An update.

Just a quick update which has come to my attention in the last few days:

Beginners’ Course: The course for 2023 is now full. It is so popular that we have a full reserve list as well.

Asian Hornets – why worry? Well if you think it is nothing to worry about then I suggest you look at this video on YouTube. It is by Richard Noel who is based in Brittany. His mood comes over so well in this video.

I have just checked and a straight line from Cherbourg-en-Cotentin to Dorchester is just 133km or 83 miles. Given a wind from the South, as we have had recently, that is a short flying distance.

So when you get an alert to look out for Asian Hornets please take it very seriously or we could be seeing what Richard Noel sees in his apiary.

Cold at last!

You and I may not enjoy the recent cold weather but it is certainly good for our bees.

When it is cold, really cold, they huddle together in the centre of the brood box surrounding the queen. The survival of the colony depends on her survival and the bees “know” it. They will keep the queen warm. They do this by vibrating their wing muscles to generate heat. Bees on the edge of the cluster will be feeling the cold and they move in towards the centre of the cluster forcing other bees to the edge. By constantly changing places all the bees stay at a survivable temperature and the queen is kept warm.

But why isn’t warm weather better? Well if it is warmer some of the workers may be tempted to emerge from the hive to seek food. At this time of year the only food around is the honey stores in the hive and any blocks of fondant you have placed above the frames.

Chances are that any bee seeking food outside the hive will perish from cold or hunger before they can get back to the warmth of the hive. That is then one less bee to keep the queen warm.

So I hope you can see that at this time of year a crisp cold winter is what we want for our bees – even if it is not what will help our heating bills.

So what is coming up for us? Well I have been a bit quiet recently – well as far as you are concerned. In the last month I have made several trips to North Wales – and not one of them was for pleasure. There was snow on the tops and I would have loved to be up there. Alas I was far too busy.

Now I am back in Dorset and pleased to say that I have a bit more time to myself. As a result I have just added another page to the BeeInfo area of the Dorset Beekeepers website. The new page is about allotments and putting your bees there. I thought it would be simple – check with the allotment manager and if OK move the hive up there.

In some cases this may be the case but not always. Have a read of the page to see the pitfalls.

More Information on Winter Things

As I look out of the window it is raining very heavily. Interesting that our rainfall figures for the year may come out as about average. This is not what we have experienced.

First we had a baking hot summer and a very dry one and now we are having a very wet autumn but on average it is all about normal. Don’t trust averages!

Not wishing to go out and get wet I have been updating the web site. I have updated the training courses page. If you are interested then do get in touch soon as places are going fast.

I have also been working on the BeeInfo pages which are hosted by the Dorset Beekeepers website. On there I have put more information about the BBKA exams as well as updating other pages.

Why do we need bees?

These difficult times are also times of change, time when we consider why do we need bees – or any insects.

We have an opportunity to review where we are as a society and where we are going. Many of us who have managed to get out will have been amazed at the intense blue of the sky and the enhanced bird song. Perhaps now is a time to consider our work life balance – our work and the life of the planet

Those of us who are beekeepers know how important bees are. But not all the people who look at this site are beekeepers – as I found when I received an email from Sarah’s father.

Bee on yellow flower
Bee on yellow flower by sebastian rosset.

Sarah, like many students, is studying from home and she came across this particular site on the importance of bees as pollinators and she asked that I place a link to it on the links page and this I am happy to do.

That got me thinking and I have found more suitable links which I am also going to add to the links pages.

Friends of the Earth have a useful page on bees of all sorts and their importance as pollinators.

The BBC has a section on the importance of the bees as pollinators. It includes a video with Chris Packham who is always worth listening to.

One of my favourite sites at the moment is which has lectures on all sorts of subjects from politics to maths and all stops in between. They have a whole section on why we need bees and I am watching one of those talks as I type up this blog.

Woodland Trust also have a very good page on the importance of bees and they also describe the threats to the bees including the Asian Hornet which is such a worry to us as beekeepers.

There are plenty more suitable sites out there but hopefully this sample will get you started. I hope that some of you who are not beekeepers will have a look at some of the links and learn a bit more about why insects, and especially bees, are so important.

My thanks to Sarah for drawing my attention to something more we can be doing for the planet.