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
  • Julian Parker – Head of APHA’s National Bee Unit.
    23 November 2020
    Following a recent recruitment process Julian Parker has been appointed as Head of the National Bee Unit (NBU) within Defra’s Animal and Plant Health Agency. Within the NBU Julian has previously been Acting Head as well as National Bee Inspector and before that Regional Bee Inspector for Southern and South East Regions. Julian has over 12 years operational experience with the NBU including leading outbreak situations. Julian is also well known in the wider beekeeping community and his expertise is highly respected across Defra and Welsh Government as well as with Bee Health stakeholders. He has also played a key role in the review of the 2020 Healthy Bees Plan and will now play a significant role in delivering the Healthy Bee Plan 2030. Many congratulations Julian.
  • Email issues
    16 November 2020
    If you have sent an email to between the 10th November and the 16th November, due to a system failure your message has not been received. Please resend your messages, we apologise for the inconvenience.
  • Healthy Bees Plan 2030 Published
    03 November 2020
    Defra, Welsh Government and the National Bee Unit have worked with stakeholders to produce a review of progress made under the Healthy Bees Plan, a ten-year plan introduced in 2009 to improve honey bee health across England and Wales. Following this review, a new plan entitled the Healthy Bees Plan 2030 has been published today to carry on this important work.

    Welcoming the new plan, Nicola Spence, Deputy Director for Plant and Bee Health at Defra, said:

    I am delighted that today we are publishing the Healthy Bees Plan 2030 which is Defra’s and Welsh Government’s joint framework for continued action to improve honey bee health in England and Wales over the next ten years. Protecting our honey bees is vital because of the benefits they bring through pollination of flowers and crops, honey production and our well-being. Bee health stakeholders have had a key role in developing this new Healthy Bees Plan and we look forward to continuing to work together as we implement the plan.

    Ceri Witchard, Deputy Director for Land, Nature and Forestry at Welsh Government, said:

    The Healthy Bees Plan 2009 was published with the aim of achieving a sustainable and healthy population of honey bees for pollination and honey production in Wales and England. Our overall aim has not changed. However, the experiences we have gained and the relationships we have built within the Bee Health Advisory Forum now put us in a firmer position to face new risks and challenges to honey bees. I am grateful to the Forum and other stakeholders for their commitment and contributions in developing the Healthy Bees Plan 2030.