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The Newsletter Volume no 20

Issue no 2 March 2013

SBKA website www.somersetbeekeepers.org.uk

Bees on winter aconite

It’s Spring

The start of the best beekeeping year in history is just around the corner and we have a wonderful opportunity for those who want to kick start their colonies. There is also some other heart warming news in this issue, from BBKA and our own division. I’m not going to make it too obvious, so that you have to read the whole newsletter, so read on. editor 1


BBKA & Neo-nicotinoids This is a volatile and emotive subject, which has evoked strong feeling on both sides. Some members of the farming and other communities are firmly convinced that they should carry on using these pesticides until such time as there are alternatives, and there are those who believe that they should be withdrawn from the market until such time as they are proven to be safe. For a long period of time, the silence from the British Government and BBKA was deafening. It seemed that nobody wanted to be first to say anything. On January 16th of this year, the European Foods Standard Agency released a report, which can be accessed here. http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/press/news/130116.htm?utm_source=homep age&utm_medium=infocus&utm_campaign=beehealth This report seriously questions the use of three products in particular, and gives the reasons why. Several European countries have now banned the use of some neo-nicotinoid products. After a long period of being goaded by certain Beekeeping Associations to comment on their use, David Aston, chairman of BBKA, has released a statement to the members of BBKA, which you will all have received. The British Government remain tight lipped on the subject and David Heath, the Environment Secretary recently pulled out of an appointment with a delegate from Somerset Beekeepers’ Association, because the horse meat furore had just hit the headlines. On the very same day, there was a meeting of the South West Rural & Farming Network at the Bath & West Showground, where David Heath was supposed to have hosted an open forum on things rural. In his stead, a Mr Robin Mortimer of DEFRA answered questions put to him regarding matters of concern in the rural environment. When I asked if it would not be better to remove them from the market until proven totally safe, he effectively replied that ‘The British Government prefer to rely on scientific evidence and are currently awaiting the results of such trials. When these trials are concluded, the government will make a decision. I leave you to form your own opinions. Stewart Gould 2


Dandelions – but not as we know them! As beekeepers, we love to see swathes of dandelions, just as long as they are not on our property. Mention dandelions to most gardeners and they blench. Scourge of lawns, borders and allotments, they're a major reason why a fortune is spent on weed killer or hours bent double, extracting their thong-like roots. Now, a species of Russian dandelion is set to become one of the most important plants on the planet, propping up civilization with rubber made from the glutinous, milky sap found in its roots. In July this year, Indian-Dutch company Apollo Vredestein made their first prototype tyres produced from European-grown rubber. If tests go well, they hope to start full production in 2015. The dandelion, Taraxacum kok-saghyz (TKS), is one of three plants currently being investigated by various international consortia, government agencies, big business and scientific research establishments in a multi-million pound scramble to find sources of natural rubber other than the usual rubber tree, Hevea brasiliens. Ian Hodgson, The Daily Telegraph ‘Weekend’, 8 Dec 12. Thanks to Ipswich & E.Suffolk BKA – courtesy of Ebees

The brand new Somerset Beekeepers’ Association web site is up and running. There is still a little work to do, but Phil Stephens is to be congratulated for the total revamp and new format. There will be a beekeeping forum, among many innovations. To visit it go to www.somersetbeekeepers.org.uk 3


Introductory Course 2013 The Introductory Course took us all by surprise. We started with 55 attendees and ended up with well over 40, but there is always a natural fallout. This presented a problem for the practical sessions, which has been overcome by splitting the group in two. Half will go to Lytes Cary Manor and Jackie Mosedale has kindly offered to host the other half. The first sessions will be held on Saturday April 6th and 3 demonstrators will be needed at each venue. Please, please help us with this, as new beekeepers need encouragement. If you are able to help at Lytes Cary then contact me at somertonbees@aol.com or if you can help at Chilton Polden then contact Jackie Mosedale at jackie@jmosedale.wanadoo.co.uk or 01278 723320. Your help will be greatly appreciated. Catherine Fraser is holding further sessions at Montacute House for those who cannot make the weekends and she may need some help there. Two of the sessions will be held at Long Sutton Village Hall in August, where we will all come together again for taking the honey and extracting. Several of the attendees have already joined the division and we welcome Russell Baron from Sharpham, Ed Hobbs from South Barrow & Sue Newell from Henley as full members and Ron Dinsdale & Pauline Watson, both from Somerton, as Associate members. editor 4


Divisional Apiary This has been a subject for discussion for many years and it was revisited in 2010, at the AGM, when it was agreed in principal, that we go ahead. The main problem was thought to be, that until a manager was found, we could not go forward. Not a lot has happened since then, but it is now felt that we have to grasp the nettle before grants for such enterprises dry up. To that end, the committee will be visiting the new apiary of Quantock division on March 16th. The purpose is to get input from Ken Edwards, the secretary of Quantock Division and find out how they did it. There are grants available and there are pieces of land to rent, or buy. In an ideal world, we are looking for approximately 1 - 2 acres. An orchard would be

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good, but not essential. The closer to Somerton, the better, as that is central on the division, but ultimately, location is secondary. Sale or rental can both be considered. We would like to erect a building for storage and the possibility of electricity and water supply would also help. If you are aware of any promising bundles that would make a good divisional apiary, please get in touch via emails or phone numbers on the back page. editor

Imported bees The figures are in regarding importation of queens from other countries & it makes horrible reading. A total of 7957 queens were imported into the UK in 2012. These came from Austria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland, Romania and Slovenia. The largest number 3130 came from Greece, whilst Slovenia exported 1567 and Denmark 1066. 250 nucs were imported - 185 from Spain, 65 from Czech Republic and 20 packages from Poland. From Third countries (Third countries are countries other than Europe who are allowed to export queens to the UK), 590 queens were imported, 490 from New Zealand and 100 from Argentina and these are the figures that are known. I guess there were lots more brought in illegally as well. This all makes the job of trying to get the British Black Bee back, an even more, uphill struggle. From Blackburn & East Lancashire Beekeepers’ Association – courtesy of Ebees 6


Chairman’s Ramblings Mid February The fine day earlier this week gave me an opportunity to take a quick look inside the hives. Bees were flying well from six of my seven hives. Unfortunately the seventh hive had succumbed to what appears to be starvation. I am not totally surprised. I found it very difficult to get that particular hive to take down sufficient syrup last September. In December when I treated the hives with Oxalic Acid, the cluster in this hive only covered 3 frame spaces. Candy has been available and there are still some stores in the hive at some distance from the bees. As my Apiary was selected to be part of the EU Pilot Surveillance programme for Honey Bee Health, I will having a visit from Adam Vevers in the next few days to check that hive. Our beginners’ theory course is just finishing and it has been encouraging to see the numbers attending. There was a fear that interest was waning but that fear seems to have been squashed this winter. The numbers are going to pose difficulties for the practical classes this summer, but your committee is considering this. We are also looking at repeating a series of Continuation Classes this Autumn. Finally the Committee are actively making further investigations regarding a Divisional Apiary. We will obviously call a members meeting when we have firmer proposals.

Trevor Adams

Out Apiary There are one or two very desirable out apiary sites available and this one has just come to our attention. Grab it before the opportunity goes. There is a vacancy for a few beehives in an orchard between West Pennard and Glastonbury. Contact Kevin House Tel. 01458 850197 evenings. 7


Pollen Substitute – Field Trial It’s funny where chatting to friends will get you. One of our members, Jon Penton, was having a natter to his friend Paul Smith about boosting his bee colonies, as they had such a poor season in 2012. Paul is an industrial chemist by trade and he saw this as a challenge. The long and short of it all is that Paul did a lot of research into the possibility of feeding a product to bees that would promote the queen to lay early in the season. He found pollen substitute products all over the internet, but considered that whereas they were basically a mixture of soya flour and brewers’ yeast, they were, in all probability using GM soya flour and brewers’ yeast which is a bi-product of ethanol production in the USA, or elsewhere. He considers that although all products sold as brewers’ yeast can claim to be Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the origin of some products is a little questionable. Yeast is self perpetuating and the inordinate amounts of corn syrup produced in the USA have led to enormous amounts of ‘brewers yeast’ being produced when making ethanol for use as a bio fuel. Brewers’ yeast it maybe, but.......

Paul has formulated two contenders for marketing in the UK. They have slight variations n in the formula and he is anxious to see which is most beneficial in promoting early laying in the brood chamber. He has sourced brewers’ yeast from the brewing industry (novel) and the soya flour is from Canada and guaranteed non GM. 8


The product will be marketed by Paul’s company – Biomax Ltd and he is calling the product ‘BiomaxBee’. He wants to trial the product and because of his association with Jon Penton, is releasing a quantity for use here in our division – at cost. There are a couple of extras that have to be added to the mix before giving it to your bees and this is the recipe. 500 grams BiomaxBee 2 tablespoons of rapeseed oil 1 teaspoon of lemon juice 1 teaspoon of Hive Alive or Vita Green 50/50 solution water/sugar syrup to give required consistency If you would like to be a part of this trial and are prepared to return a completed questionnaire to Jon, so that Paul and Biomax can see which of the two formulae is most beneficial, then contact Jon at jp@jonpenton.com or 01458 474971 and he will ensure that you get a quantity of each batch to try. Your bees can only benefit and Paul has promised that if we involve ourselves in this trial, we will be afforded ‘mates rates’ in the future.

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Holiday in Malta Colleagues I am at present marking a BBKA Correspondence Course for a candidate living in Malta. He has added the note below with his last paper and should you know of anybody who may be interested further details can be had from Ray Sciberras e mail: honeyandmore@gmail.com David Morris Interesting to ask if you have any young people who would be interested to work here in the summer months with us on beekeeping if they want more experience and would have also beekeeping experience, we can get them EU funding that gets them to cover their costs as well as some spend money here too under Erasmus program, We would be able to get them accommodation. Maybe you have some people there in your association that maybe interested also allows good cooperation and idea exchanges.

Queen rearing 2013 If you have not already registered for this year’s queen rearing course - then you should. Contact Roy White - wennets@hotmail.com or 01935 823898. Due to unforeseen circumstances he has had to change the dates of this year’s Queen Rearing course to: pm 15 May 2013 am 16 may 2013 pm 2 June 2013 (collecting Q cells)

For Sale National brood box complete with runners and National floor with alighting board, all in flat pack and made from western red cedar – from Maisemore Apiaries - new and unused. £30.00. Contact Jon Penton 01458 474971. 10


Membership renewals This really is your last chance to renew your membership. If you don’t, your insurance cover will expire in the very near future and it takes 6 weeks to be reinstated.

The world as seen by a bee Our speaker for our March evening meeting will be Nicholas Roberts from The University of Bristol. We bumped into him at The Rural Life Museum last summer and following contacts with Joe King. He agreed to spend an evening enlightening us on the subject of the world from the bee’s perspective. Somerton Parish Room - 7.30pm on March 14th.

Secret Beekeeper Magazine Thanks to Jeff Brewer for this one. It had me going for a while. I sometimes think that secret beekeeping would be a good idea, but it might take some doing, with all that equipment to hide. Mine already fills two sheds. editor

Auction of Secondhand Beekeeping Equipment If you are looking for a bargain, then you really have to go to this auction. Ruishton Village Hall - 2.00pm on Sunday March 24t h March. Exact location and details for buyers and sellers are in the yearbook. 11


President Joe King 01749 890357

Dates for your diary Somerset Beekeepers’ Association Annual General Meeting All members welcome The Cossways Hotel, North Wooton Near Wells

Chairman Trevor Adams 01458 832051

Saturday March 9th - 2.00 pm

Vice Chairman Stewart Gould 01749 860755

The World as seen by a bee Nicholas Roberts Somerton Parish Rooms Thursday March

14th

Secretary Jackie Mosedsale 01278 723320

- 7.30pm

Auction of Secondhand Equipment Ruishton Village Hall, Cheats Road, Ruishton, Taunton

Treasurer Steve Horne 01278 662335

Sunday 24th March - 2.00pm

Librarian Dr. Richard Kinsman 01458 210288

BBKA written exams Saturday 23d March Introductory Beekeeping Course

Honey Show Secretary Post Vacant

1st Practical Session Lytes Cary Manor and Chilton Polden

Newsletter Editor Stewart Gould 01749 860755 somertonbees@aol.com

Saturday April 6th - 10.00am

Programme Joe King 01749 890357 County Delegates Joe King Pat Lehain Alison Dykes Stewart Gould Members without portfolio Suzy Perkins Catherine Fraser

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Somerton Beekeepers' Association newesletter