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. Where safe and practical to do so, Pembrokeshire Beekeepers’ will attempt to recover Honey Bees and place them in a hive.

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.

Coronavirus (Covid-19) – Message from Lynda Christie, Welsh Beekeepers’ Association (WBKA) Chairperson

Dear Member,

The impact of Coronavirus has seen the regrettable cancellation of the WBKA Convention 2020 and the cancellation of the March Module examinations.

Your associations courses, talks, and meetings will be curtailed during this crisis, but I am sure local associations and groups will check in on their more vulnerable members, especially those who may be confined and unable to check their out apiaries. Please do give support to your fellow members within your areas and keep in touch with a phone call, online or email, or other means available.

I have spoken to our regional Bee inspector for Wales, Frank Gellatly, for a position on Bee inspector visits and inspections this season and a view on Beekeepers attending out apiaries in the event of a further lock-down due to the virus.

Frank has said that as it stands Inspections starting 1st April will go ahead albeit adhering to Government guidelines on social isolation. Beekeeping tends to be carried out mostly as a solitary exercise so this should not be too difficult.

As for travelling to our out apiaries, there is no curtailment currently, but Frank will raise the matter of travel to out apiaries at the next NBU meeting and will keep us informed of any further developments.

The trustees and myself have the best interests of Welsh Beekeepers and will support you where we can and endeavour to keep you informed through our web site and associations.

I hope this unprecedented situation improves so we can get back to enjoying our Beekeeping season.

Lynda Christie (Chair)

Postponement of Apiary Training Sessions

In the light of the current Coronavirus issue, the Association has regrettably decided that it is necessary to cancel all apiary training sessions at both The Rhos and Scolton Manor, until further notice.

In the meantime, members both old and new can telephone for ‘virtual’ advice and assistance with regard to any beekeeping problems they may encounter.

Note that a short video clip or photo sent initially via email to pbkaapiarymanager@live.co.uk may assist us when giving advice, on the basis that a picture is worth a thousand words!

We recognise that many new beekeepers in particular will be disappointed at the absence of the ever popular Beginner Sessions and we hope to be able to reinstate them later in the season.

In order to continue to help those new to beekeeping, Jeremy, who organizes these sessions will be producing a series of short videos for the website, based on the ‘Basic Assessment’ curriculum, to guide our newer members along the path to becoming an efficient and effective beekeeper.

If anyone has a particular aspect of beekeeping that they would like to see explained via a video, then please let us know. This service is also intended to deter newer members from seeking advice that is currently to be found on the internet, not least as much of it is of dubious quality and some of it downright misleading.

For advice contact: Alan on 07867 988597, Jeremy on 07799 698568 or Paul on 07988 037571

Pembrokeshire Beekeepers’ Association – Annual Sale of Bees and Equipment – CANCELLED

We are sorry to announce that the auction scheduled for Saturday 25th April 2020 has been postponed until further notice.

During the Coronavirus situation, beekeepers will still want to sell bees and prospective buyers purchase them. Clearly this is dependent on any movement controls for the public, either imposed centrally or individually.

The Association is happy to provide neutral and independent advice to prospective buyers and sellers over the phone, especially in relation to pest and disease issues that new beekeepers should be aware of.

Questions that buyers may consider asking might include:

  • Have the bees been treated with any chemicals and if so is there a record?
  • Is there any sign of disease e.g. Foul Brood, Varroa, Deformed Wing Virus, Chalkbrood or other?
  • What age is the Queen?
  • Is she marked and / or clipped?
  • What is the temperament of the colony?

If buying ‘Bees on Frames’ then the seller will provide the colony in some form of package, usually in a nucleus or complete hive, the purchaser would collect or have it delivered, all frames and bees would be transferred to the purchasers own hive and the hardware returned to the seller.

Some sellers will be happy to sell the complete hive including the bees, just be clear about what you are buying / selling.

In terms of equipment, understand its condition.

  • Check whether a hive has a solid or ventilated floor [ventilated is preferable].
  • If a wooden hive then the majority of hives are made from Cedar, far more preferable to those made of softwood, not only for longevity, but also as softwoods tend to sweat which is not good for the bees. [Supers can be made of softwood, as they are only on the hive for the summer months]
  • If Poly hives, then check for any splits, joints breaking down and general cleanliness [poly hives are more difficult to clean than cedar, as the latter can be blow torched, not advisable for a poly hive [!], where caustic soda or similar needs to be used – very carefully].

As a service to members, the Association will be happy to host a ‘virtual marketplace’ for bees and equipment. Preparations for this are underway so check the website for updates.

At present it is not clear whether our seasonal bee inspectors will be authorized to be out and about checking colonies. We will keep members informed via the website.

For advice and guidance, phone:

Jeremy on 07799 698 568

Alan on 07867 988597

or

Paul on 07988 037571