Somerton Beekeepers newsletter? (no looking at back page!) 7. To what family does the apple belong, and what might be the significance to a microscopist? 8. What colour is heather honey? 9. What is a tergite? 10. When was the BBKA founded? 11. There are no eggs on the brood frames. Does that indicate queenlessess? 12. Who walked the Two Moors Way this year? 13. What is the specific gravity of honey? 14. What is the correct epithet for the Italian honeybee? 15. What is the colour of ivy pollen? 16. What is the function of the proboscis of the honeybee? 4

17. Where is the HQ of the National Bee Unit? 18. What would be considered to be the normal flying range of the European honey bee? 19. Do drones fly with a swarm? 20. Who wrote “La vie est une fleur. L'amour en est le meil.” (Here’s a clue: He was French)

Answers on page 14


Christmas isn't Christmas without honey hearts. I eat them guiltily all through December for afternoon tea, says 25 stone Helpja Hartzstoppe. The recipes for honey cakes and the way spices are used in them can be traced back to the Middle Ages. They can also be decorated with icing and hung on your tree or shaped into men, women and Santa. The full flavour of honey in these cookies first really appears after a week, so bake them well in advance of Christmas. If you eat them like Helpja does, I would start making them now. MAKES ABOUT 20-25 honey 500g egg yolks 3 plain wheat flour 500g, sifted baking powder 2 tsp baking soda ½ tsp ground cinnamon 2 tsp ground cloves 1 tsp ground allspice 1 tsp tempered dark chocolate (see below) 300g Melt the honey and cool down. Add egg yolks and mix well. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda and spices very well and fold that mixture into the honey mixture. Knead the dough until it is smooth on a floured working surface. When done wrap in cling film and chill for at least 24 hours. Preheat the oven to 170C/gas mark 3. Sprinkle the dough with a little flour and place it between two sheets of baking paper. Roll the dough out between the papers until 1-1.5cm thick. Peel off the top layer of paper and cut out hearts with a heart-shaped cookie cutter, about 4.5cm wide. Keep doing that until you have used all the dough. Place the cookies on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Bake for 12 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Store them in an airtight tin for about a week before covering them with tempered chocolate. We usually decorate each honey heart with a small glossy picture of an angel or Santa Claus. 6

Make the tempered chocolate. This is the easy way to do it. Chop the chocolate finely, take two-thirds of the chopped chocolate and melt very gently in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of warm water – making sure the chocolate doesn't overheat. When it is melted and has reached 50⁰C, add the rest of the chopped chocolate and mix until all the chocolate has melted. Heat all the chocolate  very  gently,  back  up  to  a  temperature  of  about  31⁰C.  Now  the chocolate is ready to be used. Mostly from the Guardian online (Helpja Hartzstoppe is a figment of my imagination – editor)

Honey and cinnamon biscuit dough ·

200g butter, at room temperature


1/2 cup (80g) icing sugar mixture


1/3 cup (80ml) honey


2 cups (300g) plain flour, sifted


1/4 cup (40g) self-raising flour, sifted


1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon


2 tablespoons milk

Glace icing ·

2 eggwhites, lightly whisked


3 1/4 cups (500g) pure icing sugar


2 table spoon fresh lemon juice


½ cup desiccated coconut 7

Line 2 baking trays with baking paper. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and icing sugar mixture in a bowl until pale and creamy. Add honey. Beat until well combined. Place flours, cinnamon and milk in a bowl. Add butter mixture. Mix until dough begins to form. Turn onto a well floured surface. Knead gently until smooth. Divide dough in half and wrap each portion in plastic wrap. Place in the fridge for 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 160°C. Using a well floured rolling pin, roll one portion of dough out on a well floured surface until 5mm-thick. Using an 8.5cm Christmas tree cutter, cut out biscuits. Place on prepared trays. Bake, swapping trays halfway during cooking, for 10 to 12 minutes or until crisp and golden. Cool on tray for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough. Make glace icing: Using a wooden spoon, lightly beat egg whites. Sift icing sugar over egg white. Stir until smooth. Add lemon juice and stir until well combined. Spread biscuits with icing, leaving a 2mm border. Sprinkle with coconut (optional). Set aside for 1 hour to set. Serve or gift wrap.

I've just sold four jars of apiary honey to someone buying it, not for hay fever prevention, or even because they like honey. They are eating it to improve fertility (it was a woman I may add). She asked lots of questions about it - how it was treated, if it was pure or had sugar added to it. She then proceeded to open a jar and dipped a matchstick in the honey. She lit the matchstick and confirmed that it was pure honey by the fact that it lit up and sparked. (that test is not necessarily conclusive - anyone else know about this 'theory' in testing honey?). Pat (my other half) was convinced she was involved in magic or witchcraft. Anyway, just thought I'd let you know as this is the first time I've heard about honey's so called benefits with regards to fertility. And also the first time I've been quizzed to such a degree regarding its purity. Andy Watters, Kingston BKA – courtesy of ebees 8

As in previous years, we will be holding a Varroa Workshop at North Wootton Village Hall at 10.00 am on Saturday December 15th. This is timed for the coldest part of the year because there is very little sealed brood in our colonies and therefore the vast majority of the varroa mites are on the bees themselves making them more vulnerable. We are then able to use a dilute solution of oxalic acid to trickle onto the bees, doing very little harm to the bees, but doing a vast amount of damage to the mites. This is an important part of an integrated mite control programme. The session will start with a resume of why we are doing this and subsequently we will be able to go out to the bees in the adjacent apiary and demonstrate the technique on the hives there. As before, we will be supplying oxalic acid made up for you to take home. Please let us know your requirements in advance so that we can make up an appropriate supply of oxalic acid for you. We need to know how many hives you will be treating. We will have extra oxalic acid prepared on the day, but it is very helpful for us, and much quicker for you if we know how many hives you will be treating in advance. There is a small charge made for this service, which is merely to cover costs. Please contact me on 01749 890357 to place your order. I will be at the AGM on this coming Thursday at the Parish Rooms Somerton equipped with my trusty clip board and will be pleased to take your order then.

In the attached table the term ‘hive extraction’ means removing honey from one hive (colony) on one occasion so one hive may have none, one or two “honey extractions” in one year. The figures include all the hives in existence in August each year whether or not any honey was extracted from them, except swarms which may be given


away or amalgamated by the end of the season. I weigh the honey accurately in the settling tank. I use WBC hives and I do not rear queens, nor practice any swarm control other than to give the colonies plenty of space. Usually there were two or three hives at Hindhayes, one on the western outskirts of Street up to 1998 and before that one on the hill near the Hood Monument. Since then there have only been hives at Hindhayes. The most prolific hives were the ones at Hindhayes. The maximum from one hive in two extractions was 106.3 kg in 2003, previous was 98 kg in 1989. The maximum from one hive in one extraction was 93 kg in 1994. In 1993 one lift of 8 deep frames from Hindhayes far hive weighed 29.7 kg with honey, 6.5 kg without honey =23.2kg of honey. In 1994 two lifts from near hive weighed 31.7 kg and 31.8 kg. Richard Clark Richard kindly supplied complete records since 1967, but unfortunately there is not room to display them all here. This year has been bad for us all, but the returns for the mid 80s didn’t seem too good. editor

A beekeeper, who is retiring, has three bee suits for sale. They are all in 'nearly new' condition and are a real bargain, just before Christmas. Bee Basic- XXL- 2 pc.suit- £25.00 Bee Basic-XXL-all in one-Olive colour- £30 BB Wear-XL-all in one-£25 For further details contact:- Elaine Culley, 01458-210256 or 10

Although St Ambrose is generally considered to be the patron saint of bees and beekeepers, there is another. Gobnait (Gobnet, Gobhnet, Gobnaid, Gobnata, or Gobnatae), was born in County Clare, Ireland, sometime in the 5th or 6th century. Gobnait is Irish for Abigail (“Brings Joy”). As the patron saint of beekeepers, her name also has been anglicized as Deborah, meaning “Honey Bee.” She is generally thought to have used honey when healing the sick. One of the miracles attributed to Saint Gobnait was that she protected a parish by unleashing a swarm of bees. Medieval beliefs about bees: ”Bees are the smallest of birds. They are born from the bodies of oxen, or from the decaying flesh of slaughtered calves; worms form in the flesh and then turn into bees. Bees live in community, choose the most noble among them as king, have wars, and make honey. Their laws are based on custom, but the king does not enforce the law; rather the lawbreakers punish themselves by stinging themselves to death. Bees are afraid of smoke and are excited by noise. Each has its own duty: guarding the food supply, watching for rain, collecting dew to make honey, and making wax from flowers.” This is the basis of the Tate & Lyle Golden Syrup logo, with bees rising from the corpse of a lion (Who needs Ted Hooper?)

Wales has become the first country in the world to DNA barcode all its flowering plants. This scientific breakthrough opens up huge potential for the future of plant conservation and human health. The work to make Wales No 1 in the world was carried out at the National Botanic Garden in collaboration with Amgueddfa Cymru-National Museum Wales and project partners from various universities. The Barcode 11

Wales project, led by the National Botanic Garden’s Head of Conservation and Research Dr Natasha de Vere, has created a reference database of DNA barcodes based on the 1143 native flowering plants and conifers of Wales, assembling over 5700 DNA barcodes. Plants can now be identified from pollen grains, fragments of seed or roots, wood, dung, stomach contents or environmental samples collected from the air, soil or water. Dr de Vere explained the importance of the project: “Wales is now in the unique position of being able to identify plant species from materials which in the past would have been incredibly difficult or impossible. Barcodes and the battle against disease The National Botanic Garden of Wales is already collaborating with partners throughout the UK on DNA barcoding applications. PhD student Jenny Hawkins is working on a joint project between the Garden and the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at Cardiff University to DNA barcode honey for drug discovery. Jenny has collected honey from throughout the UK and is testing its ability to kill the hospital acquired infections, MRSA and Clostridium difficile, she will then DNA barcode the honey to find out what plants the bees visited to make it. Jenny said: “We know some of the medicinal properties of honey come from the plants the bees visit. By DNA barcoding the honey, we are looking for links between honey with good medicinal properties and particular plant species. If we find it, we might be able to make a super honey by allowing bees to forage on plants that provide high antibacterial properties.” Barcodes and the fate of pollinators DNA barcoding may also be able to help in the crisis facing our pollinators. Dr de Vere is working with PhD student Andrew Lucas from the Swansea Ecology Research Team (SERT) at Swansea University to investigate the role that hoverflies play in pollination. Andrew says: “Hoverflies play a key role in pollination but we know very little about their behaviour. My research will collect hoverflies and find out where they go by DNA barcoding the pollen carried on their bodies. We are interested in how hoverflies move through the landscape and the importance of habitat quality.” This work builds on a project with Aberystwyth University that examined bee pollination within species rich grasslands. From Biodiversity News – Thanks to Fiona Elphick (member Somerton BKA)

Chairman’s Ramblings November 2012 12

I know that a number of you were disappointed to have missed the AGM. A number of intrepid members endured the weather to reach Somerton and so we had a quorum. For this months ramblings I will prÊcis my annual report. The accounts for 2012 were approved and the subscription for 2013 will remain the same as this year. The Committee is still convinced that we need a divisional apiary and that the paper produced for the AGM 2 years ago should form the basis for its development. The problem is still that of finding someone to manage the apiary. This year we were lucky that John Webb allowed us the use of his apiary at Lytes Cary for the practical sessions. There is still the possibilty that in the longer term it could become a Divisional apiary if we can sort out management, the size of the meeting area and storage of equipment. We have achieved a full and varied programme for members, with talks, visits and workshops, an interesting continuation course and a further hygiene course. Thanks are due to Joe, Catherine Fraser and Jackie Mosedale for arranging these and also to all the hosts and demonstrators. We also had Roy White’s queen rearing course and a delightful skep making day with Diana Robertson. Potential new members were looked after by Stewart Gould, Chris Strong, Eddie Howe and John Webb with the Taster Day and beginners and practical courses. Many members helped to promote beekeeping at a number of events during the year and we are always looking for more Our Honey Show was as good as ever. Dan Govier, David Rose, Alison Dykes, Stuart and Jenny Dennes worked hard to involve the community. We will be looking for a new honey show secretary this year. The committee spent a lot of time discussing the LANTRA funded course in Beekeeping. We decided not to go ahead this year but to wait and see how Quantock and Taunton fared. We could have benefited financially but there were good reasons for not going ahead. We are prepared to reconsider this next year, but as in all cases it will need someone to offer to lead it 13


1. Pat Brooks. Thanks for your help over many years Pat. 2. Mistletoe, early February. 3. 12, two per feet. They are the claws. 4. 20%. 5. 4 6. Stewart Gould. 7. Rose. It is really difficult to distinguish between the different pollens of the rose family, eg, hawthorn and apple. 8. Port wine. 9. Dorsal (top) segments of the thorax and abdomen. 10. 1874 11. Absolutely not. No eggs in the brood chamber could be because the Queen is in the supers, she has not yet mated, has gone off lay or has failed. The most reliable test is to put in a frame of eggs. If Q cells are raised, the colony is most likely Queenless. 12. Jenny Dennes for a cancer charity. It’s Christmas and it isn’t too late to make a donation! 13. 1.4 14. Apis mellifera ligustica. 15. Yellow(ish). 16. Imagine it as a drinking straw. 17. Sand Hutton Yorkshire. 18. In Christian units, about 1.5 miles. If you are French, around 2.5km. 19. A few. Have a look next time you hive a swarm. 20. Victor Hugo. Life is the flower for which love is the honey.

Trevor Adams I wish you all a Happy Christmas and a good bee-keeping New Year. The poor year thwarted our efforts to arrange social events but the highlight of the summer was the party at Lytes Cary which celebrated David Charles’ 50 years of beekeeping. Thanks to everyone who has contributed to the success of the Division this year. We do need new blood on the committee, so don’t be shy in coming forward. Pat Lehain, Alison Dykes , Stewart Gould, Joe King, Suzy Perkins, and Jackie Mosedale kept us in touch with County issues.

Sometimes real science sounds more like science fiction. Just the phrase “bionic bees” sounds like something out of an old paperback. But that’s the goal of a new project from the University of Sheffield and the University of Sussex. Engineers are planning on scanning the brains of bees and uploading them into flying robots, with the hope that the machines will fly and act like the real thing. The goal of the project is to create the first robots able to act on instinct. Researchers hope to implant a honey bee’s sense of smell and sight into the flying machines, allowing the robot to act as autonomously as an insect rather than relying on pre-programmed instructions. Possible applications for the bionic bee include search and rescue missions such as a collapsed mine, detecting chemical or gas leaks and even pollinating plants just like a real bee. Dr. James Marshall, the head of the $1.61 million study, wrote in a press release: “The development of an artificial brain is one of the greatest challenges in Artificial Intelligence. So far, researchers have typically studied brains such as those of rats, monkeys, and humans, but actually ‘simpler’ organism such as social insects have surprisingly advanced cognitive abilities.” Researchers anticipate that developing a model for scanning and uploading an animal’s brain will offer insight into how a brain’s cognitive systems work, potentially offering advances in understanding animal and human cognition. “Not only will this pave the way for many future advances in autonomous flying robots,” wrote Dr. Thomas Nowotny, the leader of the Sussex team, “but we also believe the computer modelling techniques we will be using will be widely useful to other brain modelling and computational neuroscience projects.” 15

The project, which researchers call “Green Brain” is funded by the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council with technical help from IBM and hardware donated by NVIDIA Corporation. Scientists hope to have a bionic bee in the air by 2015. Thanks to

Not to be outdone by the Welsh, who have bar coded all their plants, I found this on the web site of Uprint labels - an American label manufacturer. Ever since the first cereal box barcode label was scanned at the supermarket, barcode labels have been embraced by business and commerce worldwide. We all know that shipping labels and other barcode labels are in wide use to track packages and scan products but what about the lesser known applications for this zebra striped innovation? Insect Research: Barcoding Bees In an effort to study the pollination habits of individual honeybees, the United States Department of Agriculture created the world’s smallest bar code and attached it to the backs of worker bees. Because of the unique features of the insects and the small size of the barcode label, the USDA was then faced with developing a more advanced barcode scanner. This led to the creation of the microdensitometer, the world’s most sensitive barcode scanner. That’s not a contrived photograph either. That really is a barcode on the bee’s back. How it bends its abdomen to sting, I do not know. editor 16

After a disastrous year for honey, British beekeepers are questioning why more EU and government money is not reaching them when funds allocated to countries such as Hungary and Romania have contributed to a significant rise in production the past decade. The BBKA recently announced a 72% drop in honey production this year, due to bad weather. A recent survey, by the Bee Farmer’s Association revealed production had halved in 2012, equating to a loss of £7m for the UK industry. Commercial beekeepers, like James Hamill of the Hive Honey Shop in South London, believe EU funding could improve productivity, as it has elsewhere in Europe. “We would like to see government funding paid directly to beekeepers, not research firms, charities or universities, but directly to anyone that takes and maintains a hive,” Mr Hamill said. Beekeepers in Romania, who already receive direct funding from Europe, have doubled their bee colonies over the past decade. Between 2000 and 2010 the country produced 24, 700 tons of honey. Romanian beekeepers have been promised further EU funding until the end of 2014. The country will receive €3.4 million by the end of 2012 with the same for 2013. This climb in production looks likely to advance further in coming years as the continuation of EU funding, combined with educational programs, organic farming measures, beekeeper registers, and geographical factors prove pivotal to the country's honey success. With over 80 percent of honey products on UK shelves imported from EU countries including Romania, Patrick Robinson, Operations Director of Rowse Honey, can see the advantages of beekeeping programs like those in Romania. “We use Romanian specialty honeys such as acacia and lime as well as polyflora. Through EU funding, Romania encourages beekeeping and the numbers of beekeepers is, we believe, on the rise.” 17

Francisc Eget, 65, is from Maramures, northern Romania, and follows traditional beekeeping methods. Traveling south to follow the nectar from the Danube Delta to the rolling hills of Transylvania, he is quick to point out the benefits EU funding has on his livelihood. “Presently in Maramures, there are around 400 commercial beekeepers because the government intervened in helping stimulate the apiculture industry. Almost all are registered and we share all findings. We receive almost €4,500 every three years if all conditions are met.” This distribution of funds across all registered beekeepers has had a positive impact on local and commercial beekeeping. In a country where the average monthly rental price of a three bedroom flat is only £240, these relatively modest funds have contributed towards distribution of parasite treatments and hive maintenance costs. They have also created accessible education programs. While benefits can be seen in Europe, British beekeepers are still unclear about where EU funds go in this country. Gill Maclean, of the BBKA, shares this concern. “EU money goes into the Treasury but there is no transparency in the way funds from Europe concerning honeybees are dispersed,” Ms Maclean said. While honey production is dependent on warm weather conditions to produce nectar yielding flowers and suitable foraging weather for the bees, beekeepers and apiculture experts believe more can be done to encourage wild flowers across the UK. James Hamill is adamant that conditions could be improved if money was available. “We want to see more funds for planting open wildflower meadows and bee friendly flowers along railway lines, parks and highways. Councils and private companies making available open areas for the siting of beehives on rooftops, car parks, wastelands and water plants,” Mr Hamill said. Francis Ratnieks, Professor of Apiculture at the University of Sussex, believes Britain could learn from Romania and introduce more wild flowers, in order to give our bees the best possible chance in the future. “One area that I think has great potential is in grazing land. Grass is the largest crop in the UK and uses the most land. It should be much easier to encourage flowers in grazing land than in arable land as animals can graze plants that produce flowers that bees visit, such as clover,” he said. While British beekeepers are looking at European neighbours for ways to improve honey production, Professor Ratnieks believes this change in attitude towards our own wildlife would prove significant. Introducing more bees and having more beekeepers is worthless without the nectar producing flowers for them to forage. “Agricultural land is 75 percent of the UK, probably as high as 18

any country in the world. As well as a source of food, it has to be a home for wildlife as well. Doing both is going to be a challenge,� Prof Ratnieks said. Daily Telegraph Friday 16th November

Our first evening session of the new year is on Thursday January 10th and will not be at the normal venue. We are upping sticks and taking our case to the Edgar Hall, which is on the Langport side of Somerton, but is well sign posted. The subject is the small hive beetle, which wreaks havoc in many parts of the world and is taken so seriously here, as a future menace, that it is already a legal requirement to notify DEFRA (FERA) should you find one, and it is not even in the country yet. It is almost inevitable that the Asian Hornet (Vespa velutina nigrithorax)and the small hive beetle (Aethina tumida) will make it to these shores in the very near future and it is advisable to be prepared for their arrival.

Sincere apologies to all those who thought that I had really found a unique image for the front cover, but no, it is a photoshop job. I took the bee from one photograph and the holly from another and stuck them together. The sharp eyed ones spotted the pollen.


President Joe King 01749 890357

Dates for your diary

Chairman Trevor Adams 01458 832051

Introductory Theory Course United Reformed Church Rooms Somerton Tuesdays January 9th, 23rd & 30th

Vice Chairman Stewart Gould 01749 860755

Tuesdays February 6th, 13th & 27th Small hive beetle. Future Menace. Are you ready? Edgar Hall, Somerton

Secretary Jackie Mosedsale 01278 723320

Thursday January 10th 7.30 pm

Treasurer Steve Horne 01278 662335

Note the venue

Librarian Richard Kinsman Honey Show Secretary Post Vacant Newsletter Editor That’s cheating 01749 860755 Programme Joe King 01749 890357 County Delegates Joe King Pat Lehain Alison Dykes Stewart Gould Members without portfolio Suzy Perkins Catherine Fraser


Somerton Beekeepers Newsletter  

Monthly berekeeping newsletter of Somerton & District Beekeepers' Association

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