Sunflowers in Sunshine

At last sunshine is here and sunflowers are here.

If you are in Dorchester then why not visit the Maiden Castle Sunflower Trail. Details and booking can be done through their web site.

The Sunflower Trail is in full flower and will be open daily until they start to wilt in two or three weeks.   It opens daily at 12.00pm and the last booking time is 6.00pm. Bookings are recommended though not essential.  maidencastlefarm.co.uk    Drinks/snacks are available or there is plenty of room for people to bring their own picnic.

Honey Bees and Bumble Bees

Having spent a pleasant afternoon there today it was good to see how many honey bees were there. There are also many bumble bees and I saw at least three different species.

There are certainly a lot of sunflower – like being in France!

So far so good!

What mixed weather. One day we are sitting in the garden entertaining under our new freedoms and then a week later we are checking to see if the bees have enough feed for the cold spell. Blame it on Global Warming or Climate Change or Sod’s Law it is a time to keep your eye on things.

On the positive side there is a polystyrene hive for sale on the For Sale page and there is a new copy of Beecraft on the Dorset Beekeepers website.

And for those looking for the present for a beekeeper who has almost everything how about an electric bee shaker for clearing your frames.

Green Brexit!

January 1st brought a whole new approach to the UK’s ability to make its own rules and move to a greener more environmentally friendly set of rules. Well that is what Michael Gove told us. In fact this is the same Michael Gove who advocated tough restrictions on the use of neonicotinoids in 2017.

So why my concern? Well what has really brought this to the attention of the beekeepers is that less than two weeks into the new “Green Brexit” the Government has granted emergency permission for farmers to use a neonicotinoid on sugar beet.

Are they harmful? Well the EU felt they were sufficiently damaging to the environment that they have restricted their use though many countries in the EU have granted “Emergency Authorisation ” for the use of thiamethoxam, which is a neonicotinoid, on Sugar Beet. They are sufficiently concerned about the Emergency Authorisations that they have asked for further details from the countries involved.

This mainly affects East Anglia and the Government has limited its use and applied several conditions to what other crops may be grown in the same area but that is not the point. The full set of restrictions can be seen here.

This, as far as we know, is the first such application this year and it has been granted. DEFRA have written a blog to explain their case. They also put out a statement explaining the reasoning behind their decision.

The reason for granting the licence is to reduce the number of Aphids which carry Beet Yellows Virus. The effect of the virus is to reduce crop yields so there will be less sugar produced. But surely with the obesity epidemic that the government is trying to stop should we not be reducing the amount of sugar we are producing? If the virus is that damaging perhaps it is time to move from producing sugar to producing another crop which has more nutritional value and does not require the application of this dangerous insecticide.

If you feel that our bees are worth saving and that there has to be a better way then why not sign one of the several petitions that are out there. There is one asking the government to overturn this decision. So far South Dorset has submitted 61 signatures and West Dorset 95 signatures! or write to your MP – or even both. There is also a similar petition to continue the ban on neonocotinoids.