Bit of a Do 2018 – some photos

The Cornwall Beekeepers Association and West Cornwall Beekeepers Association put on a great ‘Bit of a do‘ day of talks and trade stands on Saturday 22 November. Here’s a few photos from the day.

The first exhibit as soon as you walked in was an Asian hornet nest and special hornet proof ‘Ultra Full‘ suit made by BBWear. The hornet is on everyone’s minds at the moment as we’ve just had three sightings in Cornwall – two nests have been destroyed in Fowey now and a single hornet sighting confirmed in Liskeard. We are an Asian hornet hotspot!

Asian hornet suit

Look closely at the nest in this photo and you can see a couple of little orange heads poking out, these hornets died just before they could hatch. The nest itself is quite remarkable, it’s amazing what insects can create. Like a wasps’ nest it is very fragile and light.

Asian hornet nest

There was a lot of discussion about the Asian hornet in the final Q&A session, including the best type of bait to use and whether monitoring traps should be put out.

Most of the five panellists (Dan Basterfield, Chris Park, Anne Rowberry, Dr Peter Kennedy and Will Steynor) were in favour of using monitoring traps in spring and checking these daily to remove any beneficial pollinators. Dan Basterfield goes as far as sticking his hand in the trap to let any European hornets climb out on him! Some of the panellists were in favour of using killing traps in the autumn as they believe most of the insects trapped at that time of year will be wasps.

Different bait seems to be successful in different areas. Dr. Peter Kennedy, a field ecologist, mentioned that in Jersey protein based baits have not been that successful. There they use a specialist wasp attractant called Suterra. In Spain the hornets seem more attracted to fish based baits – prawns are often used. There has been speculation that the hornets may have reached the island of Majorca on fishing boats.

There was also a question about a proposal in the new Agriculture Bill that bee imports should be banned and that all beekeepers should be registered. Dan Basterfield, who is a commercial bee farmer, felt that banning imports would not stop bees being brought in within people’s pockets. Anne Rowberry, a master beekeeper from Avon, was in favour of banning imports, particularly as the small hive beetle is now in Italy, where many of our imported bees come from. One of the panel noted that Jersey has compulsory registration but there are still unregistered beekeepers there.

This was the well-deserved winning exhibit from the Gadget competition – a useful stand for all your equipment during inspections.

Gadget competition winner 2018

Thanks very much to everyone involved in organising and running the day. We had great refreshments too – delicious pasties and cake.

Emily Scott, CBKA member

0

Creating Asian Hornet Action Teams (AHATs)

Asian hornet sighting in Cornwall

The National Bee Unit confirmed on 4th September that a suspect specimen caught in a beekeeper’s monitoring trap in the Fowey area of South Cornwall is the Asian hornet, Vespa velutina. More information can be found in the Defra press release, Asian hornet identified in Cornwall.

Asian Hornet Action Teams guidance for local groups

Cornwall Beekeepers Association has put together Guidance on creating Asian Hornet Action Teams for the Association’s local beekeeping groups. This includes an ‘Action Flow Chart’ of actions after a suspected sighting by a beekeeper and advice on how to collect a specimen.

Message from Mary Trace, CBKA President:

Dear CBKA members,

This is a message to all beekeepers so if you know any who are not registered please alert them too.  You will know that the Asian Hornet is confirmed in Cornwall.  Be sure that you know what to look for and spread the word.

Observe, not just in your own apiaries but also where any pollinating insects are gathering eg ivy flowering.  If you can, download the posters from the National Bee Unit and distribute – garden centres, farmers etc.  The insect is a real threat to all our pollinators.  Nests need to be found before the young queens disperse.

Mary Trace
07/09/18

Asian hornet/European hornet/Giant woodwasp comparison - BBKA diagram

0

‘The Cornish Bee’ – notes from a talk by Rodger Dewhurst, Gwenen Apiaries

By Emily Scott, CBKA member:

On August 12th I went to a ‘Bee Fayre’, which is an annual weekend event held at Enys Gardens in Penryn, Cornwall. It was a haven for bee fans, filled with stalls selling every bee themed product you can think of, from honey ice-cream, breads and cakes to soaps to cosmetics to beekeeping equipment.

There were also short talks… I’m a bit sad I couldn’t go on the Saturday too, as I missed an eclectic set of talks about making Truro bee friendly, the Help for Heroes bee project, Cornish cider, encouraging young people to become bee farmers and beekeeping in the Scottish borders (presumably from a beekeeper on holiday!).

Enys Gardens

Anyway, here’s my notes from Rodger Dewhurst’s talk. Rodger and his wife Carol run Gwenen Apiaries (Gwenen is the Cornish word for honey bee). Rodger started beekeeping all the way back when he was a twelve year old school boy, in the Lizard peninsula. He told us beekeeping was different back then, as there was more unimproved grassland around. Now more honey bees are imported and many more pests and diseases have been introduced.

Rodger’s beekeeping has changed over the years too. Nowadays he aims to breed Cornish dark bees, Apis Mellifera Mellifera. He has also mainly stopped using smoke and gloves.

He looks for a variety of characteristics in the colonies he breeds from – hygienic cleaning and grooming behaviours, including biting him! – which he takes as a sign that they will bite varroa too. Also good temper, good honey production and flying characteristics – ‘maritime bees’ that will fly in wet weather.

Another anti-varroa trait he looks for is what he calls the ‘geriatric shuffle/shiver dance’ – a motion in which the bees agitate their abdomen to dislodge varroa mites. On the monitoring boards under the hives he looks for dented varroa mite shells, a sign that the mites have dropped through after being bitten at by the bees.

Rodger’s breeding plan is to:

  • Identify best stocks
  • Build these up to strength, with plenty of healthy nurse bees
  • Get them to produce healthy drones (he sometimes treats for varroa so that the drones aren’t carrying viruses)
  • Grafts into pre-prepared cups smeared with royal jelly – about a 90% success rate
  • He squishes any that show signs of varroa poo in the cups
  • He puts the cells in ‘apidea’, special little hives for queen-rearing, containing a mugful of nurse bees which happily rear the queens. These go to mating apiaries in a few different Cornish locations.
  • Once the queens are mated, he will sometimes put multiple caged queens on top of a colony to see which virgin most of the bees prefer to cluster round. He makes a note of those as ‘Alpha’ queens to breed from.

Endearingly, apparently the best drones have “big hairy bums”, because the native Apis Mellifera Mellifera drones are larger. They also fly later in the year than other imported sub-species of Apis Mellifera.

Celebrity beekeeper John Chapple

The day finished with a Bumblebee Safari led by staff from the Bumblebee Conservation Trust. It had been sunny up till the end of the day when the Safari started, at which point the Cornish mizzle began coming down.

That didn’t put the hardy bumblebees off though, and we found plenty of them enjoying a large lavender patch. It was good to see small children getting to stroke a male bumblebee and overcome their previous fears.

Have you been to a talk or event recently which you’d like to write about for the website? If so get in touch, we’d love to feature more posts by members. 

0

Opportunity to get your bees DNA tested

Ever wondered whether your bees are Italian, Buckfast, Carniolan or near native? Researchers are offering Cornish beekeepers a unique opportunity to have their bees DNA tested, with the option of also taking part in a citizen science project.

Researchers at the University of Plymouth are aiming to take DNA samples and analyse colony characteristics of nearly 300 Cornish Bee hives. This is an opportunity to take part in one of the most detailed DNA testing and phenotypic surveys of bees ever conducted in England.

For more information please email Victoria Buswell: beesurvey@plymouth.ac.uk

0

GDPR and BBKA membership procedures update

General Data Protection Rules (GDPR) and BBKA membership procedures – effective from 25 May 2018

All members are to be aware that the procedures for renewals and new membership will change on the 25 May 2018. BBKA have issued a warning letter outlining the proposed changes due to the new GDPR, this document is available here for members to peruse: GDPR BBKA Membership database update

Once firm details are known then group secretaries and members will be informed accordingly as to the new procedures. Change will undoubtedly cause confusion, be patient!

I am happy for members to liaise directly with myself.
Les Buckley
Treasurer/Membership

0
Page 2 of 2 12