Cut your losses

The stats for winter losses in the UK, Europe and USA can make for rather sobering reading. In the UK, losses over the last 12 years have fluctuated between 9% and 34%. This self-selecting survey includes responses from about 10% of the British Beekeepers Association membership (primarily England and Wales, despite the name). The average […]

Your first bees

June is a good time to start keeping bees. The long, cold, dark winter is a distant memory. The uncertainties of spring – the unseasonably warm days in March, the April (snow) showers, the “will they, won’t they” doubts over spring build up (in a cold year) or early swarming (in a warm one) – […]

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 […]

Winter losses

I lost 10% of my colonies this winter. It’s always disappointing losing colonies, but it’s sometimes unavoidable. I suspect the two I lost were unavoidable … though, as you’ll see, they weren’t completely lost. April showers frosts Late April may seem like mid-season for many beekeepers based in southern England. While they were adding their […]

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 😉 […]

Queens and amitraz residues in wax

A question following a recent evening talk to a beekeeping association prompted me to look back at the literature on amitraz and wax residues. The question was about reuse of honey supers that were present on a colony during miticide treatment. With the exception of MAQS, there are no approved miticides that should be used […]

Late season miscellany

I was struggling for a title for the post this week. It’s really just a rambling discourse on a variety of different and loosely related, or unrelated, topics. Something for everyone perhaps? Or nothing for anyone? Beekeeping myths – ‘bees don’t store fondant’ I only feed fondant in the autumn. I discussed how and why […]

Long distance beekeeping

This post was originally entitled ‘lockdown beekeeping’. I changed it in the hope that, at some point in the future, we’ve all forgotten lockdown and are back to the ‘old normal‘. Instead, long distance beekeeping, better summarises the topic and might rank better in future Google searches … But before I start, here’s some general […]

A June Gap

As far as the beekeeping season is concerned, we’ve had the starter and we’re now waiting for the main course.  Like restaurants, the size of the ‘starter’ depends upon your location. If you live in an area with lots of oil seed rape (OSR) and other early nectar, the spring honey crop might account for the […]

The million drones fiasco

Accidents happen. Sometimes they are due to stupidity, sometimes to forgetfulness, or sometimes they are just the result of plain dumb luck. They’re also often caused or at least exacerbated by ‘local’ factors – like a rainstorm or a cancelled train preventing timely inspections.  Or a countrywide lockdown necessitated by a global viral pandemic. With […]