Vita Europe Global Honeybee Health Experts

Blog – bees, beekeeping & other sticky subjects

Apiguard at work

Here’s just a fraction of the work of Apiguard after three days this week.

Don’t forget to treat! The shiny brown ovals are varroa mixed in with crystallised honey, pollen and wax flakes on a collecting screen below a mesh acting as the floor of the hive.

Throughout the season in my apiaries, varroa populations seem to be a little lower than previous years, but that’s quite enough thank you!

Vita’s Guest Beekeeper Blogger


Call in the propolis!

The forage and weather has been so good in southern England this season that I had to call into action some dubious supers.

The bees objected to the gap between two supers and called in the propolis.


Vita’s Guest Beekeeper Blogger


They may only be a small nucleus, but they have a double line of defence for the wasps taht dare encroach upon the hive. Here is the advanced guard attacking a would-be intruder wasp. I only just managed to glimpse the wasp once in this tangle of bees. Meanwhile at the door, the guards are lined up ready for more intruders.

Not all bees can be quite so effective against wasps, but this little nuc certainly has what it takes. And yet they are very calm during inspections.

Because the stings of honeybees’ stingers can’t usually penetrate a wasp thick outer skin, the bees form a ball around it and use their vibrating flight muscles to raise the temperature around the victim to about 47 degrees Celsius, enough to kill it! Death by baking! The original bake-off!

If you want to help your bees defend against wasps and hornets – especially the Asian hornet, try Vita’s Asian Hornet trap, Apishield.

Vita’s Guest Beekeeper Blogger

Two lines of wasp defence

Two lines of wasp defence

Chronic Bee Paralysis

A mystery disease that baffles researchers is being more commonly reported. It has eluded a treatment, but a British beefarmer has tried an ingenious method that seems to give some measure of control.

Chronic Bee Paralysis Virus (CBPV) causes honey bees to have symptoms that include trembling of wings and body, jumpiness, loss of flight, loss of hair, and rejection by healthy members of the colony. It can contribute to the death of a colony. Apparently, the virus has also been found in two species of ants and even varroa.

Chris Neel, in the UK Bee Farmer journal (April 2016), found CBPV in four of his colonies in 2012. Two were too far gone to recover and he followed the then conventional advice to requeen the other two colonies which then recovered.

Two years later in a different apiary 40 km away, CBPV showed up again. Research by then had indicated that bee-to-bee contact transmitted the disease, so Neel hatched a cunning plan.

He caged the queen and separated her from the colony. He then moved the brood box 50 metres away and took out the frames, but returned the beeless box to the original stand after scorching the inside to sterilise it. He then shook every last bee from the frames (50 metres away) and the bees that could fly returned to the original brood box site. He was careful not to let the bees mingle on the ground which might have aided further bee-to-bee transmission.

So, the healthy flying bees returned to the original spot and the queen re-introduced. The CBPV bees, incapable of flight, did not return to the colony. He cl;eared up the dead and dying bees in the vicinity so that further reinfection could be minimised.

The colonies survived and went on to produce a good harvest.

More details of Neel’s method can be read in the April 2016 Bee Farmer magazine

The UK National Bee Unit has video of bees with CBPV.



Where would you like to keep bees?

goggleguesserI’ve just discovered a fascinating new site featuring Google Earth’s Street View.

You have to guess where in the world the Street View location is – and for added beekeeper fun, you can ponder if it’s a good place for an apiary.

Googleguessr is the brain child of a Swedish IT consultant Anton Wallén.

Hint: The locations over-represent developed countries, because of Google’s street car reach.

If you aren’t careful it will give you hours of fun. It’s rather addictive!

So is your view apiary heaven or hell?

Vita’s Guest Beekeeper Blogger


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