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September 2016 BBKA News highlights
After the frantic harvesting and bottling activity of August, things should be starting to calm down a bit in the apiary. However, this is an important time for your bees because the queen will now be starting to lay eggs that will become the winter bees. And, this being the case, you will want to ensure that your colonies are in ‘tip-top’ condition. If you have not already done so, this means undertaking a full disease and pest inspection to ensue sure your bees are disease-free and treated to minimise varroa mite levels. In addition, as Julian Routh says on page 305, hive stores will need to be assessed and if these are insufficient additional feeding must be carried out to give your bees the best chance of surviving the winter. Indeed, as Ivor Davis explains on page 307, the queen’s laying rate is directly related to the quantity of food supplied to her - it is one of the fascinating ways that a colony maintains its status quo. Starvation was one of the common reasons given for colony losses over the 2015 winter period, (read more about this on page 318) and with little summer forage coming in the National Bee Unit has already warned about possible starvation, so do feed your bees if their stores are low.
Hopefully, you will not discover either of the UK-endemic notifiable brood diseases, American foul brood or European foul brood, in your colonies, and the only pest of concern will be varroa. However, as Margaret Murdin explains on page 311, there are two notifiable pests, as yet not found in the UK, that we should keep an eye out for. Of course, you will be familiar with the Asian hornet threat, but small hive beetle and Tropilaelaps mites could also enter the UK and cause havoc to our bees. Margaret describes these two notifiable pests in detail, with illustrated examples, and explains how best to check for their presence in the hive. So make sure you can recognise the signs of these potential intruders and, if you do spot either of these, inform your local bee inspector immediately.
As this season draws to a close, you may be spending some time reviewing your progress this season and making plans for the next. If so, you might find some inspiration in the review by Tony Harris on page 313. Tony has delved into the literature and discovered Ron Brown’s simple system of building up colonies using two queens, which allows a two-queen colony to make the most of the available summer forage. In his article Tony describes Ron’s method of rapid colony expansion in the months before the summer flow begins; perhaps you might be tempted to give it a try next year. Another temptation might be to ‘convert’ your National hives into WBC type hives, perhaps to improve temperature stability over winter. If so, you will want to read how to do this in the article by Don Honey on page 324.
Reading the bee literature is often high on our lists and it will certainly help those undertaking one of the BBKA correspondence courses (see page 330) and those preparing to take any of the module exams. If you are not fully-focussed on taking exams though, you might be spending some quality time ‘bee watching’ and if you have a camera why not take some lovely photos of your little treasures? Gary Francis, a professional photographer, gives us his top tips on how to get the best from our cameras on page 315, so why not follow his advice and, perhaps, send us your masterpieces for publication in BBKA News?
Also in the September issue: The British Bee Journal with an update on the ReVive project from Salford University.