Category Archives: Beekeeping Alert

Beekeeping with Asian Hornets around

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.

Beekeeping with Asian hornets in France

Auntie Bee and Uncle Drone answer a query about suddenly finding many bees dead in front of a hive

Hi Auntie Bee and Uncle Drone,
I found a heap (hundreds rather than thousands) of dead and dying bees in front of a hive this morning. A couple of days ago a lot of yellow lumps of pollen had appeared under the hive. Have had a closer look and most of the dead have furry bodies, probosces sticking out, folded legs and wings at more or less right angle to bodies. Recent Varroa count negligible. The hive seems to be thriving otherwise. Could be garden pesticide?

From Uncle Drone: Any situation where there is a sudden increase in dead bees in front of the hive should ring alarm bells as the most probable cause is a pesticide or herbicide being used wrongly and not according to the licensed method. Either a plant has been sprayed with a pesticide to kill greenfly or maybe some grass that has clover in it has been sprayed with a herbicide to remove weeds other than grass such as clover and dandelions.

From Auntie Bee: I agree with Uncle Drone this does sound like poisoning.  Were all hives in the apiary affected or just one?
The only other situation I have encountered where there are many dead bees at the entrance is when a colony of mine was affected by Chronic Bee Paralysis Virus but this is easily recognised as there will be adult bees inside the hive showing symptoms, bald and shiny, trembling and walking aimlessly, often on the top bars.  I killed the queen in my infected hive and united with a newly mated queen in a nuc.  Within three weeks the hive had recovered, although all the old bees were then found dead in front of the hive.
The only thing to add is to make sure you sterilise your hive tool between hives ( which you should be doing anyway) to ensure that if there is disease present it doesn’t spread.

Auntie Bee answers a query about feeding fondant

Dear Auntie Bee
With all this warm weather my bees are continuing to fly and while hefting the hives they are beginning to feel lighter than they did one month ago when I’d finished feeding.
I have read on beekeeping blogs that beekeepers are putting fondant on their hives but I’ve also read that this can cause dysentery.
What would you advise?
Dear Beekeeper
Yes the warm weather this autumn has meant the bees were flying on many days in November and there is still activity in the middle of the day in December.  There is a little pollen coming into hives which may indicate the queens are laying and the bees will need to use stores to get energy for foraging flights to support the growing larvae.  This means that rather than being in a tight cluster and using very little stores, the bees may be using their winter stores at the same rate they might in early Spring when there is always a risk of them running out of food and starving.
I would certainly add a slab of fondant at this stage if you have any doubt about the stores in the hive.  Fondant can be purchased in bulk from bakers or from any supermarket in small amounts but be careful that it contains no preservatives or other additives. There are also recipes on line for making your own but avoid adding vinegar and you need a jam thermometer as the temperature is critical to get a soft set final product.
I recommend wrapping fondant in cling film and placing it on top of the crown board partially or nearly over the hole.  Make a small access hole in the clingfilm and then look every week by raising the roof, to see if the bees are taking it.  The film will prevent the fondant drying out and if the bees eat it it’s easy to add some more.  If the weather gets very cold for a prolonged period then the fondant can be moved to under the crown board making it easier for the cluster to access.
As always, every season is different and we have to be aware of and responsive to the bees’ needs.
Not long now to the new season
Auntie Bee

Info about Small Hive Beetle, a change of focus for the November meeting, and a petition to sign

For anyone who has been watching news updates about the spread of Small Hive Beetle in the Calabrian region of Italy over the last few weeks (a very alarming prospect, given the number of bees imported into the UK from Italy this year ) it would probably be useful to join the online Google Hangout being put on by BeeCraft next Wednesday, 19th November. You can join the Hangout from this page: .  If you want to express your concern about the current situation and send a message to DEFRA to do something constructive to protect our bees, then you might also consider signing and sharing the petition that’s been set up here –

Our branch meeting for November had originally been intended to cover the use of beeswax for making creams and cosmetics. This has not, unfortunately, been possible to arrange and there will therefore instead be a session at the branch apiary on checking hives for their winter preparedness.

The branch committee met earlier this week and Julie will shortly be circulating news and information arising from that.

News update – branch membership, BIBBA meeting, and more

a) A reminder, first, that everyone wishing to remain a member of the branch for the coming year needs to get their completed renewal form and annual fee to Roger asap. Your annual membership fee covers up to three hives for BDI and you can apply for cover for any further hives with a small extra supplement. The membership form has been circulated by email and can also be downloaded here – WHB Renewal 2014.15

b) Advance warning that there will be a BIBBA workshop on Saturday, 21 February 2015. Details below, circulated by the workshop hosts, the Dover & District Beekeepers’ Association.

Bee Improvement for All

An all day event aimed at encouraging all beekeepers to improve their bees. The purpose
is to help all beekeepers to continuously assess their colonies, so they have a good idea
of which queens to cull, and which colonies to take queen cells from when they need new

There will be tuition on how to raise queens using queen cells that bees often present us
with during the summer, as well as some simple “artificial” techniques that may be suitable
for the more advanced beekeeper, or those working in groups.

Further details can be found on

Date:- Saturday 21st February 2015
Time:- 9.00 for 9.30-4.30 approx.
Venue:- Elham Village Hall, Canterbury Road, Elham, Kent. CT4 6SX.
Cost:- £15/head adult. £10/head for under 18, who must be accompanied by a fee paying
adult. Refreshments and lunch included.

Bookings to:-
Aniela Smith
38 Shorncliffe Cres

 Bookings taken from 1st November 2014.

c) If anyone would like to order boxes of honey jars for next year, please let Roger or Julie know asap (their contact details are in the email circulated yesterday by Julie) . Roger will be putting in a bulk order shortly. He can purchase jars at 30p each for a box of 72 jars but we need to buy a pallet of boxes to get this very low price, hence the need to let him know urgently if you want to take part in the order.

d) Everyone should be aware that Small Hive Beetle has been found in several hives in a region of Italy. The BBKA has circulated the attached advisory notice – small_hive_beetle_update_oct_5,_2014_1412506899

The Bee Brief (2 October 2014 )

Beekeeping in some different parts of the UK:

Writing about beekeeping in London –

Beeks in Wales –

A beekeeping project in West Sussex –

Solar farms and how they can help bees and other pollinators –

And – the very worrying news about Small Hive Beetle being found at an increasing number of apiaries in Italy:  Since that article was published on BeeBase, SHB has apparently been found on several more sites in the region.

Alert from the NBU about a possible sighting of the Asian Hornet

As colleagues already signed up with the National Bee Unit will know, the following was circulated this evening:

“Following a credible report of an Asian Hornet sighting in the South East area close to Maidstone, Kent; last week a local Bee Inspector was dispatched to carry out further field investigation.

Following this investigation, we have not been able to verify the report but we would encourage beekeepers particularly in this area to familiarise themselves with the Asian Hornet and remain vigilant when visiting their apiaries and inspecting their colonies.

Please use the following link to view ID sheets for the Asian Hornet and also refer to a recent article published in BeeCraft magazine to help with identification.

Suspect sightings should be reported immediately to

I would like to reiterate that currently this is a suspect sighting and has not been confirmed.”