Dear Members, please consider filling in the COLOSS hive loss survey - details below.
In the last decade, elevated losses of western honey bee colonies have been observed, mainly in Europe and North America, but the underlying causes still remain unclear. In 2008, European and USA honey bee experts formed a network "COLOSS" realising that efforts by individual countries to identify the drivers of losses were unlikely to succeed, given the current consensus that causes are complex and can be different between regions and between the years. Now more than 1000 scientists are working together in this network in specific working groups.
The epidemiological working group have developed a standardised questionnaire to identify the underlying causal factors of losses and provide beekeepers sustainable management strategies.
We now invite you to fill in the questionnaire for 2018 which you will find below. This will enable us to compare your answers with other beekeepers. With your data we can estimate the relative risk of colony losses for beekeeper decisions such as Varroa treatment, migration of colonies and comb replacement. We also aim to identify differences in relative mortality risk between regions. This will enable follow up research projects in specific regions.
At your option your personal details may be recorded however we undertake not to disclose them to any third party to protect your privacy.
Finally your help is much appreciated. Please can I ask you to promote this survey and the questionnaire link through this open letter to as many English bee keepers as you are able to do so. Feel free to share the link by email, word of mouth, newsletters or social media and to your local bee keeping organisations. In doing so you will be making a contribution to tackling the problem of colony losses and ensuring that English data is represented as an equal partner in the COLOSS European community.
The survey link : http://www.bee-survey.com/index.php/246176?lang=en
Dr Anthony Williams
COLOSS Survey Coordinator for England
De Montfort University
A Member of Leicester and Rutland Beekeepers Association and Rugby Beekeepers Association
Tel: 0116 207 8468
Instructions for completing the survey -- You may wish to print out a copy of these instructions for reference --
1. Please read the questions carefully and answer as many as possible. Your cooperation is much appreciated.
2. Only complete the electronic “Official COLOSS” questionnaire once.
3. There are separate paper questionnaires from the National Bee Unit (NBU) in circulation and also pending a Winter loss survey from the British Bee Keepers Association (BBKA). Though there is some overlap between the three surveys please treats each survey separately. Each organisation’s questionnaire has been designed to meet different organisational purposes. At present efforts between the three organisations are uncoordinated it is hoped that in the future we will be able to coordinate our efforts.
4. Please note that questions marked with * have to be completed.
5. Excluding the informed consent question, final comments box there are 31 questions.
6. The survey asks questions about your bee keeping practice over the last 12 months, in particular the number of colonies you have in production and have lost over the winter period. You may wish to consult your records before starting the survey.
7. The questionnaire should be done in one sitting and should take about 15 minutes to complete.
8. However if you wish to complete the survey in more than one sitting to check your answers for example, you can do so by providing a User ID and password. You will be emailed a link to complete the survey. Click on the greyed out words "Resume later" on the bottom left-hand corner of the screen.
9. This questionnaire will be close on 5th June 2018.
10.The second page of the survey is an informed consent form, please select the checkboxes/statements that apply to you, finally on this page place your initials in the “Other” box at the bottom of the page to indicate your consent.
11.Finally on completing the survey you will have the option of printing out your survey responses for your records.
12.The survey is electronic form and there is no provision for a paper copy, however if you do not have online access or you are below the age of 18 you may find someone to complete the survey on your behalf.
13.If you have any questions about the survey then please contact Anthony Williams at the email address: email@example.com
COLOSS is a pan European network of researchers, beekeepers and government representatives that provides resources and opportunities to disseminate latest bee keeping research.
The mission of COLOSS is to improve the well-being of bees (in particular the western honey bee Apis mellifera) at a global level.
Our goals include:
• Advocating for bees, and their well-being, especially to government legislators and administrators
• Coordinating international research, including the development of standard research methods
• Disseminating knowledge and training related to improving the well-being of bees
• Promoting youth development and gender balance among those studying, or those actively involved in promoting, the well-being of bees
The survey team is made up of in excess of 30 countries, most of the European regions are involved in COLOSS monitoring. Each national co-ordinator runs a similar survey in their own country, using a standardised questionnaire. The national co-ordinators are a mix of university researchers and academics (in biology, zoology, veterinary science, statistics, computer science) and professional beekeeping advisers, all with an interest in honey bee well-being. Many are themselves beekeepers. More information about COLOSS can be found at www.coloss.org
Address: Institute of Bee Health University of Bern Schwarzenburgstrasse 161 3003 Bern Switzerland
Anthony Williams works at De Montfort University in the school of Computer Science and Informatics. He has been keeping honey bees for 8 years and is a member of two regional associations. He quietly looks after a small apiary in his spare time. Anthony got involved in COLOSS at the beginning of the year and volunteered his services when he discovered that English hive survival data was no longer being collected and disseminated at a European level.
Help is required on Sunday, May 27 to set up our popular bees and honey displays.
If you can lend a hand, please contact Ken Tredgett firstname.lastname@example.org 01373 464736
Our 2019 LECTURE DAY will be held on February 16, 2019 at the Edgar Hall, Somerton.
Speakers to follow. Add the date to your diary now!
Nine hundred reported nests in Brittany this year is a frightening figure, writes Stewart Gould, SBKA Vice Chair, who returned from France this week. When you see the huge swathes of trees it becomes apparent that there are lots more. Their nature dictates that they will be close to beehives, but apiculture is an industry in Brittany, with hives all over the place.
Actually seeing hornets and their nests is one of the best ways of establishing where hornets are, but it is primarily retrospective. Hornets' nests look very much like squirrel and magpie nests or mistletoe at a quick glance, but have very distinct edges, as opposed to the ragged ones of other nests and the transparency of mistletoe. Large nests in bare branched trees will only tell you where they were last year, but it is a massive clue to their presence in the area.
The only real answer is to instill vigilance and a perception of what to look for and where. Correct ideas of the appearance would be good too. The NBU and BBKA will keep publishing photos of the Asian hornet (the correct one) showing it larger than the European hornet. In description, emphasis is placed on the yellow legs. That is among the last things you notice. What catches the eye is the predominantly black colour, and a marked orange patch on the abdomen.
Seasonal feeding preferences should be highlighted along with suitable traps and baits. The internet is alive with videos of home made traps assembled from the likes of 2 litre water bottles, with a funnel arrangement big enough for a double-decker bus to get in and out. Monitoring live traps can be made, but once here, death traps are going to be more appropriate.
The key is reliable and concise information.
The winner of our most prestigious honour – the West Country Honey Farms Award – has been presented to Bridget Knutson from Cheddar at our AGM held at Wedmore on Saturday (March 10).
Judging panel chairman Milns Priscott said in his citation that she was an active member of the beekeeping community at both local and national level.
“Bridget has demonstrated her ability as a beekeeper to a very high standard. She has set new bench marks for the quality of her exhibits at honey shows and has always been generous with her support to help beekeepers to extend their knowledge,” he said.
She is Chair of the Wedmore and Cheddar Division, manages the visual aid library for the British Beekeepers’ Association (BBKA) and teaches and mentors on local beginners, improvers and specialist courses.
“If Bridget did not exist, we would have to invent her! The quantity, quality and level of contribution to beekeeping in Somerset is outstanding, and an example to us all,” he added.
Also, she is our yearbook editor and exams secretary and has passed all BBKA theory modules and practical exams putting her one step away from becoming a master beekeeper.
Dr Peter Kennedy of the University of Exeter discussed progress in controlling the invasive predatory hornet, Vespa velutina nigrithorax at our AGM on Saturday (March 10).
He reviewed many of the techniques that have been employed since it first appeared in France around 2004 and showed that only identification and destruction of nests before they produce reproducing hornets is effective.
The challenge is effectively finding these nests, which are often concealed high in trees, between mid-summer, when the hornets may first become evident and before October, when the colony produces the reproductive queen and drone hornets.
Traditional methods of tracking such as triangulating flight lines have limitations where few hornets are around and traditional techniques such as suzemebachi, where hornets are marked with a flag and followed don’t seem to be tolerated by this species of hornet. Harmonic radar can help track hornet back to the nest, but the equipment is expensive and requires specialist operators.
Dr Kennedy discussed more readily available alternatives that are much easier and cheaper to operate and discussed limitations such as signal echoes from buildings and shadowing from trees. Attendees were grateful to be able to see specimens of this exotic hornet alongside our native hornet.
SBKA is actively considering how best to help members if they spot, or suspect, Asian hornets. Devon, Avon and Jersey presented action plans at the recent meeting of the South West Beekeepers' Forum which are available to read if you click here. We are keen to hear your thoughts - how would you like SBKA to support you? Please email your suggestions.
All SBKA members are invited to the AGM which takes place at 2pm on Saturday (March 10) at Wedmore Golf Club, Lascott Hill, Wedmore BS28 4QT.
Dr Pete Kennedy, part of a major Asian hornet research project, is giving the lecture.
Pete, from the University of Exeter, will talk about the latest project findings which saw researchers tracking Asian hornets using radar and radio waves.
1. Apologies for absence
2. Minutes of the 2017 AGM
3. Matters arising
4. Treasurer's report
5. Council proposal: 'That the possibility of SBKA becoming a charitable incorporated organisation is explored'
6. Election of officers
7. Election of Executive Divisional Representatives
8. Appointment of independent reviewer: Bruton Sweet
9. West Country Honey Farms Award
10. Honorary Membership - John de Winton, Somerton
11. Hosts and venue for the 2019 AGM - Quantock Division
Today's beekeeping task is to move the snow away from the entrance to hives – if you can get to them! This will ensure the entrances don’t get blocked up with ice as a slow thaw may start in the daytime with temperatures dropping again at night.
With thanks to David Morris for this timely reminder.
Asian hornet experts briefed the South West Beekeepers’ Forum and posed outside the venue with an outsize model of the invasive insect. Pictured are, from left to right, Dr Pete Kennedy, a research fellow at the University of Exeter; North Devon beekeeper Martyn Hocking, who discovered Asian hornets in his apiary last year; South West Beekeepers’ Forum Chairman Peter Darley; beekeeper Bob Hogge from Jersey where Asian hornets established within a year.
At this week’s meeting of the South West Beekeepers’ Forum (SWBKF) the focus was firmly on the Asian hornet.
The Forum represents about 10,000 beekeepers from Avon, Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Hampshire, Jersey, Salisbury, Somerset and Wiltshire beekeeping associations.
Among the experts meeting up in Taunton were:
For more info about the meeting, click here for the press release.