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.

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.

Asian Hornet identified, Gosport September 2020

An Asian hornet has been positively identified in Gosport, Hampshire. Please read the Government press release.

Asian hornets (Vespa velutina) are easier to spot as the leaves fall from our deciduous trees and pollen and nectar on ivy (one of their favourites) becomes abundant. Honey bees are another favourite because they live as a colony so provide a feast, but no insect species is safe.

Please put a bait station, such as a plastic tray with some scrunched kitchen roll weighted down by a stone, topped with liquid, sugary bait or fallen fruit. Protect it from rain if possible. You can use a bird table but make sure you can watch visitors come and go; and if a suspected Asian hornet visits, take a photo.

Please report sightings using the ‘Asian hornet Watch’ app for Iphone and Android.

It is vital that members of the public are made aware of this threat; an increasing number of sightings are reported by people who are not beekeepers.
Please spread the word.

Asian Hornet Identification

The Asian hornet – Vespa velutina – is not native to the UK and is NOTIFIABLE (*). It was accidentally introduced to the south of France in 2004 and has quickly worked its way up towards The Channel. The first Asian hornet nest in the UK was found and destroyed in 2016, since when there have been isolated incidents.

The first Asian hornet nests in Hampshire were found in September 2018 along with nests in other parts of the UK. Other Asian hornet nests are likely, and vigilance is absolutely essential. Once established, this species will be very hard to eradicate. It is an extremely aggressive predator and a colony of Asian hornets will decimate a colony of honeybees in a few hours. A single queen will establish a colony early in spring and will raise thousands of worker hornets and hundreds of young queens, which will come through winter and start their own colonies.

(*) ‘Notifiable’ means that, by law, you must report any sighting to the appropriate authority. In this instance, it is the Non-Native Species Secretariat (NNSS) by email
at alertnonnative@ceh.ac.uk or by using the Android or iPhone app which can be downloaded from the National Bee Unit web page or by using their online sighting form


The Asian hornet (Vespa velutina)

The Asian hornet worker is up to 25mm long (slightly shorter than the European hornet), has dark legs with yellow tips, a dark thorax and a dark abdomen that has an orange/yellow band at the end. Its head is dark from above, orange from front. It is completely silent in flight. It is never active at night.

European hornet (Vespa crabro)

European hornet (Vespa crabro)

The European hornet is native to the UK and is not a threat. The worker is up to 30mm long with brown legs. It has a black thorax with extensive brown markings, and a yellow abdomen with brown markings on the upper side, not banded. Its head is yellow from above an from the side. it buzzes loudly in flight. The European hornet sometimes flies after dark.



If you are a beekeeper, try to allow an extra 10 to 15 minutes when you visit your bees. Just stand or sit and watch the hive entrances because the Asian hornets’ hawking behaviour is instantly recognisable.

A useful identification chart can be found at the National Bee Unit website, from which these images were taken.

ON NO ACCOUNT SHOULD YOU APPROACH OR ATTEMPT TO REMOVE AN ASIAN HORNET NEST. This insect has a highly potent 8mm sting that is not barbed, so she can and will sting repeatedly and the pheromones released will summon her nest-mates to join the attack. Report your sighting using the advice above.

Honeybees and Neighbours

“Beekeeping is a wonderful hobby. Bees are interesting creatures, with a fascinating life. Unfortunately, not everyone appreciates this and, unless care is taken in keeping bees and siting colonies, trouble can result” (BBKA leaflet B1 – Bees and Neighbours).

Two unfortunate incidents occurred involving Hampshire beekeepers. One involved bees from a beekeeper’s ‘out apiary’ (an apiary situated away from home) repeatedly swarming into a neighbouring garden. The beekeeper was not local or known to those living in the area.

The other, much more serious, involved the death of a dog. Hives in a beekeeper’s garden, part of a small estate, were accessed by a neighbour’s dog. The bees reacted in a predictable manner.

By following BBKA guidelines both these incidents could have been avoided. The former by the beekeeper leaving a contact number somewhere prominently at the apiary ; the second by following the guidelines in BBKA leaflet Bees, Neighbours & Siting an Apiary.

“Beekeepers have the right to keep bees. Their neighbours have the right to enjoy their property in peace. Badly kept and positioned colonies can be a nuisance”. It is a beekeeper’s responsibility to avoid their bees becoming a nuisance and to take appropriate steps if they so become.

“Most beekeepers are tempted by the familiar and convenient location of their own garden where they can watch their bees at work and tend to them easily, but small gardens, particularly those surrounded by houses are not likely to be a successful solution. With careful management a small garden in open countryside or a garden at least the size of a tennis court could provide a suitable site for two or three hives.”

If you are new to beekeeping or are moving bees to a new site, please download and read the BBKA leaflet “Bees, Neighbours & Siting an Apiary” to ensure you manage both your bees and your neighbours satisfactorily for all concerned!

Veterinary Medicines Record Keeping

The Veterinary Medicines Regulations 2006 require proof of purchase and records of administration to be kept for all food-producing animals – this includes honeybees. The purpose of record keeping is to provide traceability of specific batches of products. This is intended to:

  • provide a basis for effective recall of a batch or batches should this become necessary; and
  • provide traceability of the use of medicines in food-producing animals.

All records must be in writing, durable, permanent and made available upon request to a person duly authorised by any person or body having a duty of enforcement. The record may be kept electronically. The Regulations set out the following record keeping requirements.

The owner or keeper of food-producing animals is responsible for keeping proof of purchase of all veterinary medicinal products acquired for those animals. You must also record the following information at the time of purchase:

  • name of the product; and the batch number
  • date of each purchase of a veterinary medicinal product
  • quantity purchased
  • withdrawal period
  • name and address of the supplier

At the time of administration you must also record the following information:

  • name of the product
  • date of administration
  • quantity administered
  • the withdrawal period
  • identification of the animals treated

If the product is disposed of, other than by treating an animal, you must also record:

  • the date of disposal
  • the quantity of the product involved
  • how and where it was disposed

All records and proof of purchase must be kept for at least five years following the administration or disposal of the product, even if the animals covered have been slaughtered or have died during that period.

Take note that it is an offence to fail to comply with these regulations.

The VMD encourages the voluntary keeping of records for the purchase and administration of other products outside the scope of these regulations.

Healthy Bees

For happy healthy honey bees, follow this advice from Beulah Cullen:
  1. Establish a system of Varroa monitoring and treatment.
  2. Inspect the brood area frequently for signs of disease. At the very least, bees should be shaken from the combs in Spring and Autumn and every brood cell inspected to make sure that the contents are healthy; if you are unsure, seek expert advice (*). Read the NBU leaflets on brood diseases and Varroa.
  3. Don’t forget the adult bee diseases. Inspect the adults for nosema and tracheal mites (acarine) at the beginning and end of each season.
  4. Handle bees gently to avoid crushing them. Crushed bees spread diseases, and will incite other to sting.
  5. Hive swarms from unknown sources onto new foundation well away from your own colonies, and don’t feed them until they have had time to digest the honey that they brought with them (about two days). That honey may be infected, so should not be stored in comb.
  6. Control robbing in the apiary; never leave combs or honey exposed to robbing bees. Never feed bees honey, other than their own. Keep the apiary tidy.
  7. If a colony of bees dies, seal the hive to prevent robbing until you have time to deal with it properly; then check the combs for signs of brood disease.
  8. Be particularly vigilant when moving brood frames from one colony to another. Are both donor and recipient colonies healthy? Always check for disease before uniting colonies.
  9. Replace brood comb regularly, ideally every year.
  10. Sterilise second-hand hive parts with a blow torch before use. Never use second-hand combs; burn them if they come with a second-hand hive.
  11. Be sure your bees have sufficient stores at all times; if in doubt, feed.

(*) For detailed information on honey bee diseases visit Beebase or Vita-Europe

Swarm Liaison Contacts

Local beekeepers are often prepared to collect swarms of honeybees.

What is a swarm? Click here to find out.

Please note that beekeepers can not provide any service for wasps nests, bumble bees or masonary bees. The Local Authority may possibly provide a service for wasp nests, otherwise a private pest control contractor can be found via the telephone directory or web search.

It is reasonable for the beekeeper to be reimbursed the travel expense of attending to a swarm, and this should be mentioned before arrival so that you are forewarned and can come to an agreement. Some beekeepers collect a swarm to add bees to their own stocks, some to pass the bees on to another beekeeper (possibly a novice), others simply as a service to the public. But while the bees are being collected a nice cup of tea will rarely be declined. Every swarm that is collected will be checked and cared for.

A swarm will usually fly away within a day or so unless captured but they can be gathered easily by a beekeeper if they are on an accessible bush or tree. Sometimes the swarm is inaccessible or may have established a new home which makes them more difficult to collect. If the bees have moved into a cavity such a chimney, hollow tree or wall, then it may be impossible to collect and, if they are a nuisance, they should be dealt with by a qualified pest control contractor.

To find your nearest Beekeeper and to help you identify the type of bees you have please use the swarm postcode lookup on the British Beekeepers’ Association website

A list of Hampshire Swarm Contacts from our local associations is shown below although you should first use the postcode lookup on the BBKA site to find your nearest beekeeper

Andover Beekeepers’ Association April to August please phone 07469 852269; otherwise please go to association website
Avon Valley Beekeepers’ Association  
Basingstoke Beekeepers’ Association April to August please phone 07580 528482; otherwise please go to association website
Fareham & District Beekeepers’ Association Steve Wilson, 07788 997737
Fleet & District Beekeepers’ Association Please use BBKA website
Meon Valley Beekeepers’ Association April to August please phone 07951 123 365; otherwise please go to association website
Meridian Beekeepers’ Association Please go to association website
New Forest Beekeepers’ Association Please go to association website or call Warwick Newson on 07976 258062
Petersfield & District Beekeepers’ Association Greg Gumming: 07531 901767
Portsmouth Beekeepers’ Association Please go to association website
Romsey & District Beekeepers’ Association April to September, call 07508 716044; else please go to association website
South-West Hampshire Beekeepers’ Association Please go to association website or call the Swarm Hotline on 07561 147193
Southampton & District Beekeepers’ Association March to September, call 07766 629763; else please go to association website
Winchester & District Beekeepers’ Association March to September, call (0701) 775 8191; else please go to association website

Spray Liaison Contacts

Farmers – do you need to spray crops?
Please let local beekeepers know by registering the information on BeeConnected at least 48 hours in advance.

Many valuable crops benefit from insect pollination. Bees may travel several miles in search of a good food source and honey bee colonies can be severely affected if the flowers they are visiting have been sprayed with chemicals. Please use BeeConnected to warn local beekeepers whenever you plan to use a spray which may be harmful to bees so that the local beekeepers can take precautions.

Beekeepers – please ‘sign up’ to BeeConnected. There is no need to give a grid reference; the website allows you to pinpoint the site on a map. Details are kept safe and secure, and the location of your apiaries is never shared or displayed to anyone but yourself.

‘BeeConnected’ is a trusted website that brings farmers and beekeepers together. Farmers and contractors specify where, when and what they intend to spray; beekeepers within a given radius are automatically informed so that they can take appropriate action.

Whether you are a gardener or farmer please always follow the instructions and only spray at the time and in the climatic conditions described on the label.

Fuller advice on honey bees and plant protection products is available on the APHA/HSE website Code of Practice for Using Plant Protection Products.

Thank you for your cooperation.

Bee Inspectors – Southern Region

The Seasonal Bee Inspector contact information is available during the summer season (starting of April to end of September) on BeeBase at http://www.nationalbeeunit.com/public/Contacts/contacts.cfm

During the rest of the year it will only display the Regional Bee Inspectors’ contact details.

Please remember that the Seasonal Bee Inspectors are not paid by the National Bee Unit (NBU) from October through to the end of March and therefore are unlikely to reply to any messages left at that time of year.

Information sources

BeeBase www.nationalbeeunit.com

Bee Health Advisory Forum https://secure.fera.defra.gov.uk/beebase/index.cfm?pageid=339

SMARTBees (Sustainable Management of Resilient Bee Populations)  http://www.smartbees-fp7.eu/

Reporting Asian hornet sightings alertnonnative@ceh.ac.uk. Better still, install the Asian hornet watch app which allows you to send an image directly to the Non-Native Species Secretariat for identification.

Killgerm dome traps for monitoring Asian hornets.

Vita Apishield www.vita-europe.com

Beetle blaster – Mann Lake http://www.mannlake.co.uk/beekeeping-supplies/product/DC-685.html