NBU BeeBase News Feed

Beebase News Web feed
  1. Autumn Management

    As we approach the autumn season, you may be planning what to do in order to successfully over winter your colonies. Remember the start of the 2018 beekeeping year begins now and anything you do or do not do to your colonies will have repercussions on their ability to overwinter successfully, and on their subsequent performance in the following year. To help you out, we’ve put together a checklist of tasks to carry out before you ‘put your bees to bed’ for winter.
    Good quality stocks of bees
    Colonies which have poorly performed during the season e.g. the queen has had a bad laying pattern, or any colonies which are headed by queens older than say two years should ideally be replaced by a good quality and newly mated queen. This will set the colony in good stead for next year as young queens are more prolific and produce a strong population of honey bees necessary for the colony to successfully overwinter. Younger queens are also unlikely to be superseded in the spring at a time when the colony is more vulnerable and if the older queen is killed, it is unlikely that a replacement queen will be available to keep the colony going.
    If, in the following year you wish to use any of the older queens for breeding purposes and want to graft from her young larvae, then removing her from the main colony and over-wintering her in a nuc will increase the likelihood of her surviving into the following spring.
    At the beginning of the “Healthy Bees Plan” a series of Best Practice Factsheets were produced, and we think it’s an opportune time to dig the one out about “Obtaining Honey Bees” as a reminder of the sound advice it contains The fact sheet, along with all of the others can be found here.
    When buying bees:

    • Ascertain that the stocks offered are suitable for your needs. Try to avoid sourcing bees from outside your area as it could accelerate the spread of pests and diseases. Many beekeepers consider that local strains generally suit the natural flora of that locality;
    • Use a reputable supplier. References from other beekeepers may help you choose;
    • Check with the supplier where the queen has come from. It is not always clear what strain of honey bee you are obtaining and whether the queen has been bred by the supplier, bought in or imported;
    • If you import bees then make sure that you do this carefully. Follow the import rules if they come from outside the country through the proper channels of health certification. Guidance on how to do this can be found here.
      Try to source locally reared stocks of queens from local breeders. If you buy bees or queens, keep a record of the bee movement and any sales so that you are able to trace where the bees came from. It is important that if disease is found in the purchased colony, we are able to trace where they have come from in order to track the disease back to the source.
      Pest and disease checks and medicine Treatments
      There will always be variation in when beekeepers need to treat for Varroa but it is especially important to monitor mite populations going into autumn. If the levels are high and warrant treatment, only registered products should be applied by using the label instructions. Failure to treat promptly could risk infection with Varroa transmitted viruses in the developing brood. This brood would be the bees which will carry the colony through winter and if infected, will be unable to do so.
      Remember to do a full inspection of the colonies for the presence of pests and diseases; so for foul brood carefully examine each comb. Checks also for the presence of exotic threats such as the small hive beetle should be done, and details of how to do this can be found in the NBU leaflets. Early recognition is absolutely key to successful pest and disease control.
      If you are not already doing so, don’t forget to also monitor for the Asian hornet. As we approach autumn, you are likely to also see them foraging on Ivy or other nectar producing food sources as well as hawking in front of hives in apiaries.
      Adequate Feeding
      As a rule of thumb, a full size colony should have about 25kg+ of honey stores to get through the winter and into the first part of our unpredictable springs. Therefore, many beekeepers will feed around 25kg of thick sugar syrup (1kg of sugar to 630ml of water) between August and September. This amount of feed would usually last a colony 5 – 6 months during the winter, however, with changeable weather, food stores should be monitored after the New Year and if they look like they are running short, sugar candy of some type can be fed. Don’t forget colonies also need adequate pollen provisions and will need two full sized deep frames of pollen to see them over winter. If this is not present, then a suitable pollen substitute should be fed, readily obtainable from the bee equipment suppliers.
  2. High Mite Levels in Colonies

    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.
  3. Seasonal Bee Inspector Vacancies

    The National Bee Unit has Seasonal Bee Inspector Posts advertised on the Civil Service Jobs website. The areas we are recruiting for are:
    1536718. DEF/196/17 Seasonal Bee Inspector - Home Based - Southern England - Dorset
    1536726. DEF/195/17 Seasonal Bee Inspector - Home Based - Eastern England - South Suffolk/North Essex
    1536751. DEF/194/17 Seasonal Bee Inspector - Home Based - Western Region - Herefordshire
    If you are interested in applying for the post then please use one of the links above. If you have any questions about any of the posts, please do not hesitate to contact the named person on the vacancy information.
  4. Asian hornet monitoring trap making video

    The National Bee Unit is proud to announce that a video which outlines how to make our Asian hornet monitoring trap is now available on Youtube to view:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CR6MUekAjMo&t=2s
    This aims to complement our trap making Fact Sheet titled: A simple Asian hornet monitoring trap .
    We hope that you find it informative and useful.
    Kind regards,
    National Bee Unit
  5. Non Native Invasive Species Week

    Monday saw the launch of a new smartphone app 'Asian hornet watch' which is aimed to help members of the public to identify and report sightings of the Asian hornet. People will be able to use the free app to quickly and easily report possible sightings of the invasive species and send pictures of suspect insects to experts at the Centre of Ecology and Hydrology, Nonative Species Secretariat and National Bee Unit.
    The Asian hornet, aka, the yellow legged hornet are a huge threat to our native honey bees, which is why it is important for us to remain vigilant.
    Biosecurity Minister Lord Gardiner said:
    “This innovative new app is designed to be easy to use and allows people to report quickly any possible sightings of Asian hornets, which will help us to halt their spread".
    “This invasive species poses a threat to our native honey bees and we must do all we can to encourage vigilance - this new technology will advance this.”
    The interactive app, developed by the Great Britain Non-native Species Secretariat and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, will also make it easier for people to judge whether an insect may actually be an Asian hornet; with pictures available of other insects that it could be confused with and helpful information about their size, appearance and the times of year they are most likely to be spotted.
    If there is a sighting of the Asian hornet, the government’s well established protocol for eradicating the species will kick quickly into action: This was the case in Gloucestershire last Autumn, when bee inspectors rapidly tracked down and destroyed an Asian hornet nest, containing any further outbreak: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/asian-hornet-outbreak-contained-in-gloucestershire-and-somerset
    Additional information on the hornet is available from our website: 
    http://www.nationalbeeunit.com/index.cfm?pageid=208
    where you will find an ID sheet, poster and information on additional routes to report any suspect sightings. 
    For more information on the Non Native Invasive Species week visit the Non native Species Secretariat website: http://www.nonnativespecies.org//index.cfm?sectionid=132
  6. Generic Contingency for Animal and Plant Health Published

    The generic contingency plan for Plant and Bee Health in England  has been published and can be viewed on the Gov.UK website:
    https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/contingency-plan-for-plant-and-bee-health-in-england
    The Contingency Plan describes how Defra and operational partners have prepared for, and in the event of an outbreak, would respond to an outbreak of a plant or bee pest or disease in England.
    More information about pest specific contingency plans for Bee Health can also be found on our Contingency pages of BeeBase:
    http://www.nationalbeeunit.com/index.cfm?pageId=206
  7. Seasonal Bee Inspector Vacancies

    The National Bee Unit has Seasonal Bee Inspector Posts advertised on the Civil Service Jobs website. The areas we are recruiting for are:
    Northern (Tyne & Wear, Northumberland, Durham);
    Western (West Midlands);
    Southern (Berkshire), and;
    Wales (Mid and South Glamorgan).
    If you are interested in applying for the post then please use one of the links above. If you have any questions about any of the posts, please do not hesitate to contact the relevant Regional Bee Inspector, or the National Bee Unit Office on 0300 3030094 or email nbuoffice@apha.gsi.gov.uk.
  8. Asian hornet in the UK: Update and Request for Heightened Vigilance.

    Dear Beekeepers,
    As you are aware, Vespa velutina nigrothorax, the yellow-legged hornet (a.k.a the Asian hornet) was found in the UK last season. The first European incursion of this hornet was reported in France in 2004. The Asian hornet has since spread around 80-100 km per year, invading Spain, Portugal, Italy, Germany and Belgium. Adult hornets are voracious predators of honey bees and other beneficial insects, resulting in colony losses in France. In September 2016, foraging Asian hornets were reported near Tetbury in Gloucestershire, and a trapped individual was reported from Somerset. The nest near Tetbury was found and destroyed by National Bee Unit Inspectors and members of the Wildlife team in the Animal and Plant Health Agency. Despite extensive field inspections, no further foraging Asian hornets were sighted in Somerset. Whilst this is good news, the ability of the Asian hornet to spread rapidly means that we must remain vigilant and aware of any possible activity across a wide area and with spring fast approaching, there is an opportunity for us all to monitor and trap any potential foundress queens.
    In spring, surviving V. velutina queens begin a small primary nest, often in a sheltered location such as in the eaves of a roof or in a garden shed. Here they raise the first clutch of workers who take over the queen’s foraging duties. At this stage the nest grows quickly, and the hornets often move to establish a secondary nest where there is more space to expand. These nests can become very large, and are often located high up in the tree canopy, close to a food source such as apiaries, (see images on BeeBase for further details).
    From late September to October, the mature nest produces males and then virgin queens, which mate and disperse. However, the beginning of this stage of nest reproduction can vary, depending on climatic conditions. In France, a single mature nest produces on average 11 foundress queens after taking into account overwintering mortality of the potentially hundreds of queens that first disperse in autumn.
    A consortium of scientists from the NBU and the Universities of Warwick and Newcastle have used data on the spread of the Asian hornet in France to develop a mathematical model that can estimate the hornet spread in the UK. The highly mobile nature of the hornet means that the range of possible additional nest locations in 2016, estimated using the model, covers a wide area, see Figure 1 for details.
    Figure 1 Map showing the potential spread of Asian hornet in 2016 using a mathematical model based on Franklin et al. 2016 (In Press). The dark orange squares represent the locations of Asian hornet discoveries in Tetbury and Somerset. The yellow area defines a boundary, outside of which we would not expect, according to the model, to find a nest.
    In the spring, Asian hornets can be trapped by using either commercial traps, which are available off the shelf or a home-made model e.g. by using the NBU modified hornet monitoring trap. If we know they are present in an area we can take action quickly to prevent populations expanding.
    There is a helpful Asian hornet identification sheet and poster on Beebase along with a fact sheet which outlines how to make our own NBU design, and, what baits would be suitable during the different seasons of the year. See: http://www.nationalbeeunit.com/index.cfm?pageid=208

    Should you find a suspect Asian hornet or nest, please contact the Non Native Species Secretariat immediately using their alert email address:
    alertnonnative@ceh.ac.uk
    Give as much information as possible. Please include details such as your name, the location where the hornet was found and if possible an image of the specimen. Please do not put yourself in any danger of getting stung when trying to take a photo. Even if you are unsure of whether it is an Asian hornet, send it in anyway – it’s better to be safe than sorry.
    We thank you in advance for your co-operation and vigilance.
    Kind regards,
    National Bee Unit
  9. 2016 Hive Count Reminder

    Dear All,
    Don’t forget we need you to update your colony records on BeeBase by 31st December. You can do this by clicking this link to update your Hive Count. https://secure.fera.defra.gov.uk/beebase/secure/beekeeper/hiveCensus.cfm
    More details of this project, its importance and why we need your help can be found on the Hive Count page on BeeBase.
    If you have any further questions, please visit the Hive Count page on BeeBase or contact us at Hive.Count@apha.gsi.gov.uk
    The project is led by the National Bee Unit and supported by Defra, Welsh Government, Scottish Government, DARDNI, the British Beekeepers Association, the Welsh Beekeepers Association, the Scottish Beekeepers Association, International Bee Research Association, and the National Diploma in Beekeeping.
  10. Scheduled BeeBase Maintenance - 28/12/2016

    Due to scheduled maintenance, BeeBase will be unavailable on 28th December 2016 between 17:00 and 20:00. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.
  11. Launch of Bee Friendly/Caru Gwenyn

    Bleddyn Lake of Friends of the Earth Cymru launched the Action Plan for Pollinator Task Force’s new initiative, Bee Friendly/Caru Gwenyn at the Wales Biodiversity Conference.
    Bee Friendly is a brand new initiative aimed at communities and community organisations, schools, public bodies, town and community councils, businesses, universities and colleges, places of worship……and many other organisations, all around Wales.
    We think it is the first co-ordinated national scheme of its kind and has at its heart – making Wales a Pollinator- Friendly country.
    Although the scheme is called Bee Friendly, we want people to take action to help all our pollinators, and not just bees.
    Whether you are a part of a Bee Friendly scheme, a member of one of our many supporter organisations or a concerned individual, take a look to see what actions you can take to make our world a little bit greener – discover the Bee Friendly Action Guide Cymraeg, the Bee Friendly Action Guide English, the Bee Friendly Flyer Cymraeg, the Bee Friendly Flyer English, the FAQ, application form and plant list.
    All the resources are available on the Action Plan for Pollinators section of the WBP website

  12. A confirmed finding of Asian hornet north of the Mendip Hills in Somerset

    As with the first sighting, work to find, destroy and remove any nests is already underway, and includes:
    • setting up a three mile surveillance zone around the location of the initial sighting
    • opening a local control centre to coordinate the response
    • deploying bee inspectors across the area who will use infrared cameras and traps to locate any nests
    • readying nest disposal experts who will use pesticides to kill the hornets and destroy any nests
    Bee inspectors in Somerset will be supported by nest disposal experts who will use an approved pesticide to destroy any hornets and remove any nests.
    The first Asian hornet confirmed in the UK was discovered in the Tetbury area. A nest in the area has since been found, treated with pesticide and destroyed. No further live Asian hornets have been sighted in the area since the nest was removed.
    Husbandry Advice:

    It is very important that beekeepers remain vigilant and monitor their apiaries and surrounding forage for any Asian hornet activity. At this time of the year, Asian hornets can be seen foraging on the ivy for nectar and preying on other foraging insects for protein.
    Traps should also be hung out and closely monitored. When using bait, please refrain from using light beer or lager mixed with sugar as this does not work. In France a Dark beer, mixed with 25ml of strawberry syrup and 25ml of orange liqueur has proven to work well.

    Additionally, a protein bait of mashed fish e.g. prawns or trout, diluted to 25% has also proven effective. Anyone wishing to make their own traps may find the following factsheet useful: How to make a homemade Asian hornet monitoring trap.
    Further guidance on identifying the Asian hornet can be found on the Asian hornet pages of Beebase where you will find a very useful Asian hornet ID sheet and Asian hornet poster. Any suspected Asian hornet sightings should be reported to alertnonnative@ceh.ac.uk.
    If you are not sure, please still send in a sample for ID or report any sightings. When emailing, please include your name, the location of the sighting and if possible, a photograph of the hornet. Please do not put yourself in any danger of getting stung when trying to take a photo.
  13. Asian hornet nest found and destroyed

    An Asian hornet nest (image 1) has been located and destroyed by experts in the Tetbury area. The nest (image 2) was found at the top of a 55 foot tall conifer tree (image 3). Inspectors from the National Bee Unit are continuing to monitor the area for Asian hornets alongside local beekeepers. However to date, no live hornets have been seen since the nest was removed.
    We urge anyone to report suspect Asian hornet sightings to alertnonnative@ceh.ac.uk.
    Further guidance on the Asian hornet can be found on the Asian hornet pages of Beebase where you will find a very useful Asian hornet ID sheet sheet and Asian hornet poster which is available for identification purposes.
  14. Asian Hornet Identified in Gloucestershire

    Please be aware that we are experiencing a high volume of calls so please use the below guidance for all enquiries relating to Asian hornet sightings.

    The National Bee Unit has confirmed a sighting of the Asian hornet in Gloucestershire – the first time the hornet has been discovered in the UK.
    The Asian hornet is smaller than our native hornet and poses no greater risk to human health than a bee. However, they do pose a risk to honey bees.
    Work to identify, destroy and remove any nests is already underway, which includes:
    • opening a local control centre to coordinate the response;
    • deploying bee inspectors across the area, and;
    • readying nest disposal experts who will use pesticides to kill the hornets and destroy any nests.
    Further guidance on the Asian hornet can be found on the Asian hornet pages of Beebase where you will find a very useful  Asian hornet ID sheet and  Asian hornet poster which is available for identification purposes.
    Any suspected Asian hornet sightings should be reported to alertnonnative@ceh.ac.uk . When emailing, please include your name, the location of the sighting and if possible, a photograph of the hornet. Please do not put yourself in any danger of getting stung when trying to take a photo.
    Should you wish to monitor for the hornet, we have designed  A simple monitoring trap for the Asian hornet
    Please could all media enquiries be directed to the Defra press Office: 0208 225 7896
    For details on the full press release please visit the gov.uk webpage.
  15. RESOLVED - Varroa Calculator

    This issue has now been resolved. Please contact us if you experience any problems when using the calculator.
    06/09/2016 - Please be aware we are currently experiencing an issue with our online Varroa calculator. We apologise for any inconvenience, please bear with us whilst we investigate this issue.
  16. Bee Connected

    BeeConnected is an online crop spraying alert system which brings a new way of dealing with a long-standing practice: farmers informing beekeepers of an intention to apply an insecticide. The system operates on a very simple, yet efficient, two-way communication process: with a few simple clicks beekeepers will be able to plot the location of their hives. Similarly, farmers will identify their fields and inform local beekeepers when they intend to spray an insecticide in particular fields.
    Beekeepers will get accurate up-to-date information of a spray event happening in their area and can respond to that information rapidly, even if that decision is to do nothing. The system also includes a “BeeMail” facility which enables farmers and beekeepers to communicate anonymously, providing an opportunity for further discussion without revealing personal details, unless either party chooses to do so. Put simply, BeeConnected a new and improved way of doing something farmers and beekeepers have always needed to do: communicate.
    The website ( https://www.beeconnected.org.uk/) will be up and running from the 12th of September, however, beekeepers and farmers can register on the database now. If anyone has any questions or comments, they can contact the site administrator on:
    info@beeconnected.org.uk
    The project is a joint venture between the BBKA, the Crop Protection Association, the National Farmers’ Union and the Voluntary Initiative.
  17. The Yellow Legged Hornet, aka Asian Hornet, Vespa velutina, found in Alderney and Jersey.

    On the 9th August 2016 an amateur entomologist reported a sighting of an adult Asian Hornet from a photograph they took on the island of Jersey at Mount Bingham, St Helier (http://www.gov.je/News/2016/Pages/AsianHornet.aspx).The image was sent to us at the National Bee Unit for identification and was confirmed as an Asian Hornet. This incident follows the discovery of a nest of Asian Hornets in July, and, in Alderney which was destroyed as a precaution against further nests establishing on the island. Since the discovery, the area has been searched and no further hornet activity detected.
    Although this finding may be alarming in the first instance, we should be encouraged that members of the public are correctly identifying the hornet so that quick intervention can be taken, resulting in swift nest destructions and stopping the further spread of the hornet, beyond French shores.
    Thank you to everyone who is looking out for the Asian Hornet, and to those of you who have gone to the time and trouble to report suspect sightings. Your help is really appreciated, and anyone who believes they have found an Asian Hornet should send in a photograph of the insect for identification to either nbuoffice@apha.gsi.gov.uk or alertnonnative@ceh.ac.uk .
  18. Asian Hornet Sightings: What To Do

    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.
    There is more information on the Asian hornet pages of BeeBase.
    If you still believe you have seen the Asian hornet after reading this ID sheet, please report it to the email address below, together with a photograph and location details: alertnonnative@ceh.ac.uk
    For more information about the Asian hornet and the work of the Non Native Species Secretariat, visit their website here: http://www.nonnativespecies.org//alerts/index.cfm?id=4
    National Bee Unit
  19. NBU Phone Line Issues

    RESOLVED: 18/07/2016
    We are currently experiencing problems with our phone lines, we apologise for any inconvenience.
    Until the issue is resolved please contact the NBU via our email address nbu@apha.gsi.gov.uk or for urgent enquiries please contact 07775 119439.
  20. Update on Small hive beetle in Italy

    A new case of Small hive beetle (Aethina tumida) has been confirmed in the Gioia Tauro area of Calabria, Italy. Further details can be found on the Italian National Reference Laboratorywebsite.
    UK authorities remain active in preparing and monitoring for the Small hive beetle. Contingency training exercises were run by the National Bee Unit (NBU) in Exeter and Cardiff las year to test existing plans and protocols, with particular emphasis on detection and controls of the Small hive beetle. Lessons will be taken forward to ensure the UK is best placed to tackle this pest should it arrive in the UK. Updated husbandry and management methods for controlling Small hive beetle have been included in our advisory leaflets.
  21. Low food stores and high mite levels

    Food stores
    Beekeepers may wish to monitor their colony food levels closely over the next month as in many northern parts of the UK, the weather is still changeable and foraging opportunities for large colonies are few and far between. It is important to check and monitor all your colonies feed levels, if you do not wish to open them up, lift below the floor, in turn, on both sides of the hive to see how much it weighs. Where the hive is light, liquid feed should be applied directly above the bees. Remove any supers from above the brood box which are empty or have few bees in them. This will help the bees get to the food quickly; Feed can be sugar and water mixed at 1:1 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 http://www.nationalbeeunit.com/index.cfm?pageid=167
    Fondant can also be used. Large starving colonies of bees will take 1 gallon (approx. 5 Litres) of syrup very quickly while smaller colonies will take half a gallon (approx. 2.5 Litres). After feeding, heft the hives again and check the weight and if in doubt feed some more in a few days’ time.
    Some colonies in northern areas of the UK have low levels of pollen, which is essential for brood production. If this is the case, then some form of pollen patty will need to be given to colonies which should be placed directly above the brood nest, after you have fed any syrup.
    Mite levels
    Some of you may not have gotten round to treating your colonies with oxalic acid as the weather was so mild in winter. Treatments that were applied in winter may have had lower than normal efficacy due to the presence of brood and therefore beekeepers may want to consider treating colonies again, especially where bees are showing signs of deformed wings. Thymol based products and formic acid pads may be ineffective at the present time as daytime temperatures respectively of 12-15 °C or above are recommended. Neither should MAQS strips be used on smaller colonies.
    Therefore contact strips such as Apistan or Bayvarol may be beneficial, these offer a rapid knock down in severely infested colonies. However, resistance to these products has been reported in some areas and therefore colonies will need to be monitored after the treatment and an alternative treatment applied if necessary later in the season.
    Alternatively, Apivar & Biowar (Amitraz) are available under the EU Cascade system by using a special import certificate. For more information about this, contact your local vet.
  22. Adult Bee Disease Diagnostic Services


    Dear Beekeepers,
    From the 4th April, the National Bee Unit will be discontinuing the adult bee disease screening service which test samples of bees for the presence of Nosema spp., Amoeba and Acarine (tracheal mites). In previous years, the demand for this non statutory commercial service has been high which has warranted the need for a commercial service. However, in recent years the number of samples and requests by beekeepers for an adult bee disease screening has reduced dramatically, with the service rarely being used throughout the year.
    After 4 April 2016, any samples submitted for an adult bee disease screening will be kept for a week while we contact the relevant beekeeper to see if they would like the sample returning to them. Beekeepers who wish to have the bees tested for non-statutory diseases may still be able to obtain help from their local associations.
    Fera Science Limited will continue to offer molecular testing for the detection honey bee diseases caused by various viruses, bacterial and fungal pathogens. For further information on molecular testing please contact Victoria Tomkies (victoria.tomkies@fera.co.uk) at Fera Science Limited.
    Kind regards, 
    National Bee Unit.
  23. Seasonal Bee Inspector Vacancies

    The National Bee Unit has a number of vacancies for Seasonal Bee Inspectors (SBIs). If you are interested in applying please use the following link  SBI Jobs and use the following search criteria:
    Job Role: Operational Delivery
    Organisation: Animal and Plant Health Agency
    Click the 'Show more' to expand the job search criteria 

    Job Grade: Executive Officer
    Or enter the below reference numbers:
    Southern Region: Berkshire x 1 post and Buckinghamshire x 1 post, job reference No. 1486500;
    Wales: North Pembrokeshire or South Ceredigion x 1 post; job reference No. 1486487;
    Eastern Region: South Cambridgeshire or West Suffolk x 1 post; job reference No. 1486491;
    Western Region: Shropshire x 1 post and Staffordshire x 1 post; job reference No. 1486497;
    Northern Region: Cumbria (Kendal/ Kirby Lonsdale area) x 1 post; job reference No 1486507;
    South East Region: Greater London x 1 post and East or West Sussex x 1 post; job reference No 1486505.
    If you have any questions about the vacancy, please contact the relevant Regional Bee Inspector, except for the Northern post where you should contact the National Bee Inspector, Andy Wattam.
    The deadline for all applications is the 5th April.Any applications received after this date will not be considered.
  24. BeeBase Map Error in Beekeeper Pages

    Please be aware that Fera are experiencing intermittent problems with their map server.
    Consequently the beekeeper pages of BeeBase are occasionally displaying a message 'Sorry we don't have enough information about you or this apiary to provide you with a map.'
    If you see this error message please note that it is only temporary and is under investigation.
    Many thanks for your patience whilst this is repaired.
  25. National Hive Count

    The NBU are asking for your help in updating your BeeBase records of the number of overwintering beehives as of 1st November 2015.
    Please update your records by 12th February 2016. We are asking you to do this as part of a pilot study for an annual National Beehive Count which we will launch from the winter of 2016 onwards. The National Beehive Count is aimed at improving our understanding of our honey bee population – how many there are and how healthy they are. This fits in with the aims of pollinator and bee health strategies across the UK.
    The information we gather will also be used by the EU Commission to assess the size of honeybee populations across the EU. The EU provides financial aid to Member States in support of their beekeeping sectors. We are required to submit estimates on the numbers of beekeepers and beehives in the UK in order to continue to receive our share of funding from the EU Apiculture Programme from 2020 onwards.
    More details of this project, its importance and why we need your help can be found on the Hive Count Page: http://www.nationalbeeunit.com/index.cfm?pageid=362
    From this page you will have access to the Hive Count FAQ which will outline some of the process you may have to go through in order to update your colony numbers, such as, requesting a new password or login details.
    Should you require any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us.
    Kind regards,
    National Bee Unit
  26. Bee Health Senior Scientist Job


    Fera Science Ltd is now recruiting for a Senior Scientist in Bee Health within the National Bee Unit.

    Visit http://careers.peopleclick.com/careerscp/client_capita/external/jobDetails.do?functionName=getJobDetail&jobPostId=170565&localeCode=en-us  for more information and details on how to apply.
  27. New Regional Bee Inspector For National Bee Unit South Eastern England Region

    Following the recent promotion of Regional Bee Inspector (RBI) Nigel Semmence to the Post of Contingency Planning and Science Officer at the National Bee Unit, and the movement of RBI Julian Parker to take over managerial responsibility for the Southern England Region, I am pleased to announce that Diane Steele has been appointed as the new RBI for the South East of England which is comprised of Greater London, Kent, Surrey, East Sussex and West Sussex. (Buckinghamshire has now been moved back to its previous place within Southern Region).
    Many beekeepers in the South East of England will know Diane who worked for the last seven years as a Seasonal Bee Inspector in East and West Sussex and also at times in Surrey. She lives in Middleton On Sea near Bognor Regis and in addition to Beekeeping enjoys Travelling, Yoga, Gardening and is also a keen photographer.
    Diane’s training for the role commenced in Early January 2016 as part of an ongoing development programme.
  28. BeeBase Downtime

    BeeBase will be undergoing planned essential maintenance during the week commencing 14th December 2015.

    This should not affect your use of the website, but should you encounter any problems please contact nbuoffice@apha.gsi.gov.uk immediately.
    Thank you

  29. Update on Small hive beetle in Italy

    In late 2014, Small hive beetle had been confirmed in 61 apiaries within the three Italian provinces of Reggio Calabria, Vibo Valentia (both located in the Calabria region) and in Siracusa (located in the Sicilia region), Italy. The last confirmed infested apiary was found on the 23rd December 2014 in Gioia Tauro, Calabria.
    Throughout 2015 surveillance has continued. On the 16th September 2015, 9 months from the last detection, an infested apiary was confirmed in the municipality of Taurianova, Reggio Calabria. This case is within the existing 20km protection zone of the first detection. Both adult beetles and larvae were found in an apiary of 32 hives. Eight of the hives were infested. The same eradication control measures were taken by the Italian authorities including destruction of all hives within the affected apiary.
    UK authorities remain active in preparing and monitoring for the Small hive beetle. Contingency training exercises were run by the National Bee Unit (NBU) in Exeter and Cardiff to test existing plans and protocols, with particular emphasis on detection and controls of the Small hive beetle. Lessons will be taken forward to ensure the UK is best placed to tackle this pest should it arrive in the UK. Updated husbandry and management methods for controlling Small hive beetle have been included in our advisory leaflets to be published later this year.
    Further information on the latest finding in Italy will follow.
    Details are available on the European Union Reference Laboratory website https://sites.anses.fr/en/minisite/abeilles/detection-aethina-tumida-southern-italy-2015-free-access and Italian National Reference Laboratory website http://www.izsvenezie.it/.
  30. Wasp alert.

    Many beekeepers will be aware that apiaries across the UK are being plagued by wasps. Inspectors are finding some apiaries where small and weak colonies have already been killed and robbed out and continuing harrassment by the pest is leading to attrition in some of the stronger colonies. This problem is likely to continue through to October and without action, could lead to further colony losses. With the prospective high levels of wasp populations and the possibility of earlier wasp colony collapse, be on your guard and take preventative measures. Generally strong healthy colonies can defend themselves but smaller colonies, nuclei, etc., are at a higher risk of robbing. The presence of varroa mites, especially if mite populations are over the economic treatment threshold, also increases the risk. There are three elements of control that beekeepers can use:

    • Trapping wasps in the apiary.
      Placing wasp traps such as jars containing a mixture of water, a teaspoon of jam and some wine or beer dregs will help. Cover the jar aperture with a lid or paper cap and punch a hole in it about the diameter of a pencil. Plum jam seems to be best! Do not use honey, sugar syrup or Ambrosia. Wasps will go these traps as an easier option than bee hives and drown.
      Commercial traps such as ‘WaspBane’, which may be more effective and easier to use, are available from some bee equipment suppliers and other commercial outlets.

    • Assisting the bee colony.
      Reduce the hive entrance to make it easier for the bees to defend the colony. With severe problems cut the entrance to a single bee-way. A small tube entrance can be easier for bees to defend. Closing open mesh floors with the floor insert will also help.

    • Controlling wasp nests in the environment.
      Destroying nests in the spring and summer is clearly a good method of reducing the overall wasp population and reducing robbing problems; so ensuring no wasps’ nests are close to your apiary helps. However destruction of wasp colonies on a wide scale is disadvantageous to the environment.
  31. National Bee Unit eLearning

    The NBU would like to announce that its eLearning programme for beekeepers is now live and ready for use. The first module ‘Honey Bee Pests, Diseases and Viruses’ covers six main topics; Exotic Threats, Foulbrood, Varroa, Adult Bee Diseases and Viruses, Other Brood Disorders and Other Pests. To access this free and exciting platform, you will need to log into BeeBase where you will find an eLearning link to the left hand side of the navigation panel. When clicking on this, you will be re-directed to the eLearning platform where you can access the content. Like all of our material, the aim of the module is to provide you with a good understanding of the issues that might affect colony health. It will be available on most mobile devices and tablets, although you will need to make sure that your web browser is up to date, otherwise you may experience compatibility issues with some of the content.
    We would encourage all beekeepers to use this tool to aid their own personal development and as always, would welcome any feedback on the platform.
  32. Starvation Risk

    In many areas of the UK nectar flows have ceased and reports are coming in from Regional and Seasonal Bee Inspectors of starving bee colonies, where the beekeeper is not aware that the bees are severely short of food, or the colony(s) have already starved to death. It is also apparent that Wasps are becoming populous in many areas and they too are desperate for nutrition so Beekeepers should be mindful of the need to protect hives from Wasp invasion particularly where feeding is taking place in the apiary.
    Colonies particularly at Risk are:
    • Bee Colonies where supers of honey have been removed this season and no feeding has taken place.
    • Splits / Artificial Swarms and Nucleus colonies made up this year.
    • Swarms collected this year where little or no supplementary feeding has taken place.
    Immediate action:
    • Firstly - Check all colonies feed levels by ‘hefting the hive’ – Check the weight of the colony by lifting below the floor on both sides of the hive to see how much it weighs (Photograph attached - Hefting a Hive). Where the hive is light, liquid feed should be applied directly above the bees. Remove any supers from above the brood box which are empty or have few bees in them. This will help the bees get to the food quickly.
    • Feed can be sugar and water mixed at 2:1 ratio or one of the proprietary ready mixed syrups available from Beekeeping Equipment Suppliers.
    • Fondant can be used in an emergency if nothing else is available – but liquid feed will be more appropriate at this time of the season.
    • Large starving colonies of bees will take 1 gallon (Approx 5 Litres) of syrup very quickly – smaller colonies ½ gallon (Approx 2.5 Litres) may be sufficient to keep them going, but after feeding heft hives again and check the weight – if in doubt feed some more in a few days time.
    Further information and Guidance:
    Further information on supplementary feeding can be found on Beebase – Best Practice Guideline Number 7 – ‘Emergency Feeding’
    http://www.nationalbeeunit.com/index.cfm?pageid=167
  33. Seasonal Bee Inspector Recruitments

    This year the National Bee Unit received over 80 applications for Seasonal Bee Inspector Vacancies for 9 Positions in 6 Regions. Of those a total of 34 people were invited to Sand Hutton for Interviews and Practical Testing. The list below shows the successful candidates and the regions and areas in which they will be working.
    National Bee Inspector Andy Wattam said “I welcome them all to the NBU Team and wish them every success in this interesting, demanding and at times difficult role – I thoroughly enjoyed my time as a Seasonal Bee Inspector between 2002 and 2005 and made many great friends along the way”
    The new Seasonal Bee Inspectors for the 9 posts are listed below, along with their working areas:
    Kay Wreford - South Eastern England Region. (Kent / Surrey Borders)
    Jenny Whitham - Western England Region. (Shropshire / Welsh Borders)
    Nick Mitchell - North Eastern England Region. (East Yorkshire)
    Gordon Bull - Southern England Region. (Northamptonshire & Gloucestershire / Oxfordshire Borders)
    Eric James - South Western England Region. (Cornwall)
    Leila Goss - South Western England Region. (Devon)
    Hazel Vallis - South Western England Region. (Cornwall)
    Graham Royle - Northern England Region. (Cheshire)
    Mark McLoughlin - Northern England Region. (The Wirral)
  34. Recruitment of New Regional Bee Inspector

    Following the departure earlier this year of Regional Bee Inspector Charles Millar, The National Bee Unit is pleased to announce the appointment of Jo Schup as the New Regional Bee Inspector for the Western England Region which comprises the counties of: Warwickshire, West Midlands, Staffordshire, Shropshire, Worcestershire, Gloucestershire and Herefordshire.
    Jo’s training as Regional Bee Inspector started in April 2015 with National Bee Inspector Andy Wattam - this is an ongoing development programme – although she has now taken over Managerial Responsibility for the Region and its team of Six Seasonally Employed Bee Inspectors.
    Jo lives in the village of Whixall in North Shropshire and has been a beekeeper for 20 years. She has previously worked as a Seasonal Bee Inspector in Shropshire and Staffordshire and is well known to many beekeepers in those areas.
    As well as running 30 colonies of bees – Jo has also studied the BBKA modules and practical examinations and was awarded the Wax Chandlers Prize in 2011 for best Master Beekeeper qualifying that year. In her past life Jo worked as a Customer Services Manager for companies including Apple Computers Inc., Federal Express and Symantec. Jo and her husband now own and run a 23 acre smallholding comprising of suckler cows, pedigree sheep, pigs and hens.
    Commenting on the appointment Jo said: ”I am excited to be taking on this role and look forward to working with the Beekeepers and Bee Inspectors in the Western England Region and continuing the excellent work done by Charles Millar”
  35. SmartBees Newsletter

    For those of you who may be unaware, The National Bee Unit has been collaborating with 15 other working groups across Europe to find new approaches which will help advance the understanding of the complex interactions between the Honey bee (host), its parasitic mite; Varroa, and the pathogen (DWV), with the ultimate aim of breeding Varroa resistant honey bees. The EU is consequently supporting a research project, with the support of Defra Bee Health Policy, over the next four years, within the context of the Seventh Framework Program (FP7) entitled “Sustainable Management of Resilient Bee Populations” or SMARTBEES. This project began on 1st November 2014, and is comprised of 9 work packages (WP), which divide up the research activities, and will cover almost the entire European continent.
    This month, the SmartBees project published the first of a series of biannual newsletters which further detail it's progress on the project:
    newsletter 1: Gives a short summary of the project and the aims of the different working groups. In addition the writers also describe in more detail, two of the on-going tasks; 1. The new dissemination strategies and extension tools for Bee-keepers needs 2. Training activities for initiating European wide honey bee breeding
  36. Asian Hornet Videos on YouTube

    The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) has a YouTube channel which the National Bee Unit will use to share videos on in the future. Recently, we uploaded our experiences of the Asian Hornet in Andernos-les-Bains, South West France.
    The YouTube channel can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCz2mmKhYUpQJEviiAzOEqA
    The NBU would like to thank the Beekeepers and the Mairie of Andernos-les-Bains for the warm welcome received, for the time taken to teach their methods of controlling the hornet and for sharing their experiences, which will hold us in good stead for the potential arrival of this exotic threat.
  37. Small hive beetle confirmed in South West Italy

    On September 11 2014, the Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale delle Venezie Italian National Reference Laboratory for Apiculture confirmed the first detection of the presence of Small hive beetle (SHB) in South West Italy, in the port city of Gioia Tauro. 
    Since its discovery, urgent measures are underway to measure the extent of the outbreak, complete tracings (sales and movements of bees from the area) and eradicate and control its spread in line with EU legislation and safeguards. Measures include the destruction of all colonies where the beetle is found and treatment of surrounding soil in the apiaries. Details of the current situation can be found here.
    Since 2011, there has been a substantial level of imports of package bees and queens from Italy into the UK. The National Bee Unit (NBU) has now reinspected all Package bees imported from Italy this year across England and Wales, all negative for SHB. Beekeepers are reminded to remain vigilant when checking their colonies and to immediately report any suspicious sightings to the NBU. 
    For more information about this exotic pest and the things beekeepers should do are illustrated in the NBU advisory leaflet ‘The Small hive beetle’. 
    Updates on the outbreak will be placed on the Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale delle Venezie website above, and on the ANSES European Union Reference Laboratory (EURL) for honey bee health website.
    And also please see the Q&A below for more information.
    SHB Q&A September 2014
  38. National Pollinator Strategy: for Bees and Other Pollinators in England

    Defra has published their National Pollinator Strategy on the gov.uk website: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-pollinator-strategy-for-bees-and-other-pollinators-in-england
    The Strategy is accompanied by a Supporting Document with further details of the plan for the next 10 years. The Strategy is iterative and will develop over time as new evidence emerges from on-going research. The hope is that the Strategy will be a framework for action by many different businesses, groups and organisations as one of the key elements to the Strategy is working in partnership with others to achieve better habitats for pollinators.
    There is also a published summary of responses to the consultation document on the gov.uk website https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/national-pollinator-strategy-for-bees-and-other-pollinators-in-england
    Detailed advice and case studies
    At the same time Defra has published a set of information sheets for land managers (gardens, agriculture, industrial and post-industrial land, woodlands and transport corridors) and a set of case studies which provide information on how various businesses, organisations and community groups are already taking action to provide pollinators with the resources they need. These will be available at www.beesneeds.org.uk
    If you have any queries on the Strategy please let Defra know via pollinatorstrategy@defra.gsi.gov.uk
  39. Starvation Warning.

    Beekeepers should remain vigilant throughout the winter and check the weight of their colonies. The mild weather conditions may have caused some colonies to remain quite active, consuming more winter stores than usual. As a result, there may be a risk that colonies will be running low on food stocks and so should be fed with bakers fondant (2.5kg/ colony). Wrap the fondant in plastic film (alternatively, mini plastic bags used to store loose fruit from the supermarket are perfectly acceptable and cost nothing). Monitor them every 2 weeks to see how much is consumed, feeding more fondant if needed. Make a hole in one side of the plastic and place over the feed-hole on the crown board, turning the crown board round if necessary so that the fondant is above the cluster.
    For more information please refer to Best Practice Guideline Number 7 – ‘Feeding Bees - Sugar’ and check the emergency feeding section. The leaflet can be found from the following link:
    https://secure.fera.defra.gov.uk/beebase/downloadNews.cfm?id=121
  40. Have you seen this invader?

    The Asian hornet is a large wasp which is poised to invade Britain. If it gains a foothold it will be bad for honey bees, native insects and pose a threat to human health. August and September are the months when it is most likely to be seen. It is relatively easy to identify and also makes large distinctive nests (often high up in trees). The Government takes this issue seriously and has drawn up a plan to try to eradicate this species before it can establish in Britain. To do this, we need to find out immediately if it is spotted in this country. If you think you have seen this species please report your sighting straight away via the Alert system:
    alertnonnative@ceh.ac.uk
    Alert Poster:
    https://secure.fera.defra.gov.uk/nonnativespecies/downloadDocument.cfm?id=859
    ID sheet:
    https://secure.fera.defra.gov.uk/beebase/downloadDocument.cfm?id=698
    Information sheet:
    https://secure.fera.defra.gov.uk/beebase/downloadDocument.cfm?id=402
    Asian Hornet Information page:
    https://secure.fera.defra.gov.uk/beebase/index.cfm?pageid=208
  41. Scottish Bee Health Survey Published

    The results of the first Scottish bee health survey have been published. The survey, commissioned by the Scottish Government, was designed to assess the health status of honey bees in Scotland and gain a better understanding of how factors such as husbandry and disease affect them.
    Click here to view the findings.
  42. Pollen Substitute Feed.

    Following our post about bee starvation and what looks to be another few weeks of terrible weather, it is advisable to start thinking about feeding your colonies some form of pollen substitute. By now the winter bees will have started to die off and the production of brood to replace these loses are important. However, without suitable protein and nectar, the development of brood will be damaged and in some instances may not happen at all.

    It is always better to source a pollen substitute from a commercial/ equipment supplier because the consistency of the product will always be assured and they are specifically designed to help boost a colony. However, if you cannot source a pollen substitute it can be made up by mixing 3 parts (by weight) soybean flour, 1 part dried brewer’s yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) and 1 part dry skimmed milk. Prepare a solution of 2 parts by volume of sugar to 1 part hot water.

    Let the solution cool and mix one litre of this solution with 400 grams of the substitute. Form it into a cake and wrap in grease proof paper, if necessary they can be stored in a freezer. When using cut a small hole in the paper and place the package hole side down on the top bars over the cluster and preferably over open brood. The bees will tear the paper away and feed on the cake. It is important that the cake remains moist or bees will ignore it, so maintain the paper cover over the top or wrap it in several layers of cling film and pierce a hole big enough for the bees to get in and feed on it.

    The amount fed is variable depending on the strength of the colony and external conditions. A small colony on three frames may only need 50 grams a week whilst a very strong colony may require more.

    Maintain feeding substitutes until there is an adequate natural pollen crop as it may be detrimental to the colonies development to stop beforehand. This is because brood food production may be affected leading to the starvation of larvae.

    Remember homemade pollen substitutes can be very variable in nutritional value due to the different ingredient brands. Generally it is better to obtain a commercial honeybee pollen substitute as the quality is assured.

    Pollen substitutes must not be used if the colony is starving because it is more important to get feed into the colony rather than protein. One your hives have suitable food stores, you may then place a pollen pate on the top bars, if there isn’t already a natural source coming in.

    Finally it is also worth noting that in some parts of the country, bees are still reluctant to take liquid syrup but will use invert syrups such as ambrosia. If you find that your bees are taking neither then stick to fondant until the weather warms up.

  43. Early Detection of the Asian Hornet.

    Beekeepers please remember that this is the time of year at which exotic species of predatory hornets will begin to emerge from hibernation and establish new colonies. The Asian hornet, Vespa velutina has increased it’s range in continental Europe and continues to pose a threat of arrival and potential establishment in the UK and we therefore need to keep it out. The message from the NBU is as follows:

    • Monitoring for arrival of mated queens is strongly encouraged (NB. Southern coastal counties of England).

    • Consider hanging hornet traps (See attached sheet about A simple monitoring trap for the Asian hornet).

    • Key message from NBU – Spring trapping works; at this time of the year, the queen hornet will be flying about in search of sugary substances to raise her energy levels after hibernation.

    • Know how to recognise Asian hornets (See attached file . How to idendtify Asian hornets).

    • Know where to report sightings:

      alertnonnative@ceh.ac.uk

    • Register on BeeBase.

  44. Starvation Risk from Cold Weather

    March 2013 Starvation Risk. Important Information about Colony Food Levels.

    With the continued poor weather looking to persist through to the end of March, colonies may be starting to run out of food (if they haven’t already). It would be advisable to check the food levels by opening the hive and making a very quick observation on their store levels. Key points to remember are:
    • The colony may still have stores available which are at the other end of the brood chamber to the cluster of bees. If there are ‘empty’ frames between the two then the bees could still starve, despite food being in the chamber. Move the frames of food directly next to the outer frame where the cluster resides, ensuring that you score each frame of food (not excessively, but enough to stimulate feeding). Be sure not to knock or roll the bees when doing this and to be as quick as possible.

    • If the colony has little or no frames of food then give them a block of candy or fondant. You want to aim for about 2.5 kg per hive and although this may seem to be a great expense, it is far less than the money you will have wasted should the bees die.

    • Mini plastic bags that are used to store loose fruit in from the supermarket are perfectly acceptable for holding the fondant and cost nothing. Pack the candy in the bag and then pierce holes in the appropriate place once you get to the hive. If the bag seems fragile then you can double bag it (just be sure to pierce both bags).

    • At this time of the year we would usually start feeding sugar syrup but with these temperatures it is still too cold. Place the fondant directly above the bees, turning the crownboard if necessary so that one of the porter bee escape holes is above the cluster.

    Please be aware that this should be done as quickly and carefully as possible and although it may seem too cold to open the hive now, it is far better to do so knowing the bees are ok than not to and find later that they have died.

    For more information please refer to Best Practice Guideline Number 7 – ‘Emergency Feeding’.

  45. BeeBase Downtime

    Due to planned maintenance of Fera's websites, BeeBase will be unavailable for a period of time during the weekend of 9th - 10th March 2013.
    Normal service will be resumed from the morning of Monday 11th March 2013.
  46. Appointment of New Regional Bee Inspector for South West England Region

    The National Bee Unit is pleased to announce that following interviews and testing of candidates at Sand Hutton, Mr Simon Jones has been appointed as Regional Bee Inspector (RBI) for the National Bee Unit's South Western England Region which covers the counties of Avon, Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and the Isles of Scilly.
    Simon will replace Adam Vevers who has decided to take partial retirement although he will continue to work as a Seasonal Bee Inspector in Devon. Adam has been the Regional Bee Inspector for South Western England Region since 2006.
    Simon’s handover and training with Andy Wattam – National Bee Inspector will commence on the 1st March 2013 with him taking over the management of the Region and its team of Seasonal Bee Inspectors from the 1st April 2013.
    Simon lives in the village of Creech St Michael near Taunton in Somerset and has been a beekeeper for 26 years - much of that time spent keeping bees on a semi-commercial basis. He has worked as a Seasonal Bee Inspector in Eastern Somerset since 2009 and will be well known to many beekeepers in that area. As well as enjoying the practical side of beekeeping - Simon has also studied the BBKA modules becoming a Master Beekeeper in 2007 and he also attained the National Diploma in Beekeeping (NDB) in 2011. In addition to his own beekeeping Simon enjoys walking, cycling and growing his own fruit and vegetables.
    Commenting on the appointment Simon said: "In my new post, I look forward to working with all of the beekeepers in the South Western England Region and continuing the excellent work done by Adam Vevers."

  47. Improving Honey Bee Health - Proposed changes to managing and controlling pests and diseases

    DEFRA has launched a public consultation on bee health following a review of its current policies on managing honey bee pests and diseases.
    The review was undertaken by Defra and the Welsh Government, with the participation of representatives from commercial and amateur beekeeper associations, the Fera National Bee Unit, Fera Scientists and Economists and an independent scientist. 
    The consultation is seeking views on the proposals which emerged from the review.
    The closing date for this consultation is the 9th March 2013.
    For further information and how to respond, please click here: Improving honey bee health
    To view the 'Boost for bee health' press release click here
  48. Person Posing as Bee Inspector (Nottinghamshire)

    We have received reports that a gentleman in his mid-fifties and claiming to be a Bee Inspector recently attempted to gain access to an out apiary in Nottinghamshire.

    We would like to remind beekeepers that the Seasonal Bee Inspectors have now finished for the year and all contact with the Inspectorate until 1st April 2013 should be through the NBU office, National Bee Inspector or Regional Bee Inspector - see contacts page on BeeBase for details.

    All Authorised Bee Inspectors carry photographic i.d. from the NBU and beekeepers and land owners should ask to see this if there is any doubt. The Inspector would not normally approach the landowner of an out apiary to inspect the bees unless the beekeeper couldn’t be traced and the apiary was in a disease risk area.

  49. New publication in Science on Varroa and its influence on honey bee viruses

    Researchers in Hawaii and the UK have reported that Varroa destructor, the parasitic mite of honey bees causes a honey bee virus called Deformed Wing Virus (DWV) to become more virulent within colonies, and may be contributing to the world-wide loss of millions of honey bee colonies.

    The recent arrival and spread of the mite in Hawaii offered a unique opportunity during 2009 and 2010 to study the evolutionary change in the honey bee viruses. Researchers from Sheffield University, the Marine Biological Association, the Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera) and the University of Hawaii at Manoa showed how the Varroa mite caused a massive reduction in the numbers of different strains of DWV, until there was only one extremely virulent strain. The prevalence of this virulent strain increases from around 10% in Varroa free areas up to 100% in areas where Varroa is established.

    The Varroa mite facilitates the spread of viruses by acting as a viral reservoir and incubator. It feeds on honey bees and their larvae, feeding on the ‘blood’ [haemolymph] of adult bees and reproducing within the developing brood.  The impact of DWV and honey bee viruses on honey bee colonies is well known.  The mite can spread several different viruses between honey bees and colonies and it is one of the biggest problems faced by today’s beekeepers. The information in the paper clearly shows the importance of monitoring and controlling varroa mite populations in colonies to below damage thresholds.  This has always been the key to successful management of this parasite. For further details please see the FERA National Bee Unit publication Managing Varroa.

    Honey bees are very economically important insects, providing over £400million per year in crop pollination services (together with other insect pollinators) and valuable hive products

    The publication, "Global honey bee viral landscape altered by a parasitic mite" is published in Science.

  50. Starvation Risk - Important Message About Bee Colony Food Levels

    Important Message About Bee Colony Food Levels:
    With the continued spell of poor weather in many areas of the UK, reports are coming in from Regional and Seasonal Bee Inspectors of starving bee colonies, where the beekeeper is not aware that the bees are severely short of food, or the colony(s) have already starved to death.

    Indications are that this current spell of unsettled weather will continue until the 19th June 2012 at the earliest.

    Particularly at Risk:
    Areas of special risk are:

    • Bee Colonies where supers of honey have been removed this season.
    • Splits / Artificial Swarms and Nucleus colonies made up this year.
    • Newly collected and hived swarms which have not been fed following 24 hours after hiving.
    • Populous stocks of bees which haven’t swarmed this year and weather has precluded them gathering sufficient food.

    What should Beekeepers do Right Now?

    • Firstly - Check all colonies feed levels by ‘hefting the hive’ – lifting the hive from below the floor sufficiently to see how much it weighs (Photograph attached - Hefting a Hive) where the hive is light liquid feed should be applied, directly above the bees – so if there are empty supers above the brood box with few or no bees in them, then remove them to feed, otherwise the empty super will act as a barrier in some cases to the bees getting the food quickly.
    • Feed can be sugar and water mixed at 2:1 ratio or one of the proprietary ready mixed syrups available from Beekeeping Equipment Suppliers.
    • Fondant can be used in an emergency if nothing else is available – but liquid feed will be more appropriate at this time of the season.
    • Large starving colonies of bees will take 1 gallon (Approx 5 Litres) of syrup very quickly – smaller colonies ½ gallon (Approx 2.5 Litres) may be sufficient to keep them going, but after feeding heft hives again and check the weight – if in doubt feed some more in a few days time.

    Further information and Guidance:
    Further information on supplementary feeding can be found on Beebase – Best Practice Guideline Number 7 – ‘Emergency Feeding’: Feeding_Bees_No_7_June_2011

    Andy Wattam
    National Bee Inspector.
    Head of Bee Health Field Inspection Service for England & Wales.