With bad weather conditions affecting much of the UK, please take some time to read the below update and check on your colonies.

Please keep a check on the winter stores. Hefting is the preferred method, gently tilt the hive from the rear to give an indication of the amount remaining. If you’ve already placed fondant inside then perhaps lift the lid to have a quick peek to ascertain if the bees are taking it, and if so gauge if or when it may need replenishing.

Prior to checking stores a perimeter check of the hive would be a good idea after stormy/windy weather to see that your hives are still upright. If you have used straps check your straps are secure. Check also for pest damage, woodpeckers can be a particular nuisance at this time of year as can mice looking for a warm place to nest. Mouse guards should have ideally been fitted as part of your winter preparations. If you live in an area where woodpeckers might be a problem a cage around your hives made from chicken wire is a good deterrent.

Many of you will have checked your Varroa mite count and treated as necessary but if not please do check your Varroa mite count and treat if needed (but only use an authorised treatments). In the winter months when no brood is present oxalic acid products can be administered, but ensure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Though with the mild weather to date a brood less period may not have taken place in some parts of the country.

A full list of the currently authorised treatments can be found here.

Damp is one of the biggest risks to your bees in winter, bees can usually withstand the cold but damp will takes its toll. If your hive is in an area where damp may accumulate it may be prudent to move your hives elsewhere.

Your RBI has compiled a report giving feedback on the 2019 season along with the National Bee Unit contact information. You can view it here.

The National Bee Unit currently has a number of Seasonal Bee Inspector (SBI) vacancies advertised in the following areas. If you are interested in applying for the job, please use the links below andcontact the relevant Regional Bee Inspector for any queries regarding the position.

South East – Kent

North East – East and West Yorkshire

Southern – Berkshire, Buckinghamshire & Hampshire

Eastern – North Cambridgeshire, South Lincs & West Norfolk