Category Archives: Noticeboard

This section of the website includes beekeeping news items and articles of interest from outside of the EFBKA division.

National Bee Unit Email Alert – High Varroa populations

By   May 8, 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 our leaflet ‘Managing Varroa’, from our website: or alternatively, a hard copy can be obtained by phoning the NBU office 01904 462510.

Regional Bee Inspector – Hornet Info Sheets

By   May 2, 2014

Hornet Info sheets attached.




The Beebase page for Asian Hornet is

Also one of your members mentioned that MAQS had left a strong smell and taste in honey supers and wished to report this finding to the VMD as the manufacturer/importer wasn’t interested in recording this themselves.

The VMD link for adverse reactions is :

Julian Parker
Regional Bee Inspector – South Eastern Region

National Bee Unit
The Food and Environment Research Agency
Sand Hutton, York. YO41 1LZ, UK
National Bee Unit Website ‘BeeBase’


Bee-friendly Plants

By   April 28, 2014

Compiled by Norma Stevenson…

  • Achillea (hardy perennial)
  • Angelica ‘guigas’ (remove flower spike immediately after flowering)
  • Calendula (Pot Marigold)
  • Cardoon
  • Ceonothus (get tree-sized one) scented
  • Coca-vita fisifolia (cool-tolerant gourd, instead of butternut squash, can eat stem tips) / known as ‘Sharks Fin Melon’ in south Asia
  • Coriander
  • Crocus
  • Delphinium
  • Euphorbia ‘manifura’ (statuesque)
  • Gaillardia (dwarf, daisy-like, excellent in bedding and containers)
  • Hellebores
  • Hollyhock (hardy perennial)
  • Lavender (stoicas – French looking lavender)
  • Mahonia x Media ‘Buckland’ (e/green shrub, 1-3m tall. Yellow flowers in winter. Hardy. Prefers moist, well drained, fertile soil. Ideal vandal-proof screen.
  • Myrtle (makes excellent hedging and is scented)
  • Nemesia (small, in a window box)
  • Oregano
  • Pansies
  • Petunia
  • Phlox
  • Photina (unclipped until after flowering)
  • Poached egg plant; limnanthes douglasii
  • Rudbeckia
  • Salvia
  • Sarcococca hookeriana var. Digyna ‘Christmas box’ (shrub, ground cover, e/green, 50-100cm high. Dark green foliage, white flowers in winter, frost hardy. Moist, shady spot. Heady winter fragrance)
  • Scabious
  • Sea holly
  • Skimmia japonica (male; scented)

Reporting suspect sightings of the Asian hornet

By   April 11, 2014

As many of you know, the Asian hornet, Vespa velutina, is a predator of honey bees and other beneficial insects. It has recently extended its geographical range from Asia to mainland Europe following an accidental introduction to France, and is now also present in Spain, Belgium, Portugal and Italy. Adult hornets are highly mobile; the rate of spread across France is approximately 100 km/year. There is concern that this exotic insect could reach the UK, either by hitching a ride on imported goods or simply by flying across the Channel.

The message to Beekeepers from the NBU is as follows:

• Now is the ideal time of year to look out for emerging queens, who can build new nests;
• Make sure you know how to recognise Asian hornets – a very helpful ID sheet can be downloaded from the NNSS website at
• Know where to report sightings:
• Our best defence against the Asian hornet is to quickly detect any arrivals and prevent them from establishing;
• Trapping is expected to aid this;
• Please visit the Asian hornet pages on BeeBase click here to read updated guidance for beekeepers, including information on early monitoring and trap design. You can also access the full Response Plan through these pages.

National Honey Show Newsletter March 2014

By   March 24, 2014

As you already know, an enthusiastic team works hard all year round to plan and bring you a bigger and better National Honey Show each year. You’ll be pleased to know that the postponement of proposed building work at St Georges means the venue is available for both our 2014 and 2015 Shows.

As usual, for 2014 we will have lectures by world class scientific researchers in the bee world. The provisional programme includes Dr Jamie Ellis University of Florida on the subjects of Research there, Honey Bee Biology, and their diseases and pathogens; Ann Harman, Vermont, US will talk on the topics of sugars and reducing stress on bees, and Pollination; Giles Budge on the work of the NBU; Prof Nikolaus Koeniger on honeybee diversity, and preventing re-infestation of varroa and Gudrun Koeniger on mating strategies to avoid inbreeding. Professor Stephen Martin will talk about life cycles of wasps and hornets, and Michael Badger MBE on maximising honey production in the urban environment.

The Friday BeeCraft Lectures provisional programme includes whether bees like the taste of honey by Nicola Simcock from the Institute of Neuroscience, University of Newcastle and Africanised bees by Ann Harman, Vermont, US.

Saturday lectures for those new to beekeeping, and/or just interested in the subjects will include Yearly Beekeeping Activities, and Products of the Hive for Showing.

On the subject of showing, we have two new classes this year: Class 6 for 2 jars of set honey; and Class 41 one bottle of sweet and one bottle of dry mead .

As last year, there will be lectures at 9.30am and 11am on the Thursday morning. The trade hall will open earlier, at 12 noon on Thursday. The main show opening ceremony is at 2pm, followed by exhibition of classes which opens after the judging has finished.

We want to encourage more competitive entries, and give our old hands a run for the prizes. Many of our experts are happy to both talk to newcomers at the show, and share their ‘secrets’ in the ‘how to’ workshops. We appreciate that many people are interested in how the judges arrive at their decisions. Judges have followed a long path of showing themselves, stewarding, and study to become judges and many are happy to share their knowledge and expertise. Time constraints prevent detailed comments for every entry, but two of the Gift Classes: Class 5: Two jars of liquid honey and Class 6: Two jars of set honey will have judges’ feedback for every entry. Many of the judges stay at the show during Thursday afternoon, some for Friday and/or Saturday, and would be happy to answer interested enquiries about the classes they have judged. Any exhibitor is free to approach any judges who are around after judging is complete.

As ever, the National Honey Show relies on a large team of volunteers, and all offers of help are welcome. Do contact us, – you can e-mail the Show Secretary at and he will pass your offer to the right person – if you can spare some time at the Show to help.

In 2013 we were successful in winning National Lottery funding towards the video project, and for the first time, were able to video some of the lectures, the first of which are available for all to view on YouTube. These have been expertly produced, and have been very well received, with large numbers of people viewing them. If you haven’t seen them yet and would like to, the simplest way is to put ‘National Honey Show YouTube Channel’ into Google and you’ll get there straightaway. If you don’t have a computer, your local (UK) library almost certainly offers free internet access and will help you find the videos. Check out whether they provide headphones and if not, take some along as the lectures are well worth listening to.

We would like to be able to offer this expensive, luxury, but very popular service again in the future and hope to attract National Lottery funding again. However this is not a reliable or complete source of funding, so we would welcome sponsorship. In addition, we would also like to expand the National Honey Show raffle to facilitate the funding of future videos. To this end we plan to increase the ticket circulation and also ……….. (for 2015) the prizes. We hope you will support this venture and – of course continue to support the National Honey Show itself.

Our spring leaflets, and raffle tickets will be available at the Thornes and Northern Bee Books stands at the Spring Convention, or you can e-mail us ( with orders. If you or a member of your association is coming to Harper Adams, do come along and collect some for distribution to your local associations and at your local and county shows. This will be much appreciated, not just by us, but by the thousands who are enjoying the lecture videos.

We have a unique collection of displays, lectures and networking opportunities at the National Honey Show, and look forward to seeing you at the Show this autumn: Thursday 30th October to Saturday 1st November 2014 once more at St Georges College, Weybridge.