Report on Bee Health Day

July 13th 2019

Our Bee Health Day all came together on the day with even the weather being kind to us. Those of us helping to organise the day got there at 8am and opened the hall to get things ready and the apiary team set up the beehives to be inspected in a neighbouring field. After months of preparation everything was ready for Simon Jones and his team to take us through the day’s events.

The day began with an introductory session where we met the other regional bee inspectors for our area and then had a short talk covering the general aspects of bee health. It was nice to put faces to the names that crop up in articles from time to time and it also made them seem less scary to approach somehow! If I ever do need to call them out in the future I will feel much more at ease.

We were then split into rotational groups. Our first talk was on varroa and it was great to have a thorough refresher on the ‘little mites’ and handle all the possible treatments on offer.

Then it was off to see the bees and have a chat about apiary hygiene. We were split again into smaller groups dependent on experience.  One of the useful tips I picked up was that you can wash your bee suit with the head part tucked into the main suit without having to detach it each time and wash it by hand – something I tried out when I got home – what a timesaver! Unfortunately we didn’t have much disease to look at live in our hives but apparently other groups had more interesting combs to go through!

Then for me the most educational part was in the contained disease room where we had the challenge of spotting the different types of disease in the combs. As I luckily haven’t had much disease apart from chalk brood in my hives it was good to see sac brood and AFB and EFB and all sorts of other nasties some of which were all present at once on the same combs. We did have pictures to reference things against but it was still quite difficult and even the bee inspectors had to retest a couple of larvae for Foul Brood with their special kits! It made me realise the importance of carrying out at least two inspections a year where you are simply looking for disease within the hive as if you spot any problem early enough you may be able to treat or rectify without it spreading too quickly through the rest of your hives.

We then had an update on the Asian hornet and Small Hive beetle. Did you know that the Asian hornet is not officially a notifiable pest to the NBU because it comes under the non native species banner but the Tropilaelaps mite is?

Finally all the groups got together for a question and answer session before we went home.

I would like to say a “big thank you” to all those who made this day happen … our bee inspectors, our apiary team and committee, all the branch secretaries who advertised the event to our members and all those who participated in the day (we had well over 60 attendees).

However another special thank you goes to all those who made the cakes that fortified us throughout the day. I have never seen such a variety or so many in one place not even at the bakery or village fete! The trouble was that in the breaks it was just too tempting and I tucked into as many as I could manage!

I would definitely recommend going to the next Bee Health Day to all those who couldn’t make it next year.