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– 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.

Introduction to beekeeping

Would you like to become a beekeeper? Are you interested in what honey bees need?

Come and find out more including:

  • what bees need
  • some key choices for beekeepers
  • a beginner’s guide to keeping bees through the year
  • main beekeeping pests and diseases
  • some key products from the hive
  • a practical session with the bees

To find out more contact Louise Evans on 01489 781155 or by email
or at Meridian Beekeepers’ Association website

There are 2 options:

Date Monday 6 January to 10 February then 2 March (7 sessions) 2020 and a practical session, date TBA
Time 7.15-9.15pm. weekly
Cost £95
Venue Curdridge Reading Rooms, Reading Room Lane, Curdridge, Southampton SO32 2HF
Date Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 March then 25 April 2020
Time 9.45-4 pm.
Cost £95
Venue Curdridge Reading Rooms, Reading Room Lane, Curdridge, Southampton SO32 2HF

What have students said about the course?
‘excellent course- Informative and with humour and honesty- very keen for the next step’
‘Great teacher- very engaging! : lots of information – could course be slightly longer?’
‘Thank you for re-energising me with my beekeeping’
‘I look at dandelions in lawns with new eyes’