Vita Bee Health Global Honeybee Health Experts

Blog – bees, beekeeping & other sticky subjects

Swarm in search of company, but not a home

Swarm prefers leeward side of an apiary tree to a cosy brood box.

Swarm prefers leeward side of an apiary tree to a cosy brood box.

As I approached a newish apiary last weekend, I wondered where any swarms might choose to hang up. I had never seen a swarm leave that apiary before.  I was busy working on the final hive and happened to glance up …

The swarm wasn’t even from my apiary and it had chosen to settle on a tree rather than in a brood box right by it! It must have been there for quite a while as it had left quite a bit of wax on the tree trunk — and the wax traces also showed how the swarm was gradually moving up the trunk.

It was safely hived and is drawing comb to try to quarantine any disease it might be carrying in its honey. That comb will be melted down and the bees can start afresh in a new hive.

I have no idea of the origin of the swarm , but clearly it wanted company by settling in my apiary.

UPDATE 9 June 2015 The swarm was homed by a new beekeeper and is apparently doing well with the queen laying already. A further inspection of my own hives showed conclusively that it wasn’t from my apiary.

Turlough, Vita’s Guest Beekeeper Blogger

What a lot of bee auction bargains

IMG_0319Last Saturday saw the annual Meon Valley Beekeeping Auction in Hampshire, England.

Two hundred lots were up for auction, some mainstream some quirky, and many bargains

  • a vintage honey extractor (too vintage and with too much tin plate to fetch more than £1!)
  • branding iron (for hives rather than bees, I presume)
  • selection of Langstroth hives (not that popular in Britain, but common in Hampshire because of its preference by a beekeeping college a couple of decades ago).
  • two heather presses (one antique) emphasising the location of the auction as being close to the ling heather of the New Forest
  • and a no longer manufactured Strainaway but very popular system for dealing with oil seed rape. It fetched £80, I think.

As always the lots that attracted most attention: three colonies of live bees. There appeared to be four bidders seeking the bees and the lots fetched (in order of sale): £130, £165, £180 or approx €181, €229, and €250, or $203, $257 and $281 respectively.

Honeybee health was a top priority. The live bees had been inspected for disease and several lots of bees were refused because they had been submitted too late for inspection.  Much if not all of the hive equipment had been scorched to nullify any potential bee disease spread.

IMG_0326And of course there was something that everyone came for: the superb soups, bacon butties and cakes — all delicious and also available at bargain prices.

Vita’s Guest Beekeeper Blogger

Vita in Russia

SvetlanaSvetlana Pantyukhina, manager of Vita CIS in Russia, tells us that there are about five million colonies of bees in modern Russia. Professional beekeeping is common with some of the biggest operations managing between 1000 and 5000 colonies. But everyone has been hit hard by the Rouble exchange rate crisis and times are difficult.

Varroa, Nosema and viruses are the chief disease concerns and have been exacerbated over the past decade by honeybee imports from neighbouring countries. Government support for beekeeping has decreased and honey prices have dropped, so current economics mean that beekeepers struggle to maintain healthy colonies. One fear is that some beekeepers may be resorting to home-developed and unregulated treatments because of the high import costs.

However some beekeepers – mainly large beefarmers – are showing a growing interest in organic beekeeping. These beekeepers are therefore very interested in Apiguard as an organic Varroa control treatment and Vita Feed Gold for the health benefits it can bring and other Vita products.

One of the prime beekeeping areas in Russia is near the Black Sea, where the warmer climate and mountain herbs and crops produce fine honey. However Varroa resistant to first generation treatments have appeared and beekeepers are facing extra challenges in controlling the mite.

Elsewhere of course, the Russian winter means that honeybees have to be tough to survive. In many areas, they must be insulated and even brought under cover to survive the fierce winter from November to March.

26 miles for 3 water tanks

Sebastian blows kisses to his children supporting him  at the roadside.

Sebastian blows kisses to his children supporting him at the roadside.

Sebastian Owen, Vita’s Commercial Development Manager, ran a personal best in the London marathon yesterday and in the process raised sufficient funds for three water tanks in Uganda. It was no stroll in a Royal Park though!

Along a route passing many of the great sights of London and urged on by enthusiastic crowds, Sebastian managed to run every stride of the way. That in itself was one of his main targets for the day — to achieve a Personal Best time on top of that made it very special.

“The crowds along the way were superb. Going across Tower Bridge, I think the noise they made caused everyone to increase their speed. And towards the finish line, they were definitely a huge boost as I was flagging, but still determined to run every step of the way without a single walking stride!”

Along the way, Sebastian passed the broadcaster Chris Evans, a chap carrying (and struggling!) with a 36 kg backpack and three extraordinary runners masquerading as the boat out of Toy Story.”

Sebastian has been training for the marathon for almost a year and a few months ago discovered that he was one of the  lucky 30,000 to win a place by charity ballot to run in the London Marathon.

Three men in a boat

Three men in a boat

Starting off with a fundraising target of £2,000, Sebastian raised a total of £4500 — enough for three water tanks in Uganda to be installed through Mityana a charity based near Vita’s offices in the UK.

It’s not to late to donate and respect Sebastian’s achievement.

You can donate here.







Honeybee bite in action

Honeybee biting a wax moth

Honeybee biting a wax moth

Recently Vita’s research revealed the secrets of the honeybee bite and this weekend I saw it in action.

I spotted a wax moth larva trail underneath some brood cappings and “released” the wax moth larva. You can see the wax moth trail that I uncovered in the top right of the photograph.

The waxmoth larva was immediately set upon by a bee which, instead of stinging it, started biting it.

The honeybee bite contains a natural anaesthetic that helps honeybees fend off pests that it cannot effectively sting. Once stunned, the pest can be ejected from the hive.

Vita has a biological control for wax moth: B401.

Vita’s Guest Beekeeper Blogger


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