Dear Members,

The Zoom Warwickshire lecture on “Himalayan Balsam” helped me change my mind a little about this invasive plant. I was not aware it had been present since Victorian times as it only seems to have become a real problem in the last few years. 

The main issue being that it out-competes local plants and because it dies back in winter it leaves river banks exposed to erosion. Apparently bees love it - and, it provides valuable late season pollen and somewhat watery nectar.  The watery nectar doesn’t sound great but combined with ivy nectar which can crystallize, it may be a good recipe. Apparently we should all look out for the tell-tale streak of white pollen in the bee’s back to identify that they are feeding on this plant.  I have noticed creamy pollen sacks but not white backed bees.

With the active beekeeping season drawing to a close this is the ideal time to turn your thoughts towards learning a bit more about bees, their behaviour and biology and how best to care for them.  The BBKA modules are a great resource as well as the correspondence course which encourages wider reading and formal study, but there are also now many Zoom lectures and YouTube videos which are helpful.  Do check our links to some of the helpful Warwickshire videos. 

Several of our members have in fact this year entered themselves for the BBKA modular exams and received credits! So well done Gail Plester and Steve Brown!  Check out the results in the September BBKA News. Sam Pecket has also rounded off her full complement of all the Modular exams with a Certificate in Bee Health, and...Helen Rathbone has passed her Beekeeping Basic Certificate which opens the door to all the theory and practical BBKA  steps it is possible to take towards becoming a Master Beekeeper!

While most of us may not see ourselves becoming Master Beekeepers, undertaking study, either formal or informal, certainly enhances our enjoyment and proficiency as beekeepers - so think about it and do come to the first of our Winter lectures on the 6th October as Celia Davis is sure to give good value as our first speaker.

I was interested to read in a Scottish beekeepers’s blog that this had been for her the best honey harvest she has had in 16 years of beekeeping. Apparently a lot of this was due to the Himalayan Balsam which out-competes heather in her region.  I think this illustrates how dependent on weather the bees are; further South this has been a very mixed year for honey yields - some people have had none or very little, and others have had moderate yields.  So much depends on weather, and the forage available in your area, which of course is also affected by the weather from year to year.

Apparently British beekeepers only provide 14% of the annual UK demand for honey, whereas in France local beekeepers provide 60%. However, I believe that this year French beekeepers are asking the Government for support as their yields have been so low; they too have been affected by the unusual weather this year.

Hard as it is to believe, Christmas is coming. In previous years we have decorated a Christmas tree to take part in the St Andrew’s Parish Church Christmas Tree Festival.  This year the theme is ‘Let there be Light’.  If you have ideas, or would like to be involved in this event, please contact someone on the committee as RBKA is keen to have your support.

Regards, and stay safe and well,  

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