Kent Beekeepers Association Orpington Branch

Orpington Branch Newsletter March 2001

Orpington Branch Newsletter March 2001.



Orpington Branch Newsletter March 2001

The talk by James Morton was wide-ranging and I can only include a few of the things that interested me. The reported cases of AFB in the country have been going down over the years, but EFB is on the increase, although Kent has done well due the activities of two bee inspectors. A new method of dealing with EFB, which does not require the use of antibiotics, is the "Shook Swarm". A fresh hive is prepared containing frames of foundation, put on the existing site, and all the bees including the queen are shaken into it. It is a good idea to put a queen excluder beneath the brood box for a week or two to prevent all the bees deciding to swarm. Tests show that the bees bounce back very quickly from this and you get a good honey crop with a low rate of re-occurrence of the disease. In addition, field trials are starting on an alternative treatment for EFB, which uses a naturally occurring bacterium, related to the EFB one and which does not like co-existing with it. Finally, investigations are being carried out on the hygienic behaviour of different strains of bee to find whether some are better at dealing with diseased larvae than others. Forget all your problems with varroa jacobsonii, because that was not the cause! The real culprit was varroa destructor that comes from Korea or Japan. It is now known that there are many species of varroa, some of which can live quite happily with apis mellifera. However, mite levels are much lower now than they were but pyrethroid resistance to the mite is already present in Europe. New treatments are on the way but the companies developing them keep them secret. Apiguard (which uses thymol) is effective but not as good as Bayvarol or Apistan. Pherovar, which I mentioned last year is still being evaluated and is now forecast for next year. Rothamsted are working on fungi, which kill varroa. The combination of the shook swarm technique with Bayvarol could be very effective, but timing would be tricky.

Our next meeting is on Wednesday March 14th when Mike Mason will be talking about "Instrumental Insemination". Possibly not too many of us are likely to get actively involved in this procedure, but it will undoubtedly be very interesting.

The Ashford Branch lecture this year is on Friday April 6th at 7.30pm and is by Dr.Michael Keith-Lucas. His subject is "On the Honey Trail" and he will be describing detective work on malpractice in the honey trade, with examples of some of the worst commercial scams. The price of admission is £3.

Peter Kirby has moved house, so if you want to contact him, his new telephone number is 020 8319 3057.

I have received Entry Forms and Schedules for the South of England Show on June 7th-9th. If you are interested, please let me know.

Spare a thought for John Cowley who dislocated his shoulder just before Christmas and still has trouble with raising his arm above shoulder level.

Gordon Harradine brought back from Australia a magazine containing an article on Australian bees and apparently there are over 2000 varieties, some only 2mm long. There are a number of types of social stingless bees, some of which can be kept in specially designed hives for their small but delicious harvest of native honey. Solitary bee varieties are numbered in hundreds and all sting. Some bees are colourful with the males of the Blue-banded bee having furry red-brown waistcoats and tails of jet black with stripes of iridescent blue or whitish fur. They spend the night hanging by their jaws from a leaf or twig, many together. One male carpenter bee has a bright metallic green thorax. Included in the magazine was a page from a newspaper reporting the death through bee stings of two people within a few hours of each other, but I expect that these bees were descended from those introduced by the original settlers.

On the television recently was a programme about giant honeybees in Assam, but as I have run out of space, I will tell you about them next month

The Apiary is scheduled to open on Saturday April 7th, weather permitting.