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Blog – bees, beekeeping & other sticky subjects

Apiguard most successful treatment in Oregon

Overwintering losses of small-scale beekeepers in the state of Oregon, USA, were again very extensive, averaging 48%. Full report here.

In a survey of 416 backyard (hobbyist) beekeepers, Apiguard was recorded as the most effective treatment used (32% colony loss — Figure 22).

Amongst the non-chemical treatments used, only two measures (both designed to reduce drifting) performed better than the average — but only slightly better, 46% loss as opposed to 48% (Figure 21).

Reasons for losses are thought to be complex. The respondents thought varroa was the chief culprit, but queen failure, starvation, and weak colonies were also blamed (Figure 8).

 

 

Jerry Hayes video podcast

In a wide ranging video podcast, Jerry Hayes, Vita Bee Health’s North American VP, talks to Vance Crowe.


Approximate timings:

Starts with Jerry Hayes at 5 mins 40 sec.

5.40 How Jerry moved into beekeeping and a new career

11.40 The arrival of Africanized bees in the USA. Why they have been less fiercesome in the USA than expected

21.00 Honey bees as livestock.  Do we keep bees alive or do bees use us to keep alive?

29.00 Almond pollination in California and migratory beekeeping

34.30 Colony Collapse Disorder — discovery and recovery

39.30 Varroa

44.00 Why is the public so concerned with honey bees? And how can them help them?

51.00 The amazing characteristics of honey bees

1:06:00 The challenges of working for an agribusiness

1:20:20 Working for Vita Bee Health

1:22:00 Vance Crowe and Jerry reflect further on working for an agribusiness

1:25:40 Being disciplined and good habits at work

1:33:35 Pick just one bee book?

1:35:50 Writing the Q&A the American Bee Journal for 35 years

Asian hornet latest

A new book by UK scientist gives some of the latest findings about the Asian hornet (Vespa velutina) in Europe. The Asian Hornet Handbook by Sarah Bunker

In a three-section book, Bunker discusses the biology, the spread of the hornet and control measures.

Since the Asian hornet was little studied in its native south-east Asia, in the early days of its arrival in Europe assumptions of  its biology were based largely on extrapolations from other types of more-studied hornet.

So, the biology section highlighting what has been found in Europe is of great interest. Here are a few little gems:

  • the foundresses (mated queens) may hibernate in groups of two or three in burrows, holes and crevices
  • when they emerge they feed on nectar or tree sap
  • the fast spread of the hornet (c 80 km each year) seems to happen after emergence — but whether in groups or singly and whether by flight or human transport is not yet known
  • primary and secondary nests have distinctively different structures — and sizes
  • what look like side entrances in secondary nests are half-finished bubbles or pockets that may be used to extend the nest
  • in France, nest density can be as high as 12 per square kilometre
  • in France, certain nest hotspots have been found where Asian hornets nest year after year
  • in France, the invader prefers urban areas
  • honey bees are a perfect diet for the Asian hornet — they are big, meaty and humans keep them in boxes in open areas that are easy to attack.

There is plenty more such information in the handbook to fascinate and perhaps terrify the beekeeper. It’s a good read!

Priced at £16.00, the 164-page book is available here.

Via Bee Health has supported the publishing of the handbook.

AFB and EFB kit supplies

You may have temporary difficulties in finding supplies of Vita Bee Health AFB and EFB diagnostic kits. These two types of kit have a lateral-flow component that works like a pregnancy test kit to indicate if sampled larvae have American foulbrood or European foulbrood.

Unfortunately, an essential component of the lateral flow device has been in short supply and we have therefore had a delay in the manufacture of the kits.

The kits are sophisticated devices and their composition is very specific. Although alternative components were tested, Vita was not prepared to release the resulting product because the sensitivity of the kits was not up to standard. This has been very costly for Vita and we realise there is a shortage in the market. However, we prefer users to be able to rely on the accuracy and robustness of our products — customer satisfaction is very important to us.

We have recently managed to source a limited supply of the key component. Quality control testing looks good and manufacture will be resuming shortly.

Further development of the kits is also underway.

Preparing for 2019 IMYB

Banská Bystrica in Slovakia is getting ready for an invasion of young beekeepers at the beginning of July. Vita Bee Health is proud to be a sponsor the tenth annual International Meeting of Young Beekeepers (IMYB).

From 3-7 July, about 100 teenagers, aged 12-17, will come from all over Europe and beyond to form multi-national teams to tackle practical and written beekeeping tasks — everything from inspecting for brood diseases to extracting honey and from honey tasting to pollen identification.

As IMYB founder, Jiri Piza says, even if these youngsters don’t keep bees all their lives, beekeeping will have given them a perspective which will almost certainly influence their life choices and decisions in their careers.

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