For the first time we're staging a second exhibit exclusively focusing on Asian hornets (Vespa velutina nigrithorax) at the Royal Bath & West Show which runs from tomorrow until Saturday (May 29-June 1) in Shepton Mallet.
We want to alert visitors to the imminent arrival of Asian hornets in the UK this season with huge banners, Asian Hornet Action Team co-ordinator Lynne Ingram's glass cases displaying pinned Asian hornets and other insects, leaflets and cards to take away and children's colouring-in sheets.
Our AHAT will be on hand to talk to beekeepers and the public about Asian hornets - how to identify them, how to report them, the threat they pose to our honeybees and other pollinators.
In Jersey 70 plus Asian hornet queens have been discovered already this year; in France, where Asian hornets arrived in 2004, honey production is down by 50 per cent which reflects the impact these hornets are having on honeybee numbers.
Asian hornets are a notifiable invasive species and should be reported immediately with photo using:
Asian Hornet Watch app
Somerset Beekeepers will be out in force at the Royal Bath & West Show starting tomorrow (Wednesday) at Shepton Mallet.
Our preparations in the Bees & Honey marquee are well underway - don't be put off by this photo which was taken on Sunday! What promises to be an attention-grabbing stand will demonstrate the invaluable role honeybees play in the pollination of the nation’s best-loved food crops.
Plus there will be our usual team of experienced beekeepers on hand to talk about the craft to visitors.
The feature is run by three counties - Somerset, Avon and Wiltshire - and includes a honey show, candle rolling for children, free honey tasting and advice about all aspects of beekeeping.
Plus visitors will have plenty of opportunity to see honeybees at work in observation hives, where bees are behind glass, and in the outdoor bee garden where beekeepers will demonstrate behind protective netting.
If you're at the Show, do come and hello!
‘A swarm in May is worth a load of hay;
A swarm in June is worth a sliver spoon;
A swarm in July isn’t worth a fly.’
And a swarm at anytime needs to be collected! If you can't help, don't forget to direct inquiries to the BBKA website where there is a useful resource giving information about how to identify the bees and find a swarm collector based on postcode.
Love Somerset – the online site celebrating Somerset’s people, places and products – is kindly supporting Somerset Beekeepers’ Association.
They’re donating 20 per cent of the sale price from a charming range of wildflower seed cards designed by Hannah Marchant of Long Sutton.
Each design has been printed onto paper embedded with wildflower seeds which will bloom when planted.
Check them out here!
Did you see a group of Somerset beekeepers in The Times and the Guardian earlier in the month? Photographer Zach Culpin went along to an apiary session for Somerton’s beginners' group and took a series of colourful photos which he kindly shared with us. Great work Joe King, Stewart Gould and the new beeks!
Congratulations to Joe King, this year’s winner of our Oscar for his outstanding contribution to beekeeping in Somerset.
The Westcountry Honey Farms Award was formally presented by Jackie Mosedale, President, at the Special Lecture on Wednesday evening.
She gave us a run through of some of his activities stretching back many years - from marching on Westminster, to protest against the government's stance on neonicitinoids in 2013, to his work for Somerton Division in a multitude of capacities, running the County Honey Show in 2014 and his role as Somerton delegate on SBKA Council.
The April newsletter is out now! If you haven't received your copy - emailed by your Division - you can take a look here.
Among the articles and notices is this update on Asian hornets by our AHAT coordinator Lynne Ingram:
By the time you read this, I hope that we will be experiencing warmer spring temperatures and longer days. As this happens, any hibernating Vespa velutina queens will emerge from their winter hiding places, and start rebuilding their strength by feeding on nectar and tree sap. In Jersey and France queens have been spotted feeding on tree sap from oak trees as well as beech, maple and willow, as well as on single open camellias, so keep an eye on those and other flowers open in your garden.
Feeding stimulates the queen’s ovaries to mature, and the nesting instinct increases. Before the foundress queen starts her nest however, research suggests that queens will migrate some distance away, as other species of Vespa are known to do – sometimes in large numbers. It is assumed therefore, that post hibernation migration may be occurring in Europe, which could explain the rapid spread of Vespa velutina across France. Research suggests that Vespa velutina queens are able to fly about 40 km per day.
Once the foundress queen has migrated, she will start making a small embryo nest from papier mache. These are generally in a sheltered low level site – in a shed, garage, loft or in a bramble patch. The queen is alone and vulnerable at this time and so conserves her resources. Keep an eye out for these nests – they will be much easier to remove than a large nest 50 foot up in a tree! If you see one, take some time to observe such a nest to make sure it contains Vespa velutina and not a wasp – take a photo of the queen on her nest as evidence, before reporting on Asian Hornet Watch.
At this stage it can take up to 50 days from eggs being laid to worker emergence. Once the workers emerge, they will gradually take over many of the roles of foraging, defence and nest building within the colony, leaving the queen to lay eggs. They will enlarge the nest around the embryo nest, as the numbers increase in the colony. This primary nest will continue to grow in size and numbers until mid July when 70% of these nests will relocate into a high tree. For about a month, however, both nests will remain active, until the brood in the primary nest has all emerged. This is when you may start seeing Asian Hornets preying on your bees, as the adults have many hungry larval mouths to feed.
The adult hornets hunt for protein for the larvae, and in return receive a sweet substance from the mouths of the older larvae. The adults also collect and eat nectar and tree sap. Remember to keep monitoring your traps daily, releasing any by-catch. At this time of year the queens will not be hawking for bees so traps should be hanging near your kitchen window or somewhere very easy to see. If you see an Asian hornet, the key is to get evidence so that you can report it. The easiest way is to take a photo or video, then email it with details to: email@example.com or use the Asian Hornet Watch app.
Somerset Asian Hornet Action Team: If you think you may have seen an Asian Hornet and are struggling to get evidence, or need some advice then contact the Somerset Action team on: firstname.lastname@example.org, and someone will come and help with identification and getting evidence. Further contact details for the Somerset AHAT teams are in the Somerset Beekeepers Association Year Book, and on the SBKA website.
We are hoping to provide all Divisions and AHAT team members with an Asian hornet (Vespa velutina nigrithorax) in acrylic to help with easy ID.
However, we are having issues with the consignment we've received as many don't have a distinctive yellow band on the abdomen and the eyes are light-coloured rather than brown.
We're in negotiations with the supplier who has subsequently added a disclaimer on their website.
Meanwhile, if you see an Asian hornet, the key is to get evidence so that you can report it. The easiest way is to take a photo or video, then email it with details to: email@example.com or use the Asian Hornet Watch app.
If you think you may have seen an Asian Hornet and are struggling to get evidence, or need some advice then contact the Somerset Action team on: firstname.lastname@example.org, and someone will come and help with identification and getting evidence. Click here for further contact details for the Somerset AHAT teams.
I am delighted to announce that Jackie Mosedale is our new President! Jackie was elected at the AGM on Saturday and succeeds Ken Tredgett.
Jackie is well known to many Somerset beekeepers not least because she is a former SBKA Chairman, is active in Somerton Division where she is President and Secretary, is involved in the county’s display in the Bees & Honey feature at the Royal Bath and West Show, and is part of the team which stages the county’s annual Lecture Day.
Two years ago she was awarded our most prestigious honour, the Westcountry Honey Farms Award.
I hope Jackie will enjoy her term of office as she continues to champion honeybees and beekeepers.
Meanwhile, Ken is still very much a part of SBKA – he is a Vice President and continues to run the Lecture Day and Special Lecture.
Anne Pike, SBKA Chairman
If you're planning to take a BBKA exam or assessment this year, do check the closing dates - the bulk are fast approaching!
They're on page 11 of the 2019 Year Book together with the fees (and, of course, SBKA refunds fees to successful candidates).