World Bee Day 2018

The United Nations has declared 20 May 2018 to become World Bee Day, adopting a resolution proposed by Slovenia and supported by all EU member states, which aims to raise awareness of the insects’ importance and warn about their dwindling numbers.

The decision to introduce a World Bee Day was taken at the UN general assembly in New York on Wednesday (20 December 2017).

2018 Queen Rearing Programme

We will be starting this year's Queen Rearing Programme in May using what's known as a 'Jenter kit' - an easy way to raise queens without having to graft larvae. The advantage of this method of queen rearing enables us to know the age of the eggs.

Beginners finding their wings

Today was the last practical session for our budding new beekeepers which brings their course to an end. Today's session was down to the group taking the lead to demonstrate and practice what they have learnt throughout the course with expert guidance from David Packham, Seasonal Bee Inspector.

Blocked entrances and stores

With the majority of the country laying under a blanket of snow, it was inevitable that the beast from the east would finally reach us in Devon. With the weather conditions as they are, it's important that beekeepers check their colonies to ensure their entrances are not blocked with snow and there are sufficient stores available for each colony until your next visit to the apiary.

National Honey Monitoring Scheme

In a new initiative, the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology is developing a national long-term programme to monitor pesticide residues in honey samples sent  in by amateur and professional beekeepers from across the UK. It will also use advanced DNA barcoding techniques to identify long-term trends in which flowering plants bees are feeding on and will investigate whether it is possible to detect evidence of certain bee diseases.

Update on the Asian hornet

Following suspect sightings, on Sunday 24th September the National Bee Unit (NBU) received two photographs from a beekeeper in Woolacombe, North Devon, of an Asian hornet (Vespa velutina). The following day, the 25th September, preliminary surveillance began in the apiary and the NBU's Contingency Plan was activated. The local Bee Inspector monitored the apiary and initially found surveillance difficult due to the position of the colonies in the apiary.

European hornets at close range

I have several artificial nest boxes around our firewood shelter along with a Warré hive and bees. The nests have been occupied by various birds and bats but this year I had the pleasure of watching hornets at close range. Having not seen any after 17 October, curiosity won on 27 October and I took it down to look inside.

Beekeeping courses

Do you fancy the idea of keeping bees and would you like to learn about beekeeping? Each year we run a Beginners' Beekeeping Course for people interested in taking up this wonderful hobby. The course is aimed at complete beginners - your and old - without bees and no,or very little, experience but with the desire to learn about bees and beekeeping.

UK will back total ban on bee-harming pesticides

The UK will back a total ban on insect-harming pesticides in fields across Europe, the environment secretary, Michael Gove, has revealed.

The decision reverses the government’s previous position and is justified by recent new evidence showing neonicotinoids have contaminated the whole landscape and cause damage to colonies of bees.

It also follows the revelation that 75% of all flying insects have disappeared in Germany and probably much further afield, a discovery Gove said had shocked him.

Killerton Apple Fair

Exeter and Tiverton branches were once again asked to bring a stand to the annual National Trust Apple and Cider Fair at Killerton House in October. This year's topic was to be based around the myths, legends and folklore of apples and bees. An interesting subject, and many members immediately suggested the old custom of telling the bees about births, marriages and death, which seemed a good place to start. In fact there are so many traditions and beliefs about bees going back thousands of years, it was really hard to know where to begin.