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October 2017 BBKA News highlights
The continued cooling of our autumn temperatures will be encouraging our bees to cluster so as to maintain the temperature they need to survive, says Bridget Beattie on page 335. She reminds us to ensure that any varroa treatments we have administered to our colonies are removed after the prescribed time in the hive and the used treatment packaging is disposed of according to manufacturers’ instructions. Bridget also reminds us that any supplementary feeding should be coming to an end now, but if there is any doubt that your bees have sufficient stores then fondant should be given. In relation to feeding sugar to our bees, an important consideration is minimising the concentration of 5-hydroxymethyfurfural (HMF) that can develop during the syrup or fondant production process. Dr Serena Tulini and Antonio Valisena have been looking into ways to minimise HMF formation in fondant and you can read about this on page 343. Whether you need to give fondant or not, as Bridget says, all supers should now be cleaned, stacked and stored in a hygienic way with suitable protections against entry of bees or moths. Hives should have reduced entrances to help our bees defend against robbing or entry of mice and, where needed, they should be protected against attack from green woodpeckers or local animals. For a quick reminder of these and other jobs you need to do in October turn to page 335 for Bridget’s advice.
You have heard much in recent issues of BBKA News about efforts to encourage young people into beekeeping and, as you know, there is now a Schools Membership for those schools that keep honey bees. This option has been taken up by Caldertones School in Liverpool and Margaret Murdin paid them a visit recently because six of their pupils decided to take the BBKA Junior Certificate and all six passed. On page 339 you can read how Calderstones School set about keeping bees, a surprise discovery they made and the journey of their young beekeepers.
Informing the public about bees and beekeeping is one way the BBKA works towards its charitable objectives, and this is achieved throughout the year by attending various shows. We have several reports in this issue of successful show presences, including: RHS Tatton, where Cheshire beekeepers excelled in winning a Gold medal (page 332); RHS Chatsworth where Derbyshire BKA teamed up with the BBKA to present a ‘history of the hive’ display along with skep-making, candle-rolling, microscopy and live bee demonstrations (page 341), and the BBC Countryfile Live Show at Blenheim Palace where the BBKA held an ‘inside beekeeping’ display informing the visitors about a wide range of beekeeping activities, again with live bee displays (page 342).
The next major show for us all to look forward to will be the National Honey Show at Sandown Park Racecourse on 26-28 October, where the findings of the BBKA Honey Survey for 2017 should be available. If you wish to contribute to this survey, you will find the survey form on pages 351-352 in this issue, which can be completed and posted. The closing date is Monday 9 October, so you will need to get your skates on if you wish to submit your findings and enter into the prize draw. For those who prefer to submit their entry online, the survey is also available on the BBKA website. Do submit an entry if you can as this is the only record of annual British honey quantities. This year we are also inviting the Scottish, Welsh and Ulster beekeepers to contribute to our survey, so we ought to have a more complete idea of what has been happening across the UK this year.
If you have been following our series on varroa management during the past three months, you will be looking forward to the fourth article in this series, which is on page 345. This final article of the series, written by Jason Learner, reviews some of the common integrated pest management (IPM) approaches and looks at what could go wrong if you do not ‘stick to your plan’. You may, perhaps, find out why one of your strategies did not perform as you expected!
Many of you will be aware that the BBKA Executive Committee (EC) has been carrying out an extensive review of the BBKA Constitution. During this review it became clear that the charitable status of the BBKA needed review. On page 347 Stephen Barnes explains the rationale for the EC finding of a need for the BBKA status to change from its current unincorporated status to a Charitable Incorporate Organisation. This is an important change that the EC wishes to table a proposition about at the next Annual Delegate Meeting, so please do take a moment to read the reasons for the proposal.
Also in this issue we have a selection of research articles in The British Bee Journal. The first article addresses the problem of declining honey bees, but not in the way you might think. Japanese researchers have been developing robot bee ‘drones’ that can visit flowers, pick up pollen and transport it to other plants in an effort to help boost pollination. The second article is by Ben Jones - now Dr Ben Jones (congratulations Ben) - who summarises his PhD research on his investigations into the effects of diet on the immunocompetence and behaviour of honey bees.
We hope you enjoy this month’s issue.