Dear Members,

Normally, once we have ensured our bees are healthy and have plenty of stores for the winter months, we can rest on our laurels and hopefully sell our honey.

This year, with protracted warm weather well into November, it is important to check hives regularly by weighing or hefting over the next few weeks and months to make sure bees have sufficient food to take them through to March/April, when Spring flowers again begin to provide forage. 

The warm weather means the bees have not clustered until late November and as a result, the queen may have continued to lay, the brood needs feeding and the bees have been active in and outside the hive, using up valuable resources, but with very little, or no, available forage around to collect. This would mean that they are using up stores at a faster rate than anticipated and we need to keep abreast with their needs.

I was interested to read recently that Tom Seeley, the American beekeeper and researcher who has done so much to further our understanding of bees, their behaviour and needs, was stressing the need that bees have for water throughout the year. 

He described seeing bees leave the hive on a sunny day while there was heavy snow on the ground around the hive and visiting a melting puddle of snow, returning to the hive and feeding water to sisters in the hive waiting to receive it.

While it is important that hives have some ventilation in winter so that combs do not become mouldy, using poly or glass, crown boards mean that condensation collects under the board.  Some of this can be used by the bees, so is valuable, but if it is too much, it can lead to mould forming on the frames. One of the ways of reducing condensation on the glass or poly crown board is to provide some insulation above the crown board. 

If you do this, however, make sure you cover the feed hole with a piece of slate or wood or you will find the bees will nibble away at the insulation.

Bees will form their winter cluster when outside temperatures are around 10 degrees C.  If you plan to do an oxalic acid varroa treatment, it is important to do this during a broodless period as the treatment does not pass through the cell cappings to kill varroa breeding in the capped brood. 

To determine whether the bees have no brood present you can use your varroa inspection board to determine if there are no cappings present, and this is then the time to do your oxalic treatment. There are only 3 approved oxalic treatments in the UK - Varroa Med, Oxybee and Api-bioxal.  I have never used oxalic acid but I believe that Api-bioxal is the most commonly used and easiest to administer.  Do however ensure that you follow the instructions on the pack to the letter and don’t inhale the fumes which could be harmful.

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