Dear Members,

The weather reports over the last month have frequently referred to ‘unsettled’, ‘variable’, conditions and that could just as well sum up the state of my bees. My experience, along with others’s experiences,seem to indicate that queen mating has been ‘variable’ verging on the ‘unsatisfactory’ this year.

After the hot weather in April and May we could have looked forward to a successful beekeeping year, but since then the weather has been ‘variable’ and whether it is the weather, or the ways in which we are continuing to destroy the natural environment that are affecting bees, this is not proving to be the most profitable year for me or my bees, despite having had plenty of time to attend to them.

A recent report in ‘The Guardian’ stated that researchers in the US have found that bees, particularly managed honeybees, appear to be becoming less effective as pollinators, reasons for this may relate to the use of insecticides and climate changes!

Along with climate change, Coronavirus is still very much on the agenda, and Tim Riggs sent me this:

Maurice West has also come up with some more of his Limericks reflecting Gail Plester’s recent brush with Royalty and the current situation.

Gail Plester has a wonderful reflection,
Whilst drinking her tea with perfection,
With Prince Charles did she chatter,
That bee forage must matter,
And now has a Royal connection.

At lockdown it is very wary,
To have practical sessions at the apiary,
It's done using zoom,
Not all gloom and doom,
But next year should be normal and merry!

Those of you who have taken off honey in July may find your bees are short of stores and need feeding, and those who have not taken off honey yet may find the bees have helped themselves to what they collected in the supers, as forage has now become very scarce and will continue to be so until the Ivy starts to blossom.

August is a busy month with preparations for winter starting so here are some jobs to get on with:

Regards, and stay safe and well,
Margaret Holdsworth


Beebase News Web feed
  • COVID-19 and Beekeeping update
    11 January 2021
    This is a re-issue of the guidance provided in October 2020:

    Please find the latest Covid-19 beekeeping guidance. The update includes separate links to the current Public Health Guidance for England, Wales and Scotland.


    COVID-19_and_Beekeeping_-_Welsh_Language_Version v3

    If you have any queries please contact:

    For England:
    For Wales: /
    For Scotland:
  • Starvation and Varroa Alert
    04 December 2020
    Observations from beekeepers and Bee Inspectors across the UK suggest that some colonies of bees are becoming short of food.

    Please monitor your colonies throughout the coming months and feed as required to ensure your bees do not starve. A standard full size British National colony needs between 20-25 kg of stores to successfully overwinter. If they need feeding at this time then fondant should be used. This should be placed above the brood nest so that the bees are able to access it easily.

    For further information, please see the ‘Best Practice Guidance No. 7 - Feeding Bees Sugar’ on the following BeeBase Page:

    It has also been observed that Varroa levels in some hives are starting to increase again. This may be due to a number of factors, but the exceptionally mild weather this autumn has encouraged some colonies to produce more brood than usual which has allowed an increase in mite reproduction.

    Please monitor mite levels and treat accordingly.

    For further information, please see the’ Managing Varroa’ Advisory leaflet on the following BeeBase Page:
  • Julian Parker – Head of APHA’s National Bee Unit.
    23 November 2020
    Following a recent recruitment process Julian Parker has been appointed as Head of the National Bee Unit (NBU) within Defra’s Animal and Plant Health Agency. Within the NBU Julian has previously been Acting Head as well as National Bee Inspector and before that Regional Bee Inspector for Southern and South East Regions. Julian has over 12 years operational experience with the NBU including leading outbreak situations. Julian is also well known in the wider beekeeping community and his expertise is highly respected across Defra and Welsh Government as well as with Bee Health stakeholders. He has also played a key role in the review of the 2020 Healthy Bees Plan and will now play a significant role in delivering the Healthy Bee Plan 2030. Many congratulations Julian.