Sunday, 29 December 2013

Shook Swarm Technique

Information Sheet 

Shook Swarm Technique

This sheet progresses from that on Integrated Varroa Management.
A method used to reduce the risk of foul brood diseases such as American & European Foul Brood. The respective spores and bacteria of these diseases are usually found in the brood cells and this aims to give the colony new foundation to work on every year or two, helping to maintain healthy brood frames. This technique may also be used, with the consent and instructions of the Regional Bee Inspector, when a minor outbreak of EFB is confirmed.

Secondary Purposes:

To replace the brood combs at the beginning of the season, preferably in April/May during a honey flow and as an alternative to an artificial swarm in April, May & June. This can also reduce varroa very effectively.


To remove any possible reservoir of infection from the colony by removing all brood combs that may contain bacteria. Treatment with anti-biotic for EFB will not necessarily remove all bacteria and therefore the disease can recur.
A colony must be strong enough to withstand a Shook Swarm, ie. At least 6 British standard brood frames of bees and have a satisfactory laying queen. The colony must be able to draw out the foundation and therefore the ideal months are from late April to June.
The beekeeper must have ready for use, clean/sterilised equipment for a new hive. This is your opportunity to give the colony a clean hive to start the season, similar to the hiving of a natural swarm.


  1. Move the colony a short distance from its original position.
  2. Place a clean brood chamber with clean frames with foundation, with a clean floor and entrance
    block, on the original position. Use a queen excluder between the floor and chamber, to prevent the
    queen from absconding. Find the queen and cage her for safekeeping during this manipulation.
  3. Remove approximately 3 central frames of foundation from the new hive.
  4. Shake all bees from the original hive into the centre (do this by lowering the frames, one at a time,
    into the gap and shaking all the bees into the depth of the chamber) and brush any remaining bees.
  5. Put the old frames, without bees into a bag for destruction later. In foundation replacement & swarming situations, it is a good idea to put 1 original frame of open brood into the new chamber.
    (see note below on varroa management)
  6. When all old frames have been shaken into the new chamber, replace the 3 frames with foundation
    gently into place, then carefully release the queen into the brood chamber.
  7. Feed the bees with sugar syrup until the foundation is at least 75% draw out. If there is already
    honey in a super or good nectar flow, feeding may not be necessary, but be careful.
  8. In the case of EFB, destroy by burning all old brood frames, immediately. Otherwise the frames may be cleaned, ready for new foundation. Also in the case of EFB, any supers may be required to be burnt, unless the Regional Bee Inspector gives you a license to extract the honey for human
    consumption only.
For Integrated Varroa Management: All the original sealed brood will have a large numbers of mites within, so destruction is necessary. Return 1 brood frame with eggs or open brood to the brood chamber (varroa mites will be ready to occupy these cells as they are capped.) As soon as the cells are all capped, remove the frame & destroy it, thus removing most of the mites that were on the bees. To reuse the frames, freeze the brood and them clean off the comb and renew the foundation.

Background Information:

The National Bee Unit have researched the shook swarm relative to minor infection of EFB outbreaks and found that recurrence rates are substantially reduced when a shook is used. (4% against 21%). For heavily infected colonies, destruction of the colony and frames is required and the hive parts sterilized by scorching.
Post Note: From recent experience, it is incredible how the colony will recover and produce the usual amount of honey or even more.
Information above has been helped by an article from the BBKA News – April 2002 and personal experience

Prepared by John Hauxwell (up-dated July 2010) Reference from the CSL of the National Bee Unit, fact sheet

Friday, 27 December 2013

General Husbandry Course 2014 - ADVANCE NOTICE

Advance notice

CEC Skills Workshops committee
General Husbandry Course

Date: March, April, May 2014 - dates to be confirmed - 1 weekend and three evening sessions

Venue: various around the County at apiaries of EBKA General Husbandry 'graduates'

To register your interest: please email or call 01245 381577

Trainer: Jane Ridler and guest speakers including Graham Royle NDB

Cost: to be advised

Equipment: to be advised

Prerequisite:  Fully paid up member of EBKA for 2014

This course will be timed in March, April and May, beginning with a weekend Introductory Day with Graham Royle NDB. There will follow 3 evening sessions (at the apiaries of our General Husbandry ‘graduates’ who are also our Basic Assessors.) with Essex members who have the General Husbandry qualification. Graham will return for another day’s workshop running through some ‘mock assessments’ as well as other hands on procedures .

Topics that will be covered include – good record keeping, case studies of the assessment experience, preparing your apiary and honey extracting facilities, and weak areas requested by delegates e.g. those processes which have to be demonstrated at the assessment, and knowledge of disease.

If you are interested in doing this assessment course, please email your details.

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Need a grid reference for your hive location?

Its that time of year - memberships are due as of 1st January 2014. 

Help us to help FERA with the accurate re ording of our hive locations throughout the Dengie 100 & Maldon District.  Although not a strict requirement, as yet, this information is vital for ongoing research. 

If you need help in identifying your grid reference go to the following website:

Enter your postcode - see page below ...... Then

If your pin is shown a distance from where your hives are - just "right click" your mouse on the precise location.  A pop out window will appear giving you your grid reference! That's all there is to it.

See below

For more help, call or email the Secretary at

Happy beekeeping for 2014

Dengie 100 & Maldon Beekeepers

Merry Christmas

Varroa mites needed for research


Varroa are needed as part of a collaboration by Rothamsted Research . It links to a paper that will hopefully be published soon (already accepted): Gonz├ílez-Cabrera , J., Davies, T.G.E.,, Field, L.M., Kennedy, P.J. and Williamson, M.S. An amino acid substitution (L925V) associated with resistance to pyrethroids in Varroa destructor. PLOS ONE. The paper describes how molecular biology / chemist colleagues at Rothamstedhave identified a mutated gene that is likely to be involved in the mutation that has conferred varroa resistance to the pyrethroid-based varroacide products, Apistan and Bayverol. This was based on samples collected from hives in Bedfordshire & Hampshire.

They are now keen to confirm how common this single mutation is over a broader range of counties, hence the request for varroa. For the genetic analysis, it is important that the mites have not been dead for too long to avoid deterioration of DNA. Live would be even better, that is harder to achieve; they’ll take them dead or alive. Hence the request for varroa mites or board scrapings within a few days of clean boards being added under mesh floors (or trays inserted onto solid floors).

Please send samples directly to  Joel Gonzalez Cabrera, at Rothamsted (see address below). To make sense of the samples, they also need some additional information (as described below) and are particularly keen to receive samples from colonies that have received either Apistan or Bayvarol within the last 5 years (but are equally keen to receive varroa samples that haven’t).”


Collecting Mites Using Bottom Board

  • slide in your clean board (if in already, just slide out to clean first and return).
  • leave in for 24 – 48 hrs.
  • collect all mites as you count them (place in small container), or … just brush everything into a sealable bag.
  • mites from each hive in a different container/bag.

Mites need to arrive within 7 days of boards going in; e.g. set up Sunday, collect Tuesday, & post Tuesday/Wednesday.

Sending Mites

Include the following details:

  • your name.
  • your address (approximate if you prefer; postal address if you’d like to receive results).
  • colony ID.
  • dates & details of previous treatments.

Send mites & details 1st class to:

Joel Gonzalez Cabrera,Rothamsted Research, Harpenden, Hertfordshire, AL5 2JQ.

Mites need to arrive within 7 days of boards going in; e.g. set up Sunday, collect Tuesday, & post Tuesday/Wednesday.

Monday, 23 December 2013

AGM 2014

Dengie 100 & Maldon Beekeepers 


Wednesday 15 January 2014
7:30pm for 8pm
The Norton, Cold Norton CM3 6JB

All invited. 

Membership subscriptions due for 2014
Bring with you - cheque or cash

Crystallised honey

Is your honey crystallised? Here is the crystallised honey fix

Honey crystals. This year's honeycrystallised  fairly quickly.
Raw, unfiltered honey will often crystallise. Certain honeys such as oil seed rape and dandelion will crystallize faster due to their higher glucose content as opposed to other honeys. Honey that is stored in cooler locations will crystallise faster than honey kept at room temperatures. Professor Elton J. Dyce (Ref Maria's Bees blog) discovered that honey crystallises the fastest at 55F (12.7C). Unfiltered honey will crystallise faster than filtered honey, because filtration removes the "starter" 

Crystallised honey, also known as creamed honey, is not as messy as liquid honey. It does not leave messy drips and trails when you use it in your tea, and it spreads nicely on your biscuits. It also retains all of its original awesome flavor. Do you like your honeycrystallised  or liquid? Leave me a note in the comments section.

Here are the basic steps (for the YouTube video click here):
The crystallised honey fix: place the honey in a pot of warm water

  • Heat a pot of water to 150F (65C). 
  • Remove the pot from the heat in so that you don't accidentally scorch the honey in the process
  • Place the crystallised honey in the pot
It took us almost an hour to re-liquefy our jar of honey.

Alternatively, you can invest in a warming cabinet or perhaps make one (for those with DIY skills)

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Thornes January Sale 2014

May we wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy healthy New Year.

As in previous years, we have given a donation of £500.00 to Bees for Development in lieu of cards.   However, this year, we have given it through the Big Give scheme which will double it to £1,000.

Just two quick messages.   Our Winter Sale will start online on 4th January 2014 and we will send out an email with more details between Christmas and New Year.

For beekeepers, the first two National Honey Show lectures are now on You Tube so you can watch them at your leisure.    See

Gill, Rebecca, Paul and all the staff

E.H. Thorne (Beehives) Ltd

Monday, 2 December 2013

2014 Swarms and Swarm Control in Dengie 100 & Maldon Beekeeping Association

Do you have a swarm?

       Do you live in one of the areas covered by the postcodes on the map?

Our Swarm Co-ordinator is likely to ask you some questions about the bees you have and will help identify them, advising what can be done.

All our swarm collectors are volunteers.

Some of our swarm collectors will move bumblebees, however, solitary bees are less re-locatable.

Please contact

Carlie Mayes
Swarm Co-ordinator
Dengie 100 & Maldon Beekeepers

07979 862952
01245 381577

If you are interested in taking a swarm the Swarm Co-ordinator will take some details and include your details on our database.  Just ask.

The areas we cover include:

Maldon, Southminster, Burnham on Crouch, Danbury, Bicknacre, Wickham Bishops, Mundon, Bradwell on Sea, Steeple, Latchingdon, North Fambridge, South Woodham Ferrers, Hatfield Peverel
DMBKA Division Swarm coverage

If you are unsure if we have a swarm collector in your area, please call to find out.