Apart from our host, Allen, who manages the Newton Abbott apiary where we met in their off-grid club house, there were only 4 of us (from 3 counties) in attendance today, which is the least that anyone could remember. We didn’t discover why we were so thin on the ground; we usually have a multiple of that amount.
I was the youngest member present and we really need some younger blood with an eye on the future, so if you’re under 80 and enjoy bee-talk and play/learning, please come along. According to my diary, our next meeting is also at the Newton Abbott apiary on 9th October, but check our web site by googling Devon Apicultural Research Group.
Richard Ball had brought along a ‘bee gym’ a device that sits on the floor of a hive and enables bees, by squeezing between a couple of taut fishing lines, to scrape Varroa mites off their bodies. Richard had compared hives with and without the gym and was able to show by a graph of the mite drop that it enables the colony to reduce their mite load. The position of the mites on the tray below the mesh floor showed a concentration beneath the gym.
The main thing we played at today was extracting pollen from honey for microscopic analysis, with Glyn Davies taking the lead. His method was to take a teaspoon of honey (I don’t know what that is in metric), place it in a tube with 150cc of water and hand it to Allen to give a good shake to dissolve it.
In the meantime, Glyn set up his apparatus of a cylindrical container with a narrow tube and tap at the bottom. Then came a tiny funnel directing the dissolved honey into a 150cc whisky bottle. In the funnel was placed a filter paper to retain the pollen. The fluid was poured into the top and allowed gently to drop through the filter and funnel.
Ken Edwards from Somerset had brought along a centrifuge he had bought on Ebay so we tried that as well. Glyn’s method was more successful. The filter paper was removed from the funnel, gently folded and the piece assumed to have most pollen was dabbed onto a spot of pink jelly that had been melted by placing the glass slide, on which it sat, on a cup warmer (also from Ebay I think). A warmed cover slip was placed on top of the gel, pressed down and allowed to cool.
It was then placed under the microscope and Glyn found the pollen grains and focussed so we could all have a look. Richard took some photographs which may appear on our web site before too long.
After a stroll around the apiary we packed up so I shall have to leave until next time the stuff I had brought along relating to feral colonies, an item on the agenda to which we didn’t get around.
As an update on our on-going project of examining the spermathecae of queens (photos on the web site) we will soon be getting some healthy queens so we shall be able to compare their spermathecae with those of the failing queens and drone layers that we have already.