The RHS need to know if you have this type of tree in your garden or local area

31-Mar-21 – Country Living

https://www.countryliving.com/uk/homes-interiors/gardens/a35986457/sweet-chestnut-tree-rhs-campaign/

How bees and drones team up to find landmines

30-Mar-21 – BBC

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-56344609

How is apivectoring innovating agricultural systems?

30-Mar-21 – Open Access Government

Developing Varroa Resistant Bees: Steve Riley’s Guest Blog

26-Mar-21 – The BeeListener

Neonic authorisation ‘was against expert advice’

26-Mar-21 – Ends Report

https://www.endsreport.com/article/1711156/neonic-authorisation-was-against-expert-advice

Making honey without bees and milk without cows

23-Mar-21 – BBC News

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-56154143

Beekeeper, 89, blasts CPS after it drops charges against three teenagers who were accused of destroying 30 hives

23-Mar-21 – Mail Online

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9392807/Beekeeper-blasts-CPS-drops-charges-against-three-boys-accused-destroying-hives.html

Liquid gold: beekeepers defying Yemen war to produce the best honey

23-Mar-21 – The Guardian

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/mar/23/liquid-gold-beekeepers-defying-yemen-war-to-produce-honey

After Almonds, The Beekeepers’ Enduring Race Begins

22-Mar-21 – BeeInformed

Honeybees run vaccination programmes, too

20-Mar-21 – The Economist

https://www.economist.com/science-and-technology/2021/03/18/honeybees-run-vaccination-programmes-too

The Syrian beekeeper helping fellow refugees in West Yorkshire

18-Mar-21 – ITV

https://www.itv.com/news/calendar/2021-03-18/the-syrian-beekeeper-helping-fellow-refugees-in-west-yorkshire

Jersey islanders asked to report Asian hornet sightings

17-Mar-21 – ITV

https://www.itv.com/news/channel/2021-03-17/jersey-islanders-asked-to-report-asian-hornet-sightings

These biodegradable face masks turn into flowers when you plant them

12-Mar-21 – Country Living

https://www.countryliving.com/uk/news/a35804769/biodegradable-face-masks-flowers/

What Does The New Ruling On Oxalic Acid In Honey Mean?

10-Mar-21 – BeeInformed

Angelina Jolie named ‘Godmother’ of bees in new humanitarian venture

08-Mar-21 - NME

Has China messed with your honey? How the country's 'blending' factories are now producing MORE honey than the world's bees

05-Mar-21 – Mail Online

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9328285/Has-China-messed-honey-Far-honey-sold-worlds-bees-produce.html

Tory government U-turns on bee-killing pesticide plan after threat of legal action

03-Mar-21 – The Canary

Neonic seed treatment will not be used on 2021 beet crop

02-Mar-21 – FarmingUK

https://www.farminguk.com/news/neonic-seed-treatment-will-not-be-used-on-2021-beet-crop_57706.html

A common soil pesticide cut wild bee reproduction by 89% – here’s why scientists are worried

02-Mar-21 – The Conversation

https://theconversation.com/a-common-soil-pesticide-cut-wild-bee-reproduction-by-89-heres-why-scientists-are-worried-155985

Bee Farmer Turns Up the Heat with New Hot Fire Honey

02-Mar-21 – Business News Wales

Bringing nature to life at the home of Rolls-Royce

28-Feb21 – ProLandscaperMagazine

A quiet conservation success story, the likes of which aren’t told enough

26-Feb-21 – Positive News
https://www.positive.news/environment/conservation/a-quiet-conservation-success-story-the-likes-of-which-arent-told-enough/

Chemical detection triggers honey bee defense against a destructive parasitic threat

25-Jan-21 – Nature Chemical Biology

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41589-020-00720-3

If you drive down country roads at the moment you will see that the pussy willow is in flower. This is a great source of pollen for honeybees and they will collect that pollen in quantity. As a beekeeper I breathe a great sigh of relief once I see yellow pollen going into a hive in quantity. It means that my queen has come through the winter and that the colony is expanding. March is always a tense time because winter bees that have survived for over five months are having to raise brood: it is a crossover point for the bees and is stressful for them. If temperatures are not good, or if the weather is too wet, or if the beekeeper did not feed them properly last September this can adversely affect the colony at this time of year.

The $64 million question for each beekeeper, however,  is when do I put my super onto the bees. As with everything in beekeeping it all depends. If you have your bees in an ordinary national hive then you will be adding a super sooner rather than later : they are going to need the space. 

Otherwise one has to assess the size of the colony. If they are covering eight or nine frames of comb in the brood box, then it is a good idea to add a queen excluder and a super. If they need the super they will soon go upstairs into it.  If you have a very small colony, though, you need to wait otherwise the bees won’t expand outwards in the brood box. The difficulty for all of us is that bees naturally want to put more brood above the brood they already have. Why is this? It is simply because the warmth and heat from the brood below will help heat the brood above and the bees instinctively know this. The trouble is you have put a Queen excluder between the brood and the super and inadvertently you may find that the bees will feel congested because they can’t expand the brood upstairs. Perversely they don’t always seem to expand outwards if there is space above the brood. Come on you all know Beekeeping is never straightforward. 

A beginner will just have to accept that if they have a small colony they will have to wait until that colony has become big enough before they think about honey (in other words before adding that super). It is very frustrating because all of us want a spring honey crop. However it is only once one successfully can build up a colony over winter and that you have a large foraging force that you will be able to collect a spring honey crop. Not all my colonies collect me a spring honey crop! And certain strains of bee just do not build up quickly in the spring and are probably only going to give you a honey crop in July. Learn to work with the bees that you have.

The second $64 million question is when is it appropriate for me to open up the hive and examine the frames? Ideally it needs to be about 15°, a still day and bright sunshine. I myself will open up a hive quickly when it is only 13° as long as it feels warm, the hive is in the sunshine and the bees are flying strongly. Beekeepers who don’t work are at an advantage because they can choose their moment.

The following videos will give you some pause for thought

1. A nuc box last Sunday. Every beekeeper should overwinter a nuc of bees in a polystyrene nuc box. They will quickly expand and give you a summer honey crop. Notice the amount of pollen going in and the enthusiasm of the bees. There is evidently a queen and from the bees enthusiasm I know she is vigorous.
Video - 1

2. A picture of what happens if you don’t get a super on early enough. These were very vigorous bees. If only I had taken a peek three weeks earlier I would have known they needed space from the number of bees above the crownboard. I could have popped on a super and Queen excluder without even going through the brood box! As a beginner I was always nervous about lifting the roof off. Not the case any longer. I enjoy watching the bees munch my fondant and pollen patty! 
Image 1 - Image 2 - Image 3

3. No reason really for this video except I’m trying to rival Rob Gore and his wonderful photographs.
Video - 2

Malcolm Wilkie – 16th March 2021

Plantwatch: fungus creates fake fragrant flowers to fool bees

17-Feb-21 – The Guardian

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2021/feb/17/plantwatch-fungus-creates-fake-fragrant-flowers-xyris-to-fool-bees#:~:text=Fungi%20have%20been%20discovered%20making,from%20Guyana%20in%20South%20America.

 Bee keeper stung by Brexit rules

16-Feb-21 – ITV News

https://www.itv.com/news/meridian/2021-02-15/bee-keeper-stung-by-brexit-rules

 Scientists explain why plant diversity is crucial for bee conservation

10-Feb-21 – Open Access Government

 A pair of skydivers play CATCH in freefall - with a jar of honey

09-Feb-21 – Yahoo News

https://uk.news.yahoo.com/pair-skydivers-play-catch-freefall-114300803.html

 Canadian Solar gets the buzz about bees

09-Feb-21 – ReNews.biz

https://renews.biz/66329/canadian-solar-gets-the-buzz-about-bees/

 Old drug is new weapon against tsetse flies

04-Feb-21 – The Naked Scientists

https://www.thenakedscientists.com/articles/science-news/old-drug-new-weapon-against-tsetse-flies

 Virtual beekeeping is buzzzing in 2021

04-Feb-21 – Country Living

https://www.countryliving.com/uk/wildlife/countryside/a35414593/virtual-beekeeping/

 The Wildlife Trust challenges ‘unlawful’ use of killer pesticide

03-Feb-21 – Environment Journal

https://environmentjournal.online/articles/the-wildlife-trust-challenges-unlawful-use-of-killer-pesticide/

 Brexit: 15 million baby bees could be seized and burned over ‘monumentally stupid’ rules

02-Feb-21 – The Independent

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brexit-bees-burned-uk-eu-rules-b1796201.html

 Flowering inferno: Beekeeper says imported bees could be burned due to Brexit rules

02-Feb-21 – The Mailhttps://www.mailplus.co.uk/news/51184/flowering-inferno-beekeeper-says-imported-bees-could-be-burned-due-to-brexit-rules

Tomorrow temperatures may go up as high as 15°. There will be sunshine and no doubt early Crocus will open and display those lovely orange anthers with nutritious pollen for the bees to collect. One might be very tempted to open up a hive of bees and see how they are doing. A word of warning, however.

It is still very early in the season and these temperatures are exceptional at this time of year. The danger could be that if you open your hive and take out frames in order to see if you have a queen then you may inadvertently cause the collapse of your colony. Why is this? Because if you are unlucky and crush your queen at this time of year then your colony will be unable to survive. They may possibly make a new queen but there is very little chance she would be able to get mated because there are no drones about. My advice would be to wait until March before examining the brood nest. Mid March with a sunny still day and temperatures of at least 13 degrees.

However I myself will be lifting off the hive roofs tomorrow.  All my colonies have both fondant and pollen patties on top of the crownboards surrounded by an eke. If the colony is alive there will be hundreds of bees munching on top of the crownboard.  The number above the crownboard will give me an indication of how strong the colony is. That is all I need to know at the moment. If on Saturday there are no bees milling about on top of the crown board and you cannot hear anything when you put your ear to the hive wall, then you could go in and take a look. If there is a gentle hum but no bees flying you could put in your inspection board for a few days and the debris that falls out of the hive will give you an indication of what the bees are doing. In this latter scenario it may be that you might consider rolling out some fondant with a rolling pin and laying that directly on top of the bees so that they can access some food : if the cluster is tiny they won’t go up and fetch the food above the crownboard and it needs to be directly in contact with them. Then gently replace your crownboard above the rolled out fondant, or if you need to create space because the fondant is too thick add an eke and place the crownboard above the eke.

Rolling out fondant is messy so use plenty of fresh icing sugar!

If you do go in because things aren’t looking good, ask yourself whether they have died due to isolation starvation, for example? Sometimes people have left a whole super full of honey for the bees but they have never gone up and fetched it. It is as if they didn’t recognise that that was part of their hive, even though Queen excluders were removed last Autumn.  Or (God forbid) did they die because you never fed them enough last autumn and you didn’t put on fondant early enough. If this is the case then you will find your bees dead with their heads in the comb as if they were trying to suck out the last drop of honey that they had stored. Only you can judge what has happened.

Enjoy the Bees tomorrow but be careful what you do!

Malcolm Wilkie – 19th February 2021