Fascinating video insight into honeybee behaviour

A recent paper by Paul Seifert and colleagues provides a fascinating insight into many different aspects of honeybee behaviour. Video recordings of cross-sections of cells in an observation hive reveal how the queen lays eggs, the eggs hatch, the larvae are fed, spin a cocoon and the cells capped. Other aspects of honeybee behaviour include depositing nectar and pollen in cells, removing wax scales and manipulating wax, thermoregulation, cannibalism and grooming.

More details and links to the videos are available at https://doi.org/10.1371/journal. pone.0247323

GBKA Auction – 2021

Unfortunately, due to the ongoing pandemic, and uncertainty regarding the ability to safely hold the GBKA auction usually scheduled for May, the Executive Committee has decided to cancel this year’s auction.

Online Module Exams – 31st January deadline

The global outbreak of COVID-19 led to the cancellation of the module exams in 2020 as social distancing rules made the exams untenable. 

The Examination Board is planning to hold the spring module exams on the 24th April 2021 using online invigilation. This will allow you to take the module exams online in your own home provided that you have a desktop or laptop computer, internet access, web camera and microphone. You will also need a quiet room with no other people present or distractions.

Unfortunately, due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation, written paper module exams will not be available this spring.

The final application date for module exams will be 31st January 2021 and candidates will be able to sit a maximum of two modules (normally 4).  Anyone who has already applied and does not want to take the exam online can have their entry transferred to November 2021 at no cost, when the plan is to offer paper exams. 

The company chosen to support the online exam process is the Norwegian company Inspera Assessments, which works with Oxford and Bath Universities amongst others. The online modules will have the same layout as the current handwritten module papers (i.e. sections A, B and C) with the occasional diagram or picture for candidates to comment on. It will not be necessary to draw online.
 
Only basic computer skills are required and training for the new online system will be provided to candidates (March 20th and 21st, 2021) as well as an opportunity to sit a mock exam.
 
Please contact the GBKA Examination Secretary Bernie Danvers (Berniedanvers@hotmail.co.uk) if you would like to apply to take the online module exam in April.

2020 NBU Western Region Annual Report

Prepared by our Regional Bee Inspector Colin Pavey

Keeping a safe distance in 2020 – from the beekeeper! Photo Jonathan Axe

Some highlights from Colin Pavey’s Report

 

  • Registration on BeeBase is important for all beekeepers to help the National Bee Unit identify colonies at risk from notifiable disease or exotic pests and target control measures effectively. Remember also to keep your keep your apiary records up to date.
  • There are 6 inspectors for the Western Region. From 1st April you can use the postcode search on the contacts page of BeeBase to check for your local Seasonal Bee Inspector (available April to September). Elizabeth Gardner is the SBI for Gloucestershire, excluding the Forest of Dean where it is Jonathan Axe.
  • There was an increase in the incidence of EFB in the Western Region in 2020. Fewer affected colonies were found in Gloucestershire (8 vs 11 in 2019), but the number was very high in Worcestershire (almost 40) and more than double in Herefordshire (21 vs 10 in 2019). 
  • There was only 1 case of AFB – in Worcestershire.
  • Some beekeepers are taking a ‘light touch’ with regard to treatment for Varroa. Remember to monitor and control for Varroa where necessary. Use biotechnical methods or Veterinary Medicines Directorate approved treatments as required, record their use, and rotate them to avoid the risk of resistance.
  • There were no reports of the exotic pests Tropilaelaps or Small Hive Beetle in the UK in 2020 although the threat of SHB incursion from Italy remains.
  • There were no reports of Asian Hornet in the Gloucestershire area again in 2020 and only one in the UK (Gosport, Hampshire) – the small nest was found and destroyed.
  • Nationally, 21405 queens and 1882 packages of bees and 573 nucs/colonies were imported – links on how to import bees legally are available within the Report and it should be noted that new rules apply from January 2021. Better still, why not have a go at raising your own local queens with the help of your local GBKA branch.

Healthy Bees Plan

A review of the the  Healthy Bees Plan (2009) and the new Plan (2030) have now been published.

Honey bees are susceptible to a variety of threats, including pests and diseases, the likelihood and consequences of which have increased significantly in recent years.

The plan aims to address the challenges facing beekeepers and bee farmers and is aimed at sustaining the health of honey bees and beekeeping in England and Wales over the next decade. It builds on the previous Healthy Bees Plan which allowed government, beekeepers and bee farmers to develop ways of working together, helped improve the NBU’s knowledge of beekeepers and built on existing education and training programmes carried out by associations. The plan describes the four main outcomes we want to achieve, working with individual beekeepers and bee farmers, their associations and other stakeholders.

These are:

  1. Effective biosecurity and good standards of husbandry, to minimise pest and disease risks and so improve the sustainability of honey bee populations;

  2. Enhanced skills and production capability/capacity of beekeepers and bee farmers;

  3. Sound science and evidence underpinning the actions taken to support bee health; and

  4. Increased opportunities for knowledge exchange and partnership working on honey bee health and wider pollinator needs.

The plan also identifies ways in which government, beekeepers, bee farmers, their associations and other stakeholders will work together to achieve these aims. Continued strong partnership working with interested parties is essential if current and evolving threats to bee health are to be successfully identified and addressed.

2020 GBKA Honey Show & AGM

Join us at the annual GBKA Honey Show

Saturday, February 22nd 10am to 2pm

Hosted by the Dean Forest Beekeepers Branch at Coleford Library, The Main Place, Railway Drive, Coleford, GL16 8RH

Guest Speaker

Gordon Bull

‘Jan Dzierzon’, the famous beekeeper that you’ve probably never heard of’

Gordon is a biologist who started keeping bees at his home in the North Cotswolds in 2008. His beekeeping interests include queen rearing and raising nucs. He is a Master Beekeeper and has been a Seasonal Bee Inspector since 2015.

Gordon’s talk will begin at 10:30am.

The Honey Show

The annual GBKA Honey Show is a great opportunity to catch up with news across the county, experience our county level honey show and also meet others outside our own Branches to chat and exchange information.  Refreshments and lunch will be provided.

We will very much look forward to welcoming you and hope that you will be able to attend.

Honey Show Programme

Notice to enter the Honey Show must reach Nikki Burger by 20th  February 2020 giving your name, branch and the classes you are entering.  Entries should be dropped off between 9.00 and 10 am on the day.

2019 NBU Western Region Annual Report

Prepared by our Regional Bee Inspector Colin Pavey.

A few highlights

  • Gloucestershire has 853 registered beekeepers, 1255 apiaries and 5226 colonies – the largest in the Western region.
  • Registration on BeeBase is important for all beekeepers to help the National Bee Unit identify colonies at risk from notifiable disease or exotic pests and target control measures effectively. Remember also to keep your keep your apiary records up to date.
  • There are 6 inspectors for the Western Region. From 1st April 2020 you can use the postcode search on the contacts page of BeeBase to check for your local Seasonal Bee Inspector (available April to September). Elizabeth Gardner is the SBI for Gloucestershire.
  • Nationally, 20081 queens and 2623 packages of bees were imported – details of how to import bees legally are available on BeeBase (or better still, why not have a go at raising your own local queens with the help of your local GBKA branch).
  • There were a number of call outs to hives with dead bees – these turned out to be cases of Chronic Bee Paralysis Virus which appears to be on the increase.
  • There were no reports of American Foulbrood (AFB). Remember not to feed bees with bought honey since this may contain the long-lived AFB spores.
  • The level of European Foulbrood (EFB) reported in Gloucestershire was slightly higher compared with last year with 11 colonies affected (vs 9 in 2018).
  • A high level of Varroa in colonies during 2019 was noted. Remember to monitor and control for Varroa. Use Veterinary Medicines Directorate approved treatments as required, record their use, and rotate them to avoid the risk of resistance.
  • There were no reports of the exotic pests Tropilaelaps or Small Hive Beetle in the UK in 2019. SHB remains present in Southern Italy and the illegal movement of colonies from the protection zone on the mainland to Sicilly was detected. No new outbreaks in the protection zone have been reported.
  • The NBU held a Bee Health Day with the GBKA in 2019. An excellent opportunity to see examples of diseased combs, participate in workshops and focus on keeping healthy bees.
  • There were no reports of Asian Hornet in the Gloucestershire area again this year. Three nests were located and destroyed in 2019 – one in Tamworth, Staffordshire. The other two were in Dorset. Individual hornet sightings were also reported in Hampshire and Kent. Sightings (with a photo) can be reported using the Asian Hornet Watch App. (A GBKA Asian Hornet Action Team – AHAT- was formed in 2019 to help manage any outbreaksSeptember and October appears to be the key risk period).

AHAT – Asian Hornet Action Team

It is assumed that the Asian hornet (Vespa velutina) will again appear in Gloucestershire.  The role of the county AHAT is to coordinate the efforts to share any reports  and confirm any Asian hornet sightings including the collection of photographs or samples.

Asian hornet (Vespa velutina)

Once the National Bee Unit (NBU) of DEFRA has been informed, they will then take charge of the operation to find and destroy the nest.  Under their direction AHATs may be invited to help find it. 

Mike Forster is the County AHAT Coordinator and each GBKA branch has an AHAT lead indicated below :

BranchContact
Cheltenham & GloucesterMike Forster
Cirencester & DistrictDenis Flavel
Dean ForestGraham Pugh
NewentJohn Whitaker
North CotswoldsSarah Foulkes
StroudPeter Lead
South CotswoldsTBC

Click here for more information

Royal Three Counties Show – 2019

The Heart of England’s premiere celebration of the countryside and rural life

Malvern, Friday 14th to Sunday 16th of June.

The Bees and Honey show is organised by the three county beekeeping associations of Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire. Schedules and entry forms for the event are now available.

Come with family and friends and help us celebrate the countryside at Royal Three Counties Show being held at Three Counties Showground – it’s a great summer’s day out.

Lots of activities for all the family ensure that there is never a dull moment. Try your hand at lots of different activities, or get up close with the friendly animals in Fur, Feather & Farm. In our theatre, show ambassador Adam Henson delivers fascinating talks and insights and over in the Main Arena nonstop entertainment culminates in the Grand Parade of Livestock.

This year Herefordshire is organising the main display for the Bees and Honey Show with the theme of ‘beehive designs’ including skep building.