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BBKA News - highlights of the next issue

October 2016 BBKA News highlights

Have you felt the first chill of autumn yet? Hopefully, you will still be having some sunny and warmish days so that you and your bees can make the most of October, which, as Julian Routh says on page 339, is the last month of this year that any work can realistically be done on the colonies. Of course, outside the hive, there is still much to do, including protecting the hives from intruders, such as mice and those naughty green woodpeckers that gnaw or drill holes to access bees and honey. Julian describes how best to prevent damage caused by such nuisances and by livestock that will happily push a hive over to enjoy the goodies. Strapping hives down, he explains, will also help stop them from being blown over by strong winds, and for those in flood-risk areas, he advises some form of raised protection from flood water. Indeed, deciding where best to hive our bees can be a real headache, particularly for new beekeepers. Ivor Davis has faced this challenge and, in doing so, learned a lot about the pros and cons of various apiary locations. So, if you are considering setting up new hives, but are unsure where best to locate them you will find Ivor’s article on page 342, outlining the essential considerations that you will need to make when choosing an apiary site, very helpful.

Similarly, with winter on the horizon, all thoughts turn to keeping our bees warm, disease-free and well-fed throughout the coldest months. But, there is some controversy about whether it is best to insulate hives during winter or not. Tony Harris has been researching the evidence for and against keeping bees warm throughout the winter, with, not surprisingly, some mixed findings; read his research summary on page 347. In his WBC Column, Don Honey on page 352, describes four of his colonies, housed in WBC hives, that survived the harsh winter last year, so perhaps there is some thermal benefit of using these cavity hives to overwinter bees. Don will be explaining more about the merits of WBC hives in future issues of BBKA News in his new, regular column.

If you do not have your head firmly buried in books, revising for the November modules just now, and you have (or can borrow) a tablet pc, you might like to experiment with using your tablet in perhaps a new and useful way. Interested? Roy White uses his wife’s iPad as an aid to microscopy and he explains how you too can set one up for this purpose on page 353. Roy has made a simple jig to support his iPad in a defined

orientation to his compound microscope so that he can take photos of various slides and compare the images with reference material from the comfort of his armchair at a later date. Roy uses this method to help him identify pollen in honey samples, which enables him to define the floral sources of his honey and gives him a better insight into his bees’ relationship with their surroundings.  Of course, knowing the floral sources of collected honey can also help with labelling honey jars.  

With floral sources in mind, for those of you who are already planning your garden ‘bee forage’ for next year, you may be interested in creating a wild flower area. Grow Wild, the national outreach initiative of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, is eager to encourage us all to grow wild flowers and, having recently won the 2016 National Lottery Award for best environmental project, Grow Wild is celebrating by giving away thousands of wild flower seed packets, while stocks last before 9 October. So, if you would like some free wild flower seeds go to the Grow Wild website and apply for your packet - but hurry as the offer ends at midnight on 9 October (see page 362 for website details).

Also in this issue we have the BBKA Honey Survey for 2016. As Margaret Murdin says on page 357, this is an important record of British honey quality, and we would really appreciate you taking a few minutes to let us know about your beekeeping experiences this year. So, please complete the survey either online or by filling out the form on page 357-358 and posting this to the BBKA survey team by Friday 14 October. All returned surveys are eligible for entry into a prize draw.

And finally, if you are going to the National Honey Show on 27-29 October at Sundown Park Racecourse, do visit the BBKA stand and say hello.