Most beekeepers will be familiar with someone (often a non-beekeeper) asking for help in identifying a bee that has been seen in their garden. The Bumblebee Conservation Trust has a lot of helpful information on their website on the differences between the various species of bumbles as compared to our honeybees. This page – http://bumblebeeconservation.org/about-bees/faqs/honeybees-vs-bumblebees/ – goes through some of the most obvious differences and is a useful place to recommend for information.
When it comes to identifying a bee that is obviously not a bumble but not a honeybee either, then two websites have particularly useful guides: the Wildlife Trusts’ page at http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/reserves-wildlife/guide-solitary-bees-britain and the Grow Wild page at https://www.growwilduk.com/content/everything-you-need-know-about-solitary-bees provide very readable information on the 250+ species of solitary bees in the UK.
New Scientist is reporting today on some recent research undertaken in Australia on the way that honeybees can ‘drift’ from one hive to another – Migrant honeybees article. Any experienced and/or competent beekeeper could probably have provided similar information but the article is still an interesting one, with quite a lot of detail on what was found in the colonies there.
Dear Auntie Bee and Uncle Drone
It’s got suddenly quite cold over this 10 days and I’m concerned about how my bees may be coping in early winter. Do you have any recommendations for this time of year?
Uncle Drone replies:
Hi concerned beekeeper. By now your bees should have been well fed in October followed by a Varroa treatment and protected from the woodpeckers in November. Assuming that these preparations went ok, all that can be done now is to watch and check the hive security for a while and keep hefting.
Watch to see if they are finding and taking in pollen, how many are flying, what temperatures they are flying at, look in the entrance to see if it is blocked by dead bees, if there are dead bees out front what age are they?
The thing here is that the bees should be just hanging in a state of quiescence and not leaving the hive except to excrete or find nectar and pollen.
If a hive goes light give it fondant, not excessive amounts, but they can take 3-500g in a week if they need it. My preference is to give them some anyway as an Xmas present following a Varroa treatment which should be timed to around Xmas or New Year following a few days of cold.
Enjoy Xmas and have a glass of mead to toast the bees.
For anyone who has not yet returned their completed membership form to Roger, the form can be downloaded here – whb-renewal-16-17
Membership runs from 1st October so please do return the form as soon as you can, so that we can be sure of our numbers for the coming year. For any of our new people who want to take part in branch activities and join in even though they haven’t got their own bees yet, please sign up under the ‘Friend’ category. The same would apply to any colleagues giving up their hives and moving away from active beekeeping.
This blog post offers some very interesting insights and ideas from France, about working to keep honeybee colonies safe in the presence of Asian Hornets.
The picture below was taken by Lincolnshire beekeeper Simon Croson, yesterday. The range of colours is a wide one but the dominance of the purple/mauve pollen was probably down to a local field crop of Phacelia, he thinks. Such a beautiful mix of colours and bee nutrition evident in that photo.