Blog – bees, beekeeping & other sticky subjects
A tough year for many beekeepers
Reports from around the world indicate that 2019 has been a tough year for many beekeepers.
In Chile, a severe decade-long drought in parts of the country has been devastating for some beekeepers with one reported to have lost half his hives … “spring rains once led to fields of dandelion flowers in Casablanca, a town on the Chilean Pacific coast. Now, there is just dry earth…
’At the end of winter, bees need flowers to grow and make honey,” [Pablo Alvarez] told Reuters reporters. No flowers means no food, he added.” More at VOA news.
In eastern Australia, bush fires have taken a toll on all sorts of wildlife and beekeepers have often been the first to see the devastation. At least one beekeeper has arranged counselling for his young workers who have been traumatised by what they have seen. “The fires were that hot in places that some beekeepers, who have a fairly good understanding of their local bush, don’t believe those trees will be flowering or producing nectar and pollen for the bees for at least 20 years and in some cases they don’t believe it’ll be in their lifetime,” Stephen Targett president of New South Wales Apiarists Association told Australia’s ABC News.
In Europe, unpredictable weather has also blighted beekeeping as Phys.org reported:
Italy’s main agricultural union Coldiretti said 2019 has been a “black year”, with “a harvest almost halved” from the 23,300 tonnes of honey collected in 2018. More than 1000 extreme weather events were reported – up 50% on 2018.
In France, it’s expected to be “the worst on record”, according to the National Union of French Beekeeping (UNAF), with “fewer than 9,000 tonnes”—almost a quarter of the crop harvested in the 1990s.
In Spain, the harvest has been poor since 2015, with a drop of 5.2% in 2017 and a 2018 season which was “not up to expectations”, according to the country’s agriculture ministry.
Portugal has had fierce forest fires, especially amongst its (plentiful) eucalyptus trees which burn easily. Portuguese fire scientists told National Geographic that the only way to solve the problem is by people valuing forests as they once did and use them “for pasturing sheep and goats, or beekeeping, tourism, or small-scale biomass energy generation”.
Vita hosts free showing of Honeyland in Basingstoke
7pm for 7.30pm
at Basingstoke College of Technology
Vita Bee Health in conjunction with Basingstoke College of Technology is hosting a free showing of the recently released and highly acclaimed film Honeyland. It is playing in very few cinemas around the country, but here is a chance to see it in Basingstoke.
“In this terrific documentary shot in North Macedonia, a woman tending wild hives is rattled by her new, disruptive neighbours.” The Guardian
In a deserted Macedonian village, Hatidze, a 50-something woman, trudges up a hillside to check her bee colonies nestled in the rocks. Serenading them with a secret chant, she gently manoeuvres the honeycomb without netting or gloves. Back at her homestead, Hatidze tends to her handmade hives and her bedridden mother, occasionally heading to the capital to market her wares. One day, an itinerant family installs itself next door, and Hatidze’s peaceful kingdom gives way to roaring engines, seven shrieking children, and 150 cows. Yet Hatidze welcomes the camaraderie, and she holds nothing back—not her tried-and-true beekeeping advice, not her affection, not her special brandy. But soon Hussein, the itinerant family’s patriarch, makes a series of decisions that could destroy Hatidze’s way of life forever.
Wax moth control product to be superseded
Developments are well underway to replace B401, the highly respected biological wax moth control product used by beekeepers, with a new and similar product B402. To comply with the new regulatory environment, B401 will not be available in the UK when current stocks run out. B402 is nearing completion of its development and is expected to go on sale in the USA later this year and, as soon as possible thereafter, in the UK.
Sebastian Owen, commercial director at Vita Bee Health, said, “It’s disappointing that we have had to stop supplying B401 at such short notice. The product has been on the market for many years approved under an older regulatory regime, but the changing regulatory environment requires us to submit data that is not feasible to collect at this time. We have therefore decided to focus on the development of a similar and equally effective product, B402. We expect this to be available in the USA later this year and are currently investigating the quickest regulatory routes to market for B402 in the UK.”
Like its forerunner, B402 is a preventative treatment to control wax moth. It is a biological product that is safe and environmentally friendly. Its application will be similar to that of B401 and, like its predecessor, will provide very high efficacy against wax moth.
Have your bees suffered from agro-chemicals?
Have your bees suffered from pesticides, herbicides or treatments? An initiative of the Apimondia working group is collecting information on a global scale about toxicity events and their effects on honey bee colonies.
Their short anonymous questionnaire focusing on specific toxicity events can be found here.
The Apimondia working group is called Adverse Effects of Agrochemicals and Bee Medicines on Bees and this research is led by Dr Fani Hatjina of the Hellenic Agriculture Organisation – Demeter – in Greece. Vita Bee Health regularly works with the organisation and recommends that any beekeeper whose honey bees have suffered the effects of pesticides, herbicides or treatments completes the survey.
International teen beekeeping successes
Young beekeeper of the year at the tenth International Meeting of Young Beekeepers in Slovakia was Martin Leahy of Scotland. In tests ranging from honey tasting to grafting larvae, the fifteen-year old beat competitors from 29 teams from all over the world. Jan Materna of the Czech Republic and Asger Deyn of Denmark came second and third respectively.
In the national team competition, the Czech Republic came first, followed by Slovakia and Germany.
But it wasn’t all serious competition. International friendships, probably for life, were made and visits in and around Banská Bystrica showed just what a beautiful and hospitable country Slovakia is.
Competitors from two countries new to IMYB received special prizes from Vita Bee Health, which is an IMYB sponsor. Laura McDowell of Australia and Rana Behery of Egypt were presented with the fabulous Honey from the Earth by Eric Tourneret.
Next year IMYB will be held in Slovenia, the home of the Carniolan bee, Apis mellifera carniola. New countries wishing to enter should contact Jiri Piza.