Deadly spring

As the European Commission votes to implement a two year ban on three pesticides linked to bee deaths around the world, beekeepers and their bees are still struggling with the vagaries of the British spring.

Following the coldest March in 50 years, when we had to postpone practical beekeeping class after beekeeping class because you can’t open a hive in sub zero temperatures, the start of April proved little better. Late springs are not unusual, but 2013 has been exceptional because of the unremitting cold.

We have been anxiously feeding our bees fondant in the hope that the nectar substitute would see them through the prolonged chilly spell until warmer weather arrived. Bees can deal with the cold by staying toasty in the hive, but the problem is they can’t get out to collect pollen from the hazel and alder trees whose catkins can provide a rich source of protein at the beginning of spring for the bee larvae.

If there’s no baby food coming in, there’s no point the queen laying eggs because when the eggs hatch into larvae they will go hungry. So, all of our bee colonies are subsequently small and not building up well.

Now nearing May, with the cherry blossom out, forget me nots running a blue riot across the garden and dandelions dotting the lawn yellow, the bees would be having a feast if only that Arctic wind would drop and they could fly more.

Anecdotally, beekeepers are reporting losses of up to 30 percent because of the very late, cold spring. The only silver lining is that smaller bee colonies with less bee larvae means less varroa – the parasite which feeds on the larvae, weakens it and spreads lethal viruses around the hive.

What bees and flowers really need now is a warm May so the bees can leave the hive and pollinate the flowers and in the process collect the pollen they need to feed the babies, and the nectar that they turn into honey.

Matthew Oates a naturalist at the National Trust is optimistic. force 1 He says “There is a long record of good summers following late springs. Mini I love a late spring.

Bees planting in Blackburn

Residents of Blackburn in Lancashire will be out today planting 16,000 bee-friendly plants at 28 sites across the town. 90 femme gris rose Anyone who turns up at the town hall between 11-3pm will be given a trowel and assigned a ‘queen bee’ organiser and a site to get planting. Hives are also being installed on the roof of the town hall.

The initiate to replace traditional bedding plants that bees don’t like with more bee-friendly varieties across the town was the idea of charity Groundwork Pennine Lancashire which has been running an amazing three year ‘save the bee’ project in the region, called bees in the borough. The project includes breeding more indigenous apis millifera millifera (the black honeybee) .

As well as helping improve bee forage in Blackburn, the bee planting today is intended to bring the community together, instil pride in the town – volunteers will receive an ‘I love Blackburn t-shirt’ – and to rejuvenate the failing town centre. flyknit lunar Giant bee sculptures are being designed and placed in strategic locations across the town. Designer, Wayne Hemmingway, who comes from the area, is creating a vintage bee sculpture. Backpack The idea is for each sculpture to be sponsored and that money will go towards maintaining the bee-friendly plants.

The event has got the backing of Blackburn Town Centre Partnership Board, Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council – which has three bees in its crest which represent skill, perseverance and industry – the town centre BID (business improvement district) , The Mall shopping centre and the local Groundwork trust. Flyers and postcards have gone out all over town, in schools, businesses, community centres.

It is yet another great example of how bees are being used as a catalyst to bring communities together and do positive things in their local area. Newcastle, Stroud and Gloucester are some of the other cities that have gone bee-friendly . And hopefully this initiative will help all types of bees in Blackburn.

You can follow today’s event on Twitter @BigPlantingBee #BBBigBee. cheap fjallraven kanken Backpack And there is a Facebook page blackburnsbigplantingbee

I’m looking forward to seeing the photos.

Let’s hope they get a good turn out .

Orange pollen, white flowers

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Bees out on a warm October day on this white flower. 90 femme Lovely orange pollen on her back legs.

The shrub, mercurial in case you were wondering, 90 femme is a Choisya Ternata or Mexican Orange Blossom, which flowers in spring and again in late autumn and even into winter if it’s mild, which is good news for honeybees as there isn’t much around to forage on now, except for a few cosmos,

Bees and snow

It may be -2 and white outside the hive, but inside the bees will be huddling together in a cluster and vibrating their wings to create warmth. Backpack A layer of snow on the roof of the hive may even help to insulate it further against the cold. Mini In fact the hive may be so toasty it could attract mice looking for a cosy spot to bed down, so you’ll need to guard against such intruders by fastening with nails a galvanised strip of metal called a mouse guard over the hive’s entrance.
The main worry at this time of year is whether the bees have enough honey to see them through the cold spell when the temperature is too low for them to leave the hive and forage is scare.
You can get an indication of the amount of honey they have by ‘hefting’ the hive. You do this by lifting the hive with one hand at the back of the hive just slightly off its stand. Big If you heft your hives at intervals during the winter you’ll get a better idea of how it compares to the autumn when you left them 30lbs of stores. Given the mild winter we were experiencing until a week OK, the bees should be fine and the hive should be hard to lift.
Once the cold spell is over, your bees will want to get out of the hive to defecate. You may have to help them exit by clearing the entrance which may be clogged by bees that have died naturally during the winter. Don’t panic if you see lots of dead bees around the hive during the winter. Remember their life span is short.
If they come out on a sunny day while snow is still on the ground, clear the snow around the hive to prevent your bees getting confused about which way up to fly. Kanken Apparently that can happen because of the way snow reflects the sky.
Now’s a good time to do a stock check and list what new equipment you’ll need for the spring.

honey survey 2013

No surprise that honey production was up this year after that very wet summer in 2012. But the yield of only 24.7lbs per hive in 2013, compared to 8.lbs last year, is as you’d expect after such a late spring well down on the long-term average of more like 40lbs a hive.

What’s of more interest from the survey of British Beekeeping Association members, is the regional variations. In Scotland beekeepers are getting close on 35lbs from one hive (the highest across the ), while in London, where 10% of respondents kept their hives on rooftops, they could muster just 18.7lbs of honey per hive (the lowest yield in the ).

A south-east honey survey for 2013, by the regional bee inspector, Alan Byham, seem to corroborate the figures in the BBKA survey. tn Each year, Alan asks beekeepers on his mailing list for information on honey yields and prices in the region. This year he had 414 replies. Mochilas Infantil The average was 21 lbs (slightly up from 19lbs last year). But again it’s London where beekeepers are getting lower than average yields of just 19lb in 2013, compared to east sussex where the average crop per hive was 27lbs – the highest in the region.

However, it appears that in the south east, Kent beekeepers fare even worse than the capital’s. Kent’s hives yielded just 16lbs of honey this year. Moreover, while London apiarists can charge a premium for any of the scarce honey that they sell, this doesn’t seem to be the case in Kent.

(In the BBKA survey, Kent is included in the south east area of the along with surrey, west sussex and east sussex, which taken together had the third highest yield in the with 27.lbs per hive).

So what conclusions, if any, can be drawn from the figures ?

There are a lot more beekeepers and bees per hectre in London than the rest of the country, or there’s not enough forage for the bees in the capital? Or could it be a combination of the two? Or could it be that London beekeepers in the main are leaving their bees with more honey than other areas of the country? Alan says a number of beekeepers indicated that the colony made honey but they left it for them.

EU pesticide ban comes in

The two year suspension on thee neonicitinoid pesticides came into force yesterday across the European Union.

The commission proposed the suspension after the European Food Safety Agency concluded in January that thiamethoxam, clothianidin and imidacloprid posed an unnacceptable risk to bees. The three will be banned from use on flowering crops including oilseed rape, Mini linseed, maize and sunflowers, upon which bees feed.

What is vitally important is that over the next 24 months scientists are able to conduct and collate overwhelming evidence that demonstrates these chemicals – should be banned long-term for the health of our bees. It’s going to be a hard call given all the other assailants weakening our bees from parasites, to poor nutrition and poor weather, Mini and given the persistence of neonics in the environment. But with the farming and pesticide industry continuing to lobby hard against the ban (legal action by Bayer and Syngenta is pending), the scientists have to get their skates on,

Bumblebees in late November

“Just heard buzzing from Strawberry tree (arbutus unedo) in back garden. roshe run It turned out to be two very active bumblebees moving quite quickly around the bush between blossoms.
We live in Surrey 500 ft ASL on North Downs – outside temp 6 C.”

Thanks to Tim Everitt for sharing this with us. If you see bees out late in the year, Mini please let us know which plant or tree they are foraging on.

Starvation Risk for our bees

Message from National Bee Unit

April 2012 – Starvation Risk

With the on-going poor weather, there is a real risk of bee colonies starving. Please check for stores in the colony and if in any doubt feed your bees. You should feed with either a fondant or a thin syrup.

Further information on feeding bees can be found in Best Practice Guideline No. Kanken 7,

Sweet words

Your honey is still the one to beat on taste! (A. cheap fjallraven kanken Gold in Spitalfields, EC1)

Battersea Honey – A Poem
Battersea Honey,
It’s right on the money,
Just having a spoon
Will make you feel sunny!!
Una Devine

“This year’s Battersea honey (2009) by all accounts tastes fantastic. Backpack One of our customers said it was the best honey they had ever tasted. internationalist We have also been told it beats Greek honey.”

Just some of the comments people have made about our honey over the years.

Bees on ivy

Yesterday I saw hundreds of our bees on the ivy flowers. roshe run They love the ivy nectar at this time of year when little else is around. Before we kept honey bees I didn’t even know that ivy had flowers! Now I always advise people to keep an ivy-clad wall somewhere in the garden,

Bees working the early pollen of the hazel trees.

London 23rd Feb 2012

I knew that the bees were going to be out today since the temperature reached 18 degrees today in London (Feb 23rd) and indeed all the hives were busy with bees flying and bring back pollen.

I had a look around to see what they might be working and no surprise to see the bees on the hazel catkins. They were loving it. huarache It is such an important plant for early pollen.

So I took some snaps which can be seen on the gallery pages of our website.

Newcastle bees

I’m going to Scotswood Natural Community Garden in Newcastle tomorrow. Newcastle featured strongly in Bees in the City because the council was leading an initiative to make the city bee-friendly. When I went up to research the book, Scotswood had just got European funding for 6 hives on its 2 acre site and to offer free beekeeping classes. soldesx 2018 It will be fascinating to see how it’s going. Is urban beekeeping as popular in the north-east as it is in London? Do they face the same challenges and how are their bees coping with this wet summer? They have a good blog about their bee project with useful information about bee-friendly plants. They’ve asked me to speak about urban beekeeping but I’ve got lots of questions to ask them. I’m really looking forward to seeing the garden.

Out comes the hammer and nails

The crocus are just coming out, flyknit the winter honeysuckle has bees on it and the hazel catkins are nearly ready with their pollen so it time to clear some space and make up some brood frames in preparation of the brood comb change and the spring clean.
And that is what I have been doing for the past hour.
I’m getting itchy now to get on with my beekeeping.
No more cold weather now,