The National Bee Health Day was held at Lyndhurst Community Centre, and four people from the Portsmouth Association attended. The day was well structured with two morning workshops with an interchange so everyone attended both workshops.

The Emphasis was on Bee Health : How to identify Chalk, SAC Brood, Wax moth, & how to test for AFB & EFB and how to spot and take corrective action. Other potential threats were covered with top of the list and priority The Asian Hornet (which showed a video of the Asian Hornet decimating an a European Honey Bee Hive; just a few Asian Hornets picking off any Bees that were brave enough to fly from the Hive. As one Asian Hornet picked off a flying Bee it was replaced straight away by another. The video showed Bees cowering on the landing board frightened to move or fly). The Small Hive Beetle, Tropilaelaps parasitic mites, & managing Varroa was also covered and also how to reduced cross contamination between Hives and the out-apiary’s by applying good bio-security measures & practices.

One interesting fact that emerged was the increase of the Asian Hornet Queen’s in 2018 where there was a recorded 11 AH Queen’s. This year 2019 to date 61 Queen’s have been detected by APHA (Animal & Plant Health Agency), with a recorded 8,500 phone call of reported suspected Asian Hornet’s.

Interestingly the number one of Bee health issues were caused by the Beekeeper not applying good Hive Husbandry, using old frames and comb, not cleaning old frames or torching hives, on a regular basis. APHA recommend that all comb should be replaced on the third season (at least 3/4 frames per year) and the frames cleaned by soaking them in soda water overnight. Another good tip was to consider shook swarming to replace old comb; and also restrict the movement of frames between Hives and more so between Apiaries.

Workshops: The first workshop showed large pictures of frames infected with Sac & Chalk Brood, then frames with EFB and AFB. Dan Etheridge ( Bee Inspector for Hampshire and Isle of Wight) explained what to look for in both cases of EFB & AFB and why AFB must be dealt with by the total destruction of the Colony and frames/hives. AFB is based upon a fungal spool (that can exit and lay dormant for up to 50 years or more, and when conditions are right it can reactivate (with the PH of the Bee gut)). According to APHA if just one cell is detected with AFB the whole hive must be destroyed. The only know method is to burn and bury the hive/colony to reduce the risk of exposure. AFB can be carried by robber Bees which can infect an otherwise good healthy colonies. Where as the threshold for EFB is different, if 50% of the Hive is infected then destruction would take place, less then 50% the Hive could be saved from destruction. The workshop then demonstrated on fresh frames recovered from Wales with Sac, Chalk, EFB & AFB and how to test with just a simple pair of long nose pointed tweezers and a bright torch and magnifying glass. APHA recommend carrying out Bee Heath inspection three times a year, also they recommend shook swarm on frames, as the Bees recover after a few days and tend to be more stronger for it. The day finished with a round up of good hive husbandry techniques with tips to reduce cross contamination and frequent washing of beekeeping suits and, tools etc.

The presentations and workshops by APHA was excellent and was probably one of the best talks on Bee health. To-date. It was a well supported by the New Forest Bee Association, Portsmouth was represented by four people. APHA also recommended that beekeepers should register on Beebase at www.nationalbeeunit.com or via the DEFRA link:
https://secure.fera.defra.gov.uk/beebase/public/register.cfm for all the latest information on the Asian Hornet (sightings) and outbreaks AFB & EFB, the website is packed with lots of useful tips on Bee Health.

Summary written by Brian Bailey & Peter Church