Dear Members,

As our Calendar year draws to a close this is a good time to do a little study to improve your beekeeping knowledge and practice.  At our November meeting Jane Medway mentioned that a course is being organized to assist beekeepers who want to undertake the Basic Assessment in beekeeping.

If you are interested, please contact Sam Peckett who will give you more information. Doing the Assessment is a learning opportunity as your assessor will be prepared to talk to you about your beekeeping.  If you read the November issue of BBKA news there is an amusing account of a Beekeeper taking the Basic Assessment.

Jane’s talk in November about uniting bees strayed into an interesting side issue when she spoke about why it was necessary to find means of gradually merging two colonies because each colony has its own unique colony odour.  This odour is apparently produced through the gut bacteria of the bees in each individual hive. The gut bacteria is unique to that hive because the bees from different hives are foraging on different combinations of nectar and pollen, then these foraging bees transfer their forage to the house bees through trophallaxis, sharing some of their gut bacteria in the process.  The bees cleaning the hive also imbibe and share some of the bacteria within the hive.  In the process of grooming some of this odour is then spread over the exoskeleton of the bees, helping to produce this unique hive odour.

Gut bacteria is now seen as an important factor in human health with huge profits being made from the production and distribution of pro-biotics to encourage ‘good’ bacteria. Research into the role of individual’s differing gut bacteria in dealing with our obesity crisis is also underway.  

So, it is not surprising that there is a current interest in the role of gut bacteria in the health of bees. The US Department of Agriculture has discovered that malnutrition in bees is related to habitat loss, climate change and the decrease in flowering plant diversity as well as monocrop agriculture. In addition, apparently microalgae are also important in honeybee diets and can be used instead of pollen substitutes, promoting more healthy gut bacteria!  

I think we all know that, as with our good nutrition, it is variety and diversity that are key factors in promoting good gut bacteria and ultimately health.  So make sure your bees have access to a variety of forage and think about planting sources of pollen and nectar for the Spring - there is still time.  Crocuses, snowdrops and hellebores are all good, as are other Spring flowers like bluebells and trees like hazel and willow. 

If you use poly or glass crown boards to overwinter - and they are useful when taking a quick peek to see where the cluster is during winter when you don’t want to break the propolis seal - be aware that condensation forms under glass/poly covers. The bees can use this moisture to dissolve crystalized stores, but too much can result in frames getting mouldy. The way to avoid this is to place insulation on top of the cover board.  Make sure you cover the feed hole with something solid or the bees will chew away at the insulation - probably not very good for them.

Regards, and stay safe and well during this festive period and have an enjoyable Christmas and New Year, 

Margaret Holdsworth  


BeeBase

Beebase News Web feed
  • A confirmed finding of a single Asian hornet in Felixstowe, Suffolk
    29 April 2022
    The National Bee Unit is carrying out enhanced monitoring and awareness raising together with local beekeepers after a single insect, confirmed to be Vespa velutina was killed at a sentinel apiary, reported by a beekeeper.

    Laboratory analysis has shown that the Asian hornet was a female but as it was dried out and damaged it couldn’t be ascertained if it was a queen or worker. Additionally it is highly likely to be from the European population rather than a new introduction from Asia and is highly unlikely to be the offspring of either of last year’s nests in the UK.

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

    We continue to ask beekeepers to remain vigilant, record monitoring trap locations on BeeBase (guidance here) and report suspect sightings here.
  • Registration Page - Error - FIXED
    24 March 2022
    We are currently experiencing an error with our registration page which is preventing beekeepers from registering.  We are working hard to find a fix and will update this News items as soon as a fix is found. 

    To register, please come back in a few days or give the NBU a call on 0300 3030094 and we can process your registartion for you. 

    UPDATE: This has now been fixed. 
  • Analysis of 2021 Asian hornet nests
    03 March 2022
    During the 2021 season, two Asian hornet nests were located and successfully destroyed by NBU inspectors and APHA colleagues, following sightings reported via the Asian Hornet Watch app.

    The nest found in Ascot, and destroyed on 11th October, was 35 cm in diameter and contained six combs. Results from genetic analyses suggest that all Asian hornets collected in the surrounding area were likely to have come from this nest, and that the nest hadn’t reached the stage of producing adult sexual stages.

    The nest found in Portsmouth, and destroyed on 31st October, was 31cm in diameter and contained 4 combs. Results from genetic analyses suggest that all Asian hornets collected in the surrounding area were likely to have come from this nest. The nest had reached the stage of producing sexual stages but was highly inbred and a large proportion of the offspring were triploid.

    The queen and drones for both the Ascot and Portsmouth nest were highly unlikely to be direct offspring of the Gosport nest from 2020.

    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.

    Yn ystod tymor 2021, cafodd dau nyth cacwn Asiaidd eu darganfod a'u dinistrio'n llwyddiannus gan arolygwyr yr NBU a chydweithwyr APHA, yn dilyn golygfeydd a adroddwyd drwy'r ap ‘Hornet Watch’ Asiaidd.

    Cafodd y nyth a ganfuwyd yn Ascot ei ddinistrio ar yr 11eg o Hydref. Roedd yn 35 cm mewn diamedr ac yn cynnwys chwe adran i atgenhedlu. Mae canlyniad y dadansoddiadau genetig yn awgrymu bod yr holl gacwn Asiaidd a gasglwyd yn yr ardal gyfagos yn debygol o fod wedi dod o'r nyth hwn, ac nad oedd y nyth wedi cyrraedd y cam lle y caiff ffurfiau rhywiol llawn dwf eu cynhyrchu.

    Roedd y nyth a ganfuwyd yn Portsmouth, a'i ddinistrio ar 31 Hydref, yn 31cm mewn diamedr ac yn cynnwys 4 adran i atgenhedlu. Mae canlyniad y dadansoddiadau genetig yn awgrymu bod yr holl gacwn Asiaidd a gasglwyd yn yr ardal gyfagos yn debygol o fod wedi dod o'r nyth hwn. Roedd y nyth wedi cyrraedd y cam lle y caiff ffurfiau rhywiol llawn dwf eu cynhyrchu ond roedd wedi mewnfridio i raddau helaeth ac roedd cyfran fawr o’r epil yn driploid.

    Roedd y frenhines a'r dronau ar gyfer nyth Ascot a Portsmouth yn annhebygol iawn o fod yn uniongyrchol o’r nyth darganfyddwyd yn Gosport yn ystod 2020.

    Mae rhagor o wybodaeth am y gacynen Asiaidd ar gael ar dudalen golygfeydd cyrn Asiaidd Defra ac ar ein tudalen cyrn Asiaidd BeeBase. Dylech gyfeirio pob ymholiad gan y cyfryngau at Swyddfa'r Wasg Defra: 0330 0416560.

    Defnyddiwch yr ap Gwylio Hornet Asiaidd ar gyfer Android ac iPhone i roi gwybod am olygfeydd.