Dear Members,

As the active beekeeping season starts to draw to a close at the end of this month it is important to  make sure our bees are in good shape, healthy and with good stores (pollen and nectar) to prepare them to survive the long winter months ahead.

You may have noticed during an inspection that your bees are more defensive than usual. It is important to try, especially in an urban location, to ensure that the bees we keep are not overly defensive, but at certain times of the year and under certain circumstances all bees can become defensive.  One of these times is when the nectar flow ceases, as it tends to do in August. 

This comes at a time when the colonies are at their largest, so the bees are naturally wanting to preserve their hard won resources, but we beekeepers are also raiding those resources for our honey crop, so we can expect the bees not to take kindly to our interventions at this time of the year.  

At the same time wasps are on the look-out for sugary substances. While wasps are useful carnivores, killing and eating a vast number of garden pests and insects, this useful ecological role is carried out in the Spring and Summer when they are rearing and feeding young.  The adult worker wasps are not able to directly ingest the protein from the insects they collect, they chew it up and feed it to the young larvae which then produce a sugary substance for the workers to eat.  In Autumn, when they are no longer rearing young, the adult workers need to find another source of sugar and beehive colonies have a wonderful pantry of sweetness waiting to be raided if they can get past the guard bees.

Those among you who like to sit and observe your colonies may like to try and identify the guard bees.  These bees are generally between about 12 and 25 days old (when their sting has fully developed) and they are positioned at the front of the hive standing with their front legs raised and their antennae pointed forward, detecting foreign invaders.  They will let in foreign bees if they bring gifts of pollen or nectar but others will be wrestled away from the entrance.

Another thing to look out for at this time of the year is propolis. You may notice that even hives that are not great users of propolis, start to be more difficult to crack open at this time of year.  Propolis, while a nuisance to beekeepers, is a useful antibacterial and antifungal  substance that is essential to the health and wellbeing of the honeybee.  You can reduce the nuisance value of propolis by smearing petroleum jelly on surfaces, like the queen excluder edges, which make inspections easier, but does not reduce the seal on the hive which is what the bees at this time of year are keen to ensure to help to insulate their space over winter.

In preparing for winter you may need to feed your bees with sugar syrup.  Many of you have ordered Ambrosia through Steve Brown who has kindly co-ordinated this.  Do remember to feed at dusk when the bees have stopped flying, or you risk setting up a robbing situation. Bees, like wasps, are eager at this time of year to find any source of sugar to assist with building up winter stores, and scenting another colony being fed can mean they will clean out that colony, particularly if it is weak.

Do attend the Warwickshire Zoom meeting on 15th September on Himalayan Balsam if you can. This is an invasive foreign species which in some areas provides very good late season nectar and pollen for honey bees, so I am rather ambivalent about its presence along our waterways, thankful I had not seen it around Rugby, but recently I came across it on the canal above Elliot’s field so it will soon be everywhere and maybe we will be grateful for its presence.

Margaret Holdsworth


Beebase News Web feed
  • Seasonal Bee Inspector (SBI) vacancies / Swyddi gwag - Arolygwyr Gwenyn Tymhorol (SBI)
    03 January 2023
    The National Bee Unit currently has  Seasonal Bee Inspector (SBI) vacancies advertised in:
    • Wales: North and Ceredigion.
    • West: Staffordshire, Shropshire
    • East: Norfolk, but particularly north
    • North East: Lincolnshire, East Yorkshire

    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 region.

    Ar hyn o bryd, mae gan yr Uned Wenyn Genedlaethol swyddi gwag ar gyfer Arolygwyr Gwenyn Tymhorol yn y rhanbarthau canlynol:
    • Cymru: Ceredigion a'r gogledd yn bennaf.
    • Gorllewin: Swydd Stafford a Swydd Henffordd
    • Dwyrain: Norfolk, ond ardal y gogledd yn bennaf
    • Gogledd Ddwyrain: Swydd Lincoln a Swydd Dwyrain Efrog

    Os oes gennych ddiddordeb mewn gwneud cais ar gyfer y swyddi hyn, gellir dod o hyd i'r holl fanylion ar Swyddi'r Gwasanaeth Sifil.

    Os oes gennych unrhyw gwestiynau am y rôl, cysylltwch â'r Arolygydd Gwenyn Rhanbarthol ar gyfer y rhanbarth.
  • Annual National Hive Count Commences / Y Cyfrif Cychod Gwenyn Cenedlaethol Blynyddol yn Dechrau
    01 November 2022
    The National Bee Unit is pleased to launch the 2022 National Hive Count today, 1st of November.

    The hard slog of summer beekeeping is done so make yourself a nice cup of tea, grab your laptop and sink into your favourite chair. It’s time to update your BeeBase records!

    We would like to ask all beekeepers to please login to BeeBase and make a note of the total number of colonies you will be taking into the winter as of 1st November 2022. This task is quick and simple, just click here, login and fill in the short form. Even if you have no overwintering colonies this season it is still important to update your BeeBase record to reflect that. This survey will run until 31st December 2022.

    For more information about the Hive Count click here.


    Mae'n bleser gan yr Uned Wenyn Genedlaethol lansio Cyfrif Cychod Gwenyn 2022 heddiw, 1 Tachwedd.

    Mae'r haf hir o gadw gwenyn wedi mynd heibio felly gwnewch baned o de, estynwch eich gliniadur ac ymlaciwch yn eich hoff gadair. Mae'n amser i chi ddiweddaru'ch cofnodion BeeBase!

    Hoffem ofyn i wenynwyr fewngofnodi i BeeBase a gwneud nodyn o gyfanswm nifer y nythfeydd a fydd gennych dros y gaeaf o 1 Tachwedd 2022. Mae'r dasg hon yn un syml a byr, cliciwch yma, mewngofnodwch a chwblhewch y ffurflen. Hyd yn oed os nad oes gennych nythfeydd sy'n gaeafu y tymor hwn, mae'n dal yn bwysig eich bod yn diweddaru eich cofnod BeeBase i gadarnhau hynny. Bydd yr arolwg hwn yn para tan 31 Rhagfyr 2022.

    I gael rhagor o wybodaeth am y Cyfrif Cychod Gwenyn cliciwch yma.
  • Credible sighting of a single Asian hornet in Dover, Kent
    06 October 2022
    National Bee Unit inspectors carried out enhanced surveillance in Dover after a member of the public took a clear photo of an Asian hornet (Vespa velutina) before it flew away.  No further insects were seen.

    Local Asian Hornet Teams have been alerted and are continuing to observe forage and monitor insects in the area.

    The National Bee Unit is encouraging beekeepers and the public to remain vigilant, especially near ivy in full flower which is particularly attractive to Vespa velutina.

    Please report sightings of Vespa velutina using the ‘Asian hornet Watch’ app for iPhone and Android, or the online reporting form. Please direct all media enquires to Defra Press Office: 0330 0416560