Today, the 3rd of November, was the Annual General Meeting of the Devon Apicultural Research Group attended by 2 dozen people from as far apart as Cambridge and the USA, the American being Keith Delaplane who was our guest.
We arrived about noon and clustered in the bar of the Furzeleigh Mill Hotel at Buckfastleigh, where we’ve had the AGM for many years. Eventually we were let into the dining room where we had a splendid meal, my only criticism being that the plates were too small!
After lunch we shuffled the furniture to form a rough circle so we could all see each other. Keith hadn’t prepared a lecture so we had a round tables discussion/debate with Keith providing expert information. This was a much better format than the usual lights out/ eyelids down/ ppt lecture that is common at beekeeping and other events nowadays!
Much of the conversation centred around Asian hornets and the other beast from the east: Varroa. In answering a query as to whether, in the fullness of time, our honeybees will evolve to defend themselves successfully from these predators, Keith pointed out that the oldest ancestral bee fossils have been found in central Europe and they must have sent off branches to Africa and Asia about 80 million years ago.
Viruses transmitted by Varroa were mentioned and it was pointed out that there are different strains of Deformed Wing Virus, some of which display no symptoms. CCD was discussed. It seems not to be a real problem nowadays and Keith associated this with IPM (Integrated Pest Management) providing more and varied treatments. He likes the thymol gels etc. MAQS works well. Oxalic is as effective as formic acid and not as nasty.
I think Keith has been over here so often that he’s becoming Anglicised as he mentioned treatments in the Autumn rather than ‘Fall’, the usual American term (although William Barnes was using it about 150 years ago).
Africanised bees in the US stopped spreading north about 2005 and aren’t found north of Tampa(?), Florida. They seem to tolerate Varroa. They don’t treat for it in Brazil but they do in Mexico.
Is shook swarming effective against Varroa? A brood break is what’s needed and is effective, so let them swarm! Tom Seeley reckons that bees that are allowed to swarm are healthier.
The future? Honeybees aren’t the best pollinators; bumbles and solitary bees being better, so the market for hives for pollinating might well reduce, perhaps being replaced by humans in polytunnels!
Time for tea. They gave me a de-caffeinated pot! Then came the business part of the day: the AGM. Minutes were approved. Matters arising: the figures were wrong! AOB. Glyn Davies’ report on the Drone Laying Queens project is currently in a paper file and will be revised to go onto the web site.
We now have 29 members, one of whom joined today! With membership increasing, we might need to look for bigger halls to hire for our meetings. The bank gave us an unexplained windfall of £131. The financial year in future wil end at the end of September in order to give the Treasurer more time to get the figures done. Glyn Davies is stepping down as web master, being replaced by Peter Weller who has expertise in this field.
Glyn was elected President, succeeding (in reverse order) Ron Brown, Prof.Len Heath and Bro.Adam.
This was all done in about 15 minutes and we hit the road at about 4.30. I shuffled my gps to take me via Trago Mills where I managed to find some dark mesh at a cost of 26 pence that I hope will render bee-proof my Sherriff veil that I bought about 30 years ago and is now falling apart.