Dear Members,

As our Calendar year draws to a close this is a good time to do a little study to improve your beekeeping knowledge and practice.  At our November meeting Jane Medway mentioned that a course is being organized to assist beekeepers who want to undertake the Basic Assessment in beekeeping.

If you are interested, please contact Sam Peckett who will give you more information. Doing the Assessment is a learning opportunity as your assessor will be prepared to talk to you about your beekeeping.  If you read the November issue of BBKA news there is an amusing account of a Beekeeper taking the Basic Assessment.

Jane’s talk in November about uniting bees strayed into an interesting side issue when she spoke about why it was necessary to find means of gradually merging two colonies because each colony has its own unique colony odour.  This odour is apparently produced through the gut bacteria of the bees in each individual hive. The gut bacteria is unique to that hive because the bees from different hives are foraging on different combinations of nectar and pollen, then these foraging bees transfer their forage to the house bees through trophallaxis, sharing some of their gut bacteria in the process.  The bees cleaning the hive also imbibe and share some of the bacteria within the hive.  In the process of grooming some of this odour is then spread over the exoskeleton of the bees, helping to produce this unique hive odour.

Gut bacteria is now seen as an important factor in human health with huge profits being made from the production and distribution of pro-biotics to encourage ‘good’ bacteria. Research into the role of individual’s differing gut bacteria in dealing with our obesity crisis is also underway.  

So, it is not surprising that there is a current interest in the role of gut bacteria in the health of bees. The US Department of Agriculture has discovered that malnutrition in bees is related to habitat loss, climate change and the decrease in flowering plant diversity as well as monocrop agriculture. In addition, apparently microalgae are also important in honeybee diets and can be used instead of pollen substitutes, promoting more healthy gut bacteria!  

I think we all know that, as with our good nutrition, it is variety and diversity that are key factors in promoting good gut bacteria and ultimately health.  So make sure your bees have access to a variety of forage and think about planting sources of pollen and nectar for the Spring - there is still time.  Crocuses, snowdrops and hellebores are all good, as are other Spring flowers like bluebells and trees like hazel and willow. 

If you use poly or glass crown boards to overwinter - and they are useful when taking a quick peek to see where the cluster is during winter when you don’t want to break the propolis seal - be aware that condensation forms under glass/poly covers. The bees can use this moisture to dissolve crystalized stores, but too much can result in frames getting mouldy. The way to avoid this is to place insulation on top of the cover board.  Make sure you cover the feed hole with something solid or the bees will chew away at the insulation - probably not very good for them.

Regards, and stay safe and well during this festive period and have an enjoyable Christmas and New Year, 

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