Dear Member

April is usually the time when temperatures are high enough, and there is forage around, for a first inspection to be less disruptive to the bees, but with a warm dry February and then some high temperatures in March it seems that many colonies are already building up strongly and we can anticipate an early swarming season as a result. Apparently Winnie the Pooh made the very apt remark that “you can never tell with bees”- something that anyone who has ever kept bees will concur with.


April is also a good month to do an disease inspection before the colony has become too large. Essentially you need to shake the bees off every brood frame with a sharp downward jerk (trying not to bang against the broodbox or another frame) and then when it is clear of bees, examining the brood carefully for signs of anything untoward. If you are not sure about whether what you are seeing is healthy, do ask another more experienced beekeeper to have a look, or even contact the bee inspector. (details at the back of WB magazine) Do also consider coming to the bee health day on 6th April to discuss what you have observed.

Bob Gilbert in his very informative talk last month gave some insight into the complexity of communications in the hive. Bees use the sensory receptors that cover their bodies to pick up signals from inside and outside the hive. When as beekeepers we do an inspection we also need to bring our senses into play. If we strongly smell the banana like alarm pheromone, is it time to close the hive, if we open the hive and hear a roar, is the colony queenless, can we see how well the bees are doing, and lastly we need to switch on that large sense organ we humans have, our brain, and try to make sense of what we have observed to do the best for our bees.

There has been a lot in the news lately about the world-wide loss of pollinators, but apparently that is not true of honeybees who are more or less maintaining their status despite the threats from varroa and other pests. It is important that as beekeepers we help to maintain this status quo by continuing to be vigilant about pests like the Asian Hornet and by keeping up positive approaches to containing varroa within reasonable limits. Remember to put out hornet traps and monitor them regularly.

This is the time of year that American beekeepers transport huge numbers of honeybees to the almond orchard to pollinate the blossom. Going back to what I raised last month in the newsletter about the interactions between bees and flowers, it has now been observed that if bumble bees are also brought into the orchards, honeybees ‘dot about’ more from tree to tree so improving pollination - how little we know about the complexities of nature!.

Lastly, if you are able to help at the monthly ‘Sustainable Market’ at St Andrews Parish Church in the centre of Rugby, please contact Martin, or just go along to see what is on offer - the first Saturday of the month. This month there is a blues gig at 2.00pm and plastic free goods for sale.

Margaret Holdsworth


Beebase News Web feed
  • Beebase Registrations
    19 August 2019
    Due to an IT problem there may be a delay in processing some Beebase registrations. Apologies for any inconvenience caused.
  • Reported Turkish bee has been identified as a UK native leafcutter bee
    05 August 2019
    DNA barcoding analysis of a suspect sample of Osmia spp. from Turkey has confirmed it to be a native UK species of leafcutter bee, Megachile centuncularis.

    The UK has a diverse variety of native bees and we encourage members of the public to seek identification of bee species through the many groups and societies with a particular interest in entomology such as; The ‘BWARS’ (Bees Wasps and Ants Recording Society) Facebook page, or Sightings may be recorded with the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology;

    We encourage the reporting of non-native species identified by interest groups or members of the public. Guidance on where to report this information can be found on the GB Non-native Species Secretariat (GB NNSS) website ( The Government will then take action in accordance with the GB Invasive Non-native Species Strategy to minimise the risks they pose to our flora and fauna. We encourage everyone who travels abroad to check luggage especially if it has been kept outside during their trip. If you do spot a stowaway upon your return to the UK you should report it with the dates and places you went on holiday, and ideally a photo of the insect via the GB NNSS website.
  • Asian hornet in New Milton, Hampshire
    03 July 2019

    The National Bee Unit has today (Wednesday 3 July 2019) confirmed a sighting of an individual, female Asian hornet in New Milton, Hampshire, after it was reported by a member of the public. Based upon visual examination, the hornet is likely to be a queen.

    Further information can be found here.