I started this little project because we came into possession of an expanded polystyrene box and lid of a suitable size, about 60cm x 35cm x 25cm.

You will require such a box, with a close fitting lid and walls thick enough to allow fittings to be added, in this case about 3cm thick. A wooden box of a similar size would be fine and may be easier to work if you have some basic woodworking skills and tools.

Access to a domestic vacuum cleaner with a hose, I used our ash vacuum, but something like a Henry would be fine.

A length of tube of a similar diameter to the vacuum cleaner tube. I have bought a 2m length of 5cm OD clear plastic tube from a local supplier. This has 2 benefits, the interior diameter is smooth, which I hope, will minimise bee damage and clear, so you can see the bees on their progress down the tube.

The main disadvantage is that the tube I bought is very stiff so is difficult to manhandle. It would be possible to use another vacuum cleaner hose which would be more flexible but will, I'm sure, cause more trauma to the bees.

 Click to EnlargeClick to EnlargeClick to Enlarge 

To connect the tubes to the box I visited a local hardware store with the tube dimensions and sorted through the plastic plumbing fittings until I found something that would suit the size of the tubes and allow me to clamp then through the wall of the box. See Photo 1, 4 and 5

At one end of the box I cut a hole in the middle of the short edge that would take the plumbing fitting and glued it in place. This will be where the bees enter the box.

At the other end of the box I cut a hole on the long edge as close to the box end and base as possible, this is the hole for the vacuum tube fitting to be fixed into. This is where the vacuum cleaner tube is attached to the box to supply the suction. See Photo 2.

From a piece of 4 or 5mm MDF I cut a piece the width of the box interior that would go from the top of the opening to the bottom at an angle of about 45 deg. This should be close fitting and clear the internal part of the plumbing fitting used to attach the suction hose. See Photo 3.

 Click to Enlarge Click to EnlargeIn the middle of the MDF sheet I cut a rectangular hole about half the total area of the sheet. From a local motor factor i.e. Halfords, I bought a sheet of expanded aluminium mesh as used for car body repair and cut a piece about 3 - 4cm larger than the cut out on the MDF sheet and stuck this in place over the cut out. This is to provide a barrier to keep the bees in the box and not get sucked into the vacuum cleaner. See Photo 3.

I attached the MDF sheet into the box using Duct tape to provide a bee proof join. See Photo 3.


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  • New Appointments within the National Bee Unit
    14 January 2022
    We are pleased to announce the temporary appointment of Dhonn Atkinson as the National Bee Inspector (NBI) whilst the current NBI Cristina Ruiz is on maternity leave. Dhonn has held a variety of roles across the National Bee Unit and Animal and Plant Health Agency where he held the role of Regional Bee Inspector for the North East of England.

    Following the retirement of Keith Morgan, Colin Pavey, and shortly Frank Gellatly and the temporary promotion of Sandra Gray, we are pleased to confirm the following movements and appointments:-

    Regional Bee Inspector for Western England – Jonathan Axe has been promoted from the role of Seasonal Bee Inspector.

    Regional Bee Inspector for Eastern England - Pete Davies, an experienced manager has moved from the Central England Region.

    Regional Bee Inspector for Central England - John Geden. John joins the National Bee Unit as an experienced bee farmer.

    Regional Bee Inspector for South East – Daniel Etheridge a seasonal bee inspector has been offered a temporary promotion to manage this area.

    Regional Bee Inspector for Wales – Maggie Gill has been promoted from the role of Seasonal Bee Inspector.

    Regional Bee Inspector for North East England – David Bough a seasonal bee inspector has been offered a temporary promotion to manage this area.

    For full up to date details please visit the contacts page
  • Seasonal Bee Inspector (SBI) vacancies
    21 December 2021
    The National Bee Unit currently has a Seasonal Bee Inspector (SBI) vacancy advertised in:

    East England: Norfolk.

    North East England: East Yorkshire

    Mid-South Wales: Swansea, Neath Port Talbot, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Merthyr Tydfil, South Pembrokeshire, West Carmarthenshire

    West England: South East Shropshire, South Staffordshire, North West Worcestershire

    If you are interested in applying for these jobs, full details can be found on Civil Service Jobs

    If you have any questions regarding the position, please contact the Regional Bee Inspector for the area.

    Closing date for application: 16th January 2022
  • Bee Health Advisory Forum - Science Advisor
    08 November 2021
    The Bee Health Advisory Forum brings Defra & Welsh Government policy and stakeholders together to discuss honey bee health issues and is inviting expressions of interest from applicants interested in being Bee Health Advisory Forum Science Advisors. The closing date for applications is Friday 17th December at 17:00.

    Full details about the role can be downloaded here and can be found on the Bee Health Advisory page. Please circulate to prospective advisors or feel free to apply.