Covid (the disease) is caused by a virus called SARS-Cov-2. SARS is an abbreviation of severe acute respiratory syndrome and the suffix ‘Cov’ indicates that it’s a coronavirus. The final digit (2) shows that it’s the second of this type of virus that has caused a pandemic. The first was in 2003, and was caused by […]
Buckle up. After a gentle tale of bad beekeeping last week I think it’s time for a bit of science. Does deformed wing virus replicate in Varroa mites? Actually, do any pathogenic virus of honey bees replicate in mites? Does it matter? Not really … in comparison to the 2.1 billion people who don’t have […]
Almost exactly a year ago I wrote my retrospective review of the 2019 season. At the time I was thinking “What a nightmare! If I never again have a year like that it’ll be too soon.”. This was due to a major fire in my research institute which terminated a 30 year research programme and […]
This post updates and replaces one published three years ago (which has now been archived). The registered readership of this site has increased >200% since then and so it will be new to the majority of visitors. It’s also particularly timely. I will be treating my own colonies with oxalic acid in the next week […]
I periodically look at the access statistics of this site. It gives me an idea of what’s popular, which subjects might be worth revisiting and which posts have sunk without trace into bottomless void of the internet. Daily page views are only 50% what they were in June. Maybe it’s the chaos/excitement/disappointment (delete as appropriate) […]
There are big changes going on in your colonies at the moment. The summer foragers that have been working tirelessly over the last few weeks are slowly but surely being replaced. As they die off – whether from old age or by being eaten by the last of the migrating swallows – they are being […]
Weed and feed is a generic term that describes the treatment of lawns to simultaneously eradicate certain weeds and strengthen the turf. It seemed an appropriate title for a post on eradicating mites from colonies and feeding the bees up in preparation for the winter ahead. Arguably these are the two most important activities of […]
We are living in interesting times. The coronavirus pandemic has, in the space of a week, dramatically changed the structure and interactions of society. What impact will the coronavirus pandemic have on beekeeping? It depends upon your experience and preparation. Social distancing will impact mentoring, sales and – if extended to lockdowns – access to your colonies. If you are just beginning you will probably have to do without a mentor. You may struggle to source colonies for sale if imports are restricted for any reason. However, there are likely to be more swarms and deploying bait hives might stop the bees bothering other people. Although there are lots of certainties in the beekeeping season – mites, swarms, honey – this year looks like being very uncertain and very unusual.
Recent studies show that it is possible to engineer harmless bacteria that live in the gut of honey bees to induce an immune response against deformed wing virus or Varroa. Whilst the initial studies look promising the work is a very long way from providing an effective and safe vaccine for honey bees. In this post I introduce the science behind the study, the results that have been published and I briefly discuss a host of unanswered questions that the study raises.
What do you need to know to start beekeeping? What should be taught on a winter course? What are the essentials? What is superfluous? Should it be taught by those with years of experience (who have forgotten more than many will ever know)? Or perhaps by relatively new beekeepers who have recent experience of the obvious mistakes and how to solve them? Of course, there’s no single answer to these questions, but with many currently taking these courses on dark winter nights it’s worth thinking about.