9th August 2019

Interim report from 'Creation of a Pollinator-Plant Interaction Database' project by Nicholas Balfour, Maria Clara Castellanos and Dave Goulson at Sussex University, which BBKA gave funding to in December 2018.

Creation of a Pollinator-Plant Interaction Database

13th June 2019

In July 2018 CEH launched the National Honey Monitoring Scheme (NHMS) which aims to work with both amateur and professional beekeepers across the UK to measure long term changes in the pollen content of honey.

By plant DNA barcoding the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology are able to provide detailed analysis of the floral resources used by bees during honey production. It is anticipated that these data over extended time frames could provide a better understanding of the factors that impact honeybee populations.

Here is the presentation first given at the BBKA 2019 convention, showing the first results generated from the NHMS; focussing on species richness both regionally and nationally. Further, how these compare to land use data collected by colleagues across CEH.

Finally, there is an introduction to other work being undertaken at CEH; and centred around pollinators and bee health.


Put together by Dr Anna Oliver, CEH.

11th June 2019

Can your bees stand heavy metal?

Not the music, but metal contaminants in the environment! Toxic metals enter the environment through many sources and can be taken up by plants and transferred to nectar and pollen, or deposited directly on to flowers. Consequently, bees are exposed to these metals.

At the University of Reading, we are investigating the exposure of bees to heavy metals through pollen and nectar. We plan to measure the metals in pollen samples from across the country and investigate whether there are any differences between urban and rural environments in terms of exposure.

Are you interested in knowing what’s in the pollen your bees are collecting? If so, then we would be happy to receive a sample and analyse it for you. We only need 1.5 grams of pollen, which can be collected from pollen traps in the hive. In addition to the pollen, we would also like to test honey. All the materials and detailed instructions you will need to collect and send the samples will be sent to you by us, together with a short questionnaire. All information collected will be stored securely and anonymised. Your results will be sent back to you together with an information sheet explaining them.

If you are interested in knowing more about what your bees are exposed to, please get in touch with your name and contact details, and we will send you an information pack.

Carlos García Vargas | NERC-funded PhD Student
[email protected]

Dr John Hammond | Principal Research Fellow
[email protected]

Centre for Agri-Environmental Research
University of Reading
School of Agriculture, Policy and Development
Earley, Reading RG6 6BZ

8th April 2019

A Queen rearing workshop for Master Beekeepers

This course is an opportunity to consolidate knowledge and skills in the technique of grafting and is aimed at those who will be teaching queen rearing in their local groups or branches.

Course Tutor  Clive de Bruyn

Date Friday pm  21st June – Sunday 23rd June

BBKA Stoneleigh CV8 2LG

Cost £75  (you will need to find accommodation and evening meals, light lunches will be supplied)

By attending the course your are agreeing to pass on your skills through queen rearing courses in your local branches.

We will initially only be offering the course to Master beekeepers, if you would like to apply for a place please email [email protected],uk for an application form.  Numbers will be limited.

I look forward to hearing from you 

Anne Rowberry

Practical Queen Rearing Course for Master Beekeepers

 Notes from Clive de Bruyn

Undoubtedly there are a multitude of ways to raise queens.  Honeybees have been doing it successfully for 30 million years.  In the short time available on the weekend course I will be explaining and demonstrating some of the methods I have used, with success, in England and abroad.

The course is not about breeding bees. It is devoted principally to rearing a number of queens from selected colonies at a time that suits the beekeeper (within reason).  A healthy respect for the bees does help to achieve the required outcome but the emphasis will be on the beekeeper being in charge not the bees.

Beekeepers are required to bring their own protective equipment if they intend participating in handling bees. Please observe normal sanitary precautions. Overalls etc should be clean. We do not want to move disease around.

All operations involving inspecting stocks will be subject to the climatic conditions at the time. The programme may have to be altered to take account of the weather.

8th April 2019

PoshBee aims to support healthy bee populations, sustainable beekeeping and pollination across Europe. It is a 5 year project (2018-2023) with 42 partners from 14 European countries, including UK. 

Click the logo above for more information.

4th April 2019

Would you be interested in being part of a study looking at the impact of air pollution on bees? The Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience at Coventry University is researching whether bee physiology is affected by the particulates in air pollution. The researchers are looking for beekeepers across the country who would be willing to send a small number of bees and hive products to be analysed. If you are interested please contact: Dr Barbara Smith [email protected]

4th April 2019

UK Pollinator Monitoring Scheme - appeal to members to please volunteer

1st April 2019

Winter Colony Survival Survey '18/19

The annual survey by the BBKA has been running year-on-year since 2007. It aims to determine its members' honey bee colony survival and to understand the causes of success and failures in overwinter colony survival. The survey is open between 1st- 30th April

Please follow this link through to the 5 minute survey

20th March 2019

The University of Plymouth in partnership with B4 (a community interest company: Bringing Back Black Bees) and funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) have started a 4 year PhD project to investigate suggestions from bee-keepers that different sub-species have a suite of different behaviours and characteristics in comparison to other sub-species, and further that these might be highly regional in their nature.

The project will measure these differences, and match those with genetic signatures to confirm the lineage of bees showing different traits. It also aims to identify the parts of the genome that might be under rapid change in these sub-species.

While some of the trait differences might be well-established in the bee-keeping community, to date published, robust empirical evidence is lacking. The kinds of traits that we’re interested in gathering data on are, for example, drone brood timings, worker brood cycle, and thriftiness. We will investigate these traits using a bee keeping survey. 

The pictures below are of black bees and Italian bees. 

Black bees

Italian Bees

The survey has been designed in collaboration with bee-keepers and tries to get as much detail as possible whilst at the same time being practical and feasible for bee-keepers to complete. It will require you to measure and record specific parameters throughout the season, some of which you would be completed as part of your usual routine.

We need as many people to fill in the survey as possible and the project relies on the bee keeping community for its success. The survey is open to all bee keepers regardless of the sub-species you keep.

This is your opportunity to be part of scientific research on honey bees. There will be regular updates and feedback on the project as it unfolds.

If you are interested in taking part in the survey please email your name to [email protected] in addition to the email address there is a Facebook group entitled “University Of Plymouth Beekeepers Survey 2019”.

Many Thanks,

Victoria Buswell