Dear Members,

When I received the email from Jane Nimmo advertising Steve Martin’s talk on varroa, my first thought was “Oh no, not more about varroa, I know everything I need to know about this horrid little pest”.

How wrong could I be? Steve did not disappoint and I would recommend those who did not attend to take advantage of listening to this talk on the WBKA website.  

I always find I learn something new when listening to experienced beekeepers or researchers.  From Steve’s lecture I learnt that, along with all the other positive characteristics that we look to encourage in the bees we keep, like docility and productivity, it is the queen who is the key to the hygienic behaviour which leads to the bees being able to detect the odour of varroa in the sealed brood cells.

So we need to be identifying those colonies and breeding from those queens. We can only do that by closely monitoring our colonies and not just treating all colonies the same each year with our preferred varroa treatment. Of course, if a colony is heavily infested with varroa we need to treat, or manage the varroa load mechanically, or the colony will die, but to do that we need to know and understand what we are dealing with.

Our last Rugby Association meeting was held on Zoom, and Bob Smith, a very experienced and knowledgeable beekeeper gave an excellent talk on why, and how, to prepare our bees for winter and the next season. He in fact starts his new hive records after he removes his honey at the end of July and then in September records their preparedness for winter, measured against 5 factors: 

1. Queen - is she this year, or last years model?

2. Are the bees healthy - any evidence of Nosema, DWV, chalkbrood, sacbrood, bald brood etc?

3. Are there enough bees to get through the winter i.e. is the colony strong?

4. Are there adequate stores to get though the next 6 months ?

5. How well are they protected from pests - mice, woodpeckers , other mammals, including humans.

Once again this was an excellent talk and I was a little disappointed that it was not better attended given most of us have access to Zoom and didn’t need to venture away from our cosy homes. It is always useful to be reminded of the basics as this helps to cement the necessary information a bit more firmly in all our unreliable memories.

Do see the topic for November’s meeting at Sacred Heart Church Hall - David Bonner is a good speaker and will ensure an interesting evening and you will get a cup of tea or coffee and a biscuit, and have the chance to chat about bees, so do come along. 

Apparently this year Warwickshire’s Honey show was well attended, unfortunately Rugby was not very well represented in the Honey and Mead categories, but both Steve Brown and Maurice West from Rugby received prizes for beekeeping equipment and one of Rugby’s novice honey entries from Steve Hatcher was very highly commended! So well done these three and perhaps next year more people can be encouraged to enter. Preparing and entering honey for shows like this is good experience for producing a quality product, which hopefully we all want to provide to the public.

Regards, and stay safe and well.

Margaret Holdsworth  


Beebase News Web feed
  • 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
  • Asian hornet confirmed in the Rayleigh area of Essex
    28 September 2022
    A local Asian Hornet Team member in the Rayleigh area of Essex captured three hornets and reported this using the Asian Hornet Watch app. National Bee Unit inspectors were  dispatched to the location to carry out enhanced surveillance and the hornets were confirmed as Asian hornet (Vespa velutina).

    An Asian hornet nest in a sycamore tree was killed in the Rayleigh area of Essex on Friday the 30th September and removed the following day.  Monitoring will continue in the area supported by local beekeepers.

    The ‘Asian Hornet Watch’ app is free to download from the Apple and  Android app stores.

    Further information regarding the Asian hornet can be found on our Asian hornet page of BeeBase and on Defra's news page. Please direct all media enquiries to the Defra Press Office: 0330 0416560.