Category Archives: News – national

The Bee Brief (19-8-14)

National and other news about bees and beekeeping:

a) Did you know that 16 Aug was National Honeybee Day in the US? It sounds like a really good initiative. Details at http://www.nationalhoneybeeday.com/

b) The arguments continue over use of chemicals and their effects on bees and other pollinators – http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/poverty-matters/2014/aug/08/sweet-victory-beekeepers-monsanto-gm-soybeans

c) A new biopesticide is being developed – which apparently doesn’t kill bees: http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/281/1787/20140619.full.pdf

d) In Oxfordshire, the County Council is working to actively support beekeeping: http://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/news/11402227.A_hive_of_activity_to_recover_our_dwindling_bee_colonies/

e) In Bristol, the first weekend in September will see the Bee and Pollination Festival, an annual event that seems to be increasingly popular: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/botanic-garden/events/2014/158.html

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News from the National Honey Show

A message (and links to videos) from the organisers of the National Honey Show:

“This year, partly funded by the National Honey Show, and partly with National Lottery Funding, we were able to produce top quality videos of some of the lectures.  The first two of these, ‘The Sustainable Apiary’ by Mike Palmer, and ‘Origins and Evolutionary History of the Honey Bee’ by Robert Paxton  are now available to view on YouTube:   http://youtu.be/nznzpiWEI8A  and  http://youtu.be/Wtm8URk-V9A  respectively.  We would like to thank our lecture sponsors and all who took part in this project.  We hope it will mitigate the disappointment of all who were not able to be in two places at once during the show, giving you a chance to catch up at leisure.  Details of further lectures available to watch will be listed as they go live, on the National Honey Show Website http://www.honeyshow.co.ukunder the ‘Education’ tab. It would be brilliant to be able to continue offering videos of our lectures in the future, so do contact us with all ideas for future sponsorship.”

A note also that there is now a page for the honey show at https://www.facebook.com/nationalhoneyshow

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 alert_nonnative@ceh.ac.uk

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

BBC Horizon programme about environmental and other factors damaging bees (not just honeybees)

For anyone who missed the broadcast of this programme last Friday evening (2nd August) it is now available on the iPlayer at http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b037y0zf/Horizon_20122013_Whats_Killing_Our_Bees_A_Horizon_Special/

An interesting programme that didn’t pretend to find immediate answers but rather pointed to what are likely to be the most significant factors and outlined some of the research being carried out in relation to them. It was good to see that all bees, not just honeybees, were recognised as being affected and thus the increasing impact on our ecology.

Swarm Collection – a press release from the BBKA

Useful to be able to point this out to any members of the public who may ask you about what to do if they find a swarm.

23 May 2013

Swarms of honey bees

BBKA gives guidance on what the public can do to help

Despite greater awareness by the public of the huge contribution honey bees make to our food supplies through pollination, not to mention the honey they produce, a swarm of bees still has the propensity to scare. The public should not be alarmed if they see or come across a swarm of honey bees. They are doing what honey bees do naturally and are not remotely interested in humans. In fact before leaving their hive the bees fill up their stomachs with honey and are rather mellow; their sole intention is to find a new home to build-up a new colony. As long as the swarm is not provoked it will not do any harm but it is important that the bees are collected by an experienced beekeeper. If left to their own devices they may choose to set up home in the nearest convenient spot which could be a chimney or other inaccessible place.

The long winter and late cool spring this year may delay the start of the honey bee swarming season by around four weeks but as soon honey bee colonies are big enough to run out of space in their hives they are likely to swarm. The BBKA urges members of the public to learn how to spot a honey bee swarm and to know what to do when they see one. This is especially important this year when every swarm not collected by a beekeeper could mean the death of that colony in a year when winter losses are expected to be bigger than ever. We need to gather all the swarms we can to build up bee colonies again.

Jane Moseley, BBKA General Secretary, gives some advice: “Honey bees swarm as nature’s way of increasing the number of colonies. With honey bee numbers under threat we can ill afford to lose swarms. As long as it is safe and practicable, beekeepers are keen to collect them and give them a new home. Swarms left uncollected are unlikely to survive, which means lost honey production but even more importantly, fewer of these hard working insects to pollinate crops, including our favourite fruits and vegetables.

“However, people often mistake groups of other types of bees or wasps for honey bees. Three out of four calls to the British Beekeepers Association are actually about wasps’ nests, bumblebee sightings, or other flying insects and not honey bees. The BBKA website has pictures and information to help people to determine if what they have seen is a swarm of honey bees or some other type of insect. Check here http://www.bbka.org.uk/help/do_you_have_a_swarm.php for more information. The public can help by contacting a beekeeper as soon as possible on sighting the swarm – details of the nearest volunteer swarm collector can be found on the BBKA website .”

 

Notes to editors:

The BBKA website shows details of swarm collectors in England. Information about what to do in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland is available on the websites of each of their national beekeeping associations.

BBKA’s Key Facts About Swarms

Why do bees swarm?

  • Honey bees swarm because they are looking for a new site to form a new colony. It is a natural and positive means of population increase.

What is a swarm?

  • Each swarm contains a queen bee and around 20,000 worker bees
  • Wasps and bumblebees don’t swarm, so if you see a swarm it will be made up of honey bees.

When do bees swarm?

  • The swarming season is from April to July, but the peak is from early May to Mid June.

Keep calm and carry on!

  • Swarms are not dangerous unless disturbed or aggravated (for example if sprayed with water). Left alone, swarms are harmless.
  • Because they only rarely survive in the wild, honey bee swarms need to be captured by trained personnel/beekeepers and placed in beehives where they can form a new productive colony. This needs to be done as soon as possible because once the swarm takes up residence it may be difficult to remove them safely, for example if they choose a chimney or other inaccessible place in a building.
  • Your local swarm coordinator can be found here http://www.bbka.org.uk/help/find_a_swarm_coordinator.php All are volunteers.
  • Alternatively, contact the local council or police station who can also offer advice.

How to help honey bees

  • Beekeepers are essential to maintaining a healthy UK bee population, but beekeeping is not for everyone. So the BBKA (British Beekeepers Association) has set up a scheme called Adopt A Beehive. Members of the public make an annual donation of £30 to the scheme which supports research and education into beekeeping and bee health. Supporters receive a welcome pack, a quarterly newsletter and regular updates from the regional beehive they have adopted. More information is available at www.adoptabeehive.co.uk.

About The BBKA


With around 24,000 members, the British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) is the leading organisation supporting honey bees and beekeepers within the UK. It aims to promote and further the craft of beekeeping and to advance the education of the public in the importance of bees in the environment.

www.bbka.org.uk

Picture post

There’s a nice little picture post here – http://www.newscientist.com/gallery/bee-haviour – with some beautiful clear pictures of bees engaged in various typical behaviours. Good informative text, too. Julie comments: ” I particularly like the guard bee stood on its back legs with its forelegs up ready for a fight.  They didn’t mention in number 2 that one of the queen’s entourage has a varroa mite sat on its thorax, poor thing.”