Dear Members,

The Zoom Warwickshire lecture on “Himalayan Balsam” helped me change my mind a little about this invasive plant. I was not aware it had been present since Victorian times as it only seems to have become a real problem in the last few years. 

The main issue being that it out-competes local plants and because it dies back in winter it leaves river banks exposed to erosion. Apparently bees love it - and, it provides valuable late season pollen and somewhat watery nectar.  The watery nectar doesn’t sound great but combined with ivy nectar which can crystallize, it may be a good recipe. Apparently we should all look out for the tell-tale streak of white pollen in the bee’s back to identify that they are feeding on this plant.  I have noticed creamy pollen sacks but not white backed bees.

With the active beekeeping season drawing to a close this is the ideal time to turn your thoughts towards learning a bit more about bees, their behaviour and biology and how best to care for them.  The BBKA modules are a great resource as well as the correspondence course which encourages wider reading and formal study, but there are also now many Zoom lectures and YouTube videos which are helpful.  Do check our links to some of the helpful Warwickshire videos. 

Several of our members have in fact this year entered themselves for the BBKA modular exams and received credits! So well done Gail Plester and Steve Brown!  Check out the results in the September BBKA News. Sam Pecket has also rounded off her full complement of all the Modular exams with a Certificate in Bee Health, and...Helen Rathbone has passed her Beekeeping Basic Certificate which opens the door to all the theory and practical BBKA  steps it is possible to take towards becoming a Master Beekeeper!

While most of us may not see ourselves becoming Master Beekeepers, undertaking study, either formal or informal, certainly enhances our enjoyment and proficiency as beekeepers - so think about it and do come to the first of our Winter lectures on the 6th October as Celia Davis is sure to give good value as our first speaker.

I was interested to read in a Scottish beekeepers’s blog that this had been for her the best honey harvest she has had in 16 years of beekeeping. Apparently a lot of this was due to the Himalayan Balsam which out-competes heather in her region.  I think this illustrates how dependent on weather the bees are; further South this has been a very mixed year for honey yields - some people have had none or very little, and others have had moderate yields.  So much depends on weather, and the forage available in your area, which of course is also affected by the weather from year to year.

Apparently British beekeepers only provide 14% of the annual UK demand for honey, whereas in France local beekeepers provide 60%. However, I believe that this year French beekeepers are asking the Government for support as their yields have been so low; they too have been affected by the unusual weather this year.

Hard as it is to believe, Christmas is coming. In previous years we have decorated a Christmas tree to take part in the St Andrew’s Parish Church Christmas Tree Festival.  This year the theme is ‘Let there be Light’.  If you have ideas, or would like to be involved in this event, please contact someone on the committee as RBKA is keen to have your support.

Regards, and stay safe and well,  

Margaret Holdsworth  


Beebase News Web feed
  • Bee Health Advisory Forum - Science Advisor
    08 November 2021
    The Bee Health Advisory Forum brings Defra & Welsh Government policy and stakeholders together to discuss honey bee health issues and is inviting expressions of interest from applicants interested in being Bee Health Advisory Forum Science Advisors. The closing date for applications is Friday 17th December at 17:00.

    Full details about the role can be downloaded here and can be found on the Bee Health Advisory page. Please circulate to prospective advisors or feel free to apply.
  • The National Hive Count 2021
    02 November 2021
    The 2021 Hive Count launches today (2nd November)

    It is time to update your BeeBase records with the total number of overwintering hives as of 1st November 2021. You can do this by clicking this link to update your Hive Count:

    More details of this project, its importance and why we need your help can be found at:
  • Asian hornet nest killed in Portsmouth, Hampshire
    01 November 2021
    A report of Asian hornet in the Portsmouth area was received via the Asian Hornet Watch App on 29th October. The report was accompanied by clear photographs, allowing National Bee Unit inspectors to follow up the sighting quickly.

    An Asian hornet nest was located in a tree on Saturday 30th October and the nest was killed on Sunday 31st October. The nest will be sent to Fera for analysis and monitoring will continue in the area supported by local beekeepers.

    Further information regarding Asian hornet can be found on Defra's Asian Hornet sightings page and on our BeeBase Asian hornet page. Please direct all media enquiries to the Defra Press Office: 0330 0416560

    Use the ‘Asian hornet Watch’ app for Android and Iphone to report sightings.