It’s a drone’s life

What has a mother but no father, but has both a grandmother and grandfather? If you’ve not seen this question before you’ve not attended a ‘mead and mince pies’ Christmas quiz at a beekeeping association.  The answer of course is a drone. The male honey bee. Drones are produced from unfertilised eggs laid by the […]

A no competition, competition

Unless you’re in an unseasonably warm part of the country, mid-April is usually early enough to put out your bait hives. This year, because of the unusually cold snap in the last week or so, it might still be a bit early. However, colonies are developing well and as soon as the weather properly warms […]

Lost and found

It was the Welsh Beekeepers’ Convention last weekend . This is a convention I’ve previously enjoyed attending. I remember strolling through the daffodil-filled Builth Wells Showground in lovely spring sunshine to visit the trade show. And I remember staggering back to the car, laden with items that were: too inexpensive (not cheap … there’s a difference 😉 […]

Quick thinking & second thoughts

I gave my last talk of the winter season on Tuesday to a lovely group at Chalfont Beekeepers Society. The talk was all about nest site selection and how we can exploit it when setting out bait hives to capture swarms. It’s an enjoyable talk as it includes a mix of science, DIY and practical […]

Brexit and beekeeping

The ‘oven ready’ deal the government struck with the EU in the dying hours of 2020 was a bit less à la carte and a bit more table d’hôte. The worst of the predictions of empty supermarket shelves and the conversion of Essex into a 3500 km2 lorry park have not materialised . But there […]

Frequently asked questions

The 2020/21 winter has been very busy with online talks to beekeeping associations. I’m averaging about five a month, with only the fortnight over Christmas and New Year being a bit quieter.  When chatting to the organisers of these talks it’s clear that they are getting increasingly successful . Audience numbers are encouragingly high as […]

2020 in retrospect

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 […]

Smell the fear

With Halloween just around the corner it seemed appropriate to have a fear-themed post. How do frightened – or even apprehensive – people respond to bees? And how do bees respond to them? Melissophobia is the fear of bees. Like the synonym apiphobia, the word is not in the dictionary but is a straightforward compounding […]

The new normal

For many, beekeeping associations provide the bookends that bracket the practical beekeeping season. In meetings during the dark, wet, cold winter months we can at least discuss bees, reminisce about the season just gone or plan for the season ahead. Usually with tea and biscuits 🙂 Or in the more civilised associations (and a quick […]

The memory of swarms

I’m writing this waiting for the drizzle to clear so I can go to the apiary and make up some nucs for swarm control. Without implementing some form of swarm control it’s inevitable that my large colonies will swarm . Swarming is an inherently risky process for a colony. Over 75% of natural swarms perish, […]