Sep 13

Asian Hornets – message from WBKA

Asian Hornet (AH) – What we can do to assist most effectively?

You will have heard that there have recently been Asian Hornet sightings and a  nest found near in Fowey in Cornwall. Another single adult was found near Liskeard (approximately 10 miles away), a drone which, hopefully, will turn out to be from the original nest in Fowey. Another in Hull, may be a single adult which has come in in a vehicle and may not indicate another nest based incursion. It is also worthy of note that this is Asian Hornet Week but I’m sure that this is only coincidence!

I have spoken to our Regional Bee Inspector, Frank Gellatly, to seek his advice, in particular about whether we should set up Asian Hornet Action Teams (AHAT) in Wales. Some indications are (not from Frank) that they are sometimes more hindrance than help but the most effective areas at detecting Asian Hornets are where the beekeepers themselves and their Associations have been made aware of what they are looking for,  the difference between the European and Asian hornets and who regularly monitor their apiaries and local forage looking for “hawking” hornets. This can be supplemented by traps, type is not of particular importance, live traps where possible, but the by-catch at this time of year is likely to be mainly wasps who would probably not survive the winter anyway. Basic research indicates that the by-catch is minimal and not a threat to other species.

The other areas to monitor and, where AH presence in some cases has first been noted are where there are late flowering species such as ivy or buddleia and possibly himalayan balsam. In these areas Asian Hornets may be hawking not just for nectar but also to predate on the other species of insect attracted by the nectar.

The Non Native Species Secretariat (NNSS) receive reports of many hundreds of “sightings” most of which are not actually Asian Hornets but European Hornets or Queen wasps. If you have concerns that you have Asian Hornets in your Apiary/area then it is important that you are able to provide a body or a photograph. It is also important that you do not kill every hornet that you see as the APHA teams will need to be able to catch/follow live insects back to their nest.  Radio location is also being trialled to help with nest location.

If you do  believe you have an AH problem then it is imperative that you contact the NNSS as quickly as possible. This can be done by uploading and using the iPhone and Android app “Asian Hornet Watch” on your mobile phone or by emailing

I appreciate that this guidance is short but it is intended only as an alert for beekeepers. Further information can be found on Beebase or on the Non-native Species Secretariat website. There is also an excellent fact sheet on the AH and information on other species with which it might be confused on the BBKA website. I also attach a photograph of live Asian hornets feeding on protein bait in Fowey.

Sep 06


There has been a confirmed sighting of an Asian Hornet in Fowey, Cornwall. This is too close for comfort!

We recommend that all beekeepers are put on heightened alertness – members should be taking action to increase vigilance as follows:

  1. Put Asian Hornet monitoring traps in your apiaries – monitor daily/frequently
  2. Close up your entrance blocks to increase ability of bees to protect their hive
  3. Put a fabric/netting skirt around the legs of hive stands to hinder hawking by Asian Hornets underneath hives.

Sep 07

2016 Bad year for bees – again

At times I was quite hopeful that the bees would do well but the omens were bad from the start. Having split two hives at St.Madocs the new Queens failed to mate properly and we are back to three hives. On the bright side two empty hives at home were colonised and I placed one colony in a newly made deep nucleus and the bees were thriving in the orchard until I took them down to their permanent quarters at St.Madocs where they will overwinter in the nuc.

The other hive is at the top of the garden in Landimore but as the hive had not been filled with frames allowing the bees to build wild comb.On the basis that they were getting on with it, I left them to it and have the winter to work out what to do with the resulting mess.img_0584

All was not all doom and gloom as we received a Highly Commended certificate for the first honey we have entered into the Commercial class and also won second place for novice honey and wax blocks. Lis won second place for her honey fruit cake and I benefitted from having to taste it in her trial run and then the winning cake.

Dec 11

Beekeeping at St.Madocs

Just rediscovered the YouTube interview I did in 2014! St.Madocs

Nov 10

WINDY WEATHER BLOWS HONEY HARVEST ‘Wrong weather’ and ‘queen issues’ affect this year’s honey crop


Britain’s beekeepers have reported an average yield of 21lbs of honey per colony this year, a substantial 34 per cent drop on last year’s 32lbs per colony.

These findings are reported  in the British Beekeepers Association’s Annual Honey Survey. The survey was commissioned by Burt’s Bees, sponsor of the BBKA’s ‘Adopt a Beehive’ scheme which funds honey bee research and beekeeper training.

The survey was conducted amongst 1,561 beekeepers across the country, who point the finger of blame for the shortfall squarely at the weather – excessively windy and with too few prolonged warm spells. Bees cannot forage in cold and windy conditions. In addition to interfering with foraging for nectar, there may have been an effect on queen bees in terms of efficient mating and subsequent poor production of new worker bees.

It was not an ill wind for all beekeepers though: while 50 per cent of beekeepers cite a lower yield than last year, 25 per cent report an increase. And of those who increased their honey harvest, ten per cent mentioned an abundant variety of forage availability as the main reason, while a further ten per cent cited having ‘a good queen’ at the head of their colony.

Commenting on the overall reduced yield this year, BBKA Director of Public Affairs, Tim Lovett, said:

“Bees stay in the hive if it’s excessively windy and if they’re not out foraging, yields will drop. Whilst confined to the hive the bees of course eat the stores of honey that they have already gathered. Similarly cold, windy weather impedes queen-mating, resulting in fewer eggs and ultimately fewer worker bees to collect nectar.

“There were few calm days recorded during May, June and July – the most important months for foraging, queen mating and brood rearing. It’s fair to say that the summer of 2015 delivered quite simply the wrong weather for our bees.”

The most abundant honey yield areas in the country are the East of England and London where the yield is on average 27lbs per hive (27.3lbs) in East of England) still 15% down. The long running historic average is more than 40lbs per colony. Of beekeepers with more than one productive hive, the highest average yield was 43.9lbs per hive, while the lowest average yield was 11.8lbs.

The annual Honey Survey also explores factors affecting honey bee colonies and honey production and this year showed that while on average beekeepers keep 5.6 hives each, 31 per

cent manage just one to two. A fifth, 21 per cent, of beekeepers are relatively new to beekeeping having kept hives for just one to two years, and 36 per cent for three to five years.

Generous funding to support beekeeper training comes from the BBKA’s Burts Bees sponsored ‘Adopt a Beehive’ scheme which enables members of the public to become ‘armchair beekeepers’ and follow the progress across the year of a local apiary at a distance in the comfort of their homes. Anyone interested in becoming a beekeeper can source information from the BBKA website,, or visit to become an ‘armchair beekeeper’.

Oct 11

Empty Honey Jars

It has to be said – last summer was not to the liking of our honey bees. As soon as we had a warm snap the bees were off looking for a new home. We moved the apiary at Landimore to the top of the field rather late in the season and the bees voted with their feet and refused to put any honey in the supers and kept it for themselves. But this is not enough and we have been feeding them with Ambrosia – still available @ £15 from the co-op. And so we have the sorry tale of the empty honey jars now languishing in the garage; waiting for a fantastic honey season in 2016!


A load of honey jars ready to be filled.

Oct 30


As Rural Swansea Action closes its doors, the Bee Forum had its last meeting chaired by Eironwy. The RSA have helped create a number of similar groups which have proven their worth in providing mutual support for their members. Groups that now run as independent organisations meeting regularly to exchange information, ideas and new markets for their products.

The aim of the Bee Forum is to bring together the producers and users of bee products to discuss the development of mutually advantageous arrangements. It was as a result of discussions at a previous Forum meeting that encouraged the Gower Honey Cooperative to make bulk purchases of Ambrosia feed and wax foundation which many local Beekeepers have benefited from.

Are there other developments that the group would wish to be involved with? These might include encouraging local craftspeople to use locally produced beeswax in their beauty products, polishes or mead. Grouping together to sell honey may also enable local Beekeepers to achieve a better price than going it alone.

Those who attended the forum agreed that there was a need to continue the meetings as it gives a chance for all beekeepers to have a say and to share your ideas with other people interested in bee related products.

At the meeting, Eironwy lead a discussion on the merits of sale or return and then opened the discussion to the floor on successes and problems encountered in selling honey and other products. David O’Carroll shared his experiences of selling honey to Health Food Stores and Community Shops.

Eironwy also outlined information about the Cywain Bee project. The aim of this project is to look at ways of increasing the volume of honey produced and processed in Wales.

The pilot project will focus on two areas:
1) the need to work with farmers and landowners to highlight the importance of creating landscape and habitats favorably for honey.
2) the need to provide a mentoring service for honey producers in order to increase the volume of honey produced.
As Rural Swansea Action closes its doors, the Bee Forum needs to make an important decision about its future and future meetings.

Oct 09


So that's what sixty 12.5kg jerry cans looks like.

So that’s what sixty 12.5kg jerry cans looks like.

We will be taking a delivery of Ambrosia Syrup in 12.5kg plastic cans in the next week. These will cost £15 to coop members. Collection only from Woodbine Cottage, Landimore. e-mail to reserve your order. Ring 390043 to check someone at home before you travel. Membership of the coop is still free.

Sep 02

Bee proof jars

Knitted bees protecting the honey jar.

Knitted bees protecting the honey jar.

Knitted bees on Coop jars

Aug 07

Gower Show 2014

Another great show at the weekend. The Honey Tent was a great attraction especially the SDBKA Bee Experience. It was great to see the excitement a visit to a real hive in a beekeeper’s suit gave to the many children who paid a visit. And they all got a certificate to show their teacher what they did over the summer holidays.

Sadly it appears that Swansea Rural Action will be losing its funding before it had fully achieved all that it had set out to do. We will need to consider how to take forward the work of the Beekeepers’ Forum. The AGM was held at the show followed by a splendid buffet. I just wish I could remember the name of the cheese I had.

For me the highlight was my first prize at the show- a 3rd prize for beeswax blocks. Next year I will have to work at my honey being perfect!

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