With the temperatures comfortable and plenty of flowers in bloom this is the time for swarms.
Have you got a swarm?
This is what swarm looks like. There are probably lots of bees flying round as well. Do not worry – they are not likely to sting you. They are just protecting their queen and looking for a new home.
Does it look like this? This is a honey bee. If they look like this then we are able to deal with them – in fact we would love to. If you are not certain then have a look at the BBKA bee identification page.
So what do you do now?
Estimate how big it is – golf ball, cricket ball, football, bigger? (That way we know what we need.)
Do you know the approximate postcode of the swarm location. (It just helps you find the nearest swarm collector.)
Look on the BBKA website at the swarm map and find the nearest collector.
Ring them and let them know what you have and where.
Swarms do not hang around so the sooner we know the better we are able to help the bees.
If you do not get an answer then try another collector.
So what do I do if I am called?
First I will check that they are honey bees. We cannot help with wasps or bumble bees.
I will ask you you how big the swarm is.
I will ask you where it is. If you have “what3words” on your phone then that is best.
What3words is available as an app we should all have on our phone – identifies anywhere within 3 metres.
I will put the things I need in the car and drive to the location.
Once there I will assess the situation and if it is safe to do so I will collect the swarm.
So why bother to call me?
I will remove the bees with a minimum of disruption.
I will rehouse them with a beekeeper.
You know they won’t set up home in your chimney, under the eaves or in a tree near you.
You may even get a jar of honey later as sign of the bees and our appreciation.
Last year was very quiet on the Asian Hornet side. I was not called out at all and there were very few incidents nationally.
We have been wondering why this was the case and one possible answer was the fact that there was not a lot of tourist traffic across the Channel. This year could be very different.
We have already one confirmed sighting in Felixstowe area - again a sighting close to a port. As Dorset is close to several channel ports we should be especially alert.
Next week is a crucial week in this respect. The holiday season is getting under way and there are plenty of people crossing the Channel and by the end of the week it will be a lot warmer. Ideal conditions for the emerging Queens.
Come to the talk on Thursday 17th February at 19:30 at the Colliton Club in Dorchester we have a talk by Kevin Pope- Seasonal bee Inspector - on what he found last year. This is an event not to be missed if you want to know what we need to look for this year.
And if you are not sure what the photos are then you should definitely be at the talk.
And the wind? Thursday is the quiet before the storm - quite literally. If your hives are not strapped down then now is the time to do it. We are expecting winds of up to 70mph - the worst for many years.
If your hive is strapped together and blows over then on Saturday all you have to do is lift it back onto its stand and apologise to the bees!
And finally search on Google for "BeeInfo" - all one word. There I am building up a site of much that I know about bees. The URL is https://dorsetbka.com/BeeInfo/
There does seem to be a possibility that life is returning to normal and once again we can gather round the open hive and admire the work of our bees. Thus I have more confidence in adding some dates to the diary:
Tuesday 18th January BIBBA are doing a Webinar on Wax Production and replacing old comb. They also have on their site an interesting article on the reason we should not be importing bees. It is worth a read and gives you extra ammunition if you meet someone who wants to buy foreign bees so they can get going more quickly.
Saturday 22nd January Central Division of Somerset BKA are doing a talk to bring us up to speed on the Asian Hornet. Last year was quiet but only yesterday I received an alert about a suspect nest in the in Dorset. If you are interested in the Somerset talk then details are here. It is to be held at Oakhill Village Hall BA3 5AN.
17th - Thursday - Kevin Pope to give a talk at the Colliton Club on what he found as a Bee Inspector in 2021.
Nothing as yet but I am sure things will happen
8th, 9th and 10th is the Beekeeping Convention in Newport, Shropshire. Details are available on the BBKA website with a full programme to be published this month.
If you are still wanting more lectures then the BBKA site has recordings of previous lectures. You can also find a lot of useful lectures on YouTube. National Honey Show has their own channel and my favourite must be the Norfolk Honey Company channel on You Tube. Another channel worth a look is "Inside the Hive TV". It is American based but is well produced and has much of interest to UK bee keepers.
BeeInfo - information about honey bees and beekeeping.
Many a time I have been determined to learn more about beekeeping over the winter period. Each year something gets in the way. Usual pressures - paint this room, get that shopping, prepare for Xmas, clear up after Xmas and so on.
This year I am making a more determined effort than usual. One route I am taking is to create a set of pages of notes . These will help me in preparation for taking the new BBKA modules. More importantly I am hoping those same pages will make me a better beekeeper. Probably my bees are equally optimistic!
The pages are all to be found at dorsetbka.com/BeeInfo. Simple as that. I have used a similar layout to that on the main page but missed some of the links on the right hand side. At present there are not a huge number of pages on there but as I write more content then I can add more pages and I am optimistic that this will grow to be a useful resource for all.
BBKA Module Exams 2022 If you are considering taking a BBKA module exam in 2022 then do be certain to check the new syllabus. There are significant differences between the November 2021 exams and the exams for 2022.
Just as an example the 2021 syllabus for Module 1 Honey Bee Management Syllabus says the syllabus covers the use of wax foundation, ways of getting wax fully drawn.
The new syllabus specifies that the syllabus now covers materials employed to emulate foundation as well as the use of wax foundation. It also requires the candidate to also know of the works of J.Mehring, E.B.Weed and Captain J.E. Hetherington.
It helps that the changes are in bold on the 2022 syllabus and this makes it much easier to see the changes. Personally I find the new syllabus much more informative and I now know where to direct my studies.
That is just looking at wax in Module 1. There are a lot more changes than this and rather than list the changes I suggest anyone considering taking one of the modules looks at the new syllabus on the BBKA website. More information on the exams can be found on the BBKA site
This is the time of year when there may be visitors to this site who have read about bees, possibly bought some honey at the local market, and now they are thinking "Shall I keep bees?"
Deciding to keep bees is not a decision to take lightly. It is not just puting a hive in the garden and taking off honey when ever you need it. There is a lot more involved than that and it is a lot more rewarding.
If you are thinking of keeping bees then I have written a new page on this site which explains some of the points you have to consider such as where to keep the extra equipment.
Anyone who knows beekeepers will know that every beekeeper has a different answer to the same question so there will be things on the page which others think are not important and there are things missed out. Read it and let me know what you think.
Just got back from a well known discount store with the offers for next week. There are some really good offers but amongst them is one that really caught my eye. A jar of honey - a 454 gram or 1 lb jar is reduced from 89p to 69p. Now I don't know about you but I am certain my bees would go out on a swarm if that is all I were getting for all their hard work. In fact in my cases the jars cost nearly that much.
Whilst I am on the subject of honey sales I was in the market of a Somerset city recently and there was honey on sale. The label advised me it was "Honey from Romania" and that was all it told me. I know for a fact that my bees would not be happy if I were not to say on my labels where the bees were and who looks after them.
What I do know is that those people who have tasted my honey - well actually the honey from my bees - have been amazed at the depth of flavour. Perhaps the bees and I are doing it right.
This week is Asian Hornet Week in the UK. Thus it is a time when we can raise public awareness of the threat which the "Yellow Legged Hornet" poses to the UK. This is a threat to pollinating insects which fly not just our bees.
We tend to think of the Asian Hornet as a predator on our bees. As the picture below shows they are also keen on rotten apples . If you see any ripe fruit look carefully. Are they wasps or is it an Asian Hornet?
The BBKA have a whole page of links to YouTube videos. They bring us up to date with some of the latest research. and are well worth having a look at. The National Bee Unit also has some interesting data, links and videos on their Asian Hornet page.
In addition the BBC has run an item on BBC1 "The One Show". This is available on BBC iPlayer and will be available for about 30 days. The item is well worth watching and for those not keen on the rest of the show then you will find the item from 25 minutes to 30 minutes.
Just because we have not seen them so far this does not mean we will not be seeing them soon. I suspect that this summer the lack of tourist traffic from the South of France crossing the Channel has been one of the reason why we have not been troubled. It may also be the fact that much of the wind has blown from a Northerly direction or t may be that it has just been too cold. We do not know. What we can say is that the Asian Hornet is a serious threat and it is as far North as the Channel coast. This is not a time to relax.