Beginners’ training sessions to restart!

It has been immensely frustrating for the Association and those new to beekeeping, not to be able to have the fortnightly training sessions at the training apiary at The Rhos due to Covid 19.

We now consider it safe to re open the sessions, with sensible social distancing in place, for those members new to beekeeping and who would benefit from some practical advice and guidance.

On that basis, the next Beginners’ Session will be at The Rhos Apiary, at 2pm on this coming Sunday 26th July.

Please bring your own beesuits, gloves and wellies [we do have spare beesuits for those without] as well as a face mask.

The weather forecast is for showers, so it may not be possible to undertake practical inspections, in which case we will have a Q&A session in the barn.

For directions and for any queries, please e-mail Jeremy on jeremypercy@gmail.com or call 07799 698568

American Foulbrood outbreak!

Would all PBKA members please note that there have recently been outbreaks of American Foul Brood (AFB) in Pembrokeshire. Note that these outbreaks are not related to any PBKA members, but are from another individual source and present a threat to us all!

We have been advised to direct you to the National Bee Unit (NBU) factsheet Apiary_Hygiene_and_Quarantine for your information and action. Also ‘Foulbrood Disease of Honey Bees and other common brood disorders’ has a lot of information on biosecurity and barrier management, including ‘10 rules for foulbrood control’. These are on Beebase at: http://www.nationalbeeunit.com/index.cfm?pageid=167

All beekeepers have a duty to keep healthy, disease free bees and the PBKA strongly recommends that all beekeepers sign up to Beebase in order to ensure that they receive any warnings and can obtain advice etc. in the event of a disease outbreak.

Beekeepers within 3km of the outbreak with a current email address on Beebase, will have been emailed an alert from the NBU. All beekeepers within 5km of an outbreak should exercise vigilance as per the above factsheet, which also covers swarm collection and we strongly recommend that all swarms caught are quarantined for a period of 6 weeks with any concerns advised to your local Bee Inspector.

The PBKA Committee will, on behalf of members, be making representations to the relevant authorities to insist on some resolution to this problem and for action to be taken against the individual/s responsible.

In the meantime however, if any PBKA members (or indeed, members of the public) see any hives in their area which appear to be abandoned, or are of unknown origin, please contact Paul Eades, the Apiary Manager at pbkaapiarymanager@live.co.uk or a PBKA Committee member, with details asap.

Swarms

Honey bees can swarm at any time from mid-April to August. A swarm of bees can be a worrying sight, but swarming bees rarely sting: their objective is to find a new home as soon as possible.

Note that due to the COVID-19 emergency, it may not be possible for us to deal with a swarm collection request!

For advice, contact our Swarm Co-ordinator – Jeremy Percy on 07799 698568

Please ensure that what you have found are Honey Bees and not Bumble Bees or Wasps, before contacting us by using the following guide:

1. Honey bees

are about the same size as a wasp but are duller in colour – if you see a large cluster of thousands of insects hanging on a branch or fence post this may be a swarm of honey bees. Please note that we do not recover bees from buildings etc. for health and safety reasons and because of the structural damage that may be caused. We will also not destroy honey bee nests – this is a pest control problem – honey bees are not protected, so do not be put off if you are told this. If a Pembrokeshire resident, call Pembrokeshire County Council’s, Customer Contact Centre on 01437 764551 and ask for Pest Control.

2. Wasps

do not swarm. Each year a new nest is built which looks like a paper lantern.  Close to it is easy to distinguish between wasps which are brighter yellow and with a narrower waist than the honey bee.  If insects are flying from a gap in roof tiles near the ridge, it can be tricky. If the nest is visible identification is easy. Please note that we will not deal with wasps or their nests – if a Pembrokeshire resident, call Pembrokeshire County Council’s Customer Contact Centre on 01437 764551 and ask for Pest Control.

3. Bumblebees

do not swarm. Most people can recognise bumblebees they are much bigger and fewer than honey bees with layer of hairs on their bodies which is usually banded black and yellow (or orange or red) and the traffic at the nest entrance will consist of only a few bees a minute, whereas a busy hive will have almost a cloud of bees at the entrance.

If you have bees in your bird box, they are probably the Tree Bumblebee (Bombus Hypnorum) (see picture below), which have come over from the continent in recent years.  They aren’t particularly aggressive, but are likely to defend their nest if they feel threatened.

We will be unable to help you with a bumble bee problem. The bees will disappear over winter and are unlikely to return to the same location so if possible enjoy them for the summer.

4. Solitary bees

do not swarm. Since these bees are quite fussy about where they set up their nests, it is not uncommon for many bees to do so in close proximity, and if the conditions are right a large number of nests can mature almost at the same time. In this case a large number of bees will be seen crawling about. One of the most common is the red mason bee, which can often be seen exploiting holes in brickwork or footpaths for its nesting site. We will be unable to help you with a solitary bee problem. Again, if possible, enjoy them.

If you have looked at the above checklist, think you have a Honey Bee swarm and need advice, please contact:

Swarm Co-ordinator – Jeremy Percy on 07799 698568

N.B. – Due to the COVID-19 emergency, it may not be possible for us to deal with a swarm collection request.

Note also, that we will not deal with bumble bees, wasps or their nests – if a Pembrokeshire resident, we suggest that you call Pembrokeshire County Council’s, Customer Contact Centre on 01437 764551 and ask for Pest Control.

Do you really have a swarm of bees?

At this time of year we get a lot of queries from members of the public about swarms of bees. One noticeable trend, has been the number of reports concerning bees found in the roof or facias of buildings, bird boxes, etc. This may well be the Tree Bumblebee (Bombus Hypnorum) which is a recent visitor to the UK, but is becoming more common.

Unlike other bumblebees which tend to nest in the ground, the Tree Bumblebee (see picture below) likes to live higher up, typically in bird boxes and roof spaces. In general, they are not aggressive unless disturbed and will naturally disappear later in the summer. Most of the flight activity outside the nest is by the males (Drones) which do not sting and are trying to mate with a virgin queen.

Please note that we do not remove bumble bee or wasp nests. For more information on swarms please click here.