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BBKA News - highlights of the next issue

July 2016 BBKA News highlights

In July our colonies should be at full strength and the main nectar flow should have started in late June. So, with healthy and strong colonies you could be in for a bumper honey crop, and, as Julian Routh says on page 233, you will need to check your hives regularly to ensure there is plenty of space for the bees. Later in the month, he advises moving full, capped supers to the top of the hive to give space close to the brood area. The importance of space is emphasised by Gerry Collins on page 255, who deals with the topic of swarming and recognising swarm cells this month. Obviously, swarm issue can deplete a colony, potentially weaken it and colonies that are not strong can be united, but it is essential to understand why they are not strong. With disease being another possible cause of a weak colony Antonio Nanetti highlights, on page 237, recent changes in seasonal prevalence of Nosema ceranae and its various subtle, but cumulative, effects on honey bee colonies which, ultimately, can lead to colony collapse.  Antonio offers some reasons to be optimistic about combating Nosema infections, however, based upon some European research. Sometimes, even with many years of beekeeping experience behind you, you can find yourself stumped to identify why a colony is failing. Ashley Walker had a recent experience of multiple causes for failing colonies, which were concerning and somewhat confusing and he sensibly sought help from his local bee inspector. Ashley emphasises the importance of recognising when you need professional help and the benefits of seeking this on page 241.    

While inspecting colonies and moving full supers towards the top of the hive do remember to be very careful not to drop honey or comb material around the hive. This will encourage opportunistic robbing both by neighbouring bees and by wasps. Wasp attacks can become a real nuisance, particularly towards the end of the summer, as Patricia and John Mawby discovered last year. When one or two passing wasps quickly turned into an avalanche of attackers, they realised that something simply had to be done to deal with the problem if their colonies were to survive. Turn to page 244 to read how they cleverly defeated the wasps, making life much easier for their bees.

Some of you will be preparing to take your bees to the heather for a late summer feast, as Wendy Maslin does. On page 245 she provides some useful tips and advice to help you plan your trip so that you and your bees make the most of visiting the heather. If you are planning to sell your honey, whether this is heather honey or not, you may be interested to read, on page 257, Don Honey’s helpful experiences in registering with the Environmental Health and Licensing Authority. This is not as onerous as you may anticipate and you may be encouraged to follow suit. On the subject of honey, David Heaf may make you think more about how you harvest your honey. Manuka honey is well-recognised for its antibacterial properties, but did you know that research at the University of Cardiff has found that some samples of UK honey also have shown significant antimicrobial activity? David has been reading about this and has come up with some interesting ideas about why this might be. Work through his arguments and conclusions on page 258 and see if you agree.

For those of you who saw the solar eclipse on 20 March and wondered how such events affect our beloved insects, turn to page 235 because the HOBOS team, led by Dr Jürgen Tautz at the University of Würzburg, were curious enough to find out. HOBOS researchers measure aspects of bee behaviour and activity levels with some fascinating findings, but you can also learn much from watching your own bees; you will be sensitive to their increased activity over the summer and have no doubt found that your activity levels mirror theirs! But even though you will be busy tending your hives this month so as to, quite rightly, ensure your bees are fit and healthy and not crowded, you might have a spare moment or two for a ‘creative indulgence’. One which might just become a new addiction, as it did for Lorraine Priestly. On page 248 she shares her passion in encaustic art (wax painting to you and me) and illustrates how, with a little practise and patience we can all create beautiful artworks. Read on and be inspired!