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May 2016 BBKA News highlights
As the days get longer the weather improves and blossoms appear, providing increased forage and foraging time for our bees. Happy days are here at last; our colonies will begin their seasonal expansion. But, as Julian Routh explains on page 155, expanding colonies will need more space in the hive to avoid overcrowding and the risk of swarming. As Jennifer Berry says, if bees are in 'swarm mode' they will swarm no matter what you do, but she offers several swarm reduction strategies to help avoid getting to that situation on page 176.
Regular hive inspections will help to keep a check on swarm preparations as well as disease and varroa levels. So, handling frames safely so that neither you nor your bees are hurt will be essential from now on, as described by Dinah Sweet on page 158. And many of you will spend some 'quality time' with your bees, watching them fly off to find forage and return with their sweet reward, sharing their knowledge with their nest mates. This impressive ability to identify fresh forage, remember where it is and transmit this information within a bee colony is not all that our clever bees can do. Jürgen Tautz, at the University of Würzburg, has discovered that bees can count - and tell a Monet from a Picasso painting; a fascinating read on page 157.
While you are enjoying the better weather and looking forward to the heat of summer, you may forget how much devastation the winter rains and flooding can cause. On pages 165 and 167 Neil Goodridge and Richard Chapple remember the wrath of recent floods; Neil shows that necessity is indeed the mother of invention with his unique approach to preventing such apiary devastation again, while Richard discovers the benefits of polystyrene hives. They hope their stories may provide you with inspiration.
A final, important reminder this month, is to keep your eyes peeled for Asian hornets. A quick refresher of their key features is provide on page 152 along with details about how to report sightings.