The BBKA’s Worker Bee newsletter last week makes a brief reference to the health risks to UK beekeeping associated with importing bees infested with Small Hive Beetle (SHB) …
Worker Bee statement on SHB
… a very brief reference. It’s particularly disappointing that they don’t even take the opportunity to emphasise their opposition to honeybee imports. This newsletter will have been distributed to the recently signed-up trainee beekeepers who have taken courses in the 2014/15 winter. These new beekeepers, quite understandably, want their own bees as soon as possible and may buy imports, perhaps unknowingly.
I have written extensively on the risk posed to beekeepers from the importation of SHB and the damage I think cheap imports do to the quality of UK beekeeping. If you’re a beginner reading this please try and source a local raised nuc, even if it means you have to wait a couple more weeks for bees. Ask the following simple questions:
- do you know where the nuc originated from? Many nucs are exported from Southern Italy to France for subsequent selling-on.
- wouldn’t you prefer bees adapted to the local conditions in your area? You’re also more likely to get advice and support from a local beekeeper you buy a nuc from.
- do you really need bees in late March/early April? It’s often too cold to inspect them properly and a nuc acquired in mid/late May will build up just as well and may even give you honey from the summer nectar flow.
SHB has never been eradicated from any country it has been imported to. Where known, importation has previously occurred with queens, bees or bee-related products and equipment. The National Bee Unit reviewed the most likely route of importation to the UK and reported that – big surprise – it is with queens, bees or bee-related products and equipment.
Buy local bees … please!
The move to Harper Adams College has improved the facilities available to people attending the BBKA Spring Convention – there’s more space for the trade exhibits and much better quality lecture theatres for those both speaking or listening in the educational talks.
However, speaking to some of the people running the trade stands (on the Friday, which was the only day I attended in 2014), the impact of BeeTradEx is perhaps beginning to have an effect. There appeared to be empty spaces in the trade tents – though this might have been for exhibitors waiting until the Saturday to set up – and discussion of some exhibitors being offered additional space at no extra cost. I suspect UK beekeeping may not be big enough for two large trade shows per year, particularly since they occur within a month or so of each other.
Business appeared to be steady, presumably because the orgy of beekeeping retail therapy largely occurs on the Saturday, but the ‘new boys’ on the Mann Lake stand said they’d underestimated the stock needed and were considering making an overnight run to Canterbury to stock up. Remember to give the Mann Lake people your email and get a free hive tool in return to lose sometime later in the season.
For the first time (in my memory at least) the trade tent was open on the Friday afternoon and into the evening. This was very welcome. Having spent the afternoon in the Insect Pollinators Initiative presentations I rushed around, stocking up on the essentials I needed. I had a quick look at Thorne’s new poly nucs which appeared to be pretty good quality (and, because they’re smooth on the outside, easy to paint) and their one handed queen catcher, which was disappointingly cumbersome.
As always, everyone was very friendly and it was a great opportunity to catch up with old, and make new, friends. I just hope that the introduction of BeeTradEx doesn’t damage the BBKA meeting … without the bustling trade stands I’m not sure how much of a draw the convention would be.