We held our AGM at the village hall in June and moved quickly through the formal business. In my address I thanked a number of important contributors to the Society including Bill Patterson for his excellent posters and Paulette Reed for her support at the village hall. We are also most grateful for the hard work of Hilary Willis, with the help of David Heard, for organising the GP and hospital transport service. Finally, a huge vote of thanks for Phil and Rachel Heaphy for their sterling work editing the Diary.
Phil Heaphy, our treasurer, ran swiftly through the finances, which remain in a healthy position thanks to the Diary. Having concluded the business, we welcomed Brian Bush who gave an enthusiastic and informative talk on beekeeping.
I must thank the team who ran a wonderful fun day and excellent dinner dance in honour of the Queen’s 90th birthday, raising a fantastic sum for some very worthy charities. Well done not only to the organising team but also all who contributed and attended: I thoroughly enjoyed my stint with an EU inspector vetting visitors and directing traffic!
We are looking forward to a number of events over the next few months. The first is the Annual Village Sports Day on Saturday September 10th at 1.45pm with barbecue and bar open from 1.00pm. Why not come along and make a family day of it and support our own village athletes? As usual there will be races for all age groups, including the hotly contested mothers and fathers races, so start your training and let’s hope for an Indian Summer!
Our autumn talks commence soon afterwards:
Bonkers Brash Round Britain Challenge, the inside track
Our local IT guru will tell us about his amazing round Britain challenge by running, swimming, cycling and kayaking daily for 28 days covering 4,410km!
Richard will tell some stories of spectacular scenery, remarkable adventures and wonderful memories experienced during a month of extreme physical and mental challenges: falling asleep whilst cycling, swimming with seals, running across a beach littered with unexploded ordnance and capsizing.
Gwyn will tell us about his experiences as a pilot of this iconic aeroplane from yesteryear.
Hopefully these talks will entice you all along but if you have any suggestions about subjects or contacts for talks in 2017, please do let me know as this is your society and we need input from you. You may even get an invitation to share your interests or experiences!
Dorothea Paterson will be 100 in October this year.
Dorothea was a founding member of The Gaddesden Society and it is her tree artwork that we have used for many years, both on the Diary cover and more widely within the Society.
We send Dorothea our very good wishes on this momentous occasion!
The Editors and The Gaddesden Society Committee
GADDESDEN SOCIETY TALKS
To Bee or Not to Bee – Brian Bush
Brian has been keeping bees for the 10 years, starting in a small way, and now has a number of hives in production. Brian is a registered ‘Swarm Officer’ in the Mid Bucks area.
Bee keeping throughout Europe and other parts of the world has been ongoing for many centuries. However, it was not until the 18th Century that there was sufficient understanding of a bee’s life cycle to allow the construction of man-made hives which permitted the harvesting of honey without destroying the bees.
Brian started by describing the contents of a bee colony within a single hive. This consists of the 3 ‘castes’, which are the queen, the female worker bees, typically 30,000 – 50,000 in number, and the drones, ranging from thousands in a strong summer to a minimal number during a cold season. Following mating with a number of drones, the queen, which is raised from special larvae produced by the workers, is able to lay many thousands of eggs each day. A hive cannot operate without the functioning queen bee.
Brian went on to indicate that there were four clergymen, who were significant contributors to beekeeping as we know it today. These were Rev. William Broughton Carr, (1836-1909) who designed and constructed the typically British, often white painted, beehive. Rev. Lorenzo Langstroth, (1810-1895), an American, determined the ‘bee space’ necessary between frames in hives to optimise honey production. All other hives have been adapted from his concept. He made his own hives from empty champagne boxes. Abbott Emile Warre, (1867-1951), exhorted French peasants to produce honey to prevent it from being an Anglo-Saxon activity. Finally there was Brother Adam, (1898-1996), a German monk, from Buckfast Abbey in Devon. He noted that North European black bees were susceptible to acarine mite which impacts their length of life and hence production of honey. He introduced Italian bees with greater immunity to the mite. He then worked all his life on trying to develop the perfect honey bee, by hybridising differing sub-species from Europe and even Africa. From his work a number of breeders produce a hybrid, Buckfast Strain, in use around the world.
In the wild a colony of bees will build a dwelling resembling a multi-layered rugby ball. These colonies frequently do not survive. Thus the traditional hive is made with good insulation to help support the life within it. The common hive is called the ‘Modified British National’ hive and was designed in the 1920s. In recent years newer designs of hives have been developed which have some advantages. There are also larger hives, based on traditional designs, for commercial honey production.
A hive consists of the following ‘layers’: open mesh floor, brood box, queen excluder, super, where honey is made or stored, the crown board and the roof. The design of hives has to permit exclusion of predators which include mice.
The worker bees, which have a life cycle of approximately six weeks, are very active during the spring. Initially they clean the hive, feed larvae and build the comb. Later they become foragers, collecting nectar, pollen, water for honey production and tree resin, to disinfect the hive. The honey constituents are stored in the comb, where the water evaporates and enzymes invert the sugars, thus producing honey which can be collected from the frame either in July/ August or September/October. As a beekeeper removes the honey, which is the food for the next winter, he has to replace this with sugar syrup.
Brian mentioned his work as a ‘swarm officer’. As a bee colony increases in size or a queen becomes old and less efficient, the workers produce new queen larvae. As these pupate, a new queen is produced and the old queen vacates the hive with about half the bee population. This is a swarm which is trying to find a new home. This black moving object can be quite alarming to members of the public. It is important that if a swarm is discovered, a swarm officer is called to collect and rehouse it. Within the Little Gaddesden area, there are a number of swarm officers. Their details are provided below.
In conclusion Brian mentioned that beekeeping is now a very popular activity throughout the UK and in other countries. Within the UK there are bee-keeping associations throughout the country with very large quantities of different types of honey produced.
LOCAL SWARM OFFICERS
Lynne Bruges Astrope
or just ring the MBBKA swarm line on 07770 370132