Our Blog

NBU Starvation Alert (June 2017)

The following is the text of an email sent by the National Bee Unit  to all beekeepers registered on Beebase. We recommend all members to register to a) give you urgent/important updates, b) help you keep your bees healthy and c) minimise spread of disease by helping the Bee Inspectorate deal with any outbreak of disease efficiently and promptly.

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Beekeepers may wish to monitor their colony food levels closely, particularly in any splits, nucleus colonies or colonies where the entire spring honey crop was removed. In some areas of the UK, our Inspectors are concerned at finding colonies that are starving.

Feed can be prepared from refined white sugar and water mixed at a 2:1 ratio or one of the proprietary ready mixed syrups available from Beekeeping equipment suppliers. More information about mixing up sugar can be found in the Best Practice Guidelines no. 7 found on BeeBase:

http://www.nationalbeeunit.com/index.cfm?pageid=167.

However, in other areas of the UK the blackberry, lime and clover is now out and colonies are starting to bring in an excess crop, so it is also important not to feed unnecessarily and risk adulterating honey with sugar syrup.

If you have any questions then please email either your Inspector or the NBU office.

NBU Varroa Alert (June 2017)

The following is the text of an email sent by the National Bee Unit  to all beekeepers registered on Beebase. We recommend all members to register to a) give you urgent/important updates, b) help you keep your bees healthy and c) minimise spread of disease by helping the Bee Inspectorate deal with any outbreak of disease efficiently and promptly.

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In some regions of the UK, colonies are starting to show symptoms of high levels of Varroa mites, for example wing deformities and perforated cappings. Therefore, it might be prudent to start monitoring colony mite populations and information on how to do this can be found on page 15 of the Managing Varroa booklet. Also, the Varroa calculator can be used to help calculate your estimated mite population in your colonies:

http://www.nationalbeeunit.com/public/BeeDiseases/varroaCalculator.cfm

If your colonies have a high amount of Varroa, i.e 1000 mites after calculating it from the average drop, you may want to treat them with a registered varroacide. Suitable treatments where brood is present would include: Apiguard; Apilife Var; Apistan*; Bayvarol*; Mite Away Quick Strips (MAQS) and Thymovar.

If you wish to use an oxalic acid based product then a broodless condition should be created first. Additionally, if you have honey for human consumption on the hives, remember that MAQs is currently the only registered product which can be used. When using any medicines it is important to remember to always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

*Mite resistance to these products have been recorded and so a resistance test (the Beltsville test) should be carried out before using the product.

Heather Honey

Our county association (HBA) is privileged to have an arrangement with the New Forest management allowing us to take hives to selected sites between July and October.  We have about 20 sites to choose from, some inevitably are better than others and they vary from year to year depending on the management work that has been done during the year.

The benefits to beekeepers are that some wonderful honey is gathered and that brood chambers are filled – a good way to start winter.

Cost is about £5 a hive plus a repayable deposit of £20 for a New Forest site key.

Strong and healthy colonies, free of disease with lots of capped brood that will be ready to produce a young and energetic work force on site are needed.

Old hands know the drill but if you are newish beekeeper and think you want to try your hand at this end-of-season activity, please get in touch with me before June 2017 sending your contact details to me (details below) including your email address as most of the business is done by email.

Jim Stuart

Pear Tree Cottage, Upper Clatford, Andover, Hampshire SP11 7QL

Email: pearity@lemonia.org

Phone: 01264 323185

Asian Hornet

A useful update from the BeeBase resource/National Bee Unit regarding the Asian Hornet:

Following recent press articles there have been many reports of potential Asian hornet, (Vespa velutina) sightings across the UK. We would like to re-assure everybody that there have been no confirmed sightings of Asian hornets in the UK, and so far all hornet reportings received by the National Bee Unit have been identified as the native European hornet, Vespa crabro.

Experts at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology confirm that the hornet picture taken in Kent and featured in the press is not an Asian hornet – which would be darker in colouration, and that the size suggests European hornet.

The Asian hornet or yellow-legged hornet, is smaller than our native hornet, with characteristic yellow legs, a dark velvety thorax, and a dark abdomen with a distinctive yellow band on the fourth segment.

We are aware of the potential impacts they could have on honey bees and have contingency plans in place to remove them if they are identified. This includes comprehensive monitoring and teams ready to destroy any confirmed nests.

For those who think they have seen an Asian hornet please first read the Asian hornet ID sheet which outlines the main differences between the native European hornet and this Asian hornet.

Spring time 2016

Good to see the bees busy today, on a nice sunny and mild Easter Good Friday. Haven’t inspected my hives yet, but judging by the pollen being brought in and the fact the hives are still a fairly good weight would suggest that there’s healthy colonies in them all following the winter.

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