Dear Members,

Hopefully with the better weather we had in June, some of you have managed to take a crop of honey. In fact some days in June were so warm that I managed to drag out the solar extractor and melt down some of the frames I had removed when doing a shook swarm in May.

The improvement in the weather has meant of course that colonies that have built up have started to make swarm preparations and if you managed to do some swarm prevention or control you will now have increased the number of hives you are managing. Although a colony headed by a new young queen doesn’t usually swarm again, in beekeeping there seem no hard and fast rules, so be aware that the swarming season is not yet over and if colonies build up quickly there is still the potential for them to swarm, so keep up regular inspections.

Each year a small group of people volunteer to collect swarms and it is easy for them to become overwhelmed by the frequent requests from the public to deal with swarms that have arrived on their property. I would encourage all beekeepers to learn how to capture a swarm, even if it is only to capture their own swarms and rehive them, but it would be very useful if we could have more volunteers to go on the BBKA swarm collectors list to relieve the burden on the few.

Although many of these reported ‘swarms’ are not honeybees, it is time consuming to explain to people the difference and often it necessitates going out anyway to reassure people that the bees in their bird box, under the fascia board, or in their dustbin, are not honey bees but bumble bees who will have departed at the end of July or early August so are best left to get on with the important work of pollination.

The common culprits are the Tree Bumble bee (bombus Hypnorum) which came to this country about 20 years ago and gradually moved up the country, arriving in Rugby about 10/14 years ago. They form small colonies and can be aggressive if disturbed by vibration and love to make their nest in bird boxes or fascia boards.

As beekeepers it is useful to learn something more about the 25 different types of bumblebees as we are frequently expected to be experts on all types of bees because we keep honey bees, so acquiring a working knowledge of the most common bumble bees is another string to your bow as a beekeeper.

One of the main aims of our beekeeping association is to inform and educate about bees and one of the best ways we do this is talking to the public at public events like fairs, fetes etc. With the Covid restrictions these events were cancelled last year but Wolston is planning to hold their bi-annual ‘Walkabout’. This is a lovely village event where there are open gardens, tea and cakes and a range of interesting stalls. We have had a display in previous years which has been very well attended and provoked a lot of interest in the public, so if you can spare a morning or afternoon to help out on the 25th July, it would be much appreciated. You don’t need to be an expert - most of the public questions are easily answered by someone who has only just started beekeeping, and there are always more experienced people around who can step in if needed. Hayley Kenney is organizing this event, so let her know if you are interested.

Regards, and stay safe and well,

Margaret Holdsworth


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