Dear Members,

February means snowdrops emerging and it also heralds our AGM.  While snowdrops are greeted with enthusiasm the same cannot always be said for the AGM. 
But, do consider participating as keeping our Association working effectively is the way in which we promote beekeeping to the general public, and inform them about bees and beekeeping, also importantly it is the way we can continue to educate and support new beekeepers.

Some of you may have seen the report from Beebase indicating that they are doing some research into ‘churn’ - the turnover of beekeepers.
From my experience unless many new beekeepers get appropriate support and education in the first few years of their beekeeping, they rapidly become disillusioned and give up. This is an important reason for us to continue to foster a healthy Rugby Beekeeping Association.
Our parent body, Warwickshire Beekeeping Association is also asking for support for various posts in the county. Please consider if you think you could support in any way.

I was unfortunately unable to attend the January Zoom meeting where the valuable work of Bees Abroad was discussed. This charitable organization works in sub-Saharan Africa, training and supporting local people to undertake beekeeping. Many people are subsistence farmers and they have no means of earning the cash needed to pay school fees and buying essentials. Beekeeping therefore improves the quality of life for many families, and this charity deserves our support.

The reason I was unable to attend the meeting was that I had double booked myself for a lecture organized by Cambridgeshire Beekeepers by Dr Jamie Ellis about “The form and Function of the Honeybee”.
BBKA’s education Module 5 - “Honey bee biology” covers this area of beekeeping knowledge, and this lecture was a wonderful refresher, with beautiful photography and diagrams from the classic Dade book “Anatomy & Dissection of the Honeybee”. It reminded me how wonderfully complex bees are. They are covered with hairy sensors that are super sensitive to smells and vibrations so we need to pay attention to this when inspecting bees - no visits to the Pub (you should be so lucky!) before inspecting the bees, no washing your bee suit with scented
soap or conditioner, or using hairspray - also be gentle, no banging or rough handling of combs.

Regards, and stay safe and well and all the very best for 2021,

Margaret Holdsworth


Beebase News Web feed
  • Survey on how training and information sources for beekeepers and bee farmers can be improved now closed
    20 April 2021
    With thanks to those of you who have already responded. 

    Gyda diolch i'r rhai ohonoch sydd eisoes wedi ymateb. 

    Defra and the Welsh Government want to ensure that beekeepers and bee farmers have access to training and information that can help them implement effective biosecurity and maintain good standards of husbandry, so as to minimise pest and disease risks and improve the sustainability of honeybee populations.

    A questionnaire was available for current beekeepers, people who have recently stopped keeping bees as well as bee farmers to give their views and opinions on the type, accessibility and range of training and information available and how it could be improved. 

    The survey closed on 21 April
  • 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.