By David Morland
Members will remember that last year’s Convention was held in the summer on one of the hottest days of the year, and in the middle of the swarming period, so it was decided to move the event until later in the year.
On 17 September we welcomed Pam Hunter and John Hendrie, both of whom are BBKA Trustees and also involved in setting and marking the Beekeeping Modules – the same ones as the SBA exams here in Scotland.
After refreshments and a short introduction, Pam gave a very engaging talk how bees perceive the world – The Senses of the Bee. She compared the anatomy and biology of the bee with our own, showing that the bees’ external skeleton is completely covered with different sense organs which provide it with comprehensive information about the environment.
After a short break, John gave a talk about communication in bees, leading naturally on from Pam’s subject. The sense organs of the bees are all over the body of the insect, but there is a higher concentration of them in the antennae and these are therefore one of the most important receptors of smell, touch and vibration. Pheromones produced by glands situated in the head, body and feet, essentially hold the colony together with the queen, and are responsible for driving all the activities in the hive.
Sandwiches and nibbles were provided for lunch, giving members time to chat and meet the speakers. I understand Pam’s background in the pharmaceutical industry prompted some discussion about antibiotics!
Pam then spoke about the history of Beekeeping using the writings of many scientists to show the influence they had on the understanding of beekeeping.
She included a fascinating section about the belief for many years that that colony was headed by a king rather than a queen (in modern times some patriarchal societies still find this hard to come to terms with). It was also thought that imprisoning a dead bullock in a small room for a period of time would produce a swarm of bees (bugonia). In fact, these are more likely to have been hover flies!
A short break (with more tea and coffee provided by Margaret!) was then followed by the final talk by John on Spring Management which brought us back to the practicalities of beekeeping and included some useful tips from his many years’ experience.
The speakers were then joined by Enid Brown, from the SBA, for ‘Beekeepers Question Time’. (Incidentally Enid has recently been appointed as the first Director of World Beekeeping Awards, following dubious practices in the last Apimondia in Turkey!)
A number of questions from the audience were answered by the team, with some good-natured disagreement along the way, as is normal for beekeepers!
Honey Show trophies and exam certificates were presented to successful members who were present on the day.
[Photos: Lorraine Reid]
Hugh Donohoe gave a demonstration of wax melting and cleaning which was of interest for members wishing to trade their wax in for fresh foundation, or for entry into honey shows.
David then showed how a domestic vacuum cleaner with associated collection bin could be used to extract colonies of bees from difficult places, with tales of how it had been successfully used over the season. Members suggested improvements to make the experience less stressful for the bees.
The Association’s collection of Beehive and Beekeeping models were on display all day and generated a lot of interest. A future article will describe these in detail.
A full and varied day was enjoyed by all, and thanks go to our two speakers for making the long journey up to Aberdeen.
Members should note that the SBA Convention 2019 is being held in Aberdeen and the next ADBKA Convention will therefore be in 2020.
[Header image: Aristeas and bugonia. Virgil’s Georgics. Lyon – Wikipedia]