Honey Bee Report October 2014

The Fishers Field Hives

The hive

Report to Fisher’s Field AGM 2014

The large number of visitors to the Apiary at the recent very successful Fisher’s Field Open Day will have seen that there are now three hives. The original honey bee colony was started from a local queen bee kindly donated by my mentor. When this colony proved to be successful, queen cells were taken from it to start a second colony, and later a single queen cell was taken from the second hive to start a third. The last one is presently contained in a small nursery hive known as a ‘nuc’. Although the Apiary cage itself is somewhat crowded and access is occasionally difficult due to summer overgrowth, all three hives are now well established.

During the year I have monitored these hives regularly to check for diseases and to anticipate possible swarms, and I have fed them homemade sugar syrup when nectar sources were low. Unlike last year wasps have not been a major problem although there have been social visits from passing rodents. Thankfully the extra security measures taken have prevented further vandalism.

The bees themselves appear to be healthy – if somewhat defensive at present. Their former good nature has changed since at this time of the year they are sensitive to the changeable weather and they are particularly anxious to protect their winter store from intruders – including the beekeeper!

Contrary to what is thought to happen, honey bees do not hibernate in winter. Bumble bees do, honey bees don’t When external temperatures fall to about 15°C honey bees gather to form a rugby ball shaped cluster within the hive. They use much energy constantly vibrating their wing muscles in order to generate heat to keep each other warm. They are able to maintain the temperature in the core of the cluster around the queen and any remaining brood to about 30°C. Bees on the edge of the cluster move back inside it when they become cold, and their places are taken by warmer bees that have been inside. This ongoing movement maintains the cluster temperature and enables the bees to withstand cold winter conditions. Dampness or simply losing contact with their food supplies inside the hive is a greater problem for them than the cold. On occasional dry and sunny winter days the cluster will be looser, and since honey bees are very hygienic insects, some hardy bees will venture outside the hive for short cleansing flights.

Honey made by the Fishers Field bees in the summer was left in the hives as their winter food, and they have been organically medicated against common bee pests such as varroa. As winter approaches and temperatures gradually drop further, I will prepare the hives themselves for winter, for example with mouse guards. Nothing is certain however. As you would expect, winter is a testing time for honey bees. Although they prepare themselves and we have done our best to help them,, the rest is up to… well… whatever you believe in!

Fisher’s Field AGM October 2014


Present: Steve Rook, Ursula Ni Aonghusa, Betty McBean, John Compton, Chris and Terry
Meiers, Julia Meloy, Marion Roberts, Greg Townsend, Francesca Fitch, Ciaran Mullan.
Apologies: Pauline Nicholas, Eddie Sheridan, Valerie Newton.

1. Steve welcomed Friends to meeting.

2. Treasurerʼs report.
Ursula submitted report, we have £463. 91 in our funds, having
received £122 from donations at the picnic.

3. Election of Officers.
All officers wished to stand. Steve -Proposed by Chris, seconded by Ursula.
Ursula – proposed by Terry, seconded byHazel.
Betty – proposed by Marian, seconded by John.

4. Report of Parkʼs Officer.
i. Grounds maintenance.Meadow to be cut and raked off. Discussion of Muntjac deer,
who enjoy this meadow area.
ii. Difficulty for groundsmen to keep area around beehives cut, as bees are active, but
Hazel will give warning of a good time to do this. Discussion of need for Friends to
support Beekeeper in keeping undergrowth under control.
iii. Ciaran and volunteers will undertake tasks in the reserve, also contractors where
necessary. These are: Thin Cherry trees; Coppice mature Hazel stools; Pollard mature
goats willow; Clear bramble. Discussion of inviting interested children to be involved.
(See section on Junior branch.)
iv.The new pond will not be started until work on new development is finished.
v. Green Flag. Application to be submitted by Christmas. Any photos Friends may have
taken would be welcome, to use in application.
vi.Picnic day. Positive feedback from stall holders .
vii.New Development. Francesca has made contact with Foreman and officials of Howarth
homes. The field that will be part of FF has not been touched.Discussion of name of this
development, at moment is ʻFishers Parkʼ. John and Eddie in particular are keeping an
eye on the development, also Ursula. Discussion of our autonomy over this area, and
what rights we have where it is concerned.

5. Website.
This is now up and running, thanks to all concerned.
Discussion and ideas for the net. Friends are encouraged to contribute, such ideas as
what was seen during a walk through FF, what is happening this month, a monthly
calendar of seasons , Ciaranʼs work days, photos, minutes to be put there, childrenʼs
observations, etc.
Feedback would be helpful, also.
Perhaps a notice on the board to encourage those who visit – ʻHave you seen anything
interesting today? Please put it on the website.ʼ
Steve and Betty will try and write up a ʻtime lineʼ, showing important stages in the history of

6. News on bees.
Hazel gave an interesting report on current state of hives. This is on the website as a
separate item, as it is such an important part of FF.

7. Junior branch.
After the picnic, a family contacted the secretary, as the two boys, aged 9and 11, wish to
be Friends. Badges were sent to them with a welcome card. We have one other family
also interested in this way. Discussion of how they can be involved-to be invited to
Ciaranʼs workday, as it is in half term. Also ask them to contribute to the website, ʻwhat
have they noticed in the Reserveʼ, special interests, etc. Other children may be interested.

8. Visits to North Herts.
This day was appreciated, Friends felt it was particularly interesting to see large
Reserves in different situations. It is hoped this might be an annual event – Chorleywood
was mentioned as a possibility for next year.

9.  A.O.B.

i Steve expressed thanks to Francesca and Ciaran for their help during the year.
ii Francesca said Richard Rose would be working with her in the future, and he will come to meet us.

Date of next meeting. Monday, Feb. 23rd., 2015

Family Picnic September 2014

Fisher’s Field in Pictures


The Bee Hives

Historic photographs