Garden blogs

A Bee Inspector calls . . .

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As part of the National Bee Unit (NBU) inspection programme, our regional Bee Inspector Maggie Gill is here with me today for an exotic pest inspection.

Fortunately, Maggie has chosen a day on which I was intending to carry out full inspections, following the spring checks and shook swarms that have been done in the past couple of weeks, so it is great to have our bees checked by Maggie.

We are adhering to the NBU’s advice for inspections during Covid19 and we are being careful to maintain the two-metre social distancing ruled – and still managi9ng to inspect all three apiaries.

When a disease inspection is carried out, the frames with brood are shaken free of bees to enable the inspection of every brood cell.

The inspector is looking for signs of notifiable brood diseases such as American foul brood, European foul brood and also keeping an eye out for any incursion of exotic pests, such as small hive beetle.

As the Garden is a ‘sentinel’ apiary, we regularly send debris from hives to NBU so they can check for any incursion of the beetle but, as far as I’m aware, there have been no cases of it in the UK thus far.

All of the newly-laid brood from hives has been given a clean bill of health; there are no signs of foul brood disease and (pleasingly!) no underlying signs of Varroa mites.

The shook swarms that I carried out on the hives have been successful. Queens were seen and laying, the bees have been busy drawing out all the new brood frames and one hive had also filled a super with stores and needed another one for space.

So, the bees are building up nicely and, all in all – as expected! – it is a very pleasing result.

We are very lucky to have our regional bee inspectors and I find it very useful and reassuring that they are around if needed.

They are currently doing inspections at apiaries in areas where there is known to be diseases but are happy to be called out if a beekeeper finds something unusual or if they find a problem with colonies.

So, beekeepers: don’t be shy, give them a call. They don’t bite — or sting!

Lynda Christie
Apiary Blog, April 16, 2020