Help Save The Honey Bee in Wilmslow!
Wilmslow Residents, The Honey Bee Needs YOU!
BeeEducated is holding a FREE training session on how you can do your bit to help honey bees and other polinators in our area!
Do you know the difference between a honey bee, bumble bee or wasp?
Did you know we are one of the reasons for the decline of honeybees?
Did you know local honey can prevent allergies?
There will be a one-off event held at the church and local people can come and learn about the decline in honeybees.
Hopefully, we can all have an impact in reducing the decline of the bees.
If you are interested in bees, gardening or would like to be a beekeeper, or if you want to know how you can help the local honey bees, please do come along.
Make it a date in calendar.
The session will cover ideas about how you can get involved.
You cannot be too old or too young to attend, you will enjoy the session and it’s free.
You will leave feeling motivated and empowered to help protect the honeybees in Wilmslow, you will learn about how little changes, such as growing a few plants in your garden, will save these tiny beautiful pollinators.
Reasons for the decline in bees
Impact on you and me
How we can help them
How far can you go to help them
BEES NEED YOU. Because you need them.
The session will be led by Mr Ian Johnson; Apiary Manager at the BeeEducated group held in Wilmslow and will cover everything you need to know, to do your bit!
Towards the end of the year, beekeepers prepare their honeybee colonies for winter.
An abridged version of ‘Winter Bees’ from the Pinner and Ruislip Beekeepers Association. In order to live to the spring a colony must be a good size, be disease and mite free. A build up of mites or disease could mean a colony dies.
Hives are checked to make sure they are not damaged. Preventative methods are used to make sure and that they won’t get damp. Bees produce a lot of water vapour and this could condense in the top part of the hive and drip down on the bees making them too cold.
A mouse guard is attached to each hive entrance to stop unwanted pests getting in and eating the stored food.
An English colony needs around 40 lbs of honey to survive our unpredictable winter. The bees make and store extra honey between spring and autumn in readiness for winter because there little or no food in the UK from mid-October to February.
If, due to bad weather, the nectar flow has slowed up in late summer then the bees are fed a supplement of liquid sugar syrup during August so that the bees have time to turn it into honey and store in sealed cells before the weather gets cold. The beekeeper encourages overproduction of honey within the hive so that the excess can be taken without endangering the colony’s winter stores.
A summer bee and a winter bee are physically different
Cooler autumn weather triggers the rearing of stockier, stronger winter bees to make sure the colony survives the winter. The autumn larvae are fed a low fat, high protein content (unlike summer bees reared on high fat, low protein) which results in fatter bodies and a different blood protein profile than a summer bee and they live far longer 4 to 6 months instead of the six week lifespan of a summer bee. They will also have far less work to do.
Honeybees do not hibernate but what they do is even more fascinating than that.
Honeybee will over-winter clustered together vibrating their wing muscles to generate heat. This cluster looks like a ball of bees that covers a few frames usually in the vertical centre of the hive. The ball size will depend on how many bees are in the hive and what the temperatures are outside the hive. The colder it is the more close together the bees will be in the cluster. The bees only heat the cluster; the rest of the hive is the same temperature as the apiary. The bees on the inside of the cluster can still walk around. Food consumption is minimal. Bees regularly switch places, with ones from the inner core taking up a position on the outer core to allow the outer bees to go inside. As food supplies dwindle around the cluster the bees will move up; rarely do they move to the sides.
The queen will start laying eggs in January in the middle of the cluster thus starting to build up the bee population in readiness for spring. By the end of winter the stores of food will become low. In the early spring, when nectar flow begins, the colony grows rapidly. Going into winter a good colony would consist of approximately 60,000 bees but at the end maybe 10,000 are left.
Winter feeding will be done if the bees are on the verge of starvation or to stimulate the queen to lay and some beekeepers place dry sugar around the hole in the inner hive cover, others use bakers’ fondant (additive and flavouring free). Pollen substitutes are sometimes given. On mild days the bees will take the feed and place it around the brood nest where it is available for them to use.
Milder winters cause more beekeeping problems in that the bees will not form a cluster but freely walk around eating precious stores then not have enough when it is very cold and maybe starve. Also if it gets too cold for too long, the bees won’t be able to shift in the cluster to access their food.
Dwindling populations are one cause of colonies dying. When this begins to happen, the amount of bees in a cluster become less. Fewer bees place a stress on the remaining bees to maintain cluster temperatures during very cold weather.
Some bees die much before their time for other reasons which include mites, bacterial diseases etc. On milder days bees take cleansing flights as they do not defecate inside the hive. If they cannot get out for a long time then they could develop dysentery (nosema)
Pinner & Ruislip Beekeepers’ Association was formed in 1954 by the amalgamation of the Pinner BKA and the Ruislip BKA.
The Pinner Beekeepers’ Association was established at a meeting at “Newlands”, Pinner on Friday 17th 1928 and in 1929, with an annual membership fee of 5 shillings, the membership comprised of 100 enthusiasts.
It’s uncertain exactly when Ruislip Beekeepers was founded, but both clubs were active in the 1930s. After the 2nd World War, the realisation gradually dawned that the area couldn’t support two clubs, so the two groups amalgamated.
From our records it appears that the first Honey Show was held by the Pinner Beekeepers, in conjunction with the Pinner Horticultural Association in 1932 on September 24th.
In 1986 our association was granted charitable status (No 290514).
You may care to visit their website at http://www.prbka.co.uk to read the above article in its unabridged form, I am sure they will welcome your visit.
Please find attached the latest news bulletin from our infamous news hound - Fem!
Gloucestershire live http://www.gloucestershirelive.co.uk
'Several' Asian hornets caught by beekeepers since shock arrival in Tetbury
Read more at www.gloucestershirelive.co.uk
Experts have now caught "several" Asian hornets attacking bee hives since the first confirmed British sighting, it has emerged. The massive insect was discovered in the Tetbury area earlier this month and was the first of the foreign species found in the UK. The insects pose no risk to human health but could wipe out honey bees, and Prince Charles' hives at the Highgrove Estate are within a three-mile cordon set up by Defra.
Yesterday the British Beekeepers Association sent out a warning to members claiming beekeepers have caught "several" more of the insects. The organisation said the National Bee Unit - which runs Defra's bee programme - reckons the hornets are related to French insects but may be weak due to inbreeding.
In a statement to members, the British Beekeepers Association said: "The Asian hornet (Vespa velutina) was found by a beekeeper in the Tetbury area last week and other beekeepers in the immediate area have since seen hornets hawking in front of their hives.
A 20km incident zone has been imposed by Defra and the National Bee Unit (NBU) is currently locating the nest. Fortunately the NBU have been expecting the arrival of the Asian hornet for some time and had a contingency plan ready to go.
The NBU has caught several hornets and examined their genetics; it appears that these hornets are related to those in France. So they have not come in from China or another country.
This is important because they are obviously breeding from quite a small genetic pool and may have been weakened from in-breeding. The issue is whether they flew directly from France to Gloucester which is considered unlikely.
The Asian hornet - or yellow-legged hornet - is smaller than the UK's native hornet and has yellow legs, a dark velvety thorax, and a dark abdomen with a distinctive yellow band on the fourth segment.
And from The Westmorland Gazette:
Pest experts urge South Lakeland residents to be alert to Asian Hornets
European Hornet eating a wasp. Wonder if he would like some salt and pepper with that...
From the BBC:
'Colossal' wasp nest found in Corby attic
A "colossal" wasp nest the size of a "barrel" with a tunnel attached has been found in the attic of a house.
The homeowner near Corby discovered the one-metre wide nest (3.2ft) while renovating the property, which had been empty for two years, as reported in the Northampton Chronicle.
Pest controller Gary Wilkinson said "luckily" the wasps had moved out about a year earlier.
Its size and long entry tunnel made it a "spectacular work of art", he added.
Mr Wilkinson was treating the house in Pipewell for woodworm, when the owner who wants to remain anonymous, said: "Can you come a have a quick look at this for me?"
"We just went, 'Wow', as it was colossal," Mr Wilkinson said.
"It's the biggest I've ever seen by quite a margin.
"It's an impressive wasp nest alright - much bigger than a barrel.
"They can get to the size of a large football but this is something else altogether."
The company said the nest was "rare" not only because of its size, but
because the wasps had built an "intricate tunnel from the nest to the outside" which was perfectly preserved.
The tunnel itself measures about 1.4m (4.5ft).
Mr Wilkinson estimates anything from 6,000 to 10,000 wasps could have called the nest their home.
An "average" nest would "typically have up to 3,000 wasps", a company spokesman said.
Mr Wilkinson described the structure as "quite beautiful" and made from paper-like material the insects had stripped from fences and tree bark.
Fortunately for the homeowner and pest control team, the nest had "gone to its full life-cycle" and there was nothing left alive in it.
"We'd certainly not be that close to something that size - even in a bee suit - if we thought it was still being used," Mr Wilkinson said.
I searched the internet to find an answer for the question, “How to work out if bees have enough stored honey for winter”. It seems right off the bat; Bee keepers from different parts of the world have different ideas. A quote from North Wales reads,” Check the weight of the hive by hefting, lifting one side from the stand. The hive should feel as if it is nailed to the hive stand. I leave all the honey in the brood box and half brood box for the bees.” From a source in the USA, “Bees in the southern U.S. may thrive on as little as 40 pounds, bees in the middle states need about 60, and northern bees may require 80 or 90. Those are average numbers for average years and average hives. What’s average? Another good question.” While a second North American source reports, “Typically in the north a hive needs 60-80 pounds of honey in the hive to survive the winter. However, as I teach in my advance class, a colony also needs pollen in the hive during the winter as well.” And continues with, “Inspect the hive before removing any honey. Make sure there are at least 8-10 deep frames full of honey in the brood nest area, below the extra supers”.
So what does that all add up to. As a newcomer to bees keeping, my knowledge is being tested all the time and thankfully, I have the Internet I can use to ask those odd questions. Ian, the apiary manager has plenty of knowledge and I see him work every second there is daylight and sometimes beyond training to teach all that we need to know.
So how much honey should there be in the hive ready for winter? Not just honey, they need pollen as well. For this, we have some Candipolline to replace the short flow of pollen this year. I will remove the rapid feeder in the hive, score an ‘x’ to break the bag of Candipolline on its side and place the cut over the hole left by removing a porter bee hatch. This will let my bees grab all the pollen they need for their winter trip. It is not a case of Honey for the bees, they need to eat pollen too.
My bees have nowhere near a full super to move down into the brood box, so late autumn feeding will continue until we either find winter, or the weather closes in too much. Testimony varies but the main argument seems to be a warning of not to take too much honey from the hives until you have checked the stocks the bees need for winter. Some say hefting the boxes is enough to learn the store level, others say take a peek or two, but the answer is to make sure you feel confident you have given them enough supplies, maybe check with a more experienced keeper if you are unsure. Besides, a friendly chat with another keeper is always welcome from both sides, they say there is no wrong question to ask, just keep asking questions until you are sure you have the facts you need for your bees.
One author stateside wrote “Feed your bees if they do not have enough food to get through the winter. Further, it is not the fault of the bees that you put them in a location that could not provide adequate nutrition. Be good to your bees.” And I have to agree with him.
While I researched this article, I read plenty of good tips and knowledge from the web; I will include the links below to my sources. Look them up if you would like to.
So many people have asked me how I make my hive stands I decided to share it with you. It may be a bit technical in places but doesn’t worry; I always like to make things easy to understand as we go along.
The hive stand will look good when supporting your standard boxy shaped Bee Hive. Now to keep things really simple, I will share how I do it, like as though I was talking to adults and not preschoolers like some other champions of ‘How to build a nuclear PowerStation in your spare time from fourteen easy to find tax concessions’.
Instead of listing various tools, I might suggest you use tools that you have, or can get off a mate. If you don’t know how to use a particular tool, then use a tool you are more familiar with. Please observe safety as missing limbs half way through a build can seriously dampen your spirit. You can use hand held tool, or some power tools. Being a clever know-all I used lots of power tools and made so much noise the neighbours called the police and gave up by confessing for all his crimes. (not quite true, but that is another story)
I would focus on measuring things to get lengths right, and cutting things for, well, cutting things. Glue, screws and nails may also come in handy.
For this super hive stand I am going to suggest we make four legs about 16 to 18 inches long. I made mine with 10 degree slopes so the legs are splayed out a little to enhance the safety. Centre of gravity and all that. In the illustrations, I have used wood, but metal is good too. Plastics not so good, Carbon Fibre is excellent and will cost you three times the value of the hive, per leg.
You will need a bracing part for each leg if like me, you are using wood. I made mine about six inches on the longest length. If you want to be exact for the weight of the hive, you might use part of this formula:-
R=concentrated load of reaction, kip (kN)
tw = web thickness, in (mm)
N=length of bearing, in (mm), (for end reaction, not less than k)
K=distance, in (mm), from outer face of flange to web toe of fillet
These fill in the 10 degree triangular gap at the top of the leg that the Bracing parts will adhere to (see fig 3). These are no deeper than the support ring that we will build later so take care to cut to size. Best left until you need them.
The ring is square for two main reasons:-
1: The shape fits the base of the hive and that is square, and probably 18 inches on a side.
2: It is easier to make a wooden square than a wooden ring. As I am using wood, I went for this in a big way.
You will see from the pictures my ring parts are half the width of the legs. The pattern detail on the wood allows rain to travel down the leg easier in inclement weather. When it is dry and sunny, lost bees that have had too much nectar can climb the legs to get home, where they might rest, take a nap and generally chill. I like to do good things for my bees so this is a welcome feature.
A shim needs to be placed on the outer slope side of each leg and at the top of the leg. Placing the shim anywhere else will only degrade the build quality. This shim takes into account the slope angle. If you chose a different angle than me, then you need to cut shims to match the angle you used. As a guide, the top of the leg should stay flat across the top of the shim. If you create a hill or a valley when you mate them together, you’re doing it wrong.
The two above views show how the leg top corner is created. Also this shows the need for the shim, without the shim the support bracket would not be attached to very much at the top of the leg and unlike other professions, welding wood together needs all the touching parts to actually touch. I used glue and screws when I made my legs. I also sanded all the splinter jabbers off so that I did not get splinters jabbing into my fingers. If you are technically minded, you might consider pre-drilling some parts before final assembly, I did and it sure worked well for me. If some parts split when you put the screws in, consider pre-drilling the next ones you make as it can be time consuming bodging around instead of actually assembling the hive stand we are making.
There are many ways you can make the support ring. The overall lengths, including any joints you make need to be the same size as the base of your hive. Please do not get the two sides of some rulers mixed up. Measuring a hive of 18 inches wide by 18 inches long will not work if you cut your ring pieces to 18 centimetres It is only a small difference, but the lack of fit may cause confusion later. I used a box joint in the above illustration, but you are free to use mortise and tennon, dovetails, dowel pins or hidden biscuits. As well as gluing, I used a securing nail to hold things in place while the glue tried.
I assembled my hive stand by inserting a leg into each corner. You will find you have two left legs and two right legs so it makes it easier to build. If you have legs left over at the end of the build, either you made too many or you have not attached all four legs, one in each corner of the support ring. Make sure you get the tops of the legs at the right end or your build will feel less secure and may be prone to falling over when you install your hive onto the hive stand. Believe me, a hive full of bees falling onto the floor from eighteen inches gets pretty messy and your bees may get somewhat prissy and become liable to sting you a great deal. If this happens, run away fast and explain to others if they watch the bees, to call you when they have settled down a bit.
Finishing the build:
To finish the build, I paint the stand with a waterproof paint that is bee friendly. I know bees ‘see’ things in different colours to what we are used too, and as such, red is of little value. Pick colours the bees can recognise to stop them drifting between hives. I used a water based paint from my local DIY store. I also used a paintbrush as you see in the picture, but you could have used a sponge or if your a little younger, finger painting is pretty good fun. A spray gun works as does a dipping bath with an overhead gantry and hoist. I will not limit your tool use, but practicality is the issue when painting your hive stand.
That is all there is too it really, you can change the legs to straight up and down if you want to , or you could use metal legs and sink them into concrete if you want the stand to withstand bear attacks in the winter or drunk cyclists wandering into them in the dark.
You might add warnings to the hive stand saying something like ‘Caution Bees’ if it enhances your perception of the world in which you live.
That is all from me for now, remember I’m not an expert so DO try this at home.
Now, a few days since my last post, a post about the horror of finding bee parts on the varroa tray; it is time to write part two. I am not sure if this is happening to others, but on yesterdays inspection, another hive, a stronger hive, bee parts and dead wasps were found on its varroa tray. I accept fully some bee parts will be found, after all, thirty thousand bees are bound to lose the odd leg or antennae, but heads are a different matter altogether, bee heads are not something your bees can lose and still carry on, suggesting “it is just a flesh wound, nothing serious, I can manage” is seriously not on the same page as the real world.
When I got to see the hive, it was as I had left it, with just the inch wide entrance, a more defendable arrangement. We noticed the sugar syrup was not touched, and I had anticipated the remaining bees would have slurped that sugar syrup like as though there was no tomorrow, but it was untouched. As the new larger feeders had arrived, we took out the old syrup and placed a larger feeder in the top box. Ian, the Apiary Manager suggested the queen excluder under the feeder may have stopped the bees getting to the feed, so we removed it. The feeder, not the Apiary Manager.
I had just made up a couple of gallons of sugar syrup, but it was still too hot, so we poured some into the feeder and then left the top off so it could cool. We patted ourselves nervously on our backs believing ‘we were doing ok’, and ‘it would sort itself out’. I do not want to lose that hive of bees; I am still taken to ‘somnum exterreri (Night Mares) over the first discovery of eaten, mangled bee corpses.
I watched the small hive entrance thoughtfully and, every few seconds a wasp would enter the hive, wasp after wasp. Some were coming out again, and I suspect they were carrying bee parts like teenagers squirreling away a fast food bun leaving the drive-through. My partner, a lady taken to be as empathetic to the bees as am I, watched the clear dome in the new top feeder. The warm sugar mass was radiating some heat into the early evening cooling air. “There’s one” she explained as a wasp appeared in the sugar dome of the feeder, “and another, now another, that’s three”, she said. Correcting herself, “No, four, wait we have five wasps dancing around the inner lip of the sugar feeder”. I looked to confirm her sighting. Wasps were piling up in the top of the feeder, writhing around as though they had nowhere else to go.
I sat and forlornly watched wasp after wasp slide into the small entrance hole, not even stopping to ask the waitress to take their order on the intercom. A small crowd now gathered watching the vile chaos. When Ian strode over he could not believe his eyes. Immediately he gave orders and as I stuffed big leaves into the entrance hole, so Jack found the duct tape and started to seal the hole to exclude any more wasps. Ian then told us we were going to move the hive and I suggested a new location some distance away and bending his knees, he lifted the hive, the hive stand and the precious cargo within and carried it over to a new place.
We buttoned down the hive and left it protected for the night. The bees could not escape and they will spend a couple of days in solitude. More importantly, the wasps would return to the old hive location, and not find an easy access hive there anymore. Now all we could do was to wait. The ride home was quiet contemplation; I have been quite shocked at what can happen to just a few bees when an intruder gets to have their way and the images of the day replayed over and over in my minds eye.
Welcome to the first edition of our News Letter written and edited my our new member Femina Street. (Fem for short)
If you would like anything to be added to the groups news letter, please email news@BeeEducated.co.uk
In January, the great river of fast moving air known as the ‘Jet Steam’ elected due to circumstance, to push into the north Atlantic Ocean. Not normally an issue, but a contributor to some lousy weather in the British Isles some months later. This year, for some reason, instead of moving on and away, it stayed on station and created weather misery for us all, on these green and pleasant islands, lands that soak up weather fronts from the Atlantic and turn that rain into bright green grass, billions of flowers, and untold hectares of healthy fertile crops.
The extended poor weather resulted in fewer crops of flowers and food for our bees. Many of our hives are showing signs of a serious struggle to grow, to remain stable or to be as productive as they need to be. Our bees need their own stock of honey and of pollen in order to survive the coming winter. Though a warm summers evening with smoke gently drifting lazily through sunlit branches may seem that all is well, it indeed masked the terrible war that was taking place.
Jack, Our Bee Sciences Officer and I cleaned out the tool shed at the apiary two weeks ago and were stunned by the volume of wasps in the shed. We felt certain a nest had to be there, but after cleaning out everything, and after I removed all the sugar and fondant, the wasps slowly stopped returning to the shed to gorge themselves on our carelessly spilled sugar feeds. This week there was little sign of those wasps in the shed. But the war for food was in effect still taking place. Wasps will, like the bees, hunt for any meagre food source. The wasps cannot survive in a healthy hive as the bees kill them and dump them out of the hive. Some of our hives are not so healthy.
I will protect the hive I am referring to by calling her ‘M’. I knew ‘M’ was weak and without her Queen, we had re-Queened her and the bee population was dwindling fast, we fed them sugar in the hopes they would use it to build comb for the queen to lay eggs in. We promised to lay in some comb from another hive, Ian, our Apiary Manager wanted to use a precious comb or two from his good hive. It is a gamble. I did not fully understand everything that was happening, hindsight is a wonderful tool.
In the few days we were away from the apiary, wasps came to the hive and methodically ate their way through the bees and the stocks. The bees could not defend the hive due to their low numbers as the wasps treated it like some fast food drive through. When I inspected the hive I was saddened that there were so few bees, and the Queen was missing. The comb was dry for the most part with very few stores, and the wasps were everywhere. It is the first time I had seen it like this, a new experience. No eggs from the new queen, no larvae, nothing.
Pulling the varroa board to check for mites and other clues to the sadness of the hive alarmed me. I just could not believe what I was looking at. Legs, bee heads, wings, antennae and even the odd abdomen. Not just some, but a lot, an awful lot. I saw what was left of bees that had fought to the death, of bees that had been carved up and packaged for flight, of the war between a few bees in hive ‘M’ and an endless supply of wasps calling in for dinner.
We have reduced the entrance to the smallest hole and re-queened her. Ian has inserted an active frame of brood. We are giving ‘M’ every chance to fight back and recover from the sad and sick war that has been happening in her hive. Bee keeping can be a lot of fun, but it carries a perilous responsibility to maintain control over the pests and difficulties that beset an active hive. The weather has not helped and it can be easy to shrug it off and blame the endless rain, the location or even the wasps, when in reality, the fault does not lie in any of those things. Sure they contributed, but I feel my lack of knowledge and awareness was the biggest single contributor to the damage I found in the hive. If only I had known.