Bees for Development Journal Edition 110 - March 2014

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Bees for Development


ISSUE NO 110, MARCH 2014


20 1993

YEARS 2013


Bees for Development Journal 110

Dear friends What is natural beekeeping?

Natural beekeeping is all about enabling bee colonies to live as closely as possible to the way that they would live in nature. This enables them to make use of the systems that they have evolved – over millions of years – to survive and indeed to thrive under changing conditions. Natural beekeeping is NOT primarily about what type of hive you choose to house the bees. Whatever style of hive you choose, you can practise beekeeping that enables bees to live as naturally as possible. For example, on pages 3 to 4, read more of Dr Wolfgang Ritter’s article on good management practise – here he describes how the self-healing capacity of a honey bee colony (and he is describing frame hive beekeeping) can be utilised for achieving good bee health. BfD’s general principles of natural beekeeping describe an approach, and are not a prescriptive list of instructions to be followed: • Treat the bee colony as a complete organism

Cover image: Bombus terrestris

Issue No 110

March 2014

In this issue page Practical beekeeping – how to foster self-healing..........................3-4 Interview with Gladness Mkamba 5-6 Questions & Answers in beekeeping.7 Varroa: a scientific essay.................. 8 Recent research............................... 9 Beekeeping economics III..........10-11 Book shelf...................................... 13 Look ahead and learn ahead........... 14 Notice board..............................14-15 BfD Journal Produced quarterly and sent to readers in over 200 countries Editor Nicola Bradbear PhD Co-ordinator Helen Jackson BSc Publications officer Catrin Collins Readers in developing countries may apply for a sponsored subscription. Apply online or use the form on page 15 BfD Trust (UK Registered Charity 1078803) works to assist beekeepers in developing countries.

Bees for Development Post 1 Agincourt Street Monmouth NP25 3DZ, UK Phone +44 (0)1600 714848

• Respect the natural processes of the bees • Be aware that retention of the bees’ scent and heat within their nest is crucial • Minimise intrusion into the colony • Allow bees to build their own comb - with cell size of their own choosing • Allow the bees’ own reproduction impulse to determine swarming • Leave colonies with enough of their own honey to survive winter or other dearth periods • Work with bees that are of local origin and thus have adapted to local prevailing conditions • Ensure that the density of bees colonies is appropriate to local forage conditions Regular observation at the entrance to a hive enables the beekeeper to understand and recognise the health and development of the colony, so that your management intervention is informed by appreciation of the bees’ own needs. Minimise your intervention, and follow these three broad principles: • Do not put anything into the hive which did not come from the bees • Do not take anything out of the hive which the bees cannot afford to lose • Be guided by the bees. To be guided by bees, you need to be familiar with their behaviour and needs: this is something that you can learn from observation of bees, and by talking to experienced beekeepers.

Subscriptions to Bees for Development Journal Subscriptions cost £26 per year. To order, visit our website or post us a cheque payable to Bees for Development. Readers in developing countries may apply for a sponsored subscription by completing the form on page 15 or applying online. Cover picture A bumblebee Bombus terrestris foraging on a Gazania flower near to BfD office in Monmouth. Image kindly provided by Jeff Hayward. Last summer we found many bumblebees showing symptoms typical of deformed wing virus, and now researchers have proved that bumblebees are indeed susceptible to honey bee diseases: read more on page 9. Support: Bees for Development Trust gratefully acknowledge Marr Munning Trust, E H Thorne (Beehives) Ltd, Trade Advance Ltd, The Waterloo Foundation, and the many groups and individuals who support our work. Please encourage your friends and colleagues to help. See our website for how to become a supporter. 2

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HOW TO FOSTER SELF HEALING Wolfgang Ritter, CVUA-Freiburg, Am Moosweiher 2, D 79108 Freiburg, Germany PHOTO © SCHWENKEL

Keywords: American foulbrood, chalkbrood, European foulbrood, hygienic behaviour, sacbrood, Varroa The fourth in the series from Dr Wolfang Ritter offering advice for Good Beekeeping Practice to ensure healthy honey bees.

How to support brood control by workers In brood rearing, a honey bee colony not only balances the removal of old and ill bees, it also influences the total number of bees, ie the weight of the colony. To ensure that the colony consists of resistant and long-living bees, only healthy brood should be reared. Therefore, bees constantly inspect their brood: ill parts are removed, healthy parts are maintained and eventually open cells are sealed again. This hygienic behaviour by the bees is part of the self-healing capacity of the colony. This self-healing capacity has been employed for some time in bee breeding to select Varroa tolerant bees. However, depending on the type of brood disease, the requirements concerning hygienic behaviour are quite different: for example with the Varroa mite, it is less important when the bees inspect the cells. However foulbrood, chalkbrood and sacbrood can be controlled only if they are recognised by the bees before the brood is infected. Otherwise the disease is spread through the colony anyd matters get worse.

When inspecting colonies pay special attention to irregularly occupied brood cells year, becomes ill – chalkbrood and sacbrood mostly appear first – and consequent requeening is the only solution. But in most cases it is more difficult to judge and decide. Quite a lot of management conditions and interventions by the beekeeper influence hygienic behaviour.

Genetics decide The Alpha and Omega of hygienic behaviour is the genetic predisposition of the honey bee colony. When brood in nucleus colonies with queens of a certain breeding series, or of the same

Food stimulates cleaning up


When bees gather aqueous nectar or honeydew, they have to empty any available cell for interim storage. Many bees work through the cells, with crowds of inspecting and cleaning bees on their way to remove everything objectionable. Especially obstinate brood diseases like chalkbrood and sacbrood can be made to disappear this way. If you cannot offer adequate forage for your bees you should feed them with a thin sugar or, even better, a thin honey solution. You can also spray the solution on to the combs to instantly stimulate hygienic behaviour.

Alleviation of infection pressure If and how quickly the bee colony can heal itself depends mainly on the scale of cleaning activities. Here the beekeeper’s support is required. It is recommended that combs with predominantly ill brood are melted or disposed of. How many combs should be removed depends mainly on the colony’s condition and the season. A strong colony will quickly recover from the loss of part of its brood, especially during periods of growth. You can also take a more radical decision and remove all combs. Then the open artificial swarm allows sanitation even in the case of American foulbrood.

Adaption of space to colony strength Hygienic behaviour is not restricted to just the brood, but applies to the whole nest. Bees busy cleaning other parts of the nest are not available in the brood area which is the place most at risk. Mouldy combs at the periphery are an alarm signal indicating that the colony is overcharged. Therefore, the space should always be adapted to the colony strength. In some hives with combs in one box - for example in top-bar hives - the brood nest can be defined

In the Varroa tolerant bee colonies observed by Yves le Conte, the bees keep cells with pupae open in order to kill the Varroa mite offspring. The colonies from which this comb originates have survived for seven years without treatment – at Avignon in France 3

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quite flexibly by a division board. Multiple-storey hives require some caution when the brood nest is expanded or contracted. Only after the bees have completely occupied the available space should you add supers.

Avoid destroying the brood nest The brood nest is the heart (the core) of the honey bee colony. The bees build it conforming to their colony strength, their requirements and nutritional needs. This is the result of evolution and their development over millions of years. The beekeeper must consider any manipulation very carefully. Best of all is to avoid manipulation because the destruction of the nest arrangement always create stress for the bee colony. By moving brood combs up to create acceptance of an added super, you are destroying the structure of the brood nest that is optimised for optimal internal thermoregulation. You must avoid extending the brood nest by placing combs or comb foundations between brood combs. All these measures create unnecessary stress for the colonies. When bee density is sufficient, respective nectar stores push the brood downwards and widen the brood nest.


On the comb, you can see ill brood below mainly healthy brood

BfD acknowledges as the original source of this article

Section on the left: ill brood is infested with European foulbrood

Section on the right: brood with open cappings


• Frames with foundation • Frames fitted with starter strips of foundation (depending on the colony’s mood a lot of drone brood could develop) • Empty frames to enable bees to build comb as Varroa catchers in the second super Spraying the combs with honey water can accelerate the occupation of the new space.

Adapting the space to colony strength Brood nest contraction in spring management Reduce the brood space of colonies that are not occupying the whole hive, especially during spring management. • Remove combs at the periphery, especially mouldy ones • Replace fouled combs • Remove supers with combs that are not occupied. Best time for brood nest extension The time to extend the brood nest should not be determined by the calendar or the outer appearance: I keep only strong colonies. The decision should be taken colony by colony, according to the following criteria: • All bee ways are occupied by bees up to the hive wall • The lower and probably also the upper parts of the bars of the frame are covered with bees • Except for combs at the periphery, all combs are almost completely occupied by bee brood • On two to three combs older emerging brood can be found.

Contraction for wintering When preparing honey bee colonies for winter, the available space should always correspond to the colony strength and the need for winter honey stores. To facilitate successful overwintering, the colonies should occupy at least eight Langstroth frames or seven Dadant frames. • Reduce the volume of weaker colonies (for example to one brood box) or unite them • The contraction of strong colonies to one brood box accelerates the removal of ill bees • Replace rotten combs and combs that have been used several times for brood.

How to extend The space is extended above, not below, because the combs below are accepted less easily, and because the bees are more active in the upper part near the food wreath (food stores near to brood). If a single super is used, the additional space serves to extend the brood space, whereas in cases of double supers the additional space is left as a honey chamber. Filling it with division boards and comb foundations mostly produces heavy combs that are difficult to handle. Depending on the management scheme, the super on top can be equipped with: • One third of drawn out combs, and at each of the left and the right sides, one third of frames with foundation

Checklist for Good Beekeeping Practice Weak colonies are contracted Bees completely occupy the brood chamber Colonies are expanded only when the bees occupy the whole available space Colonies are not expanded to avoid swarming Disturbance of the brood nest is kept to a minimum Forage is offered to the colonies throughout the year Combs containing mainly ill brood are removed 4



Bees for Development Journal 110

INTERVIEW WITH GLADNESS MKAMBA Gladness Mkamba, Principal Beekeeping Officer for the Division of Policy & Planning in the Tanzanian Ministry of Natural Resources & Tourism (MNRT) was interviewed by BfD’s Janet Lowore at the 2013 Apimondia Congress in Kiev, Ukraine. The Africa Pavilion showcased honey from Tanzania, as well as from Ethiopia, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

our sector. This Policy now needs reviewing and updating to take into account changes and developments. For example, we are now interested to explore the link between beekeeping and Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD). REDD is a United Nations initiative where efforts to reduce deforestation and conserve forests are rewarded with a financial return. REDD may offer us opportunities to develop bee reserves – which conserve both bees and trees, as well as mitigating against climate change. The current NBP does not adequately address the issue of bee reserves in relation to REDD despite this now being an important initiative. We want also to find ways to permit and formalise beekeeping activities in Forest and Game Reserves. Beekeeping is an environmentally positive activity and with the right structures in place, it is fully compatible with protected area status. However there are no guidelines for this in the current NBP.

JL: Tell us about your day to day work. GM: I am responsible for monitoring the implementation of the National Beekeeping Policy (NBP) in the country and ensuring regulations are properly implemented. I need to review policy and regulations to ensure that they are fit for purpose. I make sure that the National Beekeeping Programme is on track and achieving its objectives.

JL: What sort of guidelines are needed to allow beekeeping in protected areas? GM: We need to set out clear roles and responsibilities for all stakeholders, especially the beekeepers themselves. We must be confident that beekeepers know what is, and what is not allowed in a protected area: they need to know their responsibilities.

JL: You mention the need to review the NBP: what has changed since it was developed? GM: The formulation of the NBP in 1998 was a milestone for

Prime Minister, Hon. Mizengo Pinda observing stingless bees with Tanzania Bee Boss Gladness Mkamba 5

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We need also to consider mechanisms such as use-agreements or fees.

JL: Do beekeepers use Varroa medication to keep the mite in check?

JL: You started work for the MNRT in 1978. What has changed since then?

GM: No, there is no need to apply Varroa treatments to our colonies. The bees are able to resist and tolerate the mite. This means that the honey we produce is never contaminated with varroacides. Another difference experienced by beekeepers in Africa is that they do not feed bees. Beekeepers rely on natural forage and also leave enough honey for the bees.

GM: In the past beekeeping was undertaken mainly by older people but now more young people are interested, who are attracted by the cash income that they can earn. The types of bee hives in use are also changing with the introduction of box hives in addition to local-style hives. Nowadays honey is packed well for sale in supermarkets, which was never seen in 1978. Decision makers are taking an increasing interest in beekeeping in recognition of the economic benefits that it brings.

JL: Do you have any closing comments? GM: Which hive type is best? is a question I am often asked. The answer is simple: we always advocate beekeeping methods which are most appropriate for the context of the rural communities. Where there is a strong demand for beeswax we recognise that there is not always an advantage to extracting honey and re-using honey comb – harvesting whole comb is profitable.

JL: Can you mention some key areas for development? GM: Quality is an issue. The honey in the hive is completely clean but quality can deteriorate as soon as a beekeeper or trader begins to handle it if they do not take proper care. Nowadays different types of containers are easier to find and people understand better the importance of using clean containers. In the past people were forced to use second-hand containers which were often unsuitable, but they had no choice. There is still much we can do to improve the standard of processing, packaging and labelling.

We promote the use of local resources to make hives because this helps to ensure that beekeeping is both cheap and simple for the poorest people. We are concerned about sustainability and therefore encourage beekeepers to use materials which can be replenished easily - which is why we advise against the use of bark.

JL: How much honey is produced in Tanzania?

Box hives are used in Tanzania, but they are too expensive for many beekeepers. Tanzania is famous for its forest honey and we are proud of the expertise of beekeepers who practise forest beekeeping using appropriate hives.

GM: We do not have accurate data. FAO have estimated a figure of 34,000 tonnes a year but I fear this is an overestimate. One way to work out how much honey we are producing is to calculate a figure by using the data we have about beeswax. We know that Tanzania exports approximately 625 tonnes of beeswax a year. If we assume that this represents half the annual production of beeswax (not all is processed and exported) and there is a ratio of 1 part beeswax to 15 parts honey, then we can calculate an annual honey production of about 19,000 tonnes of honey.

JL: Thank you very much for your time.

JL: In November 2014 you are holding the 1st Apimondia Symposium on African Bees and Beekeeping (see right). Tell us about this event.



GM: We want to hold an event that focusses specifically on African apiculture. It is important that we recognise that there are many experts, practitioners, trainers and researchers across Africa who have important knowledge and experience. The event will provide opportunities for this knowledge to be shared. Beekeeping is often not appreciated for its full contribution to economic development and ecosystem services, and we want to change that. The Symposium will be a conference with opportunities for field visits. In addition to honey bees we want also to promote the importance of stingless bees in the country. Tanzania has a strong tradition of beekeeping and we recognise that bees, wildlife conservation and tourism are interrelated. We want to invite people from across Africa to attend this important event so that we can progress best practice and expertise throughout the continent. JL: How is African beekeeping different from other parts of the world?

11 – 16 NOVEMBER 2014 Arusha International Conference Centre, Tanzania

GM: Many beekeepers in Africa use fixed comb hives, as they have done for generations. This means that beekeepers do not handle their bees as much as in some other countries. Beekeepers are skilled in making hives, placing hives for maximum colonisation and recognising the signs which indicate when there is a surplus of honey ready for harvesting. Bee populations in Africa are healthy and, like many parts of the world, we also have the Varroa mite. It has been present in our bee colonies for many years but the honey bee colonies tolerate the mite and do not die.

African Bees for a Green and Golden Economy

More information 6

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QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS IN BEEKEEPING Keywords: absconding, baiting hives, bee-house, moving hives, Zanzibar New beekeepers in Zanzibar are learning to establish profitable beekeeping. In this article they describe some of their challenges and Ole Hertz, the Project Technical Adviser gives advice. Challenges and Issues


To avoid heat and disturbance is it a good idea to locate hives in a beehouse?

Sometimes a bee-house is beneficial, but care is needed. If hives are placed too close together this can cause problems. The best distance between colonies is more than 2-3 m and that is seldom possible in a bee-house. If hives are very close colonies can begin to rob during harvest.

The hot environment caused the bees to abscond

Lack of fresh water can be a reason for absconding. When researched at Njiro Wildlife Centre in Arusha (Tanzania), beekeepers found that they could prevent seasonal absconding if they took care that the bees had acess to fresh water close to the apiary during dry periods. This led also to a higher honey harvest. If you provide water in a tin can, always add sticks for the bees to land on, to prevent them drowning. Always keep the cans topped up and fix them firmly so they cannot be knocked over by other animals. Providing water points for bees can also prevent the problem of bees visiting water sources used by people who may be stung if they inadvertently step on drinking bees.

When catching the queen she was accidentally killed

Why should a queen be caught? It takes time to look for the queen and this will disturb the colony so much that there is a great chance that they will abscond the next day. A good guideline for tropical and indeed all beekeeping is to disturb the bees as little as possible!

How do we move occupied hives to the newly built bee house?

Take care when moving occupied hives. Bees will return to the place where they came from if the hive is moved less than 200 m, so you must move the hives further than this. Bees should always be moved at night, when all the foragers are in the hive. Frequently some bees will return to the original location even if the hive is moved some distance. These bees can be collected in an empty hive or box placed exactly where the moved hive previously stood, and collected the following night.

Some hives have not been colonised

Hives can be baited with clean beeswax. There are also many plants which attract bees, including Citrus and lemongrass. There is usually much local knowledge about suitable plants for baiting – ask an experienced beekeeper in your location.

Zanzibar: a local style hive housing a colony of Apis mellifera honey bees. Hives in Zanzibar often have no end wall - beekeepers have found that this style of hive works best - in the hot, humid atmosphere this style provides shelter from weather with good ventilation for the colony.

At SALEM Brotherhood in Mbale, Uganda this water point has been provided for bees. The purpose is to deter the bees from visiting taps used by people in the compound and to ensure that they have plenty of fresh water in the dry season. 7

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André Wermelinger, FreeTheBees, Switzerland

A scientific essay. The general consensus is that the Varroa mite is the main problem in mainstream beekeeping. Would it be conceivable that we may have confused cause, symptom and trigger?

loss rate of approximately 50%. The author did not use any acid treatments (using the swarming instinct as the natural base and Thymol to reduce the Varroa count) and recorded the lowest winter losses. Furthermore, his natural swarmkeeping methods recorded an increase in reproductive capacity, which exceeds the yearly natural doubling rate of colony numbers. If these figures were to be compared with the Swiss winter hive losses over recent years, untreated colonies could probably have similar or better survival rates. The question is how scientifically correct are Pflugfelder’s and others‘ frequently quoted “essential” Varroa treatments? Pflugfelder points out in this same report that because of the chemical treatment, the bees are not building a natural defence mechanism against Varroa and that may be the reason why bees are unable to build resistance against this mite.

Official bodies consider the Varroa mite as a major problem. We question whether this ‘great’ Varroa issue is indeed the real problem or whether it is actually symptomatic of our conventional beekeeping methods. Bee research provides interesting facts on this subject but is embroiled in contradictions (Swiss Bee Research). In addition, there is a huge scope for factors that are not yet understood. If the Varroa problem were to be ”solved“ scientifically, there is no doubt that the next problem would still be awaiting the scientists.

Pflugfelder from the Swiss Centre for Bee Research makes contradicting statements in this same report. He states that it is probably impossible to eradicate this mite now that it has been introduced, or to prevent further spread. In 2012, he ordered several comprehensive field trials (one of which in the Bernese Seeland) during which he required beekeepers to use forced treatments of formic and oxalic acid. The side effects of these treatments were investigated and published by Gregorc (2003). The treatment is supposed to reduce the number of Varroa mites, which, according to Pflugfelder’s own statements, cannot be eradicated. The results of such imposed field trials with predictable treatments for the whole of Switzerland are highly controversial and certainly not sustainable. In addition, they prevent a natural and near-natural beekeeping method and thus any chance of the bee being able to adapt to natural conditions.

Researchers are investigating various alternatives to the use of acaricides. It appears that Varroa-resistant bees are being bred. Fungi could decimate the Varroa mites. Pheromones in the hive itself could have an impact on the Varroa mites to the point where the mites were no longer able to reproduce. Using drone brood as Varroa bait in order to control the Varroa population has also been considered. However, every approach outlined above entails several potential new dangers and side effects. In addition, none of these approaches are able to address the problem comprehensively, effectively and with reasonable effort.

Let’s look at this subject from a different perspective There are still natural colonies in Switzerland and all over Europe which can survive while hosting the Varroa mite. According to Fries (2005) an equilibrium between host and parasite has been established on the island of Gotland where the local bee population is beginning to recover following heavy colony losses. Seeley (2006) shows that between 1978 and 2002 the Apis mellifera population in the Arnot forest (USA) has remained constant despite the fact that during this time the Varroa mite had also settled in. Bee colonies have developed a so-called “resistance”. However, they will immediately succumb to the mite as soon as they are moved and are exposed to Varroa mites from artificially bred colonies. Seeley concludes that these results may not be due to the fact that the bees become resistant, instead the current productive beekeeping methods tend to breed for more aggressive Varroa and viruses than those encountered in wild living colonies. Seeley refers to several studies that indicate that a balanced equilibrium between host and parasite is especially noticeable in naturally held or near-naturally held colonies. J.J. Bull and P. Ewald suggested that there is a higher virulence of viruses and parasites with horizontal transmission (increase through artificial forcing of nucs) than in vertical transmission (reproduction through natural swarming of bees). A parasite eradicating its hosts would constitute an abnormal and pointless strategy, given that such behaviour would be detrimental in the long term.

As a result of high colony losses due to Varroa, Pflugfelder states that scientists were not in a position to wait for nature to naturally find an equilibrium and were placed under tremendous “pressure” to “rescue” the honey bee. This led to the development of highly effective Varroacides, chemical substances, which killed off the mites quickly and effectively. “Unfortunately” first resistances appeared to be occurring after ten years which resulted in a dramatic decline of the bee. Pflugfelder does not mention the side effects of these treatments or their residues in wax, honey and pollen. Nor does he mention the doubtful sustainability of such approaches. Pflugfelder does admit that the original aim of solving the Varroa mite problem has not been achieved. What is even more frightening is his unequivocal statement that currently there is no safe, effective and easily applicable measure in sight - despite the fact that the entire Swiss beekeeping community is relying on the results of the Swiss Centre for Bee Research and waiting for new policies and recommendations on this matter. What if the entire “big” problem with Varroa had been completely home-made through current methods of beekeeping? It is a fact that the common approaches and practices are simply treating the symptoms! Equally, it is also a fact that we are weakening the bee‘s immune system by applying the recommended treatments and that we are, in effect, breeding a pure-breed Varroa supermite where only the strongest parasite can survive and multiply. It may be worth contemplating who else may have a vested interest in upholding the Varroa issue. Probably the agricultural chemical companies..?

Pflugfelder (2012) and many other experts claim that the survival rate of untreated sample test colonies does not exceed 2-3 years. The results of a test carried out by Dettli (2009) in Switzerland revealed that 7 out of 10 untreated colonies survived the first winter. Out of these 7, 3 colonies survived the second winter. 1 colony out of 3 survived the third winter, resulting thus in an average 8

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MANAGED HONEY BEES LINKED TO NEW DISEASES IN WILD BUMBLEBEES Researchers have found that diseases commonly found in honey bees in the UK are now widespread in the wild bumblebee population, according to a new study published in Nature.

Professor Brown added: “National societies and agencies, both in the UK and globally, currently manage so-called honey bee diseases on the basis that they are a threat only to honey bees. While they are doing great work, our research shows that this premise is not true, and that the picture is much more complex. Policies to manage these diseases need to take into account threats to wild pollinators and be designed to reduce the impact of these diseases, not just on managed honey bees but on our wild bumblebees too.”

The team of researchers, including Dr Dino McMahon and Professor Robert Paxton, affiliated to Queen’s University Belfast (UK) and Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg (Germany) as well as the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research at Halle-Jena-Leipzig, in collaboration with Dr Matthias Fürst and Professor Mark Brown from Royal Holloway University of London (UK) and Professor Juliet Osborne at the University of Exeter (UK), say the research provides vital information for beekeepers across the world to ensure that their honey bee management supports also wild bee populations. Professor Paxton said: “This is a very important finding for beekeepers, as controlling disease in honey bee colonies is vital to stopping the spread of disease within and between bee species. Wild bees are in decline on a worldwide scale.”

This study is part of the Insect Pollinators Initiative, joint-funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), Defra, the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the Scottish Government and the Wellcome Trust. It is managed under the auspices of the Living with Environmental Change (LWEC) partnership. The full paper can be read at: nature12977.html FÜRST M.; MCMAHON D.; OSBORNE J.L.; PAXTON R.J; BROWN M.J.F. (2014) Disease associations between honeybees and bumblebees as a threat to wild pollinators. Nature 506, 364-366. DOI: doi/10.1038/nature12977 PHOTO © JEFF HAYWARD 2013

This research assessed common honey bee diseases to determine if they could pass from honey bees to bumblebees. It showed that deformed wing virus (DWV) and the fungal parasite Nosema ceranae - both of which have major negative impacts on honey bee health - can infect worker bumblebees and, in the case of DWV, reduce their lifespan. Honey bees and bumblebees were collected from 26 sites across the UK and screened for the presence of the parasites. Both parasites were widespread in bumblebees and even more so in honey bees across the UK. Dr Fürst explained: “One of the novel aspects of our study is that we show that DWV, which is one of the main causes of honey bee death worldwide, is not only broadly present in bumblebees, but is actually replicating inside them. This means that it is acting as a real disease; they are not just carriers.” The researchers looked also at how the diseases spread and studied genetic similarities between DWV in different pollinator populations. Three factors suggest that honey bees are spreading the parasites into wild bumblebees: honey bees have higher background levels of the virus and the fungus than bumblebees; bumblebee infection could be predicted by patterns of honey bee infection; and honey bees and bumblebees at the same sites shared genetic strains of DWV. “Parasites are probably the major cause of honey bee losses,” said Professor Paxton. “Our novel data using high-resolution genetic markers have allowed us to trace individual strains of virus and show that their transfer between honey bees and bumblebees is on-going - right now, in the UK and possibly elsewhere in the world where honey bees are heavily infected with DWV.” While recent studies have provided anecdotal reports of the presence of honey bee parasites in other pollinators, this is the first study to determine the epidemiology of these parasites across the landscape. The results suggest an urgent need for management recommendations to reduce the threat of emerging diseases to our wild and managed bees.

Bombus terrestris 9

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MAKING A PROFIT AS A COMMUNITY BASED PRODUCER ORGANISATION – CAN YOU SELL TO A PACKER? Martin M Jones and Nicola Bradbear, Bees for Development, 1 Agincourt Street, Monmouth NP25 3DZ, UK Keywords: Cameroon, honey marketing, Kenya, local-style hive, Tanzania, TUNADO, Uganda

consumer, and shortening the value chain in the process, appears very attractive – closer inspection shows that it can prove very difficult indeed for many CBOs to achieve profit.*

Everyone reading this article will know that honey is a valuable resource that can improve food, as well as income security for beekeepers around the world.

We do not prefer one model of selling honey over another. Our goal is to inform beekeepers around the world of the options available to them and to highlight the benefits and disadvantages of those options. Therefore let us consider an alternative route to market the CBO as a regional collection centre.

Our research has shown (Bradbear & Lowore 2013) that local-style hives, that are low cost and therefore accessible for low-income households provide the best trade-off for poverty alleviation. They allow households to earn additional income with almost no land, labour or capital costs. Pollination services are vital too. For many agriculture-based households the value of the improved yield that can be achieved as a result of siting bee hives close to crops may be as important as income received from selling honey or beeswax.

In our previous example where the CBO collected, processed, packed and sold its suppliers’ honey itself, significant costs were added as a result of packaging the honey. The equipment, staff and accommodation required to pack honey into 500g plastic jars, the market standard in Uganda, all added costs for the organisation that led to reduced profit margins and higher break even points – both bad outcomes. The cost of the 500g jars was UGX 400 (US$0.16; €0.12). With a great number of CBOs following a similar model - there are about 90 small to medium producer organisations in Uganda that are members of TUNADO (Uganda’s National Beekeeping Organisation) - consumers in Kampala face a large number of near-identical products. Until the market develops a level of sophistication that allows CBOs to charge more for their product based on its quality, provenance or marketing, the default position is for most consumers to purchase the lowest-priced product. A level of sophistication is already beginning to emerge with industry approved Quality and Standard marks (denoting compliance with hygiene standards), increasingly attractive packaging, and tamper proof security seals. These allow CBOs to distinguish their product from those of their competitors. Of course these also add cost – a concern when many consumers already perceive Ugandan honey as expensive compared with lower-cost Kenya, Tanzania and Chinese imported honey. Competition for supermarket shelf-space, influenced by volumes sold, reinforces the pressure to sell at the lowest possible price.

Bees kept near coffee to ensure optimal pollination Bees for Development recently documented an example in Kamwenge, western Uganda where, despite the existence of a strong local and ready market for honey, one household kept hives sited on their farm solely to benefit from the bees’ pollination services (see picture above).

A key difference between the Ugandan and other markets in the region such as Cameroon, Kenya and Tanzania is the fragmentation of the market into many smaller producer-packers in Uganda. Several reasons were suggested for this in BfD Journal 109, however there are benefits to be gained from a more consolidated market with fewer, larger packers selling larger quantities and with overhead costs that are proportionately lower.

At Bees for Development our goal is to deliver the maximum increase in household income to the maximum number of people. Low-cost beekeeping allows this to happen. While training low-income households in developing countries is important, to achieve maximum benefit it is crucial to ensure that beekeepers are able to sell their honey. This is not easy. In the previous edition of BfD Journal we analysed a common route to market for many beekeepers in rural Africa – collective marketing through a Community-Based Organisation (CBO). In Uganda CBOs commonly package and sell their members/suppliers’ honey directly to consumers in distant markers such as Kampala. We demonstrated that while the logic of CBOs selling directly to the

Using the same figures (for the CBO we used in the previous edition of BfDJ) means that by deciding to sell honey directly to a packer, rather than packaging the honey itself, the CBO would save UGX821 (US$0.33; €0.24) for each 500g jar sold. This would be saving UGX 1,642 (US$0.65; €0.47) per kg or UGX 1,642,000 (US$650; €470) per tonne. This saving is independent of the sale price. That means that the producer CBO could now afford to sell its honey for as little as UGX 8,992 (US$3.60; €2.50) per kg, rather than UGX 10,634 (US$4.23; €3.06) when it packed its honey into (two) 500g jars. 10

Bees for Development Journal 110

Cost savings selling honey to a packer Item

If the CBO is able to sell each kg for UGX 9,500 (US$3.78; €2.73) to a bulk seller, it will make a profit of UGX 508 (US$0.20; €0.15) per kg. While this might appear small, it is very important to realise two key points: 1. A profit of UGX 508 (US$ 0.20; €0.15) per kg is greater than the UGX 366 (US$ 0.15; €0.11) achieved in our previous article where the CBO packed and sold its own 500g jars. 2. Selling directly to a packer certainly means that the CBO is more likely to sell a greater overall volume of honey. Remember the profitability rule: Unit Profit x Units Sold! Very clear from our previous article is the point that CBOs face the challenge of selling a great volume of honey to be profitable. This was partly because of the costs that packaging the honey into jars added to the overall cost of the honey sold. While many organisations call upon beekeepers to “add value” to their products, do not be fooled by automatically thinking that packaging your honey into a jar is the best way of adding this value. A CBO that acts as a regional collection centre for a honey packer, that sells hundreds of tonnes from different regional collections centres, is already adding a great deal of value to the honey that they collect. This should not be underestimated and the best way to achieve development for many communities might be - not by selling their own honey direct to consumers - but rather by asking someone else to do it for them!

Cost (UGX)

Jar (500g size)


Carton (capacity of 24 jars)

71 per jar

Security seal




Cost of honey


Transport from farmer




Costs saved

821UGX per 500g jar

* buying at UGX 5,000 per kg (unprocessed) from farmer 2.0 kg unprocessed honey produces 1.3 kg liquid honey ** paying a Collection Centre Manager UGX 500 per kg of unprocessed honey collected from local community Average cost of a motorbike taxi UGX 40,000 transporting 50 kg per trip UGX = Uganda shillings. US$1 = UGX 2,513; €1 = UGX 3,480 (March 2014)

*Correction In BfD Journal 109, Beekeeping Economics II: making a profit as a community based producer organisation we stated that a CBO with fixed costs of UGX 16 million (US$ 6,337; €4,681) per year would need to sell 111 tonnes of honey to break even. The actual figure is 43.7 tonnes, ie 43,700 kg – still a very significant volume of honey that is beyond the reach of even the most organised CBOs. A revised table with corrected figures is below. Cost savings selling honey to a packer Example Total Fixed Costs (UGX)

Total Fixed Costs (UGX)

Break Even Point (Tonnes to be sold to cover costs)


16,000,000 (US$6,367; €4,598)

366 (US$0.15; €0.11)



10,000,000 (US$3,979; €2,873)

366 (US$0.15; €0.11)



6,000,000 (US$2,388; €1,724)

366 (US$0.15; €0.11)


We are grateful to Mr Dickson Biryomumaisho, CEO of TUNADO for drawing our attention to this error.

Honey from Tabora for sale in Zanzibar 11

Bees for Development Journal 110

Soutien pour l’entraînement apicole – disponible maintenant en français Les livrets de formation et cartes de formation sont à l’usage des entraîneurs d’apiculteurs en Afrique. Chaque livret offre une journée de formation sur un sujet. Les cartes fournissent des images et des plans illustrant les techniques discutés dans les livrets. Ceux-ci sont inclus dans nos colis pédagogiques pour les activités de formation et des ateliers. Les projets et associations dans les pays voie de développement sont aussi les bienvenus poser sa candidature pour une colis pédagogique sponsorisés en remplissant un formulaire de demande sur notre site Web, ou de demander le formulaire par courriel. Les projets dans d’autres domaines peuvent acheter des boîtes pédagogiques grâce à notre magasin de site Web. BfD Training Booklets and Training Cards are for use by beekeeper trainers in Africa. Each booklet provides one day of training on one topic. The cards provide pictures and plans illustrating techniques discussed in the booklets. These are included in our Resource Boxes for training events and workshops. Projects and associations in developing countries are welcome to apply for a Sponsored Resource Box by filling out an application form on our website, or request the form by email. Projects in other areas can purchase Resource Boxes through our website store. 12

Bees for Development Journal 110

BOOK SHELF Why not top bar hives?

A look at the practicalities of keeping bees in top-bar hives J R Slade 2013 40 pages £11.50 (US$20; €14) Published by Northern Bee Books ISBN 978-1-908904-42-3 Why not indeed? The author describes a method - for beekeeping in the UK using top-bar hives - that works well, and this brief text will allow others to follow easily his proven method. Beginners who opt for top-bar hives do not have it so easy as those who follow more mainstream methods because there are comparatively few books that describe exactly what to do. Concise and useful texts like this one certainly help to redress the balance.

Beekeeping for beginners Andrew Richards revised by John Phipps 2014 90 pages £10 (US$17; €12) Published by Northern Bee Books ISBN 978-1-908904-40-9 A succinct and readable guide to conventional British frame-hive beekeeping. This modest book provides lots of sensible advice for beginners, and will be appreciated by seasoned beekeepers too, who will quickly recognise that hints and tips reveal that the author really knows his topic. The 90 pages answer all the questions that beginners ask: how much will it cost, how much time will it take, how to get started? Terms are explained, as are the pros and cons of different management methods. Handy guides are provided for operations like making up frames, and making candy. The book is rendered more attractive by John Phipps’ excellent photographs. sparse, monochrome illustrations and there’s a lot of colourful competition out there.

Propolis – the healing power of the bee colony Klaus Nowottnick 2014 68 pages £11 (US$18; €13) Published by Northern Bee Books ISBN 978-1-908904-15-7 Propolis derives its name from the Greek words ‘pro’ meaning before and ‘polis’ the city, i.e. describing something which the bees produce at the front of their nest. The ancient origin of its name reveals how it has been known for thousands of years for its healing properties. Yet it is not so easy to find reliable information about propolis. This useful book, first published 20 years ago, is one of the few texts that exist and it is good to see it now reprinted. It contains practical advice on how to harvest propolis from bees, many recipes for making tinctures and ointments, and instructions for the use of propolis in apitherapy.

The Wildlife Garden:

The Essential Guide to Attracting Wildlife into Your Garden John Lewis-Stempel 2014 166 pages £8.99 (US$15; €10) Published by How to Books ISBN 978-0-7160-2349-4 John Lewis-Stempel’s last book – The Wild Life – was an entertaining account of his year living on food that he’d foraged, shot or trapped himself. So there’s more than a sense of poacher-turned-gamekeeper here when he champions protecting wildlife through creating a garden wildlife haven. Clearly Lewis-Stempel knows his stuff – he rightly condemns the green deserts that some call lawns and offers useful insight for veg growers keen to manage pests rather than poison them off the plot. Like other modern wildlife gardeners he emphasises that you can have a beautiful – even orderly – garden and still have it teem with wildlife, if you garden wisely. But it’s a big subject for a small book with sparse, monochrome illustrations and there’s a lot of colourful competition out there. Fergus Collins, Editor BBC Countryfile Magazine 13

Bees for Development Journal 110


20th Brazilian Beekeeping Congress 5th Brazilian Congress on Meliponiculture 5-8 November 2014, Belém Further details


5th Cuban Congress on Apiculture 14-18 July 2014, La Havana Further details


Apimondia Symposium ApiEcoFlora 16-19 October 2014 Further details


APIMONDIA: 44th International Apicultural Congress 15-20 September 2015, Deajeon Further details


Apimondia Symposium 1st Symposium on African bees and beekeeping 11-16 November 2014, Arusha Further details


12th Asian Apicultural Association Conference 24-27 April 2014, Antalya Further details

Apimondia Symposium 5th Apimedica & Apiquality 1-5 September 2014, Erzurum Further details APIMONDIA: 45th International Apicultural Congress 29 September – 4 October 2017, Istanbul Further details




Conwy Honey Fair 13 September 2014, North Wales Further details www.conwybeekeepers. BIBBA/SICAMM Combined Conference 26-28 September 2014, Llangollen Further details; National Honey Show 30 October – 1 November 2014, Weybridge Further details


FIBKA Beekeeping Summer Course 27 July – 1 August 2014, Gormanston Guest speaker: Professor Tom Seeley (BfD Trust Patron) Further details Strengthening livelihoods in developing countries through beekeeping 11 April and 19 September 2014, Monmouth Further details Sustainable beekeeping 12-13 April and 20-21 September 2014 Ragman’s Farm, Gloucestershire Further details


BfD Beekeepers Safaris


2014 Turkey 14–26 June Vietnam 10–21 November 2015 Trinidad and Tobago 26 January – Further details 5 February

7th Caribbean Bee Congress 26-31 May 2014, St Croix Further details to be confirmed 4th ApiTrade Africa Event 6-11 October 2014, Harare Further details apiexpo-africa-2014

If you want notice of your conference, workshop or meeting to be included here and on our website send details to Bees for Development, address on back cover

NOTICE BOARD FUNDING FROM FAO TeleFood Special Fund Beekeepers’ groups and associations may apply for project funding of up to US$10,000. Request documents should include a brief description of project objectives, proposed food production or income-generating activities, work plan, number of participants, detailed list of inputs with cost estimates and reporting arrangements. See ROYAL AGRICULTURAL UNIVERSITY Fellowships to African students for the MSc in International Rural Development and Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security. Experience in agriculture, food or natural resource exploitation and management; an interest in land reform; and a desire to make a strategic and sustainable contribution to Africa’s development. Up to 10 African fellows supported each year. Application deadline 3 January 2015. More information GRANTS TO SCIENTISTS IFS Research Grants are for citizens of a developing country who are scientists under 40 years of age, with at least a Master’s or equivalent degree or research experience and attached to a university, national research institution or research-orientated NGO in a developing country. See AWARD A professional development programme that strengthens the research and leadership skills of African women in agricultural science, empowering them to contribute more effectively to poverty alleviation and food security in sub-Saharan Africa. See GRANT Non-profit or cultural organisations can apply for funding from the Commonwealth Foundation to support activities including training courses, workshops, conferences, exchanges and study visits to promote international or intercultural exchange, co-operation and sharing of skills, knowledge and ideas between people from developing Commonwealth countries. Conditions apply. See 14

Bees for Development Journal 110



AMERICAN BEE JOURNAL The oldest English language beekeeping publication in the world. See a digital copy and subscribe at

Specialist for beekeeping, honeyhouse and honey processing - worldwide.

BEE CRAFT UK Beekeeping Journal for beginners and seasoned apiarists View a digital copy and subscribe on line at BEE CULTURE The magazine of American beekeeping. 140 years experience. Today’s techniques. Tomorrow’s ideas. US$15 for a digital subscription. See ULUDAG BEE JOURNAL News, practical information and research articles Published quarterly in Turkish with English summaries. See ADVERTISE IN BfDJ A great opportunity to reach thousands of our readers. Various size ads available. See advertising COPYRIGHT You are welcome to translate and/or reproduce items appearing in BfDJ as part of our Information Service. Permission is given on the understanding that BfDJ and author(s) are acknowledged, BfD contact details are provided in full, and you send us a copy of the item or the website address where it is used.

SUBSCRIPTIONS AVAILABLE Sponsored subscriptions to Bees for Development Journal are available for resource-poor beekeepers, projects, schools and groups in developing countries.

Bottlingtanks Made of high quality stainless steel. All tanks come with a loose-fitting lid or with an airtight lid as an option. Capacity from 25 kg - 600 kg.

Solar Wax Melter For frames or comb. It has a strong wooden frame, insulating double window and a small tray for collecting the melted wax / honey.

Refractometer Measures water content in honey. Range: 12-25%. With automatic temperature compensation.

Honey Press Easy and effective way to press your honey. Made entirely of stainless steel. Holds approx. 9.5 L.

Honey Extractors Our modern tangential manual extractors. High quality machines at a very affordable price.

Packaging Many different sizes and shapes in both PET plastic and glas. Available with plastic and metal lids.

Supported with funds raised by Bees for Development Trust Name................................................................................................. What is your involvement with bees and beekeeping? ......................................................................................................... ......................................................................................................... Organisation ..................................................................................... Postal address................................................................................... .........................................................................................................

at Available om ty ien .c www.sw

......................................................................................................... Country............................................................................................. E-mail address...................................................................................

... for better honey

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Additional copies of this form are available from our website Email Post to BfD Trust at the address below


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Bees for Development Journal 110



4th ApiTrade Africa Event Beekeeping for Economic Empowerment in Africa

6-11 October 2014 Harare

24-27 April 2014 Miracle Resort Hotel Antalya, Turkey Organised by the Asian Apicultural Association and Turkish Association of Beekeepers Early registration rate until 15 February

Further details apiexpo-africa-2014

Further details

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26–30 MAY 2014 University of the Virgin Islands St Croix United States Virgin Islands Further details extension/caribbean_bee_college.shtml

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