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Recent News Items


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July 2016 - Asian Hornet Sightings: What To Do

Following recent press articles there have been many reports of potential Asian hornet, (Vespa velutina) sightings across the UK. We would like to re-assure everybody that there have been no confirmed sightings of Asian hornets in the UK, and so far all hornet reportings received by the National Bee Unit have been identified as the native European hornet, Vespa crabro.

Experts at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology confirm that the hornet picture taken in Kent and featured in the press is not an Asian hornet - which would be darker in colouration, and that the size suggests European hornet.

The Asian hornet or yellow-legged hornet, is smaller than our native hornet, with characteristic yellow legs, a dark velvety thorax, and a dark abdomen with a distinctive yellow band on the fourth segment.

We are aware of the potential impacts they could have on honey bees and have contingency plans in place to remove them if they are identified. This includes comprehensive monitoring and teams ready to destroy any confirmed nests.

For those who think they have seen an Asian hornet please first read the Asian hornet ID sheet which outlines the main differences between the native European hornet and this Asian hornet.

There is more information on the Asian hornet pages of BeeBase.

If you still believe you have seen the Asian hornet after reading this ID sheet, please report it to the email address below, together with a photograph and location details: alertnonnative@ceh.ac.uk

For more information about the Asian hornet and the work of the Non Native Species Secretariat, visit their website here: http://www.nonnativespecies.org//alerts/index.cfm?id=4

National Bee Unit




July 2016 - NBU Phone Line Issues

RESOLVED: 18/07/2016


We are currently experiencing problems with our phone lines, we apologise for any inconvenience.

Until the issue is resolved please contact the NBU via our email address nbu@apha.gsi.gov.uk or for urgent enquiries please contact 07775 119439.



May 2016 - Update on Small hive beetle in Italy

A new case of Small hive beetle (Aethina tumida) has been confirmed in the Gioia Tauro area of Calabria, Italy. Further details can be found on the Italian National Reference Laboratory website.

UK authorities remain active in preparing and monitoring for the Small hive beetle. Contingency training exercises were run by the National Bee Unit (NBU) in Exeter and Cardiff las year to test existing plans and protocols, with particular emphasis on detection and controls of the Small hive beetle. Lessons will be taken forward to ensure the UK is best placed to tackle this pest should it arrive in the UK. Updated husbandry and management methods for controlling Small hive beetle have been included in our advisory leaflets.



April 2016 - Low food stores and high mite levels

Food stores

Beekeepers may wish to monitor their colony food levels closely over the next month as in many northern parts of the UK, the weather is still changeable and foraging opportunities for large colonies are few and far between. It is important to check and monitor all your colonies feed levels, if you do not wish to open them up, lift below the floor, in turn, on both sides of the hive to see how much it weighs. Where the hive is light, liquid feed should be applied directly above the bees. Remove any supers from above the brood box which are empty or have few bees in them. This will help the bees get to the food quickly; Feed can be sugar and water mixed at 1:1 ratio or one of the proprietary ready mixed syrups available from Beekeeping Equipment Suppliers. More information about mixing up sugar can be found in the Best Practice Guidelines no. 7 http://www.nationalbeeunit.com/index.cfm?pageid=167

Fondant can also be used. Large starving colonies of bees will take 1 gallon (approx. 5 Litres) of syrup very quickly while smaller colonies will take half a gallon (approx. 2.5 Litres). After feeding, heft the hives again and check the weight and if in doubt feed some more in a few days’ time.

Some colonies in northern areas of the UK have low levels of pollen, which is essential for brood production. If this is the case, then some form of pollen patty will need to be given to colonies which should be placed directly above the brood nest, after you have fed any syrup.

Mite levels
Some of you may not have gotten round to treating your colonies with oxalic acid as the weather was so mild in winter. Treatments that were applied in winter may have had lower than normal efficacy due to the presence of brood and therefore beekeepers may want to consider treating colonies again, especially where bees are showing signs of deformed wings. Thymol based products and formic acid pads may be ineffective at the present time as daytime temperatures respectively of 12-15 °C or above are recommended. Neither should MAQS strips be used on smaller colonies.

Therefore contact strips such as Apistan or Bayvarol may be beneficial, these offer a rapid knock down in severely infested colonies. However, resistance to these products has been reported in some areas and therefore colonies will need to be monitored after the treatment and an alternative treatment applied if necessary later in the season.

Alternatively, Apivar & Biowar (Amitraz) are available under the EU Cascade system by using a special import certificate. For more information about this, contact your local vet.



April 2016 - Adult Bee Disease Diagnostic Services


Dear Beekeepers,

From the 4th April, the National Bee Unit will be discontinuing the adult bee disease screening service which test samples of bees for the presence of Nosema spp., Amoeba and Acarine (tracheal mites). In previous years, the demand for this non statutory commercial service has been high which has warranted the need for a commercial service. However, in recent years the number of samples and requests by beekeepers for an adult bee disease screening has reduced dramatically, with the service rarely being used throughout the year.

After 4 April 2016, any samples submitted for an adult bee disease screening will be kept for a week while we contact the relevant beekeeper to see if they would like the sample returning to them. Beekeepers who wish to have the bees tested for non-statutory diseases may still be able to obtain help from their local associations.

Fera Science Limited will continue to offer molecular testing for the detection honey bee diseases caused by various viruses, bacterial and fungal pathogens. For further information on molecular testing please contact Victoria Tomkies (victoria.tomkies@fera.co.uk) at Fera Science Limited.

Kind regards, 

National Bee Unit.



March 2016 - Seasonal Bee Inspector Vacancies

The National Bee Unit has a number of vacancies for Seasonal Bee Inspectors (SBIs). If you are interested in applying please use the following link  SBI Jobs and use the following search criteria:

Job Role: Operational Delivery
Organisation: Animal and Plant Health Agency

Click the 'Show more' to expand the job search criteria 

Job Grade: Executive Officer

Or enter the below reference numbers:

Southern Region: Berkshire x 1 post and Buckinghamshire x 1 post, job reference No. 1486500;
Wales: North Pembrokeshire or South Ceredigion x 1 post; job reference No. 1486487;
Eastern Region: South Cambridgeshire or West Suffolk x 1 post; job reference No. 1486491;
Western Region: Shropshire x 1 post and Staffordshire x 1 post; job reference No. 1486497;
Northern Region: Cumbria (Kendal/ Kirby Lonsdale area) x 1 post; job reference No 1486507;
South East Region: Greater London x 1 post and East or West Sussex x 1 post; job reference No 1486505.

If you have any questions about the vacancy, please contact the relevant Regional Bee Inspector, except for the Northern post where you should contact the National Bee Inspector, Andy Wattam.

The deadline for all applications is the 5th April. Any applications received after this date will not be considered.



February 2016 - BeeBase Map Error in Beekeeper Pages

Please be aware that Fera are experiencing intermittent problems with their map server.

Consequently the beekeeper pages of BeeBase are occasionally displaying a message 'Sorry we don't have enough information about you or this apiary to provide you with a map.'

If you see this error message please note that it is only temporary and is under investigation.

Many thanks for your patience whilst this is repaired.



February 2016 - National Hive Count

The NBU are asking for your help in updating your BeeBase records of the number of overwintering beehives as of 1st November 2015.

Please update your records by 12th February 2016. We are asking you to do this as part of a pilot study for an annual National Beehive Count which we will launch from the winter of 2016 onwards. The National Beehive Count is aimed at improving our understanding of our honey bee population – how many there are and how healthy they are. This fits in with the aims of pollinator and bee health strategies across the UK.

The information we gather will also be used by the EU Commission to assess the size of honeybee populations across the EU. The EU provides financial aid to Member States in support of their beekeeping sectors. We are required to submit estimates on the numbers of beekeepers and beehives in the UK in order to continue to receive our share of funding from the EU Apiculture Programme from 2020 onwards.

More details of this project, its importance and why we need your help can be found on the Hive Count Page: http://www.nationalbeeunit.com/index.cfm?pageid=362

From this page you will have access to the Hive Count FAQ which will outline some of the process you may have to go through in order to update your colony numbers, such as, requesting a new password or login details.

Should you require any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Kind regards,

National Bee Unit



January 2016 - Bee Health Senior Scientist Job


Fera Science Ltd is now recruiting for a Senior Scientist in Bee Health within the National Bee Unit.

Visit http://careers.peopleclick.com/careerscp/client_capita/external/jobDetails.do?functionName=getJobDetail&jobPostId=170565&localeCode=en-us  for more information and details on how to apply.



January 2016 - New Regional Bee Inspector For National Bee Unit South Eastern England Region

Following the recent promotion of Regional Bee Inspector (RBI) Nigel Semmence to the Post of Contingency Planning and Science Officer at the National Bee Unit, and the movement of RBI Julian Parker to take over managerial responsibility for the Southern England Region, I am pleased to announce that Diane Steele has been appointed as the new RBI for the South East of England which is comprised of Greater London, Kent, Surrey, East Sussex and West Sussex. (Buckinghamshire has now been moved back to its previous place within Southern Region).

Many beekeepers in the South East of England will know Diane who worked for the last seven years as a Seasonal Bee Inspector in East and West Sussex and also at times in Surrey. She lives in Middleton On Sea near Bognor Regis and in addition to Beekeeping enjoys Travelling, Yoga, Gardening and is also a keen photographer.

Diane’s training for the role commenced in Early January 2016 as part of an ongoing development programme.


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