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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.

Honey Pot with Honey Stick
Honey Pot with Honey Stick

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?

Asian Hornet on a rotten apple
Asian Hornet on a rotten apple
Courtesy The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), Crown Copyright

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. 

This is always a busy time for bees and the last few months seem to have been really busy all round. However the good news is that as the pandemic seems to be taking a back seat we can start reserving front seats.

It is for this reason I am adding a new post to the web site. Two events have been brought to my attention

The National Honey Show 21st to 23rd of October - not just any honey show but the 90th. Things are a bit different this year and only pre-booked tickets will let you into the show. This is an excellent opportunity to meet up with old friends and also new friends. I have had a look at the lecture programme and it looks very interesting. For those who cannot get to the show there will be tickets available to watch all the lectures on line. Who knows what we we will be facing come October but the organisers have confidence and so should we.

Royal Bath and West Show has been cancelled  - but it is not all bad news. In its place there is a Country Festival from Friday 27th - Sunday 29th August. Not only a Country Festival but a Honey Competition so if you have ever thought of entering your honey at the Royal Bath and West Show then now is your chance. Schedule, Regulations  and Entry Form are now live on the Bath and West Show website.

OK so you do not think your honey is good enough - well think again. There are classes for many other products of our bee keeping. You could enter a bottle of Mead or a bottle of Methaglin or even a bottle of Melomel. If that is not something you can turn your hand to then there are photographic class or for the inventors amongst us there is a class for new or innovative equipment.  Download  the schedule and see what you could bring to the show.

To encourage you for this year only there are no entry fees - it does mean there are no cash prizes but there are prize cards and be honest it was always about the taking part rather than the cash prize.  

 

Not a nice day out there again today. Certainly not warm enough to be opening up the hive. Anyway it has given me an opportunity to file all the emails or act on them - or even delete them. However amongst the emails I have come across a survey for the government's Healthy Bee Plan. The survey is available on this link and has to be completed by 21st April. It only takes a few minutes to fill in and if we all fill it in then the government will be able to make informed decisions.

In addition I have been looking at the BIBBA lectures on YouTube. Excellent material. If you subscribe then you will receive notifications when there is a new lecture released.

My attention has also been drawn to a calendar of bee events in the UK. This is to be found at bee events.

It seems that the government has had second thoughts. The permission to use neonicotinoids on sugar beet this year has been withdrawn. The official reason is that the recent cold snap has affected the aphids. The number of aphids has fallen below a critical level and as a result the government has decided that neonicotinoids are not to be used this year. It is good to see that government policy is being "driven by the data not the dates."

However it is possible that next year the aphid population may not be affected by the cold and government decisions may not be driven by Honey Bee data. We must, for the sake of the bees and all the other pollinators under threat, make certain that permission to use neonicotinoids is not granted in Spring 2022.

 

Asian Hornet week –so what? Why should I care?
The Asian Hornet is a serious pest threatening British Agriculture. If it gets a hold here it is estimated that the cost of eradication will be around £7.5 million. That is just the cost of eradication. The costs to food producers is much more.

OK it is expensive but why does it have to go?
The Asian Hornet eats flying insects - the same insects that pollinate our fruit trees and many of our vegetables. In the absence of these insects we would have no apples, no beans, no blackberries and fewer flowers since there would be no flower seeds.

But I thought it only ate honey bees.
Honey bees provide a useful source of food to the Asian Hornet – like a take-away food shop. All the Asian Hornet has to do is hover outside the hive and wait for a bee to arrive. It grabs it and flies off to eat it.

OK so it eats a bee- does that matter?
Well it would not matter if there was one Asian Hornet and it ate a bee every day – but it is not like that. The Asian Hornet lives in a nest with about 6,000 other Asian Hornets. Research suggests that up to 600 bees will be taken each day. It does not take long for Asian Hornet to destroy a colony. Those they do not eat detect the threat and do not leave the hive leading to starvation.

And then what?
Well once the Asian Hornet has eaten all the bees it will start on other insects which are flying such as butterflies and bumble bees.

But is it a threat to me?
Well apart from the risk of food shortages and a loss of so many species which make our countryside so interesting – there is a risk to us. In France there have been several deaths from Asian Hornet and even in the UK there has been one hospital admission as a result of being stung by an Asian Hornet. The problem is that if you disturb a nest of Asian Hornets they may all come out to get you – all six thousand!

So what can I do?
First you can download the App from your favourite app store. Just search for “Asian Hornet”. Install it and look at the pictures of the Asian Hornet and also the insects which look like the Asian Hornet but are not a problem.
Secondly you can keep your eyes open when you are outside. You are looking for insect that looks a bit like a wasp but is bigger, has yellow socks and just one yellow/orange band on its abdomen.

And if I see one?
Report it immediately using the app, preferably with a photo.

Then what will happen?
The message will get to DEFRA who will notify the Regional Bee Inspector who will alert the local volunteer Asian Hornet Coordinators. They are ready to turn out at any time to check whether it was an Asian Hornet and then help to find the nest.

And when the nest is found?
At that point DEFRA send in the big guns with all the equipment they need to destroy the nest and all of its occupants.

Is there anything else I should know?
Yes the Asian Hornet is a bit bigger than a wasp but not as big as the Asian Giant Hornet which can be up to 40mm long. The Asian Giant Hornet does not have yellow socks and has several yellow bands on its abdomen. It is often shown illustrating articles about the Asian Hornet – and that is wrong.

Anything else?
Yes – do not go near a nest of Asian Hornets. Use the App to call an expert. Even bee keepers in their bee suits do not go near a nest.

Gosh! Where can I find out more?
Asian Hornet coordinator web site
or
British Bee Keepers Association BBKA
or
follow the BBKA on Facebook or on Twitter

The NBU has been unable to carry out any Bee Health Day training, evening Association talks or attend any national events due to COVID restrictions.

To part mitigate this, Fera Science have prepared several You Tube training/educational videos, which are now available via BeeBase and are freely available to beekeepers and Associations.  Initially three of these have been released looking at the following topics:
Asian Hornet Biology
Asian Hornet Genetics
European foulbrood

The presentations can be found on BeeBases pages on
Asian hornet
and
Foulbrood.

The information can also be accessed on BeeBase news page.

Alternatively there is a link at the foot of the Advisory Leaflets, Training Manuals & Factsheets page.

There is also available  a series of on-line evening lectures throughout the rest of the beekeeping season, starting on 9th June. Topics are chosen to fit with the work in the apiary, aiming to be timely and thought-provoking to inspire all those 'thinking beekeepers' out there.

Ken and Dan Basterfield regularly give popular lectures on practical and thought-provoking beekeeping topics. They lecture across the UK and Ireland, from local association meetings to national and international conferences."

The full programme and booking links can be found here.

The forecast for this week is for thundery showers, some of which could be torrential.  If there was thunder in the air would you want someone to take the roof of your house! I guess not and bees are the same. They can become very aggressive if you try to open the hive in thundery weather. Don't.

We all hoped that by September we would be out of the current pandemic but the organisers of the Dorset County Show have decided that they cannot hold the show this year and as a result the Dorset County Show for 2020 is cancelled. More details can be seen here