In our April 2013 newsletter we reported on the Welsh Government's consultation on its draft Action Plan for Pollinators in Wales.

A Summary Report of the responses to the consultation has been published, and the Action Plan and draft Implementation Plan were launched by the Minister for Natural Resources and Food on 23 July, 2013 at the Royal Welsh Show - copies are available on the WAG website.

What a turnaround! Following one of the coldest springs on record, we (and the bees) have enjoyed one the warmest and driest Julys for a very long time. The bees which made it through the spring made a strong recovery and have delivered a very respectable crop of honey - Thankyou. 

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We are now entering, in my view, the most important period in the beekeeping calender - preparing our bees for winter!

Our work now is to ensure that our bees are disease and pest  free, well provisioned with winter stores and in secure weather proof accommodation.

Varroa is still the main reason that colonies fail, so we must remain vigilent. Determine the level of varroa in your hives and treat accordingly. The National Bee Unit have produced an excellent booklet on Varroa which can be downloaded  here. If you do need to treat for varroa then remember to allow enough time to complete the treatment and have enough time to finish winter feeding by early October. There are several products on the market to treat varroa - some with varying results - but I still find Apiguard (not to be confused with Apistan) does a pretty good job if used in accordance with the instructions. The manufacturers have produced a Frequently Asked Question leaflet which can be downloaded here.

When feeding for winter, use a heavy syrup (2lb sugar to a pint of water), which leaves the bees less work to do to get it to the right moisture content for capping. Also remember a typical colony needs 30lb - 40lb of stores to get through winter, so you need to assess how much stores they already have in their broodbox and top up the balance.

Make sure your hives are weatherproof; bees can cope with cold but not damp. Any weak colonies should be united or re-homed in a well insulated nuc box. Finally, pat yourself on the back, put your feet up and enjoy some good bee books over the winter!

Mike Davies

Training Officer, Lampeter & District Beekeepers' Association

 

 

 

 

The weekly meetings at the association apiary have now commenced for the season.

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Members of the apiary team will be in attendance from 2pm until 5pm every Sunday afternoon. Remember the apiary is for all members not just the beginners! There is always plenty to do so come along and get involved! For more information contact our apiary manager Ron Lockham.

The RSPB have kindly given us permission to publish an article that featured in the Summer 2013 edition of their "Birds" magazine. The article looks at how bumblebees fit into the RSPB's conservation mix and includes a useful guide on how to identify some of the more common species of bumblebee and distinguish it from the honeybee.

Bumblebee flying amongst comfrey flowers

Following our first full year in the association apiary, our initial three nucs which we purchased in the summer of 2011 have now expanded into five colonies. This is largely due to summer 2012 being a very "swarmy" year despite the best efforts of the apiary team! However, through careful management we managed to take action on the colonies which were determined to swarm and carried out artificial swarms in time before we lost the bees. As a bonus we managed to harvest a modest amount of honey as well.

The European Commission has now published the Implementing Regulation to restrict the use of neonicotinoids. It is Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 485/2013 of 24 May 2013 and was published in the Official Journal on 25 May 2013. Its full title is 'Amending Regulation (EU) No 540/2011 as regards the condition of approval of the active substances clothianadin, thiomethoxam and imidacloprid and prohibiting the use and sale of seeds treated with plant protection products containing these active substances.

The main elements of the regulation are as follows:

- Restriction in the use of three neonicotinoids for seed treatment, soil application (granules) and foliar treatment on bee attractive plants and cereals. In addition, the remaining authorised uses will only be available to professionals.

- Exceptions will be limited to the possibility of treating bee-attractive crops in greenhouses, in open-air fields only after flowering.

- The restrictions will apply from 1 December 2013.

As soon as new information is available, and at the latest within two years, the Commission will review the conditions of approval of the three neonicotinoids to take into account relevant scientific and technical developments.

NBU Alert dated 8th May 2014:

"Many of our Bee Inspectors have reported a high population of Varroa mites in colonies across England and Wales. We believe these high levels are largely due to many colonies continually rearing brood throughout the mild winter. Continuous brood rearing dramatically reduces the efficacy of winter Varroa treatments such as oxalic acid, which do not kill mites sealed in brood cells."

"We urge beekeepers to monitor colonies and check either the natural mite drop from a sticky insert/ open mesh floor or by uncapping drone brood. From May to August, a natural mite drop should be monitored over a week. The number of mites then counted over this week should be multiplied by 30 to give you a rough population of Varroa in your colonies. A figure of 1000 mites or more is considered to be a high infestation. If uncapping drone brood, then only 5 Varroa mites out of 100 uncapped pupae need to be found to be considered a high infestation."

"Should you discover that your colonies have a high amount of Varroa then a range of options are available from biotechnical methods such as drone brood removal, to authorised varroacides. NB Varroacides used will be weather and temperature dependant. If you have supers on your colonies then thymol treatments should not be used due to tainting of the honey. "

More information is available in the NBU leaflet ‘Managing Varroa’, which is available to download from their website.

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