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Asian Hornet sightings

The National Bee Unit has confirmed a sighting of the Asian Hornet in Devon in September 2017.   See information leaflet.

New Apiary under development

Site before clearance
During clearance 1
During clearance 2
During development 1-3
During development 4-6
The first 2 hives arrive!

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2016 NLB AGM

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Stephanie Cziczo receiving her Maggie Ridout award certificate from Malcolm Balston
Treasurer, Chairman & Secretary
New chair, Nicky Faith, makes presentation
to Malcolm Balston, retiring chairman

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Beware of the bears!

In a winter walking trip in the Rodopi mountains in South Bulgaria, Liz & Bob Jack came across many beehives at the edges of the forests, just outside the villages.   Common to all were solar powered electric fences to keep the bears away.   Life is much simpler in London!

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Beekeeping and the Law

Andrew Beer, a beekeeper and retired lawyer, gave a very informative talk to NLB in October 2014 on the legal aspects of beekeeping.   He has kindly given us a summary of his talk which can be seen or downloaded by clicking on Beekeeping and the Law.

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Latest hygiene requirements for honey sellers

Please click on latest hygiene requirements at 31 July 2014 if you sell honey.

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What is a BEE GYM?

Answer: a simple technical means of reducing the varroa count which NLB member Stuart Roweth has been developing for a few years.   It is a small flat device approx. 4x4 ins placed in the centre of the mesh floor whereby bees crawl between tight threads or over scrapers and can remove varroa clinging to them.   Bees learn to scrape themselves.   Some NLB members volunteered to trial Bee Gyms, with success.

For more information with a short video go to

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2013 NLB Honey Show & Pot Luck Supper

At the Danish YWCA

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The following ideas for improving beekeeping in 2013 emerged from a Middlesex Federation workshop group.

Improve knowledge by:

  • mentoring and by further education.
  • learning from mistakes and sharing /learning with others
  • read a good book
  • Associations keep in touch with members and visa versa.

Improve elimination of Varroa by:

  • better monitoring (removing inserts except for periods of 5 days every month)
  • by IPM and use of biotechnical methods
  • use less chemicals
  • rotate treatment.

Ways to eliminate Varroa:

  • Shook swarm: Can be done in early Sept- use drawn comb
  • Artificial swarm: Destroy brood
  • Queen trapping: most effective

Gain experience:

  • practice handling queens and marking them (clipping good or bad? - experts now say it does HURT the Queen) - Practice on drones!

Improve hygiene:

  • establish regular routines
  • care in use of /and transfer of frames
  • possibly steam-clean frames
  • separate hive tools per colony
  • washing all tools & equipment - even smoker.

Observation skills:

  • look and assess before action
  • understand their behaviour
  • use less smoke – is it really needed?
  • observe relationship between disease and when intervention needed.

Swarm control:

  • select and evaluate appropriate method and learn from one source then master it
  • prepare equipment at start of New Year..
  • be prepared for swarms.....
  • plan skills in a variety of areas and be prepared to experiment - need to be adaptable not just calendar based.

Record keeping:

  • be methodical
  • effective use of information.

Improve interaction between natural beekeeping and traditional beekeeping:

  • What are the best approaches?
  • Need to build bridges!

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Click on Asian hornet fact sheet for information on Asian Hornets and a trap for them.   This factsheet can also be found on the BeeBase website in the advisory leaflets list.

Alan Byham, the SE Regional Bee Inspector, would like to encourage beekeepers to use this trap, particularly those who live in high risk areas for Asian Hornet, such as along transport corridors as in Kent, or along the south coast.   This can be a cheap and effective way of monitoring for the arrival of Asian Hornets.

If any Asian Hornet queens are caught this should be reported immediately using the link in the factsheet.

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Simon Orchard, an NLB member, has produced an excellent video in 2 parts on the method he used to collect his first swarm from a nursery school in Shepherds Bush.

See it on You-Tube at part 1 and part 2.

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UK Scientists may be able to halt global honey bee losses by forcing the deadly Varroa mite, lethal in the freezing weather, to self destruct.

The blood-sucking Varroa is the biggest killer of honey bees world wide, having developed resistance to beekeepers’ medication.   It is particularly destructive in winter as depleted colonies do not have enough bees huddling together to keep warm.

Now, researchers from the Government’s National Bee Unit and the University of Aberdeen have worked out how to ‘silence’ natural functions in the mites’ genes to make them self destruct.

Dr Alan Bowman from the University of Aberdeen said: “Introducing harmless genetic material encourages the mites’ own immune response to prevent their genes from expressing natural functions.   This could make them self destruct.

The beauty of this approach is that it is really specific and targets the mites without harming the bees or, indeed, any other animal.”

Dr Giles Budge from the National Bee Unit, part of the Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA), said: “This cutting edge treatment is environmentally friendly and poses no threat to the bees.   With appropriate support from industry and a rigorous approval process, chemical-free medicines could be available in five to ten years.”

Environment Minister Lord Henley said: “Bees are essential to putting food on our table and worth £200 million to Britain every year through pollinating our crops.   This excellent work by UK scientists will keep our hives healthy and bees buzzing.”

David Rea, chairman of Sidcup Beekeepers ( said: "Dealing with Varroa is one of the most difficult problems for modern beekeepers, as we all dislike using chemicals unless absolutely necessary.   The club has gained many new members recently, all of whom are keen to 'do their bit' in helping honey bees.   Our training courses and the practical tuition at the club devote a lot of time to coping with such parasites, so this research break-through may be very welcome."

The process uses the Nobel Prize-winning theory ‘RNA interference’, which controls the flow of genetic information. So far the ‘silencing’ has worked with a neutral Varroa gene, which has no significant effect on the mite.   Scientists now need to target a gene with the specific characteristics that are perfect to force the Varroa to self destruct.

Tests by other scientists have shown the treatment can be added to hives in bee feed.   The bees move it into food for their young, where the Varroa hides.

The full report is available at full report


  • The Varroa mite, like a brown crab, is the biggest global killer of honey bees.
  • It originally attacked the Asian honey bee but jumped to the European honey bee, which has a poor natural defence.
  • The mite injects viruses, suppresses the bees’ immune system and feeds on blood.
  • Beekeepers use chemical controls but can never eradicate the mites and over the past decade the Varroa developed resistance to some medication.
  • If untreated, or given inappropriate chemicals, it can take just 1,000 mites to kill a colony of 50,000 bees.
  • Honey bees are worth £200 million to the UK economy a year through pollinating crops.
  • The Varroa mite entered the UK in 1992.
  • Honey bee populations have dropped by 23 per cent since 1992, potentially costing the economy millions of pounds.
  • In 1992 there were 23,767 beekeepers and 151,924 colonies. In 2010 there have been 21,000 beekeepers, and 116,500 colonies.
  • In summer an average colony has 30,000 to 50,000 honey bees.

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The following article by Richard Alleyne, Science Correspondent, appeared in The Daily Telegraph on 24 Dec 2010.

"If you are planning to over-indulge at Christmas it would be a good idea to stock up on honey as well as alcohol.

Scientists claim the natural sweetner is a great way to help the body deal with the toxic effects of a hangover.

The Royal Society of Chemistry claims that fructose in honey - also found in golden syrup - is essential to help the body break down alcohol into harmless by-products.   The reason hangovers are so painful is that alcohol is first broken down into acetaldehyde, a substance which is toxic to the body, claimed Dr John Elmsley of the Royal Society.

This is then converted - using fructose - into acetic acid which is then burned during the body's normal metabolic process and breathed out of the body as carbon dioxide.

Serving honey on toast adds potassium and sodium to the meal which also helps the body cope with the alcohol."

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