Vita Bee Health Global Honeybee Health Experts

Blog – bees, beekeeping & other sticky subjects


Vita’s Blogger writes:

Storm Eunice wrecked this colony’s unusual and partially underground home, but they are now rehoused and looking remarkably strong after their ordeal. All they need now is a boost from VitaFeed.

First inspection of the colony after being reported by startled chain-saw operators removing the storm-damaged tree.
At first it looked like a small colony, recently moved in, as indicated by the new comb.
But as the nest was excavated, its size became clear. And there were many more bees than expected.
There was just a little brood as it was so early in the year but still some stores, so the best comb was rescued and cut to size for fixing in the frames.
The bees were clinging to much of the broken wood, so that became a temporary part of their home. It was much too cold to try to disturb them. They were remarkably well behaved.
The bees and the best comb ready for a move to a new home. To the left is the large cavity, some of it below ground, that the bees had been occupying.
Rehoming a colony after Storm Eunice wrecks their home.
A new home, beneath another tree. The following day was warmer, the scraps of wood vould be removed and the bees had started investigating and foraging in their new territory.

New research demonstrates value of protein-rich feeds

Giving honey bees protein-rich feeds can produce large colonies, heavier bees and improve pollination efficiency, says new research focusing on colonies being prepared for Californian almond pollination. Amino acid content was deemed to be especially important in promoting stronger, more productive and healthier colonies.

Realising the growing importance being attached to pollen-rich feeds by such independent research, Vita Bee Health has been developing bee diet supplements suitable for feeding during almost any season. The increasingly popular supplements are GM-free and have been rigorously tested in real-world situations.

VitaFeed Patty is especially suited to autumn and spring feeding when it promotes sustainable and controlled colony growth. It is protein-rich and boosts honey bee health, enlarges brood area and increases honey production. Scientifically formulated, it is rich in vitamins, nucleotides and amino acids – the last of which has been shown to be so important in the recent Californian research. See table below to see where VitaFeed Patty rates in feeds.

VitaFeed Patty has a guaranteed minimum of crude protein of 16.3%, but is actually formulated to have a much higher content of at least 19%. It tops the table of similar products available in the USA.

As shown in the table below VitaFeed Patty has an EAAs balance similar to Global and Homebrew, but has the added advantage of not containing pollen which might carry bacterial disease.

As the latest research paper concludes: “dietary essential amino acid deficiencies relative to leucine were strongly correlated with colony size and average bee weight. This suggests that optimization of EAAs balance could improve protein synthesis by maximizing leucine utilization.”

DEGROOT %4.531.5311.54342.5 
DEGROOT %/%LYS1.000.670.330.670.220.330.890.670.890.56Total protein :
VITAFEED PATTY1.351.040.30.880.240.390.880.841.050.7919
% AAE / total protein7.115.471.584.631.262.054.634.425.534.16 
VITAFEED PATTY %/%LYS1.000.770.220.650.180.290.650.620.780.59Sum of EAAs deficiencies relative to Leucine

Rwandan winner of Vita’s photo competition

The winner of Vita Bee Health’s annual photo competition is Vincent Hakizimana, who comes from Rwanda, so we were especially keen to find out more about his beekeeping and thrilled at what we learned…

In his winning photo, Vincent Hakizimana is seen holding a small swarm of honey bees – that’s how he demonstrates to young people how gentle Apis mellifera scutellata can be when well managed ­– that will come as a surprise to many in temperate climates who link scutellata with a highly defensive nature and with the so-called killer bee of the Americas when they crossed with other bees in Brazil.

Vincent, now 48, is a very experienced beekeeper, having begun the craft aged eight. He has even earned the name Kayuki, meaning Little Bee. With a degree from the National University of Rwanda, he now manages an apiary of 86 hives at the 200-hectare Arboretum Ruhande, which is linked to the university and renowned for its wildlife, seed gene bank and one third of a million trees of 178 different species.

Vincent is also field coordinator supporting research that involves students from University of Rwanda, University of Virginia in the USA, Trinity College in Dublin in Ireland, and from the Netherlands.

Keen to encourage beekeeping among young people, Vincent is involved in a programme that makes special efforts to include girls and overcome taboos and expectations that beekeeping is a man’s occupation. His message focuses on the importance of bee pollination for daily food, biodiversity and fighting poverty.

Beyond the university and arboretum, Vincent trains Rwandan beekeepers in modern techniques and helps establishing beekeeper cooperatives and facilitating their members in attending trade fairs in Uganda, Zambia, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and Rwanda.

The Ubwiza bwa Beekeepers’ Union, an umbrella of 15 beekeeping co-operatives around Nyungwe National Park, and the 722 members in South Western Province-Rwanda have gone on to win top producer prizes at ApiExpoAfrica 2016 and improve the lives of communities in their areas. The beekeepers, now much more aware of the importance of their environment, assist in its conservation. The Nyungwe National Park community is now committed to biodiversity conservation and helkps prevent illegal activities such as wild bush fires, tree cutting, snaring, poaching, mining and agriculture encroachment.

Sebastian Owen, commercial director at Vita, says, “Vincent’s competition entry fascinated all members of the judging panel to such an extent that we thought we really must find out more about him. That has proved to be very rewarding, and we plan to keep in touch with Vincent to discover how his enterprising activities in Rwanda are progressing.”

Interview with a varroa mite

The varroa mite (Varroa destructor) is one of the greatest threats to honey bees and has caused colony losses across almost the entire world. Small and secretive, it hides on bees and in brood cells, mostly out of sight of the beekeeper. To control the mite, miticides have been used since the earliest days of its discovery, but the mite fights back.

Gabrielle Almecija of APINOV (Vita’s partner in France) and IRBI, University of Tours, France asked a varroa mite how they do it.
Here are the mite’s answers in an article from BeeCraft magazine.

The continuing effectivess of Apistan

Beekeepers often ask how effective Apistan is in combatting varroa a few decades after its introduction. The short answer is that it is still a very effective product in most areas and should continue to be so for a long time if it is used correctly.  Here’s a longer answer…

IPM is the key

To inhibit the development of varroa resistance to Apistan, the product should be used only once every 3 – 5 years and should be alternated with other products. This strategy of product rotation (Integrated Pest Management – IPM) has been promoted by Vita Bee Health for more than 20 years. It aids the control of mites and prolongs the life of the limited number of approved medications for varroa control.

Studies show continuing effectiveness

The results of independent and rigorous efficacy studies (summarised below) show that where product rotation is followed, Apistan efficacy can remain almost as high now as when the product was first launched, over 30 years ago. 

Summary of Recent Independent Efficacy Studies

Apistan: 92% efficacy (2020, FNOSAD*, France)

Apistan: 94.90% efficacy (2019, Veterinary Bee Inspector, Spain)

Apistan: 94% efficacy (2019, FNOSAD*, France)

Apistan, field study: 84% efficacy (c.f. Apiguard: 86%; Apivar: 79%; HopGuard: 64%) (Insects, 2018)

Apistan, lab study: 95.72% Varroa mortality (Insects, 2018)

Apistan: 96.92% efficacy (2018, Veterinary Bee Inspector, Spain)

Apistan: 89% efficacy (2018, FNOSAD*, France)

Apistan: 95.22% efficacy (2017, FNOSAD*, France)

* The National Federation of Departmental Apicultural Health Organizations

Vita’s ongoing monitoring

A technical programme of research and monitoring of varroa mite resistance to pyrethroids in general, including tau-fluvalinate and flumethrin (the active ingredient of Bayvarol), was set up and operated by Vita in Europe since the 1990s. We continue unofficial testing performed by beekeepers in different parts of the UK and elsewhere and results indicate that very many colonies have mite populations that can be controlled with Apistan.

How you can check that Apistan is still effective

As with any varroa-control product, we recommend monitoring mite levels before, during and after treatment. Apistan is a fast-acting miticide so comparison of daily mite fall before and 24 hours after inserting the strips into the colony will give an immediate indication of the effectiveness of the product.


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