NBU BeeBase News Feed

  1. Beekeepers should continue to monitor their colonies throughout the winter as temperatures in some regions of the UK have been unusually high for the winter months, allowing honey bee flight and forage of pollen. In some cases, small patches of brood are still being reared and the demand on the colony's food resources ongoing. 

    Where temperatures do not allow for a sugar syrup feed, fondant icing can be placed directly on the top bars of the colony, above the cluster and fed as required.

    For further information, please see the ‘Best Practice Guidance No. 7 - Feeding Bees Sugar’ on the following BeeBase Page: http://www.nationalbeeunit.com/index.cfm?pageid=167


  2. Defra have published guidance on importing animals, which includes bees, if the UK leaves the EU with no deal. The information can be viewed by clicking on the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/importing-animals-and-animal-products-if-theres-no-brexit-deal

    Specific honey bee information will be provided on BeeBase as soon as it is available.

  3. A Regional Bee Inspector Vacancy is now live on the Civil Service Jobs website. The area we are recruiting in is:

    Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Wirral and Merseyside, Lancashire, Cumbria, County Durham, Tyne and Wear and Northumberland (Northern Region) - Please contact the National Bee Inspector Julian Parker if you have any questions about the post. His contact details are as follows:
    Email: Julian.Parker@apha.gov.uk
    Phone: 07775 119469

  4. The 2018 Hive Count launches today (1st November)!

    More information can be found here.

    This year the emails will be sent out using the Government Notify system and you will receive an email from national.hive.count@notifications.service.gov.uk. Please make a note of this mailbox and mark it as a friendly to prevent it from being blocked by your email provider. Any replies to this mailbox should still reach us directly.


  5. Seasonal Bee Inspector Vacancies are now live on the Civil Service Jobs website. The areas we are recruiting in are:

    Greater London, London, Kent (South Eastern Region) - Please contact the Regional Bee Inspector Sandra Gray if you have any questions about the post. Her contact details are as follows:
    Email: Sandra.gray@apha.gov.uk
    Phone: 07775119430

    Northern Region - Co. Durham, Tyne & Wear and Northumberland. (Northern Region) - Please contact the National Bee Inpsector Julian Parker if you have any questions about the post. His contact details are as follows:
    Email:Julian.parker@apha.gov.uk
    Phone:07775119469


    Kind regards,

    National Bee Unit
  6. The National Bee Unit is investigating a confirmed sighting of the Asian hornet in Dungeness. The hornets have been seen foraging on Ivy. Please keep up your vigilance by continuing to monitor for any hornet activity, especially on flowering forage. Further information will become available as and when the situation develops.

    As usual, further information regarding the Asian hornet can be found on our Asian hornet pageof BeeBase and on Defra's Asian hornet rolling news page.

    Please report sightings:

    • with your smart phone or tablet, by using the ‘Asian hornet Watch’ app: for Iphone  and  Android;

    • online: http://www.brc.ac.uk/risc/alert.php?species=asian_hornet;

    • by email to: alertnonnative@ceh.ac.uk. Please include as much information as possible in your email; where you saw the sighting, your name and contact details and if possible an image.

    Please direct all media enquiries to the Defra Press Office: 0330 0416560

  7. It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Chris Appleby, Seasonal Bee Inspector for Co. Durham, Tyne & Wear and Northumberland, who passed away unexpectedly on Friday 5th October.

    Chris joined the National Bee Unit in May 2017 working as part of the Northern team and in recent weeks he had been out helping with the Asian Hornet response in both Hull and Hampshire.

    Chris was well known for his passion and enthusiasm for his work and will be greatly missed by the Northern team and the wider NBU family.

  8. The National Bee Unit is investigating the finding of a dead Asian hornet found between a car grill at a car dealership in Guildford. Further information will become available as and when the situation develops.

    A new ‘Asian Hornet: UK sightings in 2018’ page has been published on Gov.Uk. This, along with BeeBase, will be updated with new developments as they occur.

    As usual, further information regarding the Asian hornet can be found on our Asian hornet page of BeeBase.

    Please report sightings:

    • with your smart phone or tablet, by using the ‘Asian hornet Watch’ app: for Iphone and Android;

    • online: http://www.brc.ac.uk/risc/alert.php?species=asian_hornet;

    • by email to: alertnonnative@ceh.ac.uk . Please include as much information as possible in your email; where you saw the sighting, your name and contact details and if possible an image.

    Please direct all media enquiries to the Defra Press Office: 0330 0416560.
  9. A new ‘Asian Hornet: UK sightings in 2018’ page has been published on Gov.Uk. This, along with BeeBase, will be updated with new developments as they occur.

    As usual, further information regarding the Asian hornet can be found on our Asian hornetpage of BeeBase.

    Please report sightings:

    • with your smart phone or tablet, by using the ‘Asian hornet Watch’ app: for Iphone and Android;

    • online: http://www.brc.ac.uk/risc/alert.php?species=asian_hornet;

    • by email to: alertnonnative@ceh.ac.uk . Please include as much information as possible in your email; where you saw the sighting, your name and contact details and if possible an image.

    Please direct all media enquiries to the Defra Press Office: 0330 0416560.
  10. The nest in the Brockenhurst area of Hampshire was found and destroyed over the weekend and has been sent to the National Bee Unit laboratory for analysis. For further information please see the Gov.uk rolling news page.
  11. A report of an Asian hornet sighting made on the 22/09/18 by a member of the public in New Alresford, Hampshire and was found the following day by the National Bee Unit. The nest has been destroyed and sent for laboratory examination. 

    The NBU are also investigating a report of a single hornet on the south coast of Hampshire.  

    The NBU is continuing surveillance for further nests and beekeepers across the UK are urged to remain vigilant and to report any sightings either via the Asian hornet Watch App for android, the Asian hornet Watch App. for Iphone, email or the online recording form.

    Surveillance is ongoing in Fowey, Cornwall. No hornets have been seen at this location since the two nests were destroyed earlier this month.

    Local surveillance is continuing in Hull, East Yorkshire, where a single dead hornet was found in a house.
  12. A second Asian hornet nest has been found and destroyed in Fowey, close to the 1st nest site. Information about this discovery, along with surveillance activities in Hull and Liskeard can be found in the following Defra press release:

    https://www.gov.uk/government/news/asian-hornet-second-fowey-nest-destroyed

  13. Please note: The issues with our live data maps are now resolved
  14. The National Bee Unit has found and destroyed the nest in Fowey. Two separate sightings of Asian hornet have been confirmed in Liskeard and Hull and surveillance activity is underway.

    For further information please see the Defra press release.

    Please continue to remain vigilant monitoring for Asian hornets and report any sightings through the Asian hornet appor online.

  15. The National Bee Unit has confirmed that a suspect specimen caught in a beekeeper's monitoring trap in the Fowey area of South Cornwall is the Asian hornet, Vespa velutina. More information can be found in the Defra press release.

    Further guidance on the Asian hornet can be found on the Asian hornet pages of BeeBaseincluding an Asian hornet ID sheetand Asian hornet poster.

    We have produced a guidance note and videoon how to make a monitoring trap to help assist you in monitoring for the Asian hornet and encourage you to record the placing of Asian Hornet traps in apiaries on your personal BeeBase records. Guidance on how to do this can be found here.

    Please report sightings;
    • with your smart phone or tablet, by using the ‘Asian hornet Watch’ app: for Android and iOS devices.
    • online: http://www.brc.ac.uk/risc/alert.php?species=asian_hornet
    • by email to: alertnonnative@ceh.ac.uk . Please include as much information as possible in your email; where you saw the sighting, your name and contact details and if possible an image.

    Please direct all media enquiries to the Defra Press Office: 0330 0416560.

    We thank you in advance for your co-operation.

  16. Bee Inspectors across the UK are reporting that many colonies look low on food reserves and are in need of food, especially those colonies where honey has been taken off and replacement food been given back. The sugar syrup should be made by using 1kg of sugar to 650ml of warm water or a commercially ready-made bee syrup can be used. Please monitor you colonies throughout the autumn and feed as required to ensure they do not end up starving. As a rule, standard full size British National colonies will need around 20-25 kg of stores to successfully overwinter.

    For further information, please see the ‘Best Practice Guidance No. 7 - Feeding Bees Sugar’ on the following BeeBase Page: http://www.nationalbeeunit.com/index.cfm?pageid=167

  17. PLEASE NOTE: The application deadline for these roles has now passed (14/09/2018).

    The National Bee Unit has several Seasonal Bee Inspector Posts advertised on the Civil Service Jobs website. The areas we are recruiting in are:

    Southern area, Wiltshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire;

    Eastern areas, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, Leicestershire, Rutland;

    North East (Yorkshire), West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire and the Dales;

    London, London/Greater London.

    Applications have to be made online via the Civil Service Jobs website and the Closing date for applications is the 13th September 2018. Any applications submitted after this date will not be considered. If you have any questions about any of the posts then please contact the Regional Bee Inspector, or in the event that the RBI is not available, contact the National Bee Inspector, Julian Parker. All contact details can be found on the contact pages of BeeBase.


  18. Defra would like to thank everyone who took the time to respond to this survey. The working group that put this survey together are very much encouraged by your interest and engagement in this topic. It clearly shows that it is an important issue for beekeepers and government alike.

    A pdf summary report of the questions is attached. We hope this will be of interest to you.

    We are continuing to work with beekeeping organisations on the analysis of these results and also looking at options for ways to improve our ability to rear queens in the UK.

    The Queen Rearing Working Group is chaired by Defra with representatives from the National Bee Unit (NBU), the Bee Farmers’ Association (BFA), the British Beekeepers Association (BBKA), the Bee Improvement and Bee Breeders’ Association (BIBBA) and the National Diploma in Beekeeping (NDB).

    Queen Replacement Survey 2018 Results

  19. Dear Beekeepers.

    The National Bee Unit (NBU) has added a new BeeBase feature to help understand UK Asian hornet surveillance.

    In April 2018 a single Asian hornet queen was photographed by a member of the public in Bury, Lancashire, on a cauliflower which was traced back to a farm in Boston, Lincolnshire. The NBU has continued to monitor for the hornet’s presence in both counties but to date, has found no Vespa velutina at either of these sites.

    Many Beekeepers are monitoring for Asian hornets and BeeBase apiary records have been improved so beekeepers can record when traps are located in their apiaries. Please update your records to help us understand where traps have been placed across the UK in the ‘my apiary’ tab. Guidance on how to use the new recording feature, as well as additional information about how to log into your BeeBase account can be found in our Beekeeper Pages FAQ.

    The NBU will continue to update you on Asian Hornet surveillance throughout the year.


  20. The National Bee Unit has confirmed a sighting of a single Asian hornet in Lancashire. More information can be found in the Defra Press release:

    https://www.gov.uk/government/news/asian-hornet-identified-in-lancashire

    Further guidance on the Asian hornet can be found on the Asian hornet pages of BeeBase including an Asian hornet ID sheet and Asian hornet poster.

    We have written a monitoring trap for the Asian hornet fact sheet and an Asian hornet trap making videoto help assist you in monitoring for the Asian hornet.

    You can report sightings with your smart phone or tablet, by using the ‘Asian hornet Watch’ app for Androids and iOS. The app also uses GPS which allows the user to submit the exact location of their finding, allowing any confirmed sightings to be followed up quickly and efficiently.

    Alternatively, you can submit your sighting by email. When doing so, please include as much information as possible, including where you saw the sighting, name, contact number/ address and if possible an image. Send your sightings to: alertnonnative@ceh.ac.uk.

    Finally you can also use the online recording form which can be found at:

    http://www.brc.ac.uk/risc/alert.php?species=asian_hornet

    Please could all media enquiries be directed to the Defra press Office: 0208 2257317

    We thank you in advance for your co-operation.
  21. The National Bee Unit has been receiving a large amount of calls regarding honey bee swarms. Please note that we do not deal with swarms, however, you may find the following advice useful in re-directing your enquiry:

    First of all it is important to establish what sort of insect it is. Usually, beekeepers are only willing to assist with honey bees. The British Beekeepers Association(BBKA) website holds list of volunteer Swarm Collectors and has a very useful identification and guidance page.
  22. The National Bee Unit (NBU) received news on 30/04/2018 of a suspected finding of Small hive beetle eggs in an imported consignment of bees (1000 queens) in France. The news has been widely shared across the UK’s beekeeping community.

    A formal Communiqué de presse was issued by the Ministère de l’ Agriculture & ANSES on 4th May 2018 http://agriculture.gouv.fr/parasite-des-abeilles-aethina-tumida-suspicion-non-confirmee it explained how analyses carried out at the national reference of Sophia Antipolis laboratory is inconclusive and the available material will not allow further analysis.

    The import was originally from Argentina and is said to have been widely distributed in France, further checks will be taking place during the season. There are currently no confirmed reports of Small hive beetle (Aethina tumida) in Argentina (source OIE) however the beetle has been found in other parts of South America.

    The UK has received one import of 525 queens from Argentina this year. The NBU proactively took action to inspect the imported queens, Fera Science Ltd received the consignment samples for mandatory checks and no Aethina tumida were found to be present.

    UK authorities remain active in preparing and monitoring for the Small hive beetle. Contingency training exercises have been run by the NBU to provide opportunities to test and improve protocols. Further information on Small hive beetle can be found in the NBU advisory leaflet.

  23. If you would like to know more about the Asian hornet, there are two pages which will be of use to you:

    The National Bee Unit's BeeBase page on the Asian hornet;

    The Non Native Species Secretariat's page on the Asian hornet.

    Additionally, if you are interested in finding out more details of the Tetbury outbreak in 2016, including genetic analysis of the hornets origin, this can be found in the PLoS One publication: Budge GE, Hodgetts J, Jones EP, Ostoja Starzewski JC, Hall J, Tomkies V, et al. (2017) The invasion, provenance and diversity of Vespa velutina Lepeletier (Hymenoptera: Vespidae) in Great Britain. PLoS ONE 12(9): e0185172. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0185172.
  24. Please note that in order to see some of the content, you may need to temporarily turn off your pop-up blocker.

    Please click the following blue link to view an image of an Asian hornet sighting in Woolacombe hawking in front of beehives . Image courtesy of Martyn Hocking.

    Following suspect sightings, on Sunday 24th September the NBU received two photographs from a beekeeper in Woolacombe, North Devon, of an Asian hornet. The following day, the 25th September, preliminary surveillance began in the apiary and the NBU's Contingency Plan was activated. The local Bee Inspector monitored the apiary and initially found surveillance difficult due to the position of the colonies in the apiary. However, that morning, the Inspector managed to capture a hornet and sent the sample to the NBU in Sand Hutton for formal identification. Later that afternoon, the Inspector returned to the apiary site and a further 7 hornets were seen hawking in front of hives, but no line of sight could be ascertained, to establish a flight path back to the nest.

    On the 26th September, South West Region inspectors were deployed to intensify searches for Asian hornets hawking in the area. Wet, misty and murky morning weather conditions were not ideal, but the Inspectors continued to survey the original outbreak apiary and two lines of sight were established. Inspectors were able to identify a second apiary site about 1km from the original outbreak, where one hornet was seen hawking for returning foraging bees. A hornet sample was taken, in order to establish if the hornets visiting the second apiary site were from the same nest and thus determine if there were multiple nests in the area.

    Hornets were also observed in an apiary at a further site and were seen flying in a similar line of sight. The lines of sight from both the outbreak apiary and the second apiary combined were enough for an initial triangulation to be taken and investigated. The Inspectors began investigating public footpaths and the area around where the lines of sight met at the triangulation. A great deal of Asian hornet activity was observed at a nearby building site and on 27th September an Asian hornet nest was discovered.

    The nest was destroyed the following evening, removed and taken to the Fera lab (Sand Hutton, York) on Friday 29th Sept. Further surveillance was carried out within a 10 km zone of the nest site and no further Asian hornet activity was detected. Following analysis of the nest has shown that none of the adult hornets were male and this indicates that the nest was detected and removed before the production of queens which will have gone into winter and then produced nests in 2018.

    Additionally, if you are interested in finding out more details of the Tetbury outbreak in 2016, including genetic analysis of the hornets origin, this can be found in the PLoS One publication: Budge GE, Hodgetts J, Jones EP, Ostoja Starzewski JC, Hall J, Tomkies V, et al. (2017) The invasion, provenance and diversity of Vespa velutina Lepeletier (Hymenoptera: Vespidae) in Great Britain. PLoS ONE 12(9): e0185172. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0185172.

    A separate document is available to view the Welsh Version of Asian Hornet Update in Woolacombe
  25. A recent outbreak of Asian hornets has been successfully contained by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) Inspectorate who promptly tracked down and destroyed the nest in Devon.

    The hornets were first discovered in the Woolacombe area in September and work to track down and destroy the nest included a two mile surveillance zone in Devon, with National Bee Unit Bee Inspectors using line of sight to triangulate the location of the nest. The contingency plan was set in motion, which included opening a disease control center to coordinate the response between the various teams involved.

    Since the destruction and removal of the nest, no further Asian hornets have been seen in the area, but it is possible Asian hornets could reappear in the UK and beekeepers, along with members of the public are urged to report any suspected sightings through the routes outlined in the Defra press release.

    For more details about the Asian hornet, please visit the detailed pages on BeeBase.


  26. 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 North Devon which was spotted by a beekeeper in their apiary on the 18th September 2017. The contingency response has been initiated and a press release has been issued by Defra.

    Beekeepers within the area of the outbreak will be contacted by Bee Inspectors in order to carry out apiary inspections and to hang out traps and we ask for full your co-operation during these visits.

    About the Asian hornet

    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 center 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 BeeBasewhere you will find a very useful Asian hornet ID sheetand Asian hornet posterwhich is available for identification purposes.

    Our best defence against the Asian hornet is to quickly detect any arrivals and prevent them from establishing and traps are the best way to help aid detection. When monitoring for the hornet, please use both sweet and protein based baits in separate traps as the nest may still be expanding and requiring protein to feed it’s young. We have designed A simple monitoring trap for the Asian hornet and an Asian hornet trap making videoto help assist you in doing this.

    You can now report sightings with your smart phone or tablet, by using the ‘Asian hornet Watch’ app for Androidsand iOS. The app also uses GPS which allows the user to submit the exact location of their finding, allowing any confirmed sightings to be followed up quickly and efficiently.

    Alternatively, you can submit your sighting by email. When doing so, please include as much information as possible, including where you saw the sighting, name, contact number/ address and if possible an image. Send your sightings to:

    alertnonnative@ceh.ac.uk

    All records received are reviewed by entomologists at Centre of Ecology and Hydrology and credible records passed on to us at the NBU for further investigation.

    Finally you can also use the online recording form which can be found at

    http://www.brc.ac.uk/risc/alert.php?species=asian_hornet

    Please could all media enquiries be directed to the Defra press Office: 0208 225 7510

    We thank you in advance for your co-operation.


  27. 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.

  28. 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.
  29. 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.
  30. 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
  31. 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

  32. 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
  33. 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.
  34. 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
  35. 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.
  36. 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.

  37. 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


  38. 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.

  39. 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.

  40. 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.
  41. 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.
  42. 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.
  43. 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 .

  44. 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


  45. 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.
  46. 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.
  47. 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.

  48. 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.
  49. 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.
  50. 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.