Kent Beekeepers Association Orpington Branch

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Branch Newsletter April 2001

Published 25 September, 2008


Orpington Branch Newsletter April 2001

At the end of the last newsletter, I told you that the Apiary was opening on April 7th. This has become a bit more complicated since High Elms is now shut as a result of the Foot and Mouth disease. However, we have been told that we can go to work with the bees but we must confine our activities to the walled garden and not go in the park. So we have to enter by car. If there are any changes to this, I will try to let you know by telephone.

Another activity that must be in doubt at the moment is the Spring Convention at Stoneleigh, which is always well worth a visit. This year, it is scheduled to be on Saturday April 28th and Gordon Harradine is proposing to drive up there. If you are interested in going, please give him a ring on 020 8467 8368.

Although a subject of only academic interest to us, members who came to the talk on Instrumental Insemination came away well satisfied, having had a most interesting evening hearing about a subject that was quite new to all of us. This was the first time that Mike Mason had given this talk, but he is an excellent speaker and he had brought with him all of his equipment. He took us through all the stages of the process, starting with the planning to get queens and drones ready at the same time, anaesthetising the drones with chloroform to obtain the semen, sedating the queens with carbon dioxide, the insemination, allowing the queen to recover and putting her back in a mini-nuc where hopefully she will start to lay. Written like that, it sounds easy, but everything has to be scrupulously clean and sterilised and losses occur at each stage. Needless to say, in Germany the practice is carried out as a routine and the queens are sold to beekeepers so that a particular strain of bee can be maintained. In this country, there are not enough people interested to enable it to be organised. Although he has all the equipment and can use it, he doesn't - he just makes it available for any courses that may be run.

One other thing that came out of the meeting was that if you need to kill all the bees in a hive, you can do it by spraying them with diluted washing-up liquid. The advantage is that the wax remains useable, which is not the case if you use petrol.

With this newsletter, you should receive a list of members with their addresses and telephone numbers, which some of you have asked for. I believe the KBKA is also about to publish a list showing details of membership in each of the branches.

If anyone is interested, I have schedules and entry forms for the South of England Show on June 7th - 9th, and for the Bath and West Show on May30th - June 2nd.

A reminder that the Ashford Branch lecture is on Friday April 6th at 7.30pm and is "On the Honey Trail", by Dr. Michael Keith-Lewis.

A programme on television featured the giant honey bees in Assam. These are about twice the size of our bees, have a sting three times as long, and are very ferocious and dangerous. They spend most of the year in the foothills of the Himalayas, but after the monsoon, they leave the comb and fly south, stopping every ten miles, often in villages, to rest and obtain nectar from flowers. They finish up in the valley of the Brahmaputra River with several swarms on one tree - the same ones each year although there are other trees about. The locals call these "magic trees". The queen is the only bee that has been there before. They stay there for about four months, the local crop being mustard, flowers of which the bees like. Each village has its own honey hunter who climbs the tree and removes the comb with very little protection and the use of smoking grass. As spring goes into summer, the bees fly back to the foothills. An amazing feat of navigation!


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