22 October 2020

20 October 2020

Coronavirus Update October 2020

Please be aware of the latest Covid-19 beekeeping guidance for England, Wales and Scotland.  The updated information now include separate links to the Public Health Guidance. Covid-19_and_Beekeeping_Update_v3 COVID-19_and_Beekeeping_-_Welsh_Language_Version v3   If you have any queries please contact: For England: BeeHealth.Info@defra.gov.uk  For Wales: HoneyBeeHealth@gov.wales / GwenynMelIach@llyw.cymru For Scotland: Bees_Mailbox@gov.scot From the advice If you are self-isolating... If you are responsible for looking after bees, you should make alternative arrangements for their essential care if you, your family or your staff become ill or are unable to look after their welfare. If this is not possible, we would advise that you only attend to the basic needs and welfare of your bees where you can ensure you do not have contact with other people and you are able to follow all government advice on actions to minimise the risk of sp...

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16 October 2020

The gut microbiome defines social group membership in honey bee colonies

I may get around to reading this... or I may not. I think that covers it.


  1. Cassondra L. Vernier1,*
  2. Iris M. Chin1
  3. Boahemaa Adu-Oppong2
  4. Joshua J. Krupp3
  5. Joel Levine3
  6. Gautam Dantas2,4,5,6 and 
  7. Yehuda Ben-Shahar1,

06 October 2020

Chicago: Urban beekeeping may be bad for bees

In summary, the European Honeybee is not native to North America, and rising numbers may threaten survival of local bee species. Nicely written piece here: https://www.wired.com/story/why-some-ecologists-worry-about-rooftop-honey-bee-programs/

Beehives on a 52-story Chicago highrise are weighed down with ratchet straps and cinder blocks. 

01 October 2020

Kew: Urban beekeeping may be bad for bees

 "In some places, such as London, so many people have established urban hives that the honey bee populations are threatening other bee species. Increasing evidence shows that there is insufficient forage to support current beehive numbers in London (see Figure 3). This is a problem for bee conservation, as honey bees outcompete wild bees by monopolising floral resources. Moreover, some reports suggest honey bees can transmit diseases to other wild species. So, beekeeping to save bees could actually be having the opposite effect."

Page 55 https://www.kew.org/sites/default/files/2020-09/Kew%20State%20of%20the%20Worlds%20Plants%20and%20Fungi.pdf

23 September 2020

Bee-pic in The Times



19 September 2020

Training bees... will probably lead to disaster

 From The Times  https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/bees-can-be-trained-to-sniff-out-flowers-3xk9dg98c

It has long been understood that if you want a dog to hunt you can train it to follow a particular scent. Now it appears that something very similar is true of bees.

Scientists have taught honeybees to seek out the odour of a specific species of flower. The researchers behind the work believe that coaching the insects in this way could enable crops to be pollinated more efficiently.

My comment: By teaching bees to fees on just one species, will they suffer from lack of diet variation? Probably. Is this project wise? Probably not.

Scientists introduced food to a hive with a substance that mimicked the smell of sunflowers

18 September 2020

EFB reported in Norfolk 'hotspots'

News from West Norfolk and King’s Lynn Beekeepers’ Association (WNKLBA) 



17 September 2020

Summer's done

 The bees enjoyed the pollen, the squirrels loved the seeds! The end of the summer's giant sunflowers...

Garden gloves for scale (and I have big hands!)

15 September 2020

BBKA YouTube Practical beekeeping Videos

BBKA's YouTube Channel is available here  There are videos about Asian hornets, a message from patron Jimmy Doherty, and a collection of other videos. There are a few short videos of practical beekeeping help listed below. This video set will be added to, so please subscribe to the YouTube Channel. Practical Beekeeping - How & why to move frames in a Super Practical Beekeeping - How to judge if uncapped honey is ready for extraction Practical Beekeeping - Chronic Bee Paralysis Virus

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14 September 2020

Isle of Wight Disease?

 Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

Vespa velutina (Hymenoptera: Vespidae)


08 September 2020

Sunshine on Leith

Look at the hive designs and (notably) the chains: https://www.edinburghlive.co.uk/news/edinburgh-news/leiths-honey-bee-population-under-18891725 

But, more importantly, listen to this: https://youtu.be/9V7NYX1TOgs 

03 September 2020

Venom from honeybees found to kill aggressive breast cancer cells

Melittin, one of the major components of honey-bee venom, may prove to be an effective anti-cancer-cell therapy: https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-09-venom-honeybees-aggressive-breast-cancer.html 

Dr Ciara Duffy at the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research.
Credit: Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research

28 August 2020

BBKA History - post war changes

Making Experts: A Post-War Decline From the mid-1950s, the wartime boom in beekeeping went into decline. The number of candidates attempting the Intermediate and Senior examinations was few and the pass rates were low. The system of visiting experts was phased out and county council beekeeping services declined. Full-time posts were replaced by part-time posts and eventually these disappeared. Local associations picked up responsibility for running courses of instruction and, to some extent, the preparation for written examinations, but this was variable from one county to another. More experts were needed who could construct courses and teach.   Greater support for candidates In 1972 the Examinations Board issued a list of recommended reading for prospective candidates; it is hard to imagine there not being one previously. In 1975 the name was changed to the Examination and Education Board and this endured until 1988, but there was no noticeable improvement in the pass rate d...

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BBKA History - dealing with disease

BBKA Experts: Dealing with Disease The Technical Education Act of 1889 enabled the BBKA and county associations to gain recognition and obtain grants from the newly formed education authorities for its educational work. This included the funding of visiting experts. A survey conducted in 1894 by the BBKA revealed that 34 out of 51 English, 2 out of 12 Welsh and 4 out of 33 Scottish counties were making grants to beekeeping associations.   Expert exam results, including foul brood, as published in the British Bee Journal. Note: The British Bee Journal is available here https://ift.tt/3hDBa5M  This is from the January 1893 edition.  The reader may presume that those days of beekeeping were free from disease, but this was not so. The following are extracts from the minutes and reports of the Bristol, Somersetshire and South Gloucestershire Association:   2 March 1893: ‘it was ...

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Beekeeper Numbers Rising

Friday 28 August 2020 The British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) has seen an unusual rise in beekeeper numbers in the last 18 months.  From January 2019 to August 2020 numbers rose from 23,400 to 28,300. Beekeeper numbers have remained stable for a number of years following an earlier uprise due to a successful campaign we ran in 2008 to get more money for bee research from the government.  BBKA Chair Anne Rowberry has been amazed by the rise: “The upward trend predates Covid -19, but in lockdown many have had more time to start a hobby, with online apiary courses booming. There is huge value in sitting quietly and watching the bees go about their business. The honey is just a bonus”. The vast majority of beekeepers join through a local beekeeping association. The benefits of that, one Covid-19 pandemic is over, are regular meetings with other beekeepers, the possibility of getting a hands-on mentor who will help as you learn the craft, the chance to b...

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27 August 2020

BBKA History - Making of experts

BBKA History - Making of experts is an article in three parts by BBKA Past President David Charles. This covers the history of the examination and assessments of the BBKA. Article 1: The BBKA and the Making of Experts   By David Charles, BBKA Past President   The British Beekeepers’ Association was instituted in 1874. At this time beekeeping was generally part of the rural domestic economy for cottagers as was poultry, pigs and growing vegetables, rather than being the hobby that it is for most today.   Bees were generally kept in straw skeps or in boxes. Sons learnt from their fathers and were content to continue keeping bees in much the same way as had their forebears. Swarming was uncontrolled. Most still harvested honey by killing colonies over a pit of burning sulphur, which was not only cruel, but wasteful and inefficient. There was no public instruction, little knowledge of bee diseases and a general disregard of the value of bees as pollinators. ...

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22 August 2020

Belly-dancing beekeepers

Courses ranging from printmaking to beekeeping, and belly dancing to French are among those being offered online by the Adult College for Rural East Sussex in the Autumn.

See https://uckfieldnews.com/adult-college-launches-autumn-online-courses/ and https://www.acreslearning.org.uk/

19 August 2020

Cretan honey wins second place

After sampling honey from Corfu, I imagine Cretan honey is similarly amazing. Read more here: https://greekcitytimes.com/2020/08/19/cretan-honey-wins-second-place-at-the-mediterranean-taste-awards-2020/

The winner, by the way, was Taygetos honey Elatis, https://www.medtasteawards.com/the-winners/

Like Buzz Aldrin, I very much like the celebration of coming second. 

13 August 2020

Researchers discover honeybees have more than one way to feed on nectar


Read it here: https://phys.org/news/2020-08-honeybees-nectar.html

Air pollution could kill off critical honey bees in India

Bees feel the sting of air pollution more acutely than we do. A 3-year study in India finds that even mildly dirty air could kill 80% of giant Asian honey bees, a key pollinator in South Asia. Without such bees and other insects, domestic production of fruit, vegetables, nuts, and legumes could be at risk, the team says.

Read more at https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/08/its-body-looked-warzone-air-pollution-could-kill-critical-honey-bees-india

12 August 2020

'Bee Man' to the rescue after swarm at Hove Lagoon

 You gotta love the headline!


Buzz Gifts - Save the Bees

If 2020 has taught us one thing - it's that life is precious and delicate. Bees pollinate billions of plants each year, including millions of agricultural crops. It is estimated bees play a key role in one out of every three bites of food we eat. Without them, many plants and crops we rely on would die off. We are hoping to raise £1000 through your kind donations to help The British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) The BBKA educates and trains beekeepers of the future and supports vital research. They also work hard to raise the profile of beekeeping amongst young people through its school programme and junior certificates to ensure the next generation will be well equipped to do the important work we urgently need to continue. Thank you for your donation.

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05 August 2020

How do I become a beekeeper?

Keeping bees healthy and productive requires knowledge and skill. Beekeeping is made much easier by belonging to a local Beekeepers Association (BKA), where you should be given advice, tuition and support.  Find BKA here One of the key questions you might ask is: Should I keep bees?  Why join a local association?  You will get great advice, a mentor and access to training and a library of books about beekeeping. Associations will run courses at  certain times of the year which will show you the magical world of beekeeping. By taking part in an 'Introduction to Beekeeping' course, you will understand the level of responsibility required to become a good beekeeper. Most associations support the course with a visit to a local apiary, where you can handle bees, before you make any investment in equipment and your honey bees. And you will have mentors who will help as you start to keep bees for yourself.  Courses Throughout spring and summer, de...

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30 July 2020

Colony losses

Came across this amazing site, https://coloss.org/ 

I love the come-hither pose of the two fellas lying down ... 

Through the Honey Bee Watch citizen-science project, COLOSS Survivors Task Force aims to better understand the biological, behavioral, and environmental traits that encourage the survival of honey bee colonies around the world. But we need your help.

Would you be willing to share information about any surviving colonies that you know about that are unmanaged, untreated, and/or free-living? With these data—supplemented with lab tests on select samples—we will investigate and hopefully identify why some colonies thrive with little to no human intervention, while others perish due to various factors. We expect that the findings will improve sustainable beekeeping as well as support conservation efforts.

If you are aware of any colonies that fit these conditions, please fill out our preliminary survey. This is the first of two; the second is in development and will be issued by the end of Summer 2020 to those participants whose reported colonies meet the selection criteria and who provide an email address. The survey is completely anonymous and all information will be treated confidentially.

Honey Bee Watch — Survey I

26 July 2020

16 July 2020

13 July 2020

Become a member of the BBKA

Membership of the British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) brings many rewards We recommend, particularly if you are a new beekeeper or want to start beekeeping, that you join your local beekeeping group who can provide training and support.  Junior membership and School membership is also available. Support and mentoring Practical teaching at the training apiary Training and education meetings Online forum for beekeeping support £10m third party public & product liability insurance  Monthly full cover membership magazine, BBKA News, posted to you On-line BBKA News magazine archive which is fully searchable Beekeeping examinations held to the highest level Annual Spring Convention and Exhibition with a full range of lectures and seminars Webshop with educational books and resources Discounts from suppliers to help set up as a beekeeper 5% discount for all members from National Bee Supplies www.beekeeping.co.uk You can join via your Loc...

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06 July 2020

15 June 2020

Honey exhibition, sale held at Baramulla

I like this report, mainly for the phrase "This year during the spring season about 73 quintals of honey has been extracted and processed". 

12 June 2020

Swarming in Co Fermanagh

Ethel Irvine of the Fermanagh Beekeepers' Association writes "Swarming problems for beekeepers as summer arrives"

Well, summer arrives at diffrnt times in diffrnt places, I guess. The article includes a good description of a Pagden, among many other things.

Very dark queen; most of mine are practically orange!

03 June 2020

Bait hive success - with a QE twist

This year I placed a hive, populated with brood frames and super frames divided by a QE, on some spare ground away from the apiary.

Would it attract a swarm? For the first time in 15 years, YES! 

In fact, I had largely forgotten the hive, and only checked from time to time. When I noticed a ton of activity, it was at the roof, not the entrance. Ambling over to check, I found a full swarm and queen. 

The bees had chosen the roof vents as their preferred entrance, and then clustered in the super. When I looked through the hive, I found the Q isolated, walking around by herself below the QE.

My guess is that the swarm wriggled through the vents, but the Q was too big, so she flew in the normal way, and the bees had not figured out that they needed to move down. 

Anyways, I blocked the vents and the foragers soon switched to the main entrance. After a week I looked again, and the Q is now laying in the brood box. 

30 May 2020


If I knew what this article was about, I would summarize it: https://uk.news.yahoo.com/beehero-smartens-hives-pollination-4m-173317428.html 

BeeHero intends to use the Internet of Things to replace beekeepers, all for a measly $4m

29 May 2020

Albanian beekeepers

Well, who'd have thought it? The lockdowns imposed in response to the SARS-CoV2-19 virus apparently means a bumper harvest for Albanian beekeepers. 

Did the same apply during the reign of the People's Socialist Republic of Albania (prop. E Hoxha)? 

(Rex Features)

22 May 2020

Lego Hive

This you must see: https://uk.news.yahoo.com/un-bee-lievable-beekeeper-builds-133957230.html

Ruairi O'Leocháin of Athlone's Wildlife Apiaries in Co Westmeath decided to build the Lego beehive for "a bit of craic"


21 May 2020

Queen Bee Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall

Well, I never knew!

The Duchess of Cornwall is new President of Bees for Development

World Bee Day, 20th May 2020
We are delighted to announce that we have the support of Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall as President of Bees for Development.
Her Royal Highness explains why she is so keen to supports our work in a short video message, especially recorded for World Bee Day 2020. In it, she explains how she has a personal reason for supporting us. She keeps bees herself, producing honey which she sells to support the charities she is linked to. This year, all proceeds will be donated to Bees for Development.

20 May 2020

LinkedIn bees

Oracle is supporting bees. Check out the LinkedIn post and the source story:



19 May 2020

Four thousand hives

Nice piece here: https://www.countryliving.com/uk/wildlife/countryside/a32568839/bees-thriving-lockdown/

The only bit that really struck home was "the family-run bee farm currently has 4,000 hives"

Holy Smokers!

At a rapid ten minutes per hive, inspections take nearly 700 hours a week!

The article is illustrated with pictures of bumblebees (pictured: Bombus lucorum)

16 May 2020

Cape bees and asexual reproduction

To follow up my earlier post https://mellifera.blogspot.com/ some more news on Cape bees (Apis mellifera capensis).

In the photo, the Q has the 64 marker disk; right next to her is a 'super worker' bee.

What makes it unique is that the female worker bees are able to lay eggs that develop into other female bees. These eggs are not fertilised by a male (worker bees are unable to mate), so this is a form of asexual reproduction, known as ‘thelytoky’. The Cape bees are essentially creating a clone.
Cape bees only develop this ability once the colony’s queen bee dies. By producing female bees, they can give birth to the colony’s new queen, ensuring that the colony survives. In other honey bee subspecies, the worker bees only produce male bees (drones), which have to fly off in search of a queen bee in another colony.


Questions for beekeepers

Questions for beekeepers This page will have new questions added regularly. The questions are for beekeepers and will help provide feedback on topics and issues for those involved in beekeeping. Bookmark the page and return every month!  May 2020 - Wax moth question - Useful links  NBU Wax moth page which includes links to  Further information about the biology and identification features of all stages of wax moth can be found on the COLOSS website. Wax moth leaflet- Pdf. https://ift.tt/2yc6Bme

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Bright yellow pollen

15 May 2020

Help our bees by Carol Lane

I am a BBKA member who specialises in urban beekeeping and work to raise awareness of the importance of bees to our ecosystem and to help create more bee friendly areas.

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The Joy of Pests

Nice piece here. Check out the joy on Shane Jones' fizzog: https://www.basingstokegazette.co.uk/news/18446981.pest-controller-warns-hornet-wasp-season-started-really-early-basingstoke/

14 May 2020

Rewilding for bees and bugs

A well-meaning article in The Grauniad: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2020/may/12/more-birds-and-bees-please-12-easy-expert-ways-to-rewild-your-garden 

 ‘The traditional English cottage garden is an absolute haven for insects,’ says Mark Fellowes of the University of Reading. Photograph: Borchee/Getty Images/iStockphoto

12 May 2020

Honeyed nonsense

From 'Speciality Food Magazine:' 

The Covid-19 pandemic has made consumers keen to boost immunity. High quality honey has antibacterial, prebiotic and antioxidant properties and beekeepers and suppliers report higher than usual demand.

11 May 2020

Pretty in Pink

A friend claims he has a camouflage-pattern beesuit, but I've never seen him in it. I, too, have a cam-pattern beesuit, but I can't find it. (These are the jokes, folks.)


07 May 2020

Cape bees and asexual reproduction

Amazing piece of research reported here: https://phys.org/news/2020-05-gene-honey-bees-virgin-birth.html

The interesting/worrying section reads: "Every year in South Africa, 10,000 colonies of commercial beehives die because of the social parasite behaviour in Cape honey bees."  

What prevents Cape bees arriving in the UK?

Masses of parasitic eggs laid by parasites in a dying colony. Credit: Professor Benjamin Oldroyd/Univeristy of Sydney
More information: Current Biology (2020). DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2020.04.033

06 May 2020

Bermondsey Street Bees

Seen this for the first time: https://www.bermondseystreetbees.co.uk/  They boast a 'honey sommelier,' which is a bit up its own Aristotle for me. 

04 May 2020

Murder hornets

'Murder hornets' in Washington state threaten bees and whip up media swarm

This story refers (I think) to the invasion in the US of Asian Giant Hornet, Vespa mandarinia, in the same way that we face the woes caused by the Asian Hornet, Vespa velutina nigrithorax

02 May 2020

Eye Bee M

For many years IBM has used the Eye-Bee-M rebus: 

Here's the latest combo: 

In this context I have absolutely no idea what "Bee Wall" is intended to communicate.

30 April 2020

Bees & Refugees

The project was the idea of 35 year-old Shepherd's Bush resident Ali Alzein, who fled his home and life in Damascus, Syria. He arrived in the UK in 2012 but found it hard to adjust. https://www.spacehive.com/local-honey