25th March 2020
With the Covid-19 outbreak causing so much devastation globally it seams very trivial that we discuss bees and what needs to be done.
At this critical time of year we need to make sure that we prevent problems such as swarming, especially since we now have an island wide shut down as is the situation in the UK. We also need to ensure to the best of our ability that our bees are not going to be causing a nuisance - there is enough to think about, and little work now can prevent problems later.
The weather is getting warmer and the bees will be bringing in food. We need to make sure they have enough space, both within the brood nest and for storing honey.
Its perfect weather for a first inspection of the brood nest and some members have probably already done this.
Make sure that any frames of ivy honey are removed from the brood area and replaced with either drawn frames or foundation. This ivy honey can then be uncapped and placed above the crown board for the bees to clean. If it’s set solid and the bees can’t work it, these frames can be uncapped and then soaked in water overnight and then fed back to the bees. The water will have softened the ivy honey. These frames once empty can be reused.
Make sure the queen has plenty of room to lay. Making sure they have a brood and a half or even add another brood box. This will help reduce over crowding in the brood area.
Supers should be added, and it may be worth adding 2 or even 3 supers to the hive now, in case things go wrong and we can’t get to our bees.
If the bees don’t need the space they will be ok, but they can quickly fill them at this time of year!
If you can’t get to your hives and they need supers adding do not hesitate to let the committee know as we have volunteers who are ready to lend a hand.
These are uncertain times and if we can reduce the potential for swarming it will help everyone if we cannot leave our homes to collect them. At the moment this isn’t a issue, but we don’t know what is around the corner, let’s work together and try to avoid unnecessary problems.
· If there are fellow beekeepers close by that you can lend assistance to, please offer them help, or even help each other.
· If you can help with swarm collection let the committee know.
At the moment we have cancelled all GBKA events until further notice. If you need any help with your bees or any advice let us know.
These are difficult times and we must pull together as a community. We will get through this one way or another.
Hornet Strategy 2020
After what appeared to be a successful launch to spring queening in 2019 and a big decline in secondary nests the decision has been made to continue with spring queening this year. The first Asian hornets appeared in 2017 with a queen located in March in the Vale and 2 nests found that year. It is also believed that a nest was missed that year, somewhere around Guernsey candles. This was based on the location of queens found the following year, as in low population densities queens don’t need to move far from the original nest site. In 2018 four queens were located and 8 secondary nests. It didn’t appear that any nests were missed that year, but due to the location of a nest near St Peters Church which couldn’t be treated or removed due to its location, and which was blown out of the tree during gales it appears to have dispersed numerous queens. In 2019 nine queens were caught across the island, seven of which were in traps set up as part of spring queening. One primary nest was located as well as two secondary nests later in the year. It is hopeful that no nests were missed, but only time will tell.
The other Channel Islands are having mixed results. Alderney had 1 nest in 2016, 2 nests in 2017, 55 queens caught in the spring of 2018 as well as 8 secondary nests, and in 2019 they caught 6 queens and have found only 2 secondary nests. This is the largest reduction in hornets on any of the islands. Sark had 1 nest in 2017, 3 queens and 1 nest in 2018 and 10 queens and 1 nest in 2019. Of these 10 queens found in Sark 7 were in traps put out for spring queening. Herm appear to have been untouched at present. Jersey are the worst affected. In 2016 they had 4 nests, in 2017 they had 17 nests, in 2018 they had 4 queens, and 52 nests and in 2019 they had 69 queens and 83 nests. These are, to the best of our knowledge, as the original records coming out of Jersey vary depending on who you are talking to. Jersey have already had their first queen hornet this year. As you can see most of the islands are starting to see a levelling out in numbers or a decrease. We believe this could be due in part to spring queening and it will be interesting to see how Sark’s numbers go this year as they have been doing spring queening and tracking. Jersey appear to be the only island at the moment where numbers are significantly on the increase and what the reasons for this increase we can only speculate about. We will be contacting volunteers again shortly to roll out spring queening so please watch this space.
A big thank you to everyone who has been trapping and looking out for hornets, with a little look and a lot of help we may be able to reduce the spread of this invasive threat.
President Guernsey Beekeepers’ Association
Field & Research Officer (Asian Hornet Strategy)
Agriculture, Countryside and Land Management Services States of Guernsey