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Good afternoon, Dear Reader.

I trust you are well and that you are ready and prepared for the beekeeping season ahead of us.

As I write, a third AH queen has been found - this time in Lancashire of all places. Who knows if it overwintered, or was an 'immigrant' having hitched a lift in with a consignment of veg or logs. My personal take on the AH situation is thus :

1. They are established - so the NBU/DEFRA need to stop pussy-footing around the subject and declare this.
2. By declaring it as established it should raise the flag up the pole for not just early interventions, but communications led by DEFRA and to focus on the plan ( a short one page not 16+ I hear a southern association has already managed to scribe). KISS ! Keep It Simple for the Stupid !!
3. While it's great to spend money on a special 'non-bycatch' trap, any trap is better than no trap.
4. I estimate we are at 'year 2' when compared with the same time scale that France saw around 20 years go. If the summer is half decent, expect the NBU to be rushing round like blue-arsed flies from June.

I'm actually really concerned about this NBU lead on everything - this year will be the year they fall over and can't cope - can't cope with both track and trace, nest destruction, and also focusing on improving on last year's poor number of hive inspections for AFB/EFB. After all, something has got to give. It's about time they allowed the pest control industry to obtain the relevant qualifications, maybe from UKHSA or some other online course, and get them out and destroying nests. There seems less point the further on we are on this journey to have to keep it to NBU only.

There - my opinion for what it's worth.

In the south, we have obtained a fair number of Guard-Apis traps through an association bulk buy. Of course there's lots of discussion about how/when to use them. Well the time is NOW and don't use gelatine to keep the trappit in the trap as it requires air passing over the surface to attract the Hornets. But hey, what do I know ?! A good way to prevent the bait sloshing out is to use some stiff garden wire like in the attached photo to create a 'triangle' so prevent it moving so much. Then find a nice sunny spot and keep a watching brief on the trap.

So to matters more mundane - the weather - any more rain and I'll go into the water bottling game. Wettest since records began apparently. I'm already struggling to get around some apiary locations due to the damp fields, yet others in more free draining areas are fine. The rest of March seems cool after a promising start, and there is even talk of overnight frosts in the West country. We need temperatures above 15 degrees C to get the OSR to flow. And on the OSR front - it's either feast or famine in terms of the crops in the ground. Some really struggled to get established in the latter half of 2023, and on the other hand, some are luxuriant and spiking flower stalks already. Hence this week I moved 50 colonies to a big area of OSR, with another 30-40 to go next week.

One does hope though that the ground dries out as according to local farmers, there is around 29,000 acres of ground due to have spring crops sown that is currently too wet to work. It may bode well if they plant some flowering break crops, but I am actually more concerned about the long term impact on home grown crop yields - our government, just like the last 4 since 2011, and the one in between 1997 and 2011, have had no plan to make the UK more self sufficient in terms of foodstuffs. The itch in my little toe suggests that things are becoming ever more unstable in the world and I hate to think it but the facts are there - we are 49% self sufficient in all food consumed in the UK ! Time for a big rethink methinks, and stop the Politicians ruining farmer's livelihoods - Bee Farmers too !

The past month or so has been one focused on equipment assembly in the bee-yard and cleaning down older frames. With some help from my buddy, over 1500 frames have been scraped out, boiled, pressure washed and dried ready for re-waxing. It might well be more than 1500 to be honest, but that hasn't stopped us making up new ones and filling boxes ready for the 2024 season.

Top on the list of jobs is (still) to replace the floor of the trailer. The other big job was to get a higher rated power supply to the honey house - this has been completed and is now a hefty 60amps which means the apimelter, kochstar, creamer and honey jar warmer can all run together without fizzing the circuit breakers !


Well, I hope the weather turns to a proper spring soon enough. The bees are aching to race ahead but I fear we will be feeding them for a bit longer.

Best wishes


Somerford
 

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As I write, a third AH queen has been found - this time in Lancashire of all places. Who knows if it overwintered, or was an 'immigrant' having hitched a lift in with a consignment of veg or logs.
Found at a warehouse with trucks arriving from France.
 
Established, then ?
no, looks like the cauliflower it was found in came from the same packing centre in Boston (Lincs) as the one discovered in a supermarket a few years ago, if so, it's a hub that has traffic from the continent bringing in veg for packing and onward distribution to UK supermarkets
 
no, looks like the cauliflower it was found in came from the same packing centre in Boston (Lincs) as the one discovered in a supermarket a few years ago, if so, it's a hub that has traffic from the continent bringing in veg for packing and onward distribution to UK supermarkets
It was tongue in cheek 😉
 
Somerford over reacting without knowing the full facts.

Isolated AH finds need to be put in to perspective esp when they fall outside the usual spread of the specie in an area not known to be favourable.
 

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