Environment, volunteers, healthy living


How important are Honey Bees to our everyday lives?

  1.  Honeybees, together with other types of bees and pollinating insects, increase the yields of about 75% of the crop species grown worldwide

  2. · The value of pollination performed by these insects has been estimated at €153 billion per year

Important facts about Honey Bees and Honey

  1. ·The number of honeybee hives in Europe declined by 16% between 1985-2005. In the USA colony numbers dropped 61% between 1947-2008.

  2. ·Honey is nectar that bees have repeatedly regurgitated and dehydrated

  3. ·A single hive contains approximately 40,000-45,000 bees

  4. · A queen can lay her weight in eggs in one day and 200,000 eggs in a year

  5. ·The queen mates in flight with approximately 18 drones. She only mates once in her lifetime

  6. ·Honeybees communicate with one another by 'dancing' so as to give the direction and distance of flowers

  7. ·The Varroa mite is a major pest species of the honey bee

  8. ·In the course of her lifetime, a worker bee will produce 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey

  9. ·To make one pound of honey, workers in a hive fly 55,000 miles and tap two million flowers

Rothamsted scientists working in collaboration to find out what makes the varroa parasite of honey bees resistant to chemical treatment.

One of the biggest problems facing honey bees, the parasitic mite Varroa destructor (varroa) is now found almost worldwide and usually kills untreated hives within three years. For varroa control, many beekeepers use the chemical tau-fluvalinate, marketed as Apistan®, but its effectiveness has been in decline since the mid­­-1990s. Scientists studying varroa mites collected from Florida and Georgia, USA, have identified two new mutations that give the parasites resistance to tau-fluvalinate.

The discovery of the two mutations enables testing of varroa populations to determine whether control with tau-fluvalinate will be effective. The research was carried out by scientists working in Spain, the USA and Germany in collaboration with a team at Rothamsted Research, which is strategically funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). The study is published today in the journal PLOS ONE.

Joel González-Cabrera, scientist at Rothamsted Research who led the study, said: “We identified the mutations in a known hot-spot for pyrethroid resistance on the sodium channel protein—a region proposed as the binding site for these compounds. Together with our previous work on European mites, this finding allows us to develop diagnostic screening tests to analyse individual mites for the presence or absence of the mutations. The diagnostic test should help beekeepers to decide whether to use pyrethroid-based chemicals to control this highly damaging parasite.”

Hundreds of women in Hertfordshire have rediscovered a love of cycling, are getting fitter and healthier along the way  and making fabulous new friends thanks to free, women only bike rides sponsored by British Cycling.

Breeze women-only bike rides is British Cycling's biggest programme ever to get more women into riding bikes for fun. Its aim is to help thousands of women feel confident about going on a bike ride, and have lots of fun with like-minded ladies.

In Harpenden, St Albans and Redbourn alone more than 250 women are involved in the Breeze "community". Local leaders organise rides for every ability from new starters to experienced cyclists and for every age group. There are plans to expand the programme this Autumn with weekday rides as well as the established weekend outings.

Every ride is colour coded depending on experience and abilities. There's Mellow Yellows for total beginners, Graceful Greens travelling 15 miles at a steady pace of 8-10 mph, Blazing Blues going further afield 30-40 miles, Pacey Purples - 40 miles plus and Roaring Reds for experienced and faster riders.

Every ride includes a coffee and cake stop at wonderful local cafes around the county. For more information visit https://www.britishcycling.org.uk/recreation/article/20141110-Breeze-bike-rides-for-women-0 or visit the Facebook page Breeze Harpenden & St. Albans

Rothamsted Research is granted permission by Defra to carry out field trial with GM wheat plants

The trial will test whether GM wheat plants are able to carry out photosynthesis more efficiently in the field and whether this trait could result in a higher yielding crop.

Scientists at Rothamsted Research, in collaboration with researchers at the University of Essex and Lancaster University, have developed wheat plants that can carry out photosynthesis more efficiently i.e. convert light energy into plant biomass more efficiently. This trait has the potential to result in higher yielding plants. The purpose of the proposed trial is to evaluate the performance of the engineered plants in the field.


Ensuring food security is a major challenge given the projected need to increase world food production by 40% in the next 20 years and 70% by 2050. Wheat is one of the major grain crops worldwide and provides approximately one-fifth of the total calories consumed globally. However, wheat yields have reached a plateau in recent years and predictions are that yield gains will not reach the level required to feed the 9 billion population predicted for 2050. Traditional breeding and agronomic approaches have maximised light capture and allocation to the grain. A promising but as yet-unexploited route to increase wheat yields is to improve the efficiency by which energy in the form of light is converted to wheat biomass.

Dr Malcolm Hawkesford, Head of the Plant Biology and Crop Science Department at Rothamsted Research and lead scientist at Rothamsted for this trial said: “We will perform the proposed controlled experiment in our already established facilities here at Rothamsted Research. This trial will be a significant step forward as we will be able to assess in ‘real environmental conditions’ the potential of these plants to produce more using the same resources and land area as their non-GM counterparts. These field trials are the only way to assess the viability of a solution that can bring economic benefits to farmers, returns to the UK tax payer from the long-term investment in this research, benefits to the UK economy as a whole and the environment in general.

Photos below show the visit by Michael Portillo in Oct 2016 when he reviewed the key work undertaken by the scientists.

Why can’t we have a safe cycling track from Harpenden Town Centre to Southdown?

We have the land (owned by the Town Council)

Funding could be made available from S106 contributions by the Developers of new builds like the Harpenden House Hotel homes. 



for children. pedestrians, cyclists and drivers.

Fairly simple you would think?


No funding available from Herts County Council

No Police resources to enforce the speed limit

Difficulty gaining support from the majority of

residents in the designated roads.

(As advised by County Councillor Teresa Heritage

on Jan. 26)

What action can you take?

If drivers speed on your road then, gain the support

of as many residents as possible and complain to

your local councillor.


Feb 2017. The green belt should

be preserved

The green belt should be preserved and

treated as a key part of the country’s natural

capital 'asset register', according to the chair

of the Natural Capital Committee.

Professor Dieter Helm (right) was speaking at the ‘Green Belt of the Future’ seminar held  on Feb 16 at the GLA building in London.

Speaking in a personal capacity, Helm spoke of observing “decades of an almost entirely fruitless debate between people who think that the economy is on one side of the debate and the environment on the other”.

This, said Helm, was “an entirely sterile debate, and the wrong way to think about the argument; it misses out the enormous opportunities that come by viewing the environment as a key part of the economy".

Linking the need to protect the green belt to the need to define the country’s natural capital assets, Helm explained how natural capital has at its heart the idea that the environment “is a set of assets in overlapping ecosystems that are just as important as any other assets in the economy”.

Defining it as “a hard and measurable concept with proper accounting and balance sheets”, Helm suggested that, like the green belt, “natural capital needs to be situated right next to the people to whom it will provide the maximum benefits.”

At the same event, Janet Askew, director of academic engagement and enhancement at the University of the West of England, gave a passionate defence of the green belt.

“If nothing else,” she said, “we should leave this room today knowing that London has been influential around the world at defining what a compact city is. The green belt is a sustainable policy and it works."

"Those calling for building on green belt were unimaginative, recognising that, for them, building on flat green land is "much better and profitable than dealing with brown.”

How to Choose a Bike, According to Science – 10 Factors to Consider

from Jess Miller.

Do You Need A New Or A Used Bike?

Finding The Right Size

Determining The Right Brake System

Choosing The Right Gearing For A Bike

Do You Have The Right Wheel Size?

Don’t Forget To Pick The Suspension System

Make Sure Your Bike Lasts Long

Which Handlebar Are You Most Comfortable with?

Where Would You Ride Your Bike?

Picking The Right Bike Type

Go to the web site and read up


then pop along to the bike shops in Harpenden or Redbourn and impress them with your knowledege. THEN choose your bike with confidence.

The Bike Loft. 70, High Street, Redbourn AL3 7LN


Harpenden Cycles. 115 Southdown Rd, Harpenden AL5 1QQ


Crop protection research secured at Rothamsted

Rothamsted Research has secured government funding to kick-start its new five-year strategic programme, Smart Crop Protection, to control sustainably the pests, pathogens and weeds that destroy nearly a third of crops grown worldwide. The investment of circa £6.3 million covers the programme’s first three years.


The announcement of the investment from the government’s flagship Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) comes today [11 Aug 2017] from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.  


Rothamsted’s SCP strategy will improve crop productivity by using the latest technology to detect, monitor, predict and control insect pests, plant pathogens and weeds. The programme integrates chemical, genetic, biological, ecological, mathematical and agronomic approaches to deliver more targeted control strategies.

“We are delighted to have received ISCF investment for the delivery of research that offer solutions for one of agriculture’s most testing challenges,” says Achim Dobermann, Rothamsted’s director and chief executive. “Globally, 30% of crop yield is lost to pests, pathogens and weeds. Improving the efficiency and sustainability of crop protection is one of the most accessible ways to intensify agriculture sustainably.”


Paul Neve, leader of the SCP programme at Rothamsted, commented: “Through this investment, we aim to deliver a new vision for managing crop health. Using the latest technologies, our goal is to limit the incidence, distribution, dispersal, evolutions and impact of crop biotic threats. We also aim to maximise the efficacy and sustainability of control interventions”

Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson said: “This significant investment will support pioneering bioscience research and development projects that will reduce our reliance on carbon, boost the productivity of our nation’s crops and develop new world-leading agricultural technologies.”

For further information, please contact:

Angela Karp, Director for Science Innovation, Engagement and Partnerships

Tel: +44 (0) 1582 938 855

Email: comms@rothamsted.ac.uk

Could you be a Volunteer to help in Harpenden?

DRIVE the Harpenden Hopper and reduce congestion in Harpenden thanks to the “Harpenden Hopper” Pilot Community Bus project.

3 days a week from 9.30 till 4pm on a route around Roundwood as this is the least served area by existing public transport. It has been set up by residents of Harpenden with the backing of local councillors;

What we need?

Enthusiastic and energetic Drivers to commit to at least two shifts (AM or PM is one shift)  per month driving the bus around the designated route in Harpenden.

Drivers who can engage with the passengers

What we will provide

Driver training   around 4.5 hours

Full driver handbook for daily routines

Orientation of route

Harpenden Hopper Polo shirt

Timetable and rota 

Who can drive our bus?

Drivers who passed their car driving test before 1st January 1997 will normally have a D1(101) - minibus, not for hire or reward - entitlement on their licence. 
This will remain on the licence until it expires at age 70 or unless removed by DVLA (DVA Northern Ireland), usually for medical reasons.

Even though the licence restriction says ‘not for hire or reward’ these licence holders can drive a minibus operated under a Section 22 permit without additional conditions. 

Drivers over 70 can apply to have their D1 re-instated subject to a medical, which we can help arrange.

Unfortunately we cannot accept drivers over the age of 75

We can accept drivers with points on there licence, subject to pre-approval by our insurance company.




Can you volunteer for the Harpenden Trust once a week, once a fortnight, once a month or even once a year?

We need:

Collectors for the Christmas Appeal


Coffee morning helpers

Volunteers drivers

If you would like to be a volunteer, please contact us at:

The Harpenden Trust Centre

90 Southdown Rd

Harpenden AL5 1PS.

Tel: 01582 460457

Email: admin@theharpendentrust.org.uk

Harpenden is surrounded by green fields, parks and The Common.

So many places to walk and enjoy the fresh air.

The Common stretches from the Public Halls way past Beesonend Lane.