Dear Members,

Our British weather has again not disappointed with a mini-heatwave in July that sent the bees out in full force to gather nectar from the limes, sweet chestnut, bramble and rosebay willowherb, all excellent sources of mid-season nectar.


Colonies, which are near their peak numbers in July, had a golden opportunity to make up for the dreadful Spring flow; keeping up with them by adding supers to accommodate their incomings was quite a challenge.

Honeybees date back many millions of years and part of their success has been due to the genetic diversity which results from the honey bee queen mating with between 12 and 20 drones. Apparently if a virgin queen mates with fewer than this number she is more likely to become a drone layer. It appears that this year with the long wet and cold Spring, early mating of queens resulted in many drone layers. But, as soon as the weather improved, members were being offered a plethora of virgin queens, many of whom seem to have mated successfully.

Another trait which enables honeybees to survive the vagaries of weather and other impediments to their success, is that they make sure they collect and store food in excess to ensure that they get through any lean times in Autumn, Winter and Spring. This enables us as beekeepers to take some of that excess, presuming that the bees will not need all they have collected, and being there as a back-up should they need extra feed in the late Winter or Spring. It is important therefore not to completely asset strip the bees of their honey crop at this time of year, as now the amount of forage available will drop, until the ivy comes into flower in September/ October, only taking what is excess.
While the queen will now be encouraged by the bees to reduce her lay, there are still a lot of bees to be fed. You will notice that the poor old drones start to be kicked out of the hive towards the end of the month. (a few will remain, as supersedure queens produced late in the season need mates).

I always think that this period in the beekeeping year is one of the most difficult to manage, particularly as a new beekeeper. You are removing supers, but there are still a lot of bees in the hive, what will happen if you constrict them too much? How much honey should you leave on for the bees' own consumption? How can you do this while at the same time removing supers so that you can apply varroacides which need the supers to be off? It is a juggling act and requires you to use your judgement. If you are going to overwinter the bees with a super, and therefore apply the varroacide through the super, make sure you mark this super and don’t extract honey from it as this will contaminate your honey crop.

Hopefully some of you are participating in the Coventry University research project into the effect of particulates on pollinators, particularly honeybees. In August we will be submitting our samples and hopefully next year we will get the results of the study.

The Wolston Walkabout in July enabled the association to promote beekeeping and inform the public about bees and proved to be a successful and enjoyable event for a large number of people. This event is held every two years and if you enjoy looking round gardens and village fetes, this is one not to miss. Two new members, Liz Davies and Craig Hobson volunteered to help and their assistance was much appreciated.

Please think about helping at these events. You will be surprised at the public interest and how much information you can share about bees and beekeeping.

Margaret Holdsworth


Beebase News Web feed
  • 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.