Bees and sprays


Lovely sunny day, hardly a cloud in the sky and just a day to get out and apply that first spray to the crops – but what about the bees?

There are all sorts of reasons that bees suffer from colony collapse or fail to do what we expect them to and one of the reasons that is often suggested is crop spraying.

In towns where many of us keep bees this is not a problem as there is very little spraying which is likely to drift far from the intended plants. However in the countryside it can be a far more serious problem.

It is for this reason I was intrigued to see a web site that helps around this problem. The site is and aims to advise bee keepers when there is going to be spraying in the vicinity of their hives.

The way it works is that farmers who are registered place a pin on the map where they are going to spray and show what is being sprayed. As beekeepers we also place a pin on the map to show where we keep hives. It is not necessary to have a post code for a hive which is probably as well.

The farmer will notify  beeconnected when they are going to spray and an email is then sent to the owners of the  registered apiaries in the area which is being sprayed. Bee keepers can decide how big a radius they want to cover and the software allows them to choose up to 5km which is about as far as the bees are likely to go to forage.

In this area – around Dorchester – there are 15 farmers registered and 47 beekeepers. Fifteen farmers may not sound like a lot but with the size of many farms these days this could cover a lot of land.

So if you are a beekeeper it is a good idea to register.

But what do you do if you get notification that there will be spraying in your area? One suggestion is to move your bees to a new location but for those who have ever done this then you have some idea what a problem this can be.

A more practical suggestion is to cover the hive very loosely with wet sacking – more like a tent with the hive in it than a well wrapped parcel. Allow the bees space to move out of the hive and cluster by the entrance if it is too hot inside. The sacking should be kept wet to avoid the hive overheating and at the same time it may absorb some of the drift. It is not ideal but there seem to be no sure-fire ways to protect bees.





Asian Hornet

We must be on the lookout for this invasive predator of honey bees.  Control will depend to a large extent on early identification and destruction of nests.  Being able to identify the Asian Hornet, and particularly being able to distinguish it from the native European Hornet which is not a serious predator of honey bees, will be key factors in control.

Information is still coming in on the best way to deal with the Asian Hornet, so at the moment we can only advise members to be vigilant around their apiaries, use Monitoring traps with discretion, report any sightings [see below] and most importantly sign up with BeeBase and keep checking for the latest information.

The body is almost completely dark brown or black, with a distinctive yellow band on the 4th segment of the abdomen, and the lower legs are yellow.

There is an excellent ‘Asian Hornet Watch’ app available to download from the Apple and Android app stores which can be used for identification and reporting.

You can report also report sightings by email to with a photo or on the Non-native Species Secretariat website.

Details on the appearance of an Asian hornet can be found on Bee Base guide or the non-native species identification guide.

The Great Britain Non-native Species Secretariat is a joint venture between Defra, the Scottish Government and the Welsh Government to tackle the threat of invasive species. More information can be found on their  website.

Auction 2018

Next year the auction will have a change of venue away from Nordale Farm, where we have been for years, to an indoor site at Sunninghill School in Dorchester.  Put a note into your diary to put a note in next year’s diary that it will be on Saturday 13th March 2018.


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There are 2 extractors available for hire to members. A nine frame & a four frame. For the nine frame please contact Nicky Payne on 01305 822609/ 07875 588906 or for the four frame contact Chris Jenkins on 07825 299321.


Varroa Treatments

At this time of year the most effective chemical is Oxalic acid.   Apiguard (Thymol based) is less effective because of the low temperatures. Oxalic acid can be used in several ways although the only “legal” application method is by using ApiBioxal which has recently been given official approval (see BBKA News November 2015 pages 389-390).

Some beekeepers have started using vapourisation (sublimation) which involves heating the Oxalic Acid under the hive to give a vapour which spreads through the hive and kills the varroa. Although it still does not kill any varroa in capped brood it is claimed that it does not harm the bees and repeated treatments can be applied 5 days apart.

Sussex University has recently produced a Broadcast News Item on research they have been doing on the best way of using Oxalic Acid. They suggest that the vapourisation method is the best way. I attach a link to their Broadcast which makes interesting reading:

If anyone wants to comment on how they have managed with the various different methods of treatment, please let me know. This might be helpful to members particularly as the first time using a different method can be quite daunting.

Sally Leslie, Tel: 01305 823043 email: