Kent Beekeepers Association Orpington Branch

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Orpington Branch Newsletter July 2003

Published 2 October, 2008


Orpington Branch Newsletter July 2003

The most important thing is to remind you about the Kent Show which runs from July 11th-13th. Last year I believe I was the only entrant from the branch and without any bees there is not a lot I can contribute this time. Could someone else have a go? There is not a lot of time left since entries must be in by July 4th at the latest.

A similar remark applies to the City of London Flower Show, details of which I have just received. This is on September 1st-2nd, with last entry date the 27th August.

If you have looked at the latest edition of the branch programme you will have seen that there is a new addition - a barbecue at 5.00pm on Bank Holiday Monday August 25th at Gordon and Jackie's house. New members are particularly welcome. I think we will be issuing tickets for this in advance just so we know how many are coming. There will be no charge, but you are asked to bring a bottle and your meat for barbecuing. Also note that the date of the Christmas Party has also been moved to Saturday 13th December. As I write this, it is a lovely summer evening and Christmas seems far away.

Our demonstrator at the Apiary a week ago was Nick Withers, now also our Bee Inspector. I reminded him that the last time he demonstrated to us (in 1994) it poured with rain and he spent the afternoon in the Nature Hut showing how to test hive debris for varroa by using a bath of methylated spirits. This time we had good weather and he had a good look at two of the hives. The first showed evidence that the bees had swarmed - not all that many bees, no sign of a queen, but loads of sealed and unsealed queen cells. He recommended destroying all the sealed cells and reviewing the situation in a week's time. By then, there would be no more brood and there would be less risk of a cast emerging. A decision could then be made about which cells to keep. He thought that it was unfortunate for swarms to emerge in the last weeks of June since none of the brood arising would be able to contribute to honey collection.

I noticed that, between hives, he cleaned his hive tool in a tray of liquid. This is a solution of about 1kg of washing soda in a gallon of water with a squirt of washing-up liquid. It is very good for removing propolis and also works well on bee suits and maybe gloves.

As a special treat, he showed us a new test for AFB which is being trialed at the moment. This consists of a plastic block, maybe about 2x1/2 x1/4 inches, in the top of which is a conical hole and a viewing slot. A membrane extends inside the block between the hole and the slot. In use, the suspect larva is put into a small bottle with some magic liquid and shaken vigorously. A small pipette is then used to transfer two drops of the mix into the hole. After a few minutes, a transverse line will appear in the window; this shows the presence of a bee. If a second line appears further along the membrane, this confirms the presence of AFB. In due course it is expected that the units will be available to beekeepers. A similar device is being developed for EFB but there are problems due to the effect of other bacteria which may be present. A very worthwhile demonstration.

Did you see the paragraph in the paper referring to the lorry driver who was trapped in his cab at a service station by a swarm of bees? He was there for ten hours before he was rescued by police and beekeepers!

If you have access to the internet, don't forget that it is worthwhile looking at


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