I’m just back from a meeting of DARG, the Devon Apicultural Research Group, held in East Devon BKA’s spacious hut on a farm in the outskirts of Axminster. Numbers were a little fewer than expected, 10, including some East Devon members. I know some people are on the sick list and we stood for a couple of minutes in memory of David Loo, one of our founder members, who died a few days ago.
The subject of the day was drone congregation areas (DCAs). After the usual business and a good natter over lunch, we went outside accompanied by a very long fishing rod and several large helium-filled balloons on fine fishing lines. Attached to the rod and dangling below the balloons were pieces of material that had been baited with 9ODA, the pheromone emitted by queens seeking drones with whom to mate.
Our first try was at the top of the hill where there is an industrial area with large buildings and paved surfaces where the convection currents should be good and where the locals had heard a buzzing a few days ago. Somebody with good eyesight spotted a drone above a sycamore tree. We wandered back and forth and then down across the fields to the River Yarty for a couple of hours with very little interest by drones in our bait, about 3 in total, plus several that seemed to be very interested in Glyn Davies for some reason!
Probably the reason for the poor response was that the weather had cooled down and become breezier while we had been lunching.
We returned to the hut for tea, cakes and home made scones with cream, jam and honey of which there was an over supply that we had to cope with as more people had been expected. We sat and watched a video of somebody in Australia doing what we had just attempted, much more successfully. A book was passed around dealing with the subject: Mating Biology of Honey Bees by Gudrun and Nikolaus Koeniger, Jamie Ellis and Larry Connor. I shall have to ask the library if they have a copy I can borrow!
There was plenty of 9ODA left over and much of it was distributed among us in phials with which we can play individually during the season and report back to the Group. There are several spots where I have heard the ‘midsummer hum’ and I suspect might be DCAs so I shall go walking with a fishing rod and risk getting funny looks!