Reporting Varroa in your Apiary from April 2021

The following was announced by the National Bee Unit on 12th April 2021:

On 21st April, 2021 an amendment to the Bee Diseases and Pests Control (England) Order 2006 and the Bee Diseases and Pests Control (Wales) (Amendment) Order 2021 comes into force requiring beekeepers and/or officials to report the presence of Varroa in any of the hives that they manage. Reporting will be for each apiary site. This amendment will allow England and Wales to comply with the Animal Health Law which is necessary for future working relationships with the European Union. Similar arrangements are being made in Scotland.

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 allow beekeepers and inspectors to report the presence or absence of Varroa. This will be the easiest way to report Varroa. We are currently working on an alternative mechanism for those who do not wish to register on the BeeBase system and aim to share this before 21st April.

You will see from the screen shot below that it is easy to comply.  Simply edit your apiary details and click on “Yes” if Varroa mites are present in at least one colony in your apiary.

A screenshot of NBU Beebase showing the tick-box for Varroa mites in the apiary

If you have not registered on Beebase we strongly recommend that you do so as soon as possible.  As well as providing invaluable statistics for lobbying government and supporting research, it will send you an automated warning if any notifiable disease or pest is found in close proximity to your bees.  It is safe and secure; your personal details and apiary location  are neither shared nor specifically used.

Hives to the New Forest Heather 2021

HBA 2021 Registered members only have the privilege of taking a combined maximum of 350 colonies, spread across several areas and enclosures, on to the New Forest.

Forestry England (formerly the Forestry Commission) will allow permitted beekeepers to place their allotted number of hives on the designated sites between 01 July and 31 October 2021.

The honeybees and beekeepers often benefit from the heather if it produces a good flow. In 2020 a total of 337 hives from 27 beekeepers enjoyed taking their bees for a working holiday with the challenge of dealing with a different type of honey. It is thixotropic.

Please start to plan now. This will allow time for equipment preparation and reconnaissance as access will require a 4×4 wheeled vehicle avoiding a last minute panic if the rain starts before you get your honeybees home. The sites available in the New Forest have variable ease of access: Forestry England will notify me of the sites that are available for this coming year.

You MUST ensure that you have PUBLIC LIABILITY INSURANCE, which as a fully paid up Registered BBKA member you will have as a benefit.

You MUST ensure that your honeybees are free from American Foul brood and European Foul brood.

What to do next to obtain a New Forest Heather Permit:

  • If this is your first application for a permit, email me at aabees321@gmail.com– deadline 1 June 2021
  • If you took bees to the Forest last year you will automatically be sent an application form in May
  • If you took bees last year but do not intend doing so this year, please let me know

COSTS IN 2020 were £4.08 per hive (set by Forestry England, probably a tad higher in 2021) plus an HBA administration fee of £3.00. You will also need to pay £30.00 as a refundable enclosure key deposit.
One last point: if you wish to take under 10 hives I may have to ask you to share a key.

Peter Grimes

Importation of honey bees, spring 2021

Until 31st December 2020, packages of bees could be imported into the UK as long as they were accompanied by a bee health certificate. The bees were made available to experienced inspectors at the National Bee Unit. This process was our safeguard against imported pests such as the Small Hive Beetle (SHB), Aethina tumida.
That process no longer exists now that the UK is not an EU member state. Importers can, however, ship packaged bees using a loophole: transit through Northern Ireland.
“Packaged bees” are shipped in a box with no comb and are notoriously difficult to inspect. Inspectors in Northern Ireland cannot – and cannot be expected to – deal with such imports. The majority of such shipments come from southern parts of Italy where SHB has necessitated the destruction of some 3,500 hives since 2014.
British, Welsh, Ulster and Scottish Beekeepers’ Associations and Bee Disease Insurance Ltd have jointly issued a briefing note to Westminster and the devolved governments to warn them of the real and serious risk to the honey bee population in the UK while this loophole exists.
Please read the BBKA statement. This is an important issue that affects all beekeepers.
Note: A nucleus colony is a small colony with all stages of life: eggs, larvae and pupae, house bees and foragers, and a young queen on clean, drawn comb. Nucleus colonies are occasionally advertised as package bees on new foundation; such colonies require extra care and attention and are not recommended for inexperienced beekeepers.

Additional information:

HBA Winter and Spring Talks, 2021

HBA has arranged a series of 3 excellent talks to be delivered on Zoom while we wait for the pandemic to go away and the beekeeping season to start:

  • Tuesday 19th January at 7 p.m. – Marin Anastasov, BSc, MSc, NDB gave an excellent talk about the “Father of the Drone”
  • Tuesday 16th February at 7.30pm – Dr Peter Kennedy (University of Exeter) will talk on telemetry work on Asian Hornet
  • Wednesday 10th March – Margaret Murdin NDB will talk about “Selecting the right qualities in your bees”

All HBA members should have received a link to the January talk by email, sent on 1st January. If you missed it, please email the HBA honorary secretary. Links to the February and March talks will follow in due course.

HBA Web-Vention tickets

Tickets for our 2020 online convention are now on sale, costing £5. This covers:

  • Talks by 2 excellent speakers (Bob Smith and Celia Davis) with an opportunity to ask questions
  • Entry for all attendees to a lucky dip to win prizes donated by our guest suppliers
  • Entry for all Hampshire Beekeepers’ Association attendees to a draw with several prizes

Numbers are limited so please make sure you have registered in good time.
To buy your ticket, please read through and follow these simple steps:

  1. CLICK HERE then click on the green button to buy your ticket on our Eventbrite page
  2. Then register on Zoom via your CONFIRMATION EMAIL from Eventbrite
  3. The confirmation email from Zoom contains the information that you will need to attend the Web-Vention. Please keep that email safe.

Note – if you lose your Zoom confirmation email or have any difficulties with booking your ticket, please email the HBA Secretary for assistance.

For those who have not used Zoom before, we will be scheduling 2 or 3 short sessions in the week before the Web-Vention so that you can check that everything is working well. Please check this website later for more information. Please email the HBA Secretary if you need assistance with installing Zoom.

CLICK HERE to return to the HBA Web-Vention page.

Asian Hornet Week September 2020

Asian Hornet Week runs from 7th to 13th September 2020

We live on an island relying heavily on imported goods. Accidental importation of the Asian Hornet into France has caused devastation to the European economy, agriculture, and the insect life. From there it has spread to the Channel Islands. Jersey beekeepers have destroyed 38 nests this season so far.

Here in Hampshire, in some areas, this season has been severely affected by wasps in the apiary.
Asian Hornets behave similarly to wasps with three differences; they are faster, blacker and have a bigger stinger. There are two other differences. They can be found in Asian restaurants wrapped in a spring roll and they’ve proved themselves very adaptable in foreign countries.

From August onwards, Asian hornet workers – just like wasps – are losing their source of flower nectar and begin looking elsewhere for sugary energy and may be found preying on your bees, fallen fruit, ivy and near boundary hedges etc.

We need to be monitoring regularly to protect our beneficial insects, and so that we have live samples that could be tracked if necessary. Please register your monitoring stations in apiaries on BeeBase.

  • Open bait stations – a plastic tray with screwed up kitchen roll, a heavy stone, and your liquid bait. Ideally protect these from rain – like a bird table you can watch them come and go; and hopefully obtain a photo

In the Autumn, Asian Hornet nests will be in protected zones away from wind and rain; under the eaves of your house, in your tool shed, the corner of your garage. Worker hornets can be observed on fruit trees, grape vines, and windfall apples and on ivy plants, where they will often be seen taking insects (biting off their head and tails and taking the muscle meat back to their offspring). They have been observed on the carcasses of dead mammals, dead birds and at the back of fish restaurants picking off the prawns – if there are baby hornets in the nest needing protein.

Males and new queens will be produced in the late Autumn and males can be seen feeding on flowers. This is a crucial time to spot Asian Hornets as it is important to find any nests before the queens emerge and go into hibernation. Observe plants, fruits and look around your apiary.
If you think you have seen an Asian Hornet:

  • Get a photo (or sample)
  • If you are not sure or are struggling to get evidence contact your local Asian Hornet Action Team – ahat.hampshirebeekeepers@gmail.com
  • If you are sure and you have evidence, then report on the Asian Hornet Watch App or email alertnonnative@ceh.ac.uk and to Janelle Quitman 07447 035 668
  • Janelle has a container of Trappit for those members who want to be involved in a monitoring record programme

Due to current restrictions please make sure that you keep yourself safe and comply with government guidelines. Check BBKA website for updates on how this relates to beekeepers.

Beekeeping Items For Sale

In a normal year, Meon Valley Beekeeping Association organises a popular Beekeeping Auction. This could not happen in 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic so it has been suggested that this website could include a ‘For Sale’ page.
The following links will take you to Hampshire local association web pages that list members’ items for sale:

  • (No links provided yet – please come back later)

NOTE: When buying secondhand hives or parts, you MUST assume the worst and sterilise them thoroughly to destroy all pathogens. Please read the National Bee Unit Fact Sheet about Hive Cleaning and Sterilisation

HBA Special General Meeting and Annual Council Meeting 2020

Both meetings were held on Monday 9th March 2020 at Badger Farm Community Centre, Winchester SO22 4QB.

The Special General Meeting regarding our new Constitution began at 19:00, chaired by John Lauwerys.   Representation was good, with 10 out of the 14 Hampshire associations present.   John explained that provided 2/3rds of the attendees present agreed to this constitution it could be passed in accordance with the terms of the current HBA constitution for enacting constitutional amendments.

After a short discussion about specialist groups’ rights and partner members’ capitation fee to HBA, John recommended that the meeting adopt this constitution, and if refinements needed to be made they could be implemented at the next ACM.

The meeting voted unanimously to adopt the new constitution.
Thus the new constitution, based on the Charity Commission model constitution,  replaces the HBA constitution previously adopted on 3rd October 2007.

The Special General Meeting was then followed by the Annual Council Meeting summarised as follows:

  • In his address, the Chair (John Lauwerys) stated that the approval of the new constitution will significantly streamline the running of HBA. He thanked individuals who had helped to run HBA and its events throughout the year. He was pleased with the 2019 Honey Show and he, with HBA Hon.Sec. Janelle Quitman, has visited a potential venue for the 2020 Honey Show. John and Janelle had also visited the Principal of Sparsholt College and secured premises to hold the HBA Convention on 14th November, 2020. Janelle is working on Asian Hornet control with the 14 HBA associations, 9 of which now have an Asian Hornet Action Team.
  • Mike Lloyd-Owen (Hon. Treasurer) reported that with no income in 2019 the accounts showed a significant deficit. In light of the planned activities of HBA in 2020 the ACM supported his recommendation for the reintroduction of a capitation fee, to come into effect in 2021. The report and accounts were formally adopted.
  • Janelle Quitman (Hon. Secretary) stated that a paper had been circulated to the membership regarding monitoring for the Asian Hornet, the Honey Show, and the forthcoming Convention in November.
  • Jean Frost (Education secretary) stated that for 2020 15 applications had been submitted for the Bee Health Certificate assessment. All Basic Assessment applications must be submitted to Jean before the end of April.
  • Gillian Bird (website manager) stated that a paper had been circulated to the membership, encouraging all associations to submit information about their events to which others are invited, and changes to contact details.
  • Avril Tillman (Librarian) stated that a paper had been circulated to the membership. The library has moved into another building on the same site. Avril is considering offering weekend access to the library once security issues have been agreed. Avril asked local associations to encourage new beekeepers to visit and make use of the library.
  • Jim Stuart (heather permit facilitator) had circulated a paper. He will retire from this position after 2020. John Lauwerys thanked Jim for his work over many years, covering paperwork, liaison with beekeepers, park rangers, forestry commission and the general public, complaints and advice, as well as being keyholder and manager, and organising fees and maps.
  • Janelle Quitman (AHAT – Asian Hornet Action Team – co-ordinator) explained the cost benefit of placing a bulk order of Suterra/Trappit (the most effective bait) in 5-litre containers that could be distributed among the associations. Monitoring for Asian Hornets daily from a convenient location such as a kitchen window is effective. Once the bait is found, the hornet will make repeat visits to the bait, making tracking easier.
  • Elections – all members of the executive committee are willing to continue. John Lauwerys explained that under the new constitution we do not need to elect any additional members this year. Janelle Quitman was formally elected as Hon. Secretary for a three year term from March 2020; nominated by John Lauwerys and seconded by Jean Frost, carried unanimously.
  • A paper was circulated prior to the meeting on BBKA Annual Delegate Meeting.
  • Insurance will be extended for AHAT teams on a similar basis to swarm collection insurance.
  • The 2021 ACM will be held at Itchen Abbas Village Hall
  • Christine Coulsting (Chair, Romsey) had held a meeting in January for all education officers with a view to improving association training.

John Lauwerys thanked members for their attendance at the ACM and invited everyone to remain for an opportunity of a social gathering with refreshments.

The meeting ended 8.25pm

Covid-19 update 30 July 2020

You will be aware that most events and meetings in the UK have been cancelled as from 16 March 2020 to prevent the spread of this virus. If you plan to attend any beekeeping event, please check with the organisers for up-to-date information.

BBKA have published some helpful advice which can be accessed by clicking here

Please also read Government guidelines and the BeeBase bulletin and advice pages

In a nutshell, we must continue to tend our bees within the constraints of social distancing; alone, or with another member of the same household.

If this means that you cannot care for your bees please let your association know how they can help.

Swarm collection continues but within the constraints of social distancing. If you cannot take the swarm without keeping the safe 2 meter distance, you must let the swarm go.

HBA Honey Show 2020 has had to be postponed for a year. For latest news about our 2020 Convention please click here