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June 2016 BBKA News highlights
This month should be a busy one for us all as the season is now well underway. As Julian Routh says on page 191, in many parts of the country brood size will have reached its peak and regular colony inspections will be needed to keep abreast of overcrowding and signs of swarming, disease or varroa infestation. Indeed, space, specifically bee space, is the topic of one of our features this month. It is important that bees can move freely within the hive and bee space is the basis upon which good hive design rests, as explained by the Bees for Development team on page 197.
It was by making careful observations of bees in nature that the regularity of bee spaces created by the bees themselves became known to be an important feature of bee nests. But one group, the HOBOS team, led by Dr Jürgen Tautz at the University of Würzburg, have perfected the art of in-hive bee observation using some sophisticated monitoring technology, described on page 193. Using a series of cameras and sensors the team is able to measure, in real time, hive conditions such as temperature, humidity and weight as well as film individual bees and monitor their body temperatures, among other things. External monitors relay data on environmental and weather conditions. This allows us to ‘spy’ on the bees day and night in a non-invasive manner and the data is made available online for all to see. A great teaching and education asset!
In February this year we heard that the presence of small hive beetle in Brazil had been officially confirmed, thus widening further the geographical distribution of this pest. Mike Brown and Jason Learner of the National Bee Unit outline the current worldwide distribution of small hive beetle and draw our attention to important guidance notes on importations from affected areas in a featured article on page 203. Imports are not permitted from those parts of the world with confirmed small hive beetle infestations, so the overall risk to the UK is unchanged, but it is essential to know and to follow the guidance so that we keep it this way.
Infections and infestations can have devastating effects on colonies and knowing when and where they originate is very important in limiting their spread and gaining control of the situation. This emphasises the importance of maintaining good hive records and for those new to beekeeping or those needing a hand in setting up a record keeping system John Whitaker explains his method on page 206.
Also in this issue, for those of you who did not manage to get to the BBKA Spring Convention in April we have a short report to tempt you to visit next year and we have some more fascinating research articles in the British Bee Journal, this time part-funded by BDI.
A final, important reminder again this month is to stay alert for sightings of Asian hornets.