KBKA spring news – high varroa ! Asian Hornet monitoring

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Varroa in Your Hives ?

The weather last Autumn was so sunny and mild that it was not until December the cold made itself felt.  Consequently the bees were busy rearing brood until late in the year and several apiary hives had six or seven frames of brood last week when the Bailey comb change commenced.  Varroa have had ample opportunity to also breed and the drop on the varroa trays is worryingly high.  The NBU accurately predicted that winter losses would be high, either through weakened bees or the associated viruses spread by the mites through the colonies.

What action needs to be taken to reduce the mite count?  Thymol based treatments, Apiguard and Apilifevar are temperature dependent and the weather forecast for the next 14 days only predicts a maximum of 13ºC so they cannot be used effectively just yet.

Apivar can be used but it contains amitraz, an insecticide, and low levels of break down insecticide have been detected in honey and beeswax.  MAQS is suitable but can put the queen off lay.  The alternative is techniques which create a brood break such as shook swarm and less drastic, a comb change.

What conclusions can be drawn?  Well, a dose of MAQS on the hive where the varroa drop is really high, drastic action for a drastic situation then wait to use Apiguard when the weather warms up.  There is an interesting theory around that it reduces nosema too so might be well worth a try.  As usual in beekeeping so many alternatives!

Asian Hornet

As beekeepers we need to be able to identify the Asian Hornet (Vespa velutina) as it could decimate our UK pollinators. This Asian Hornet (AH) is a highly effective predator of insects, including our own honeybees and other beneficial species. It could cause significant losses to your colonies, and potentially other native species.
Possible Asian Hornet sighting – What Next? Report any suspected sighting immediately by using the Asian Hornet Watch App available free downloaded for free for Android via Google Play, for iOS via iTunes, alternatively using the Online (RISC) Form, or by sending an email to alertnonnative@ceh.ac.uk including a photograph and location details. Then advise Avis Marshall as KBKA local AHAT lead the details and actions taken, BBKA AHAT Map – but don’t hesitate to report using Asian Hornet Watch App.

Vigilance is particularly required this coming month, as Asian hornets become active mainly between April and November (peak August/September, hawking hive and on ripe fruit), although, in the winter months nests in deciduous trees may become visible.  Do not under any circumstances disturb or provoke an active hornets’ nest, as they can become defensive to movement with five metres of the site.

Asian hornet arrived in France in 2004 where it spread rapidly across Europe. Sighting have been recorded in the UK since 2016, find the latest information on Defra’s AH News (Gov.uk).

Further information on local Asian Hornet Action Teams (SBKA / BBKA):

AHAT Website – Test your knowledge, take an online course to help beekeepers and members of the public become aware of the Asian hornet.

BBKA Asian Hornet Team Map – Identify your local AHT leader and AHT Coordinators, to arrange assistance with the identification of suspected AH sightings or leads, getting a photograph and reporting the sighting immediately.

AHT Coordinator – Interested in becoming a member of the local AHAT ? Please discuss with Avis Marshall, what the role entails and registration to the team. Surrey Division needs an AHT co-ordinator – if you are interested in this important role, please contact Martyn Milner.

Useful resources:

NBU Guidance for beekeepers (BeeBase)

AH Awareness and Identification Booklet (PDF)

NNSS Alert Sheet (PDF)


NNSS General Facts & Data Maps

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