Our County AGM was preceeded by a talk by Ben Jones of FERA on Honeybee Protein Nutrition, telling us about the PhD for which he is studying at Exeter, (sponsored by BKAs) while working at York! He gave a rapid powerpoint presentation and, as I don’t do shorthand, I am having trouble reading my notes. Much of what he said was beyond me anyway!
Pollen provides protein, minerals, lipids (whatever they are) and ‘illegible’ to bees. A colony needs between 13.4 and 17.8 kg a year. They use osmotic pressure in their digestive tract to get at the goodies. Bee bread is a mixture of pollen, honey (35%), and enzymes, some of which inhibit germination. Most of the pollen is eaten by the young bees from 10 days old upwards during their time as baby feed suppliers as it promotes the development of the hypopharyngeal glands to produce jelly for the larvae. It also helps in flight muscle building and fat bodies and aids longevity: the more the better. Pollens differ between 2.5% and 60% protein content.
Ben is playing with bees to determine whether/to what extent pollen helps the honeybee immune system. The immune system is important as a crowded, still, genetically similar, warm colony is asking for problems with pests and diseases. Their immune system includes behaviour such as cleaning, grooming, undertaking and propolis. They also use their enzymes to produce hydrogen peroxide,an antibiotic. Such an immune system is costly in terms of time, effort and resources and it appears that a good pollen supply is of great assistance.
Ben described how he tested immune sysyems by injecting bees with lipopolysaccharides derived from E.coli compared with controls injected with something innocuous. What a way to spend your day!
Ben finished in good time and dealt with the few questions. Then came the important (to me) part of the afternoon: tea and cake! This year it was supplied by Blandford & Sturminster Branch. The plates were too small! I had to go round twice! The quality was just as good as West Dorset’s last year and the variety was greater; however this year I wasn’t provided with a doggy bag to take some home.
As I was sat at a table towards the end of my first plateful, a gentleman came to sit with me and said that I had been pointed out to him by name. ‘By whom?’ He pointed at somebody I have seen before but couldn’t name. He introduced himself as Gordon Crocker and the reason he was seeking me was that I have been mentioned in a couple of the recent editions of the Hardyeans’ Club newsletter. I was at Hardye’s School from 1959 – 1964 but he was there about 1952/53, making him a good decade older than me. I’m looking at a Newsletter now and see that he is Vice President!
Then it was time to take our seats again for the AGM which Chairwoman, Lesley Gasson took at the gallop. I saw from the screen that I am still listed among the Vice Presidents. As nothing was said about adding to or subtracting from the list, I suppose I still am one. It seems that nosema is not widespread in Dorset. Our money in the bank is down by about £500 but we’re still well solvent. We’re to have another seminar this autumn, starring Professor Robert Pickard, who is one of the best lecturers I’ve heard. We should have had him last year but he was busy having a hip replaced. I was on my feet a couple of times, briefly, to report on the County website that I run and on the chaos at the BBKA Annual Delegates’ Meeting. I kept it brief because I knew that more would be said at the next agenda item, a report of the SWCJCC, the South West Counties’ Joint Consultative Committee. There had been much discontent at the idiotic way the BBKA has been working lately, particularly at the ADM and the SWCJCC Chairman has written to all the BBKA Trustees individually asking them to sort themselves out. The letter has been acknowledged and it appears that the matter will be discussed. The ADM resolution to get their timetable in order might assist.
At the election of officers, Secretary Ruth Homer (a recently elected BBKA Trustee) stood down as Secretary after 5 years but nobody at first would volunteer to take over! It took a good 5 minutes before Liz Rescorla’s squeal of pain from having her arm twisted was taken as volunteering! Richard Norman took over the Treasurership from Nicky Hunt who has been trying to stand down for the last 2 years.
The meeting finished at about 4.30, giving me time, after getting home, to dash to the allotment to check the bees’ temperatures and to do a bit of digging to try and work off some of the cake!