Dear Members,

With the wet weather we have been experiencing, give a thought to your bees and make sure that they are not sitting in a damp or frost pocket and that hives are weather proofed. Remember that bees can withstand cold temperatures and can deal with heat, but damp is a killer. Bees can ventilate the hive or warm it up, but they can’t deal with damp, mouldy conditions.

At the October RBKA Zoom meeting there was a lively debate about whether or not to insulate your hives. As with this topic, and others, Beekeepers often disagree and have strong opinions based on their own experience and ideas. Whatever your ideas are, it is important if your Apiary is in an exposed position to give the bees some extra protection from wind and weather. Around the equinox we can experience high winds, so make sure your hive roof is heavy enough not to be blown away, or give it some extra weight by putting a brick or large stone on top.

As part of the global research into dealing with the Covid pandemic I believe they are training sniffer dogs to detect people with covid as an alternative to testing. I wonder if there will be moves afoot to use bees for the same purpose as they have already found that bees can detect drugs and explosives! It would be interesting to see how this could be used - at least as beekeepers we would know when to self isolate, not sure the general populace would like to expose themselves to bees as an alternative to being tested, no matter how uncomfortable the swabbing of tonsils and nose is.

I am sure you have all received the email from BBKA asking you to fill out the Honey Survey. Do think about doing this as it only takes a few minutes and contributes to National statistics on honey production in the UK. You may also find it interesting to see the list of hives mentioned - some I have never heard of!

Martin has also circulated information from Bees Abroad and Bees for Development - both worthwhile charities that promote beekeeping in developing countries as a means of sustainable employment, often for women. So do consider supporting these.

I have also recently heard from Katie Thomas who has for many years run the “Crackerteria” charitable fundraising initiative raising money for a charity which supports women and villages in India. As a beekeeping group we have for several years supported this initiative by booking a table for Christmas dinner in December. Katie is not sure yet how they will operate, but is considering a delivery or take-away initiative which some of you may like to support. I will give more information in the December edition of this newsletter.

This time of year is always a good opportunity to increase your beekeeping knowledge and with Covid limiting face to face contacts, many organisations have been giving online lectures which are very worthwhile watching. Do look at the November issue of BBKA News where the article on Virtual Beekeeping lists various links. Also as mentioned last month do look up the various learning options offered by BBKA.

Regards, and stay safe and well,

Margaret Holdsworth


Beebase News Web feed
  • Seasonal Bee Inspector (SBI) Vacancies
    19 April 2021
    The National Bee Unit currently has a number of Seasonal Bee Inspector (SBI) vacancies advertised in the following areas South Kent & East Sussex, South West Devon and South East Wales

    If you are interested in applying for the job, full details can be found on Civil Service Jobs.

  • Reporting Varroa
    12 April 2021
    Amendments to the Bee Diseases and Pests Control (England) Order 2006, the Bees Diseases and Pest Control (Scotland) Order 2007 and the Bee Diseases and Pests Control (Wales) Order 2006 come into force on the 21st of April 2021 requiring all beekeepers and/or officials in GB to report the presence of Varroa in any of the hives that they manage. This amendment will allow Great Britain to comply with the Animal Health Law which is necessary for future working relationships with the European Union.

    To make this simple, a tick box will be introduced to BeeBase, the voluntary register for beekeepers managed by the National Bee Unit. This will be the easiest way to report Varroa but an alternative mechanism will be provided for those who do not wish to register on the BeeBase system. Details of this alternative system will be provided after 21st April. If Scottish Beekeepers wish to, they can report varroa by contacting the Scottish Bee Health Inspectors (

    Although Varroa is known to be widespread, it continues to be one of the most serious pests faced by beekeepers. Reporting Varroa will contribute to the overall pest and disease surveillance work of the National Bee Unit and the Scottish Bee Health Inspectorate. We are grateful for your assistance with this new simple measure.

    No action will be required until after 21st April.
  • 2020 Hive Count
    29 March 2021
    More than 10,000 beekeepers, a record number, updated their details on BeeBase during this year's hive count. There are currently more than 44,000 beekeepers registered on BeeBase, meaning that around 23% participated.

    This year’s hive count produced a figure of 260,268 colonies in the UK. This is slightly lower than the 2019 figure of 263,896. It is necessary to make a number of assumptions in the calculation, and so the figure is classed as an experimental statistic.

    The Hive Count provides a very useful indication of the number of managed colonies in the UK, and helps to ensure that BeeBase records are kept up to date. Information about numbers and location of hives is very important for National Bee Unit inspectors in terms of preparing and planning for outbreaks of disease and exotic pests.

    Thank you very much to everyone who has taken time to ensure that their BeeBase information is up to date.