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Beekeepers News - June - Issue 69

Beekeepers News - June - Issue 69

The June 2022 edition of our newsletter




May Roundup

So just like that, May has been and gone. It has been a jam-packed month, with World Bee Day, Chelsea Flower Show, No Mow May, and our busiest weeks of the year so far!


Once again this year we had the pleasure of assisting our friends at Bees for Development in the build for their Chelsea Flower Show stand, along with design by Sarah Mihalop and sponsorship from Rowse Honey. The exhibit won a Silver award, so a massive congratulations to the whole team! 

Chelsea Flower Show 1


Chelsea Flower Show 2

Chelsea Flower Show 3


Chelsea Flower Show 4


Chelsea Flower Show 5


Our Windsor branch will now be open on Mondays, as well as the usual opening hours Tuesday to Saturday. 


Again, can we ask if you are yet to shop on our new website, please make sure you reset your password before putting any items into your basket. If you have any issues with this, you can contact us on Live Chat during office hours, or email sales@thorne.co.uk.



Special Offer

Two free Water Feeders with every bottle of

Mineral Bee Logo

We are giving away two water feeders with every bottle of Mineral Bee we sell in the month of June.

Water Feeder


We all need water to live, and bees are no exception. The instances of bees struggling to find water in periods of drought are commonplace.

This little feeder is the answer. Very simple to use without disturbing the hive, taking virtually all makes of compact water bottle found on supermarket shelves. If your hives have flat and level alighting boards, no need to use the wooden block.

If your hive has a flush fronted floor or sloping alighting board snap the block in place and push into the entrance.

The feeder can also be used for feeding syrup if necessary, and as it reaches 10cms into the hive the bees do not have to venture far during cold snaps. It can also be secured under the slot of a conventional entrance block, as pictured here.


Water Feeder in Hive

Mineral Bee Bottle


Mineral Bee: Minerals and Trace Elements FOR BEES is 100% natural minerals, trace elements, amino acids, and fatty acids for honeybees.

It has been scientifically proven to contain the same key minerals and trace elements as honey and pollen. Available in 250ml and 1 litre bottles. You can use whenever you are feeding your bees and providing them drinking water.



Equipment Focus

Queen Reading Frames

A queen rearing frame is used in conjunction with a cell cupkit system for rearing your own queens. It avoids grafting, making queen rearing a simpler process. This clip-on frame is a modified DN4 (British Standard Deep Hoffman) with two removable oak inserts running lengthways across the frame. This maximizes the space you can use and therefore increases the number of queens you can rear on each frame.

Queen Rearing Frame

Using either the Nicot or NB cupkit, the queen should have laid eggs in the small brown cell cups. The cell cups of both these cupkits are compatible with the Clip-on cell cups. Any brown cell cups with eggs then need to be transferred to the Clip-on cell cups and clipped onto the oak bars on the frame. Next, the frame needs to go into a strong colony that has been made queenless so that the bees will draw out some new queen cells and nurture the developing queens. Nicot hair roller cages can then go on to protect the queen cells and newly hatched queens. NB roller cages are not compatible.



Ask the Expert

The June Gap

The June Gap typically refers to a time during the summer, normally June here in the UK, when there is a lack of forage available to the bees (and presumably other insects too). In comparison to the abundance of nectar and pollen available in the spring from flowers, hedges and trees, summer sees a reduction in these sources of forage. This is due in part to an increased number of grasses and dandelions growing at this time of year and the fact that they can actually suppress the growth of other ‘forage-able’ flowers.

In recent years, the UK has grown a lot of oilseed rape which flowers during April and into May. This is an excellent source of forage for honeybees so when it finishes at the end of spring, the bees are left with even less to forage on than before.

During this dearth of forage, you may need to feed your bees to stop them starving. If you feed syrup, be very careful not to spill it as this will be a major cause of robbing within your apiaries. It is best to feed when there is little flight activity too for this same reason.

Of course, there are plants that are in flower at this time of year so having these in abundance close by to your hives would be an advantage to your bees and to your pocket.

These include:

-          Nepeta (Catmint)

-          Lavender

-          Borage

-          Blue globe allium

-          Geranium pratense

-          White clover

-          Herbs such as thyme, coriander and rosemary


The June Gap 1

The June Gap 2

The June Gap 3

All very pretty too! There are more you could choose from, but these are just a few of the popular ones that can provide good forage for the bees during a dearth of nectar or pollen in the summer.

The June Gap 4


The June Gap 5


The June Gap 6





The busy season has begun! This month we have seen some really great weather followed by some pretty chilly conditions here in Lincolnshire. This means that the bees have been able to get out and forage on the sunny warm days, building up their stores well. However, towards the end of the month with cooler temperatures, we found that the bees were not flying so much, and we have therefore had to keep an eye on stores inside the hive. We don’t want them to have built up only to starve due to their own success!

If you look very closely at this image taken from a beekeeper’s eye view of the frames, you may be able to see a tiny sliver of the protein patty we put on last month. It is on the 5th frame from the left about two thirds of the way down. The bees have wolfed the patty down and it has clearly done them well as they seem to be thriving so far.Inspections have taken place this month, with some hives needing artificial swarms. This is also the time we start taking of nucs for sale. Every nuc is carefully selected, all with 1st quality frames, plenty of brood and stores, and lots of bees to set them up as a new colony.


April Blog 1

April Blog 2


This image of the frame shows one that has been nicely drawn out. A perfect candidate for putting in a nuc with lots of young brood and eggs. However, it is on plastic foundation! It is not something we use a lot of here but as an experiment I think it has come out rather well. So, if you are looking to save on wax, perhaps look at the reusable foundation – it seems to have worked for us.In the apiary there are always other things to look at than our bees. You can see in the photo a little mound of soil with a hole in. This will be some kind of solitary bee – if anyone knows what it belongs to, please let us know!

We often see them this time of year going in and out of these little holes in the ground, it is quite fascinating how different species of bee behave.

May is usually our busiest month so we are expecting the same this year. Most of our nucs come off in May which means we have some long days in store!


April Blog 3


We have so busy this month so hopefully we will have the May blog post in the next month's newsletter!



Book Review

‘Honeybees Vision: Recent Discoveries’ by Adrian Horridge


‘Honeybees Vision: Recent Discoveries’ written by Adrian Horridge

Northern Bee Books 2021

26 pages



Honeybees Vision: Recent Discoveries

This slim book highlighting recent discoveries about honeybee vision is authored by Professor Horridge, who conducted the research at his Australian home after retiring from academia. He traces the history of early research and methods, which also form the basis of his experimentation, but he has sided with Carl von Hess who thought that bees do not see all the rainbow colours. Karl von Frisch, however, said that bees do see all the colours. Von Hess died young, and von Frisch's view has prevailed. With technological advances, I expected old ideas to be explored and challenged.

After a brief introduction about how compound eyes work and how the receptors detect the visual field of view, most of the booklet explains the methodology used to establish how bees see. Horridge also mentions the role smell plays alongside vision in detecting flowers and the home hive. The final part of the book deals with motion detectors, how a bee knows where it is, its speed, flight direction, distance travelled and what is in front of it - a predator, flower or its hive. The final page considers whether bees think or have a memory.

The conflicting view of insect vision is quite controversial. As Horridge's results show, honeybees do not see as we do or have the same colour vision as us. They rely on cues, like sunlight, ultraviolet light, and polarised light, which we do not see.

We need to enter a different world and it is difficult at times to grasp the findings.

Horridge's data is taken from his much larger book, The Discoveries of a Visual System (CABI Books) and a free earlier version, A Critique of Honeybee Vision, available on his website (for personal use only). They critique the older findings, which are quite heavy reading but fascinating.

This book is a good introduction for those interested in honeybee vision or as a primer for those wanting to read one of Horridge's larger books.

- Review by Graham Kingham



Veto-pharma Logo


Apivar FAQs

Véto-pharma’s technical service is dedicated to answering all our customers’ product questions. Although we always try to anticipate and provide information on every aspect of our products, we also consider it useful to offer local compilations of product FAQs. We often find that, due to differences in climatic conditions, different hive types used, and other specific local circumstances in beekeeping, frequently asked questions can differ between regions and countries.


You will find a top 10 of the most asked questions by British beekeepers below:

  1. Can I harvest honey for human consumption in spring that has been present in the hive during an Apivar treatment the previous year? The Apivar label states “The product must not be administered when supers are present.” “Do not use during honey flow. Do not extract honey from the brood chamber. Do not harvest honey when the treatment is in place”. All labels of miticides authorised in Europe include this or similar restrictions. Thus, honey that was present in the hive during an Apivar treatment cannot be harvested for human consumption – no matter if it is comb honey from the brood area or contained in honey supers. The label has been approved by the UK Veterinary Medicines Directorate, one of whose duties is to protect the foods that we consume.
  2. How many strips do I use if my bees are in a British National 14”x12” (356mm x 305mm) brood body (= a deep brood body approx. 50% larger than a standard brood body)? No matter the size of the hive and number of brood boxes, the correct Apivar dosage to apply per hive is 2 strips.
  3. Where do I put the strips if I use1 ½ brood bodies?  Do I move the strips midway through treatment?  (1 ½ brood bodies are a single brood body and a super used together as the brood nest). Apivar is a contact miticide, meaning that to function in the best possible way, the bees must be in direct contact with the Apivar strips. Make sure the strips are placed in the center of the brood nest to promote more contacts with the bees, and to be as close as possible to the place where the mites will emerge. Looking at your hive configuration, we would suggest placing the strips in the brood body, to make sure they are located in the center of the brood. If you plan to feed your hives with a top feeder, it might encourage more activity of bees in the super, and therefore make the placement in the supers acceptable (providing that this super is not aiming at collecting honey, as Apivar should not be used with honey supers on).
  4. I keep bees and live in the north of England. As the temperatures can be quite cool during spring or even late summer, does it have an impact on the Apivar treatment? Since Apivar is a contact miticide, temperature is not a direct factor in using it efficiently. Apivar works regardless of the ambient temperature - whether it’s high or low. It is used in countries like Canada, where temperatures can be low even in summer. Temperatures in the UK do not pose a problem for using Apivar successfully in spring or late summer. However, when ambient temperatures are low enough for bees to form a winter cluster, the activity of bees in the colony is considerably reduced. Reduced activity in the bee colony can reduce efficacy of contact miticides, such as Apivar. This is why we would not recommend using Apivar in winter.
  5. I have a package of Apivar that expired last month. Will it still work in my hives? Apivar’s shelf life is 24 months after the manufacturing date. This manufacturing date is stamped on the Apivar package. Apivar strips are made of a polymer material, which is blended with Apivar’s active ingredient, amitraz. Upon manufacture, the strips are vacuum-sealed, and the release of amitraz is activated when the package is opened. As the activated strip makes contact with honey bees, amitraz is transferred from the strips’ surface, and additional amitraz then migrates from the center to the surface of the strip. However, the amitraz contained in strips in an unopened package will degrade over time which is why an expiration date has been determined for Apivar. Therefore, the stability of the strip cannot be guaranteed past the expiration date.
  6. I only have two hives. And I will need only 4 Apivar strips to treat for mites. If I purchase a package of 10 strips, I will have 6 left over. Is there any way to store the leftover strips long-term (sealable plastic bag, and/or freeze them)? When an Apivar package is opened, and the vacuum seal is broken, the strip is activated, and the release of the active ingredient begins. All of the strips within the package should be used as soon as possible after opening. Once the package is opened, and the activation of the strip commences it cannot be stopped. Long term storage of open packages of Apivar is not possible, as it could lead to reduced efficacy of the treatment.
  7. I am ready to remove my honey supers. When removing the supers, the hives will have a large bee population, and I plan to insert Apivar. Can I place an empty super on the hive for additional space? Just to allow the bees a place to go. Otherwise, I know from experience, they will beard up at the hive entrance. Theoretically, you can add additional space on top of the hive, providing that you will not collect any honey for human consumption. If the bees deposit any nectar in the super, you should not harvest it later for human consumption. Your bees may consume these food stores. However, you must be aware that Apivar works by contact. By increasing the space available inside the hive, you might reduce the probability of contacts between the bees and the strips and thus the efficacy of your treatment. This effect could be amplified, considering the colony's population will decrease during the ten weeks of treatment, heading into autumn, as it will slowly prepare for wintering. As indicated in question #3, it can be interesting to place a feeder on top of the super to promote more bee activity, leading to more contacts with the strips.
  8. Can frames with drawn comb that were previously treated with Apivar be used as honey frames later? No, you cannot recycle brood combs as honey frames. The Apivar label clearly mentions this specific scenario: “Do not recycle brood frames as honey frames.” For proper wax management, brood combs should be replaced with new foundation at least every three years.
  9. I use Apivar in the fall. Can I keep it in the hive over the winter and remove it in the following spring? What may happen if I leave the strips in for more than 10 weeks? As the packaging label indicates, Apivar’s treatment period is a minimum of 42 days, with a maximum of 70 days. Leaving the strips in the hive for longer will facilitate the continued contact of the mites with lower doses of amitraz for a much longer period of time. This may lead to reduced sensitivity of the mites towards the molecule. Every beekeeper is responsible of removing the strips at the end of the treatment period to make sure we preserve the efficacy of the treatments available today.
  10. Can I use Apivar more than once a year? You can use Apivar twice a year, in spring and for the late summer / autumn treatment. However, we strongly believe that adopting an IPM strategy (Integrated Pest Management) is the best long-term option to keep our arsenal of treatments sustainable. Therefore, we also encourage beekeepers to rotate the molecules within a same year, and make use of biomechanical methods of varroa control in addition to  mite treatments (queen caging, drone brood removal, divisions, …)

See end of newsletter for legal notices.



Bees for Development

The Bees for Development team have returned from this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show with delighted smiles:  we were pleased to see greater focus on bees, and also with happiness for the silver medal we were fortunate to receive.

Our ‘Hives for Lives’ exhibit, which was wonderfully brought to life with the help from everyone at EH Thorne, featured a tropical garden with hexagonal cedar walls, hand woven hives and planting reminiscent of the climate of Africa – home to many of the communities we help at Bees for Development.


Bees for Development Logo



Visitors’ responses to the stand were extremely positive and we extend our thanks to everyone involved in this year’s event and for the wonderful workmanship EH Thorne provided.

Meanwhile, our Project Manager, Giacomo has been busy at work with the team at Bees for Development Ghana, helping to progress their work – training and helping beekeepers to find good markets for their produce. 

We are delighted that there is an abundant honey harvest underway - wonderful news for the beekeeping community in Donkorkrom.   More honey means the opportunity for more sales and income for those who need it most.  The harvest is a great sign that the bee colonies are thriving in their environment, making everyone hopeful for a better future for this extremely poor community. 

Once the excitement has settled here at Bees for Development, our next event is Monmouth Bee Festival, taking place over the weekend of 2 & 3 July, here in Monmouth.  The Festival is a wonderful opportunity for the local community to come together and enjoy a whole host of activities, talks, local entertainment, food, produce and celebrate the world of bees.  Please do pop along if you are in the area, we’d love to see you.  On Saturday, Monmouth bee gardens are open to the public, on Sunday we have stalls and bee events on Chippenham Fields.


- Nicola Bradbear and the Bees for Development Team



National Honey Show

June 2022 Lecture Video Release

The June YouTube video release on Friday 3rd June at 5.15pm will be the lecture given by Paul Hurd at the 2021 National Honey Show entitled "Honeybees are what they eat: how do differing diets result in queens or workers?" The National Honey Show gratefully acknowledge the Worshipful Company of Wax Chandlers for their support and Middlesex Beekeepers for their sponsorship. www.youtube.com/c/NationalHoneyShowUK/videos

Please ‘subscribe’ to our channel, there’s no cost, and it helps support the show.


National Honey Show Logo

2022 Lectures: We now have the provisional programme for this year’s show

Jeff Pettis:

“Bees that survive Varroa”

“Apimondia, a long history and how to keep current”

“Global beekeeping”

“Back to the future: Hands off vs intensive management?”

Nicola Bradbear:

 “Bees for Development’s first 30 years”

Roger Patterson:

“Beekeeping: Challenge what you are told”

Dave Goulson:

“Silent Earth: Saving Our Insects”

Willie Robson:

 “Reflections on 60 years of commercial beekeeping”  
“An hour with Willie Robson”

Dara Kilmartin:  

“Bee Vision”

Grace McCormack:

“Insights on beekeeping from wild honey bees”

“Protecting honey bees on the island of Ireland: Our journey from discovery to legislation”

Rachel Monger:

 “A Story of Beekeeping Abroad”


Saturday Beginner’s Programme

Jane Medwell:  “What do bees collect and how do they use it?”  

Roger Patterson: “Observation: Interpret what you see”

Selwyn Runnett: “Listening to the Bees: The Case for Sustainable Beekeeping”

Dan Etheridge and Peter Davies: “National Bee Unit (NBU) – The Beekeepers Friend”  


As always, lots to look forward to for this year’s show. We look forward to seeing you there on 27th to 29th October 2022 at Sandown park Racecourse, Esher



Upcoming Events

12th & 13th August – Thornes of Scotland Sale Day

3rd September – Thornes of Windsor Sale Day

17th September – Thornes of Stockbridge Sale Day

24th September – Thornes of Devon Sale Day

8th October – Rand, Lincolnshire Sale and Open Day

27th - 29th October – The National Honey Show



Legal notices:

APIVAR® 500 mg Amitraz Bee-hive strips for honey bees. Indication(s) for use: Treatment of varroosis due to Varroa destructor sensitive to amitraz in honey bees. Contraindication(s): Do not use in case of known resistance to amitraz. Withdrawal period(s): Honey: zero days. Do not use during honey flow. Do not extract honey from the brood chamber. Do not harvest honey when the treatment is in place. Amitraz can accumulate in wax; Brood combs should be replaced with new foundation at last every three years. Do not recycle brood frames as honey frames. Read carefully the instructions on the product booklet label before use. Special precautions to be taken by the person administering the veterinary medicinal product to animal: This veterinary medicinal product contains amitraz which can lead to neurological side-effects in humans. Take particular care in case of concomitant treatment with monoamine oxidase inhibitors, hypotensive treatment or if you have diabetes. Amitraz may cause skin sensitization. Avoid contact with skin. In case of contact, wash thoroughly with soap and water. Avoid contact with eyes. In case of contact, rinse with plenty of water immediately. Usual beekeeping protective clothes including impervious gloves should be worn when handling the product.

Do not eat, drink or smoke whilst handling the product. Keep children away during application of the product. Wash hands after use. Do not inhale or ingest. If side effects are noted, seek immediate medical assistance and show the label to the physician. v0921

Apivar is a veterinary medicinal product. Please ask advice to your veterinarian, pharmacist or sanitary organization. In case of persistence of clinical signs, consult with your veterinarian.



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