Around the world
German beekeeping in crisis:
This winter has seen losses of some 80% of honeybee colonies in Germany, according to Klaus Maresh, of the Imkerei Häuschen.
The unreliability of the supply of colonies for pollination services has led the German government to fund research into using the Red Mason bee as a pollinator instead of the honeybee. There is no legal protection for wild bees in Germany, so after the pollination season, they can be incinerated or just thrown out to starve—hence much lower costs are involved.
However, this ignores the ecological argument, since about 80% of flowering plants in Germany are dependent on the honeybee (and no other bee) for their pollination, and therefore survival. With the advent of varroa, as we well know, the honeybee is now dependent on human beings for its survival.
This brings us to the concern about the falling number of German beekeepers (in contrast to the situation here, although Germany still has about 8 times the number of beekeepers that Britain has). The average age of beekeepers is above 60 and rising. Younger people are not being attracted to the pastime, although some regional associations are making efforts in this direction.
German beekeepers are understandably annoyed that the government money has not been allocated to honeybee research, where it might have helped to reverse the present trend. (thanks to the Scottish Beekeeper and BEES)
On the topic of feral bees coping with varroa, Professor Thomas Seeley thinks he may have found some who do—in the Arnot Forest in New York State. Infestation there does not appear to reach danger level. Unfortunately, this was not the topic for either of his talks at the Stoneleigh Convention, so that is all I can tell you! (Devon BKA via BEES)
An attempt to erradicate varroa
The South Island of New Zealand is apparently still struggling against the “inevitable” arrival of Varroa. The mite was first found in the Nelson area in June 2006, and the last 300 of some 900 colonies from that area have just been shipped to the North Island, where varroa is endemic and the fight has been abandoned.
The Government refused to attempt a formal eradication programme, but a coalition of beekeepers and farmers then went ahead with their own attempt, with private and government funding.
If successful, it will be the first time varroa has been eradicated from a region. However, shipping infected colonies off the island is only the start. Biosecurity New Zealand staff and volunteers then began baiting all feral colonies in an attempt to kill all bees that might still be carrying the mite. The baiting programme was repeated at the end of the New Zealand summer. (“Beekeeper“, Devon BKA, via BEES)
Oxalic acid now legal in Germany
According to Dr. Eva Rademacher of the Institute of Biology, Freie Universität Berlin, one of Germany‘s leading apicultural scientists, authorisation has been given to Andermatt Biovet to sell a properietary brand of oxalic acid solution OXUVAR.
Oxuvar is a 3.5% water/sugar, oxalic dehydrate solution—as recommended by NBU for trickling over combs, and regarded as legal for use in honeybee colonies in Britain “for cleansing purposes”.
Health dangers from Oxalic Acid
Stories are circulating that German beekeepers who had used vaporization (or “sublimation”) of Oxalic acid have contracted a particular type of cancer, and six have died. One must, of course, be careful with stories of this kind, as it is very difficult to ascribe a cancer to a particular cause.
There seems to be no reason to believe that sublimated oxalic acid is more effective in combating varroa than trickled, and one would certainly have to be much more careful with this technique.
Oxalic acid is only likely to be effective as part of a concerted plan of treatment. One cannot expect the bees to survive the mounting infestation levels through the autumn in the knowledge that you will treat them in December!
From world statistics:
Germany produces only a quarter of the honey it consumes.
France produces about half of its requirement.
Britain produces only a tenth of its consumption.
And Ireland sells (as Irish) more honey than it produces!
Actually, I give the trading standards officers in Ireland credit for enforcing beneficial regulations and investigating honey sold as Irish. Of twenty samples of “Irish” honey taken, five were found to be of South American, Chinese or Mediterranean origins and one contained antibiotics.
We know from a letter in a previous "Cheshire Beekeeper" that checks are carried out in this country from time to time. It is in the interests of all that labels mean what they say.
From Apis-UK, the beekeeping monthly web Newsletter http://www.beedata.com/apis-uk/
- National Honey Show 2013
- BBKA David Aston Letter
- 2012 Wirral Convention
- Honeys and their origins
- Bees And Horses
- The Bee Dating Agency 2013
- Adopt a Bee Hive
- Heavy Winter Losses
- Queen Breeding V Importing
- Bees By Boat
- Bee Smoker Causes Blaze
- Forest Bees
- First Find the Queen
- Integrated Pest Management 2008
- Myanmar - Oldest Bee Fossil
- Nosema Ceranae
- Preparing For Winter
- Shared Experience
- The BBKA and Pesticides
- Varroa Research
- 2012 Spring Convention
- 2011 Autumn Convention
- Bob Parsonage 1934 - 2009
- Obituary Bob Parsonage
- 2011 Spring Convention
- 2010 Autumn Convention
- 2010 Spring Convention
- Around The Country
- Around The World
- Weather Warning - Check for Storm Damage To Hives
- Greater Wax Moth found in Cheshire
- Drone Brood Removal — just do it
- Drones and Varroa
- The Sugar Roll
- A Three Queen Summer
- Bee Research News: More on the Waggle dance
- Microscopy Day