Following a sighting of an Asian hornet and the discovery of a nest in Devon, England, this week, British beekeepers are being urged to be on the alert for the invasive and destructive insect. ApiShield, an easily fitted and low-maintenance trap from Vita Bee Health, not only protects honey bee colonies from Asian hornet attack, but it also acts as an early warning of the Asian hornet’s arrival in an area.
The Asian hornet is native to China but arrived in a pottery consignment in Bordeaux, France in 2004. Since then the Asian hornets have spread at about 75 km per year across Europe, killing off many honey bee colonies and other native insect pollinators which have no defences to cope with the new predator.
ApiShield, Vita’s patented Asian hornet trap, has been rigorously tested in France and Greece and fools hornets and wasps attacking honey bee colonies into using unguarded underfloor ‘entrances’ not used by the colony’s honey bees. Beekeepers simply inspect the trapped dead and dying predators and look particularly for the Asian hornet.
On its twentieth anniversary, the honey bee operations of Vita (Europe) Ltd will be known as Vita Bee Health. The new name – with new logo – emphasises the company’s ongoing commitment to beekeeping and healthy honey bee populations.
Launched in 1997 with a single product, Vita is now the world’s leading dedicated honeybee health specialist with a range of products, subsidiaries in Italy and Russia, and an extensive global distribution network.
Jeremy Owen, sales director, recalled: “Back in 1997, some thought that setting up a company dedicated to honeybee health with only one product – Apistan – was, to put it politely, a considerable risk. However, my fellow director, Max Watkins, and I felt strongly that there was a need for healthy honey bees that would not be diminishing. Beekeepers were very supportive of our aims and, I’m grateful to say, still are.”
Send us your best honey bee-related photographs to enter the sixth annual Vita international photo competition. The overall winner receives a cash prize and eleven others will appear in the Vita 2018 limited edition calendar and feature in Vita’s monthly email newsletters. All winners receive a copy of the calendar.
The deadline for entries is 22 October 2017. Entrants may submit up to four photos (preferably each 1-2 MB in size) by emailing them to email@example.com. Photos can be on any relevant topic relating to honeybees and beekeeping. Please ensure that photos are of high enough resolution for printing. The competition will be judged by an international panel of beekeeping specialists and suppliers.
With the help of local beekeepers, Vita (Europe) Ltd has opened a test apiary near its Basingstoke headquarters to complement its other test apiaries across the world.
The apiary, on a large allotment (community garden plots for fruit and vegetables) within easy foraging distance of Vita’s offices, will be managed by some beekeepers from Basingstoke and Paulo Mielgo, Vita’s technical manager.
The Basingstoke beekeepers, who are experienced in allotment beekeeping, have constructed an apiary perimeter fence, for security and to ensure that the bees fly well above head height on foraging trips, as well as a small apiary shed to hold beekeeping essentials.
Beekeepers are invited to apply for Vita’s 2017 award for honey bee health initiatives.
A new feed for honey bees from honey bee health specialist Vita (Europe) Ltd will help boost colony health and increase honey production. VitaFeed Nutri is a rigorously tested, GMO-free nutritional supplement that can be used at almost any time of year to promote controlled colony growth.
Packed with easily digestible proteins, VitaFeed Nutri can make up for nutritional deficiencies in honey bees’ diet, thereby stimulating egg-laying, extending bees’ lifespans and ultimately increasing honey production.
Dr Max Watkins, technical director of Vita (Europe), explained “Honey bees need protein, but not all pollen has the same protein content. VitaFeed Nutri ensures that bees have sufficient protein to enable healthier colony development and thereby increased honey production. The year-round suitability and simplicity of applying the feed in syrup make it an ideal product for any beekeeper wanting to keep healthier and more productive bees.”
A New Year resolution for bees – use the Gym!
Bee Gym helps bees control their number-one enemy, the varroa mite
The Bee Gym provides a low-cost, chemical-free and sustainable way of helping honeybees groom themselves to get rid of varroa mites.
The Bee Gym is a simple device that is placed inside any hive to encourage bees to groom varroa mites off their bodies. It has wires, flippers and scrapers on its small (11 cm by 11 cm) plastic frame that bees voluntarily rub their backs and abdomens against to groom themselves of varroa mites. The mites then fall through a normal varroa mesh floor onto a sticky insert or to the ground from where the varroa mites cannot jump back into the hive. The sticky insert should be regularly refreshed and the Gym should regularly be cleaned with washing soda.
The latest threat to honeybees, the Asian hornet (Vespa velutina) is the focus of the latest in series of free and downloadable infographics from Vita (Europe) Ltd.
This third infographic from Vita gives at-a-glance information about the Asian hornet, a growing threat as it expands across western Europe.
Sebastian Owen of Vita (Europe) Ltd said, “The aim of the infographic is to inform beekeepers about the Asian hornet’s life cycle, what to look out for and how to help honey bees defend against it. It’s a free resource for beekeepers and others to download and disseminate.”
Previous Vita infographics have focused on swarming and varroa. These can also be downloaded for free from the Vita gallery which also has lots of other useful images, videos and tips. See www.vita-europe.com/beehealth/gallery
The overall winner of Vita’s 2016 international photo competition is Lester Quayle with his image of industrious housekeeping honey bees. May Smith is the under-16 winner for her striking photograph of a pollen-carrying honey bee just landed on a brood frame.
Entries will appear in the limited edition 2016 Vita Calendar distributed to Vita’s global network and the winners. Some of the photos are below and a pdf file of the full calendar is available for free download to users of the Vita Gallery www.vita-europe.com/beehealth/gallery.
The 2017 Vita Calendar monthly line-up is:
Vita has donated eight ApiShield Asian hornet traps to a group of Gloucestershire beekeepers to help establish how far the latest threat to honey bees has spread in Britain.
Vita’s ApiShield traps replace existing hive floors and attract hornets, wasps and even robber bees in by side entrances where they become trapped under a wire mesh and cannot exit through the cone entrances. Meanwhile, the honeybee colony uses and protects the front entrance to the hive. Beekeepers can periodically inspect the traps to see if any Asian hornets have been caught.
Peter Lead of the Stroud Beekeepers’ Association said: “We have installed two ApiShield traps in our Association apiary and are distributing the others for use in the area. Last year, our Association apiary was plagued by a lot of wasps and, even after a few days, the ApiShields have already trapped a substantial number. There is no sign of the Asian hornet yet, but we are inspecting regularly. I particularly like the Vita hornet trap because, unlike bait lures, it is not adding an additional enticement for wasps and hornets to enter the apiary.”