Orpington Branch Newsletter February 2001 by Frank Chappell.
KENT BEEKEEPERS` ASSOCIATION
Orpington Branch Newsletter February 2001
It was nice to see Ken Hoare again after so many years - he didn't seem to have changed much, just a bit older! He started off his talk by frightening us with a slide showing a frame covered in little maggots and asking us what they were. No one knew, and he told us that they were the larvae of the small hive beetle, which started off in South Africa, turned up in America and now have spread to Canada in two years. The beetle can fly and the larvae pupate in the soil. It doesn't seem to be known how they have moved around the world, but he wondered whether comb honey or dirty earth-moving equipment was to blame. Apparently, you can't squash the larvae and the only treatment is by organophosphates, which I would prefer to avoid. He is quite certain that it is only a matter of time before it lands up in this country. I think that would be the signal for me to become an ex-beekeeper! Incidentally, Eric Ward found out about this beetle two years ago and I mentioned it in the May 1999 newsletter. The main part of Ken's talk was about the advantages of using open mesh floors that he has on all his hives. Apart from making it easier to monitor varroa counts, they reduce the number of mites in the hive since many fall down naturally and finish up on the ground from where they cannot return. In the winter, it is damp that affects the bees, not the cold, and the open base gets rid of the damp problem. I used to get mouldy frames until I changed over.
He also thinks that hive entrances are too big and tie up too many bees on guard duties.
He didn't finish until about ten o'clock and still had to drive back to Shropshire, so he had a very long day.
Someone at Bromley had had a good idea. They had cut out the pictures in the MAFF booklet showing the various bee diseases and laminated them in plastic to keep near the hive for easy reference.
We will be able to get an up-date on the disease position and have our questions answered authoritatively when James Morton comes to talk to us on Wednesday February 14th. He, of course, is the Regional Bee Inspector. I shall use the opportunity to ask him about acarine, since one of my colonies has died and Dennis Geoghegan found some evidence of the disease. The meeting is at the Petts Wood Memorial Hall at 8.00pm.
Don't forget that Dennis is very willing to visit our hives for a disease check but it has to be organised as a tour so that he can get round as many people as possible in the shortest time. He is already booked up for some of the Bromley members. I am willing to try to do the organisation, so if you would like a check, please let me know.
On the 14th March, Mike Mason is coming to talk about Instrumental Insemination which is likely to be very interesting, so keep that date clear.
A reminder for Committee members: Next meeting - Friday February 23rd at 8.00 pm at Woodland Way.