Dear Members,

Beekeeping, a bit like Covid 19, can be hard to pin down. Trying to work out what the right steps are to take in a given situation, making mistakes, and feeling confused when things don’t go to plan seem to be par for the course in both situations.

July, when swarms still occur, can be a busy time. Many of you will be thinking of extracting honey if you have not yet done so, also, as hives are building up to a peak, the threat of swarms is a continuing reality, yet, as the old adage goes ‘ A swarm in July is not worth a fly’. While this may have been the case in former, leaner years, today we don’t think twice about feeding our bees sugar syrup to help them draw out comb and still be strong enough as a colony for breeding winter bees in August September, and of course having enough in the way of stores to overwinter successfully.

I was reminded this year how important record keeping is when after a particularly hot day earlier in the season I was eager to get home and have a cool shower. I rushed to make notes on my hive records. I got in a muddle and noted on Hive 1 that I had left one queen cell and to leave for at least 3 weeks before inspecting. I was therefore puzzled to get a phone call telling me my bees had swarmed.

Fortunately, I captured the swarm, and patted myself on the back, but was unsure which hive had swarmed.

A few days later another phone call alerted me to yet another swarm - this time a cast. Looking back through my records I couldn’t work out where it had come from and it was only when I finally inspected Hive 1 and found numerous broken down queen cells that I worked out I had missed out the second step of returning to break down any new cells which had been started on eggs or larvae. A basic error as a result of careless record making.

My excuse to myself was that I was hot and bothered, and of course we all make mistakes in beekeeping, what is important is to learn from them - hopefully!

Here are more of Maurice’s limericks - they are very topical !

A beekeeper who was young and keen,
Spent good money on a new Buckfast queen,
It started terrific,
She was very prolific,
Then swarmed and was never again seen!

Not only was the queen never seen but her progeny will tend to be rather aggressive, so please keep to local queens and bees. The association will always try to help if you need a queen.

Here too is something we should all be concerned about - destroying and cluttering our planet!

Polystyrene hives are the way forward, said he,
As he transferred his bees' to them with glee,
They do not go rotten,
But he had forgotten,
That when finished with, they end in the sea!

If another Branch Zoom meeting is held, please join us as there have been some interesting discussions and ideas put forward, Martin will send out a link for you to follow.

So, here’s hoping you have a good honey harvest following our amazing Spring weather, and not too bad Summer so far, and also a few tips to keep you on track......

Regards, and stay safe and well,
Margaret Holdsworth


Beebase News Web feed
  • LAST CHANCE: to answer our survey on how training and information sources for beekeepers and bee farmers can be improved
    20 April 2021
    With thanks to those of you who have already responded. For those of who haven’t yet had chance to answer the survey there is still time but it closes tomorrow. For further details please see below.

    Gyda diolch i'r rhai ohonoch sydd eisoes wedi ymateb. I'r rhai nad ydynt wedi cael cyfle eto i ateb yr arolwg mae amser o hyd ond mae'n cau yfory. Am fanylion pellach gweler isod.

    Defra and the Welsh Government want to ensure that beekeepers and bee farmers have access to training and information that can help them implement effective biosecurity and maintain good standards of husbandry, so as to minimise pest and disease risks and improve the sustainability of honeybee populations.

    A short questionnaire is available for current beekeepers, people who have recently stopped keeping bees as well as bee farmers to give their views and opinions on the type, accessibility and range of training and information available and how it could be improved. It should take no more than 15 minutes.

    Please go to to complete the survey by 21 April.

    Defnyddiwch y ddolen hon i gwblhau'r arolwg erbyn 21/04/2021.
  • Seasonal Bee Inspector (SBI) Vacancies
    19 April 2021
    The National Bee Unit currently has a number of Seasonal Bee Inspector (SBI) vacancies advertised in the following areas South Kent & East Sussex, South West Devon and South East Wales

    If you are interested in applying for the job, full details can be found on Civil Service Jobs.

  • Reporting Varroa
    12 April 2021
    Amendments to the Bee Diseases and Pests Control (England) Order 2006, the Bees Diseases and Pest Control (Scotland) Order 2007 and the Bee Diseases and Pests Control (Wales) Order 2006 come into force on the 21st of April 2021 requiring all beekeepers and/or officials in GB to report the presence of Varroa in any of the hives that they manage. This amendment will allow Great Britain to comply with the Animal Health Law which is necessary for future working relationships with the European Union.

    To make this simple, a tick box will be introduced to BeeBase, the voluntary register for beekeepers managed by the National Bee Unit. This will be the easiest way to report Varroa but an alternative mechanism will be provided for those who do not wish to register on the BeeBase system. Details of this alternative system will be provided after 21st April. If Scottish Beekeepers wish to, they can report varroa by contacting the Scottish Bee Health Inspectors (

    Although Varroa is known to be widespread, it continues to be one of the most serious pests faced by beekeepers. Reporting Varroa will contribute to the overall pest and disease surveillance work of the National Bee Unit and the Scottish Bee Health Inspectorate. We are grateful for your assistance with this new simple measure.

    No action will be required until after 21st April.