Midnite Bee-Beekeeper's: Reports REPORTS  
An Hes is the monthly Newsletter of West Cornwall Beekeepers Association

An Hes October2000

An Hes is the monthly newsletter of the West Cornwall Beekeepers Association

Registered charity No. 800278

Editor James Kilty ph/fax 01736 850373



Due to forgetfulness it is your editor who is now making up An Hes. The deadline is 2 days past and we cannot wait another week. So, all mistakes are mine. Not that there have been many but maybe when I receive my copy one will jump out as is the way of things.

I have included a short piece on propolis recipes. Tincture uses alcohol. I am told you can buy 100% alcohol as "Polish Spirit" which should be better than 100 proof in which case use a much lower temperature - alcohol boils at 70C if my memory serves me. I am also told that 200F is likely to be too high for safety even though 100 proof is about 70% alcohol and 30% water. Readers with experience of working with propolis, especially scrapings, please let us all know.

Propolis is such a well known health supplement (anti-viral/anti-fungal/anti- bacterial) high in bio-flavonoids tha we should all consider its value as part of our harvest. I saw my first colony with 2 queens working in it recently. I had suspected some colonies from time to time and confirmed colonies where the mother was still laying after the virgin hatched but was not after the new queen mated.

This time I actually saw a fat new queen and her marked mother. From the point of view of furthering the breeding line I am disappointed because it was not a well colony, having sac brood and chalk brood without being hygienic. So there were lots of dead brood left to see. I was about to replace the queen only to find a supersedure cell which I decided to leave. The new brood seems healthy enough and I gave it a cleaned brood chamber, flamed the floor, and now hope for the best. It will be interesting to check how long the old queen stays fed since she wasn't laying that fast.

How many readers have suspected or actually confirmed 2 (or more) queens in a hive? I made the mistake of ignoring advice I had put in last issue regarding wax moth. I quote "Never leave comb or wax in an unoccupied hive or in an outbuilding awaiting your action". Well, I did. A stack of supers awaiting extraction, held over a 60 watt lamp were opened after a couple of weeks. Two supers were badly contaminated with maybe up to 100 larvae of all sizes from tiny thread-like tings to the fat grey horrors I hate so much and their cocooned brothers and sisters in corners and between combs.

Fortunately only about 6 frames were affected and larvae, runs, cocoons and faeces could all be removed completely. This took some considerable time as I did not want to jar honey which had contacted the faeces. The comb was all pristine and white though the grubs had worked their way through cells with pollen in. The moral of the story is that here is a lot of galleria melonella about. Store combs according to last month's advice: freeze, fumigate or spray them (or all 3!) before sealing them with parcel tape or similar. Some beekeepers leave them on the hives for the bees to deal with. If you do, take care they become water tight after your last inspection with propolis or a good fit. Watch out for late unsuccessful queen supersedures. See thoughts below for one way of handling this.

Some thoughts from Berkshire

By now, there should not be any drones in the hive. If there are it is probably queenless and should be united on top of a Queen-right colony with a sheet of newspaper between them. Make a few slashes in the paper to give them some help. - Wait a moment - "probably queenless"? Make sure, and if after a search you are still in doubt, shake all the bees well away from the hive stand, preferably over an excluder. The bees will return and usually leave any unmated queen behind. Ivy produces pollen very late in the year, so don't be in too much of a hurry to get your mouse guards on, as they tend to knock the pollen off the bees as they enter. Wait until activity has slowed. The most common mouse guard in use is a galvanised strip punched with a series of holes. To aid the bees, cut each hole on the bottom row to resemble an archway, this will allow the bees to walk in retaining any pollen they may be carrying. By the end of this month, you should have completed your feeding programme and depending on the date you inserted your Varroa control, the manufacturer's instructions for its removal should have been obeyed. You will probably find that the bees have stuck the strips with brace comb and you may need pliers to remove them. Apistan strips appear to be somewhat flimsier than Bayvarol ones, so take care that you don't leave part of the strip in the hive. >From Berkshire Newsletter

Processing Propolis

Propolis tincture

Step1: Measure the propolis granules and add an equal measure of 100-proof vodka. Heat the closed bottle in a 200 degree F. oven and shake the bottle every 30 minutes. Maintain the heat until the propolis granules are dissolved and the mixture is uniform.

Step 2: Strain the mixture through paper towel or nylon stocking. Bottle into 'dropper bottles' and label the tincture. The shelf life is several years. Propolis tincture can be used full strength, internally or externally, on cuts, scratches and rashes.

Propolis lip balm

1 tsp. beeswax

1 tsp. propolis granules

1 tsp. lanolin 3 tsp. mineral oil (UK probably liquid paraffin)

A few drops wintergreen essential oil

Melt the ingredients in a microwave or make a small double boiler by placing a can in boiling water. Stir until it cools.

Propolis ointment

1 tsp. beeswax

4 tsp. liquid paraffin

1 tsp. propolis granules

1 tsp. honey

Melt the ingredients in a microwave or make a small double boiler by placing a can in boiling water. Stir until it cools. Adrian Kyte Editor's note: for tsp. read any measure multiplying by 3 or 4 as needed.

Big impact science - Wow!

We have an observation hive. This afternoon they finished off a round of syrup in the boardman feeder. I replenished the syrup and within a minute many workers began to Nasanov in the direction of the feeder. A minute more and a half dozen workers began to round dance. It was remarkable! Often when I am talking to kids I scramble for BIG IMPACT demonstrations to catch their attention. I am thinking that a demonstration, where a description of Nasnov pheromone and round dancing is given, and then a feeder is put into place, and the kids witness the dramatic change in behavior would leave a lasting impression. Now, I just have to repeat it on cue. I guess the trick will be to have many bees ready and waiting for feed to have them react so dramatically. Anybody try this on a regular basis before? Adony Melathopoulos

EFB responds to patties?

Since approximately 1996, we have suffered severe outbreaks of very virulent EFB during pollination of pears and apples in spring. International enquiries proved that very little is known about this disease. Based on the articles on "fat patties" in the bee press, we decided to give these a try. They are effective against TM, as Diana Sammatoro proved conclusively, but also apparently reduce EFB. They work! These patties are now part of our standard pre-pollination preparation routine. The mix is simple: one part pure vegetable fat (warmed to liquid for mixing) three parts sugar, and one part (discarded) jam (this binds the patty as it is high in pectin). This patty is firm and does not need any backing. It does not dribble down the combs (possibly harming the queen), but simply sits on top of the brood frames. These patties are also an extremely useful identifier of HYG colonies. The slower the colony take the patty, the less HYG and the more likely that they will die out before the season is out. Robert Post

bee venom

There are many myths surrounding bee stings and bee allergies. Two of these relate to people being allergic to bees. This is a fallacy -- we don't say people are allergic to cows. People are allergic to milk or milk products -- how many are allergic to beef or leather? Likewise, if someone is allergic to bee sting venom, they are absolutely NOT allergic to bee pollen, royal jelly, honey etc.

There is zero evidence to suggest otherwise. Bee product suppliers are doing themselves a disservice by putting warning labels on products regarding people allergic to bees -- no such allergy exists regarding bee products. Secondly, it is believed that a lot of people die from bee stings. This also is not true. In fact people have a greater chance of dying from being struck by lightening that being killed by a bee sting.

In the USA for example, less than 20 people die each year from stings -- including bee stings. Compare that with between 100,000 and 160,000 people dying every year from properly researched, properly regulated, properly prescribed and properly used drugs each year. Add to that the 45,000 - 90,000 people who die as a result of preventable medical error in our hospitals each year and you have some idea of the comparative risks involved with bees.

There is no evidence to show that people with asthma or other allergies are any more susceptible to bee stings. Studies show that about 0.8% of both have allergies to bee stings. People with asthma have a slightly more severe reaction, but the frequency is no more.

There is no significant evidence to suggest that bee keepers are more or less prone to allergic reactions to bee stings, although there is good evidence that the longer one has been beekeeping the less allergic one is. This could be because allergic people quickly quit the business or that people are desensitized. Another myth is that you should use a sharp instrument to remove bee stings so that you don't pump bee venom into the skin in the process of removing the sting.

The following article is from the British medical journal called The Lancet and demonstrates that speed of removal is the best means of reducing exposure to venom from bee stings. People who are known to suffer serious allergic reactions called anaphylaxis should carry an epinephrine syringe with them at all times. Their colleagues/friends/family should also know where it is and how to use it as it is a proven life saver. People involved in Apitherapy, however, suggest the most important factor in anaphylaxis with bee stings is not to panic. In summary: the chances of dying from a bee stings are infinitely less than dying from a visit to the doctor, and much less than dying from being struck by lightning. I would suggest that dying from stress thinking about it more likely too. Ron Law

Leg-biting studies

Prof. Freidrich Ruttner advised John Dew to use low efficiency treatments so as to identify colonies that showed signs of resistance to Varroa, then to selectively breed from these. John decided to follow his recommendation and has been following that advice now for over three years and regularly monitors natural mite drops when no treatment is being given. Mites are examined under a microscope for damage, and this recorded.

The percentage of mites damaged for the whole apiary was showing an average of 31%. Selective breeding using instrumental insemination has resulted in lifting the average to 40% in the 12 colonies headed by instrumentally inseminated queens in this programme. Such colonies would not have been identified using Bayvarrol or Apistan. Whilst this is still only partially on the way to total resistance, at least it is a step in the right direction.

The damage inflicted is mainly legs bitten off, sometimes the edge of the carapace damaged, and often accompanied with dents in the carapace, although the latter by itself is not recorded as a damaged mite. It could be that the dents in the carapace that coincide with a leg bitten off immediately below it, are due to a single bite with the bees mandibles. We tend to look to bee research institutes to carry out such studies, and few beekeepers would undertake such a task as John is doing, but he is fasinated by the work and has aroused the interest of others, in particular BIBBA who are supporting him, as is the beekeeping organisation of his district (Whitby BKA). Such support and encouragement for those who undertake such work is good, and values their work and dedication, and assures them that others both admire and appreciate their work. Albert Knight

Editor's note: John uses thymol and lactic acid in order to avoid the more efffective bayvarol and apistan so he has a decent number of varroa to assess in the normal mite fall through the season. Results are impressive. Should we be doing similar assessments of our colonies' ability to kill the mites themselves?

Removing bee stings P Kirk Visscher, Richard S Vetter, Scott Camazine

Body of article available from your editor.

Discussion: Our sting weal bioassay accurately reflected the quantity of venom received. The increase in weal area with increasing time between sting delivery and removal reflects continuing pumping of venom into the flesh by the detached sting, and it illustrates the importance of even short delays in removing the sting. The method of removal does not seem to affect the quantity of venom received. This finding contrasts sharply with conventional advice on the immediate treatment of bee stings. Probably this advice derives from a misunderstanding of the structure and operation of honey bee stings. The sting continues to inject venom, but it is the valve system, not contraction or external compression of the venom sac (the wall of which contains no muscle) that pumps the venom.

Our data indicate that the advice often given to patients--that they should be concerned about how bee stings are removed--is counterproductive in terms of minimising envenomisation. The method of removal is irrelevant, but even slight delays in removal caused by concerns about the correct procedure (or finding an appropriate implement) are likely to increase the dose of venom received. The advice should be simply to emphasise that a bee sting should be removed as quickly as possible. Of course the most important response to bees defending their nests should be to get away from the vicinity of the nest quickly. An alarm pheromone is emitted at the base of a honey bee's sting;8 when detected by other bees it makes them more likely to sting, and aids them in locating the victim. This effect is particularly important with Africanised bees, since they are likely to respond in greater numbers to the release of alarm pheromone than do European honey bees, with a consequently larger number of stings. In such a situation, reaching safety is more important than removing the stings immediately. Lancet Volume 348, Number 9023 3 August 1996

Further on EFB

EFB is a stress related problem. It is widespread throughout the world. In a recent disease survey in South Africa it was confirmed that EFB is widespread, not a major disease problem and appears not to spread significantly within an apiary (Capensis Research Programme Final Report 8/5/2000(CRP)). The belief is that every colony actually contains EFB, but only shows symptoms when under stress.

The Australasian Beekeeper (AB) (PMB 19, Maitland, NSW) pamphlet on EFB states: "Hives can become initially infected by the introduction of infected combs/food, drift or bees watering from infected supplies ... Once present, M. pluton constantly remains in the hive. Hives which are stressed, having not wintered well due to ... are prone to outbreaks ..". It is important to note that secondary bacteria are responsible for the decay and other symptoms associated with EFB. M. pluton is apparently also extremely difficult to isolate in vitrio (CRP). "There is an increasing trend away from the use of antibiotics and a greater awareness that with care European foul brood can usually be successfully held at tolerable levels with management. In fact more beekeepers are turning to management primarily because it keeps their hives free of undesirable antibiotic residues and since they have fewer susceptible hives, management has become a least cost alternative. (AB)."

As a matter of fact Oxytetracyclene (OTC) is banned in many countries, as it masks the EFB and related pathogens, while the original stress inducing problem persists. Information and summary provided by Robert Post Getting bees off box edges Most of this year it has been possible to work the bees without smoke, but as the bees have gotten more numerous, smoke at the end of the work to try to clear the box edges has become necessary to avoid crushing bees. The smoke sort of worked, but was marginally satisfactory and stinks. I had tried spraying sugar syrup last year without success. Today I tried syrup again, but carefully sprayed it on the top bars of the outside frames and the combs thereof ONLY, getting NO syrup on the box edges. The bees abandoned the box edges for the syrup. They were occupied and seemed very content. Now it's practical to herd the bees with breath and fingers for most manipulations, and the syrup provides a good way to clear the box edges. Bill Morong

Cell size... a study

This short article is put here because there is some controversial discussion on the Internet at the moment in 3 newsgroups on cell size of foundation in relation to bees tolerance of varroa. I have asked Thorne's about how they selected 5.7mm cell size. Our bees are supposed to be larger than Italian and Carnica and Caucasian bees all widely used in the U.S. where 5.3 and even 5.2mm cell sizes are customary.

The article quotes 3 cell sizes: 711/sq dm or 5.7mm (Thorne's size); 857/sq dm or 5.2 mm and 1004/sq dm or 4.8mm (smaller even than the Africanised Honeybee needs).

Here is a summary of a study conducted by the USDA: Harbo, J. R. 1991. "Effect of cell size on quantity of brood and weight of worker bees." Am Bee J 131: 776

Small colonies (bees covering 3-frames, @ 6,000 workers), of roughly equal size, were established on colonies containing either; 1) 711 cells per sq decimeter (6 colonies) or 2) 857 cells per sq decimeter (a natural sized foundation - claimed here) (9 colonies).

A second experiment was conducted where an even smaller cell size (1004 cells per sq dm) (4 colonies) was compared to the largest cell size (711 cells per sq dm) (4 colonies). 'Colonies compensated for the large cells be increasing their brood area to maintain about the same number of broodcells. Colonies with larger cells (711 cells per sq dm) produced larger areas of brood than colonies with smaller cells (857 cells per sq dm), but the two groups never differed in the number of brood cells.

Larger cells produced larger bees. The difference between worker bees from the large and medium sized cells was 6mg (113 and 107 mg) in the first experiment. The difference between workers from the largest and smallest cells in experiment 2 was 11 mg (117 and 106mg)' Adony Melathopoulos Apiculture Biotechnologist

October meeting AGM

Rosewarne 30 October 7.30 pm

This is the meeting to hear from the outgoing team of officers and elect the new team. The way we run the Association for your benefit is the primary task of the meeting. This is your chance to have a say.

Mondays at Rosewarne 7.30pm
Oct 30 AGM
Nov 27 John Kinross: Moving Bees by Trishaw
Dec 11 Social & Honey Show
Jan 22 Brian Sherriff Slide show on Beekeeping in Tanzania
Feb 26 James Kilty The Internet and Beekeeping at James


Officers and Committee
President Ken Gilmour 01736 364121
Chair Andrew Reeve
Apiary Manager Rodger Dewhurst 01209 842860
Spray Liaison Rodger Dewhurst  
Secretary Dave McIntosh 5 North Parade Penzance TR18 4SH 01736 361294
Membership Secretary Dave McIntosh  
Treasurer John English Forest Farm Four Lanes TR16 6NA 01209 713441
Minutes Secretary Cissy Bisson 01326 220680
ADM Representative Lindsay Bryning 01326 573845
Varroa Liaison Officer Lol Oakes 01736 366883
Librarian James Kilty 01736 850373
Course Manager James Kilty  
Editor An Hes James Kilty  
Committee Member Gloria Heelas 01736 762423
Committee Member Tamsin Harris 01736 850692
Committee Member Liz Bednarski 01736 850577
Committee Member Jenny Lewis 01736 753124



Future meetings

John Kinross on November 27th.

John is a good friend of WCBKA having supported our library and students well since moving to Cornwall. He is very knowledgeable and offers us a very unusual subject which he takes around Association branches.

Honey Show and Social on December 11th. This is our annual get-together and chat time. Very informal apart from the judging and declaration of prize winners. Bring something to eat and drink to share out. Mince pies and anything made form honey are especially welcome treats. The schedule will be more or less as last year: the usual honey, wax and cooking classes plus mead, photographs and objects. Prepare your honey now. Make those cakes of wax and candles. Details next issue.

Brian Sherriff on January 22nd. Brian is well known as manufacturer of high quality and effective bee suits exported around the world. He is well travelled and should liven up our winter evenings somewhat.

James Kilty on February 26th is offering a live Internet session at home. Demonstrations and hands on to see the main Usenet group, email discussion Bee Lists, web sites from around the world: Beekeepers' Associations, manufacturers and suppliers, University and Government. Bring requests and URL's. This session requires no prior expertise.

Annual General Meeting This will take place in our usual venue at Rosewarne classroom 14.

1)Minutes of 1999 meeting


3)Reports from Officers

4)Members Items Election of Officers and Committee

The main election is for a new Chair (Andrew has resigned this time). As our President has been nominated to fill the gap if no other nominee is put forward this would leave us with another senior position to fill!! Please note that to be truly democratic we need a true election more than one person nominated for the positions!!! Some officers are offering themselves again knowing they would prefer someone else to do the job. How about volunteering???