Bees for Development Journal Edition 139 - June 2021

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Bees for Development Bees for Development Journal 139 June 2021


No 139 JUNE 2021


The Journal for sustainable beekeeping 1

Bees for Development Journal 139 June 2021

Dear friends Welcome to our June edition which we are publishing in digital and paper editions – do let us know which suits you best. As usual we bring you a wide range of news and advice – from how to catch a swarm (opposite) to how to develop the Residue Monitoring Plan that enables your honey to be sold within the EU. Fake honey is a huge problem for the world honey trade, and threatens the livelihoods of many beekeepers. Fake honey is made in factories by chemically modifying plant syrup sugars to look like real honey, or by adulterating real honey with highfructose corn syrup. The presence of these cheap products on the world market results in so-called ‘honey’ available in supermarkets at prices far below the production costs of real honey that is laboriously created in nature by bees and harvested from them by beekeepers. Every domestic industry in the USA can petition the government to initiate an Anti-Dumping investigation to decide if an imported product is being sold there at less than fair value, i.e. it is being dumped. If it is decided that imported goods are being dumped, then Anti-Dumping duties will be applied. In April the American Honey Producers Association and the Sioux Honey Association filed a petition alleging that raw honey from Argentina, Brazil, India, Ukraine and Vietnam are being sold in the USA at less than fair

Nicola Bradbear, Director, Bees for Development

June 2021

Bees for Development Works to assist beekeepers in developing countries.

PRACTICAL BEEKEEPING How to catch a swarm.............. 3

Readers in developing countries may apply for a sponsored subscription. Apply online at

In this issue


Shepherds of the Bees – Part 2. 6 Residue Monitoring Plans explained................................. 9 World Bee Day........................11 New training Module from Bees for Development..........14 Book Shelf...............................17 Look Ahead.............................19 BfD Connect............................20

Bees for Development Journal Produced quarterly and sent to readers in over 130 countries Editor: Nicola Bradbear PhD Co-ordinator: Helen Jackson BSc Subscriptions cost £30 per year – see page 18 for ways to pay

Bees for Development Trust gratefully acknowledge: Artemis Charitable Trust, Bees for Development North America, Briogeo, Charles Hayward Foundation, Didymus Charity, E H Thorne (Beehives) Ltd, Ethiopiaid, Euromonitor International, Eva Crane Trust, Healing Herbs, Hiscox Foundation, National Lottery Community Fund UK, Neal’s Yard Remedies, Nelsons Homeopathic Pharmacy, Rowse Honey Ltd, UK Aid Direct, Wales and Africa, Waterloo Foundation, Welsh Government, Yasaeng Beekeeping Supplies and many other generous organisations and individuals. Copyright: You are welcome to translate and/or reproduce items appearing in Bees for Development Journal as part of our Information Service. Permission is given on the understanding that the Journal and author(s) are acknowledged, our contact details are provided in full, and you send us a copy of the item or the website address where it is used.

Bees for Development

Image © Melonie Ryan. All rights reserved.

Issue 139

value, and seeking Anti-Dumping duties to be applied on honey imports from those countries. These duties are likely to force exporters to stop shipping honey to the USA, and honey importers will cease importation. The huge problem is that many thousands of honest and hardworking beekeepers in these nations are affected because their good honey will not be sold in the USA, and must find other markets. The world honey price can go only down, and this affects beekeepers in many more nations. The best and only long-term solution must be increased effort to prevent the possibility of fake honey gaining access to world honey trade. This situation highlights the benefits for beekeepers as far as possible to sell your produce into short market chains, where the consumer can enjoy total confidence in your natural produce.

Our cover this month is the first prize-winner from Fiji Beekeepers Association photography contest run to celebrate World Bee Day. The smiling Fijian beekeeper is Joshua Prasad, who manages 40 bee hives, grows fruits and vegetables, and raises livestock on his family farm on Fiji’s Vanua Levu island. Joshua also teaches beekeeping and assists with his family’s permaculture farm home-stay business. This wonderful photo was taken by Melonie Ryan, who has kindly provided permission for us to feature the picture here. Thank you to Melonie, Joshua and John Caldeira who organised the fun contest. FijiBeekeepers

1 Agincourt Street, Monmouth NP25 3DZ, UK Tel: +44 (0)1600 714848 2

Bees for Development Journal 139 June 2021


How to catch a swarm When a honey bee colony has fully occupied its nesting space and is capable of reproducing, it will swarm. This means that a good proportion of the bee population, including the current queen, will leave their nest in search of a new nesting place.

the data brought back to the colony by scout bees, who for days or weeks have been out researching potential new nesting places. Each bee involved in this process may be likened to one neurone within a mammal’s brain, contributing data to inform the superorganism’s decision. When it is ready to go, the swarm will leave the existing colony – here in UK this is usually around midday. The swarm does not go straight from its existing home to the new one, but will settle initially nearby, typically on a tree branch or in a bush. After the tumultuous event of leaving home, this settling gives a chance for the swarm, consisting of around 15,000 bees, to coalesce and decide on their final location - based on last minute feedback from scout bees. It could be that several swarms have chosen the same ideal spot as their new nest site, and no doubt swarms have to readjust their plans if another beats them to it! The new dwelling place, according to Tom Seeley’s research, will rarely be less than 300 metres from the old one – and can be easily 3,000 metres or more. Imagine the logistics involved in organising 15,000 insects to stop work, fill up on honey, leave their home and fly to the new one this is what the swarm achieves!

This happens only at specific times of year – here in UK the swarming season is from late April to June. In our temperate climate, this gives the swarm enough time to build a new nest and store enough honey to survive the following winter. Later swarms will have less chance of survival. Left behind in the original hive are 25-50% of the workforce and capped queen cells from which will hatch one or more virgin queens. After a mating flight, one of these will become the existing colony’s new queen, inheriting the existing nest. Swarming therefore creates a break in the egg laying and brood rearing cycle, which usefully disrupts the life cycle of brood diseases and predators like the Varroa mite. Bees for Development’s Patron, Professor Tom Seeley has described in his marvellous book Honey Bee Democracy*, how bees reach consensus on the merits of various potential new nesting locations. The debate takes place with sophisticated behaviour to process

Intermediate location

It is when it settles in its intermediate location that the beekeeper has the opportunity to catch the swarm, because once the swarm has entered its final location it will probably be difficult to extract from the cavity it has chosen.

How to do it

Housing a swarm is not only the best way to gain bees, because your bees will be local and healthy, it is also definitely the most fun way too. And depending on the situation, catching a swarm can be very easy.

Equipment needed

Image © Bees for Development

When you get the call, you must be ready to go immediately and collect the swarm. You need: • A temporary container for the swarm. This can be a cardboard box, a large, tightly woven basket, a woven straw bee hive (known as a skep in the UK), a small nucleus hive, or catcher box. • A smoker • A bee brush (a large, soft brush used to gently brush bees to where you want them) • Secateurs or a saw • A large cloth sheet, around 2m by 2m • Some twine or rope • Veil and beekeeping overalls – these are most important – not so much because you need them, more to give the onlookers confidence that you are a professional! You may not need the smoker or the bee brush – these are just in case things do not go to plan.

A swarm appropriately chose to settle on Bees for Development’s shop sign! 3

Bees for Development Journal 139 June 2021

In the ideal situation, the swarm is hanging from a branch within easy reach. You apply one confident thump to the branch, and all the bees fall into the container placed immediately underneath the swarm. Or you cut the branch and capture everything in the box. You now quickly encase the container in the sheet and tie it, so not one bee escapes.

conditions: that is forage available through the year, weather conditions, climate, pests and predators. Take the swarm to your new hive, where you have placed a large wooden board as a ramp up to the entrance. Upturn the container, untie the sheet and allow the swarm to spread over the board. The bees will be in a clump inside the container, clinging together and to the inside ceiling of the skep. With a single and firm movement, shake all the bees out of the container and on to the sheet on the wooden ramp. The bees will begin to walk and then run up the ramp, you may even spot the queen amongst them, and into the new hive: all will be inside within 30 minutes or so. A soon as the queen is inside, workers will begin fanning pheromone to tell everyone that this is the new home.

If you captured most of the bees, the chances are that the queen is among them. Once the queen is in the container, all the remaining workers will want to join her. If there are still flying bees, spread the sheet on the ground and place the inverted container on it, with a small wedge to enable the flying bees to enter. Workers will stand at this entrance with their rear ends in the air, fanning Nasanov orientation pheromone into the air to signal the new location.

Of course, there are many variations on this ideal theme, and after a few years, every beekeeper has many good stories of swarms they caught, and those that got away!

The bees will cluster to the inside top of the container, and to each other, in a clump. This is where a straw skep is ideal, as bees can easily cling to the straw. If your container is a cardboard box, close the lid, ensuring a small gap for the remainder of the bees to get inside.

Social benefit Helping neighbours when swarms arrive in gardens, and coming to the rescue when they arrive in public spaces is a wonderful way for beekeepers to teach about bees and foster goodwill.

If you wait until sunset – you can be sure that almost every bee from the swarm will be in the container. Now you can enclose the container in the cloth sheet and take it home. The swarm can be safely kept in a cool and quiet place overnight, ready for re-homing in your empty hive next day. Indeed, this calm overnight rest is ideal for everyone concerned – the bees and you! This gives you time to prepare the new hive where you plan to keep the hives.

In addition to becoming a local hero, your neighbours will believe you are a real bee-whisperer when you adeptly catch the swarm!


Best way to begin beekeeping

This is absolutely the very best way to begin beekeeping. This is contrary to what you might read in some out-of-date text books – which used to state that swarms are sources of disease. A swarm is like a miniature honey bee colony – swarming is one of the self-cleaning behaviours of the honey bee colony and, like a new born baby, is a small, fresh and healthy start to a new life.

How to find a swarm?

You need to put the word out that you are looking for a swarm – let your friends know, and if you have joined a local beekeepers’ club, they will add you to their list of people waiting for swarms. Social media can be a good source of swarm news - although be aware that many alleged honey bee swarms are wasps and other wrongly identified insect species! It is not usual practice to pay for a honey bee swarm: it is a wonderful gift. Once you are a beekeeper yourself, it will become your turn to pass on this gift to other beginners.

Image © Bees for Development

Other possible ways to gain bees are to buy a nucleus colony, or an established colony from a beekeeper living locally to you. What you absolutely must get, and be assured of, are local bees. Never think of buying bees from the internet or of distant or unknown provenance. The best bees for your area are bees that have evolved in your area - do not believe anything that you read about bees from somewhere else being somehow ‘better’ – this is nonsense. Although they will be living in your hive, the bees are still living as if in the wild, and local bees are best adapted to prevailing

Most swarms that settle high in trees, as this one did, probably go unnoticed. 4

Bees for Development Journal 139 June 2021


Bees in a swarm have no brood or honey to defend, and are therefore not in ‘defence mode’, and you are unlikely to be stung. However there are no firm rules in beekeeping, and stings do happen – maybe when bees accidently get stuck in your hair, or trapped in clothing. Safety in accessing the swarm is also important – do you need a ladder, and someone to hold it? Do you need permission for access from the resident or business? I always remember going to help someone who was terrified by a swarm that had arrived in their rose garden. I was delighted to find an easy swarm – I cut the small branch where they had settled and managed to capture every bee – only for the garden’s owner to turn from terrified to furious – that I had damaged their rose bush….

Image © Bees for Development

* Tom Seeley’s marvellous books Following the wild bees, Honey bee Democracy and The lives of bees are available from our webstore:

An Eritrean swarm-catcher counts his cash – in some places it is customary to pay for swarms

NEWS GHANA In March Robert and Stephen from Bees for Development Ghana were invited by one of the cashew farmers who work in collaboration with BfD Ghana to go and harvest as he had seen honey dripping from one of his buckets!

Image © Isaac Mbroh/Bees for Development Ghana

THE QUEEN: WHEN MUSIC SAVES THE PLANET A song to save the bees, The Queen is the first solo work by Max Casacci available streaming on all digital platforms. A baroque musical composition extracted, for the melodic part, from buzzes and sounds of bees and, for the rhythmic part, from bee hives and beekeeping tools. The protagonist is the queen bee, whose sampled sound is transformed into an imaginary oboe, while the baroque style describes, in her honour, the “monarchical” structure of the hive. The Queen stands by bees and farmers supporting the European Citizens Initiative (reported in BfDJ 134). If a million signatures are reached, the EU Commission will be forced to take a stand and issue an official statement, and the EU Parliament hold a public hearing on the issue. 5

Bees for Development Journal 139 June 2021

The Shepherds of the Bees – Part 2 Splitting ‘flocks’ and making nucs David Wainwright, Tropical Forest Products Ltd, Aberystwyth, UK My beekeeping has evolved over the years: complicated methods which do not produce reliable results or are not cost effective (time is money!) have been abandoned and methods which work well have been expanded. I now find that a lot of my time is spent on splitting colonies to make nuclei (nucs) (a few thousand bees and a queen bee) and then caring for these nucs as they expand in bee numbers. If this is all done correctly these young colonies will produce a good crop of honey for three or four years with little attention.

This is the second article in which David Wainwright discusses his approach to making good business from beekeeping. A commercial beekeeper with over 1,500 colonies across 100 apiaries in the UK, David runs a highly successful business, marketing his own honey and hundreds of tonnes of honey and beeswax imported every year from Africa, which he supplies to major retailers in the UK. farms. The life expectancy of the neglected colonies was 0.7 years compared to 2.8 years for the cared for groups. The average honey production was 13kg for the Oakwell bees and 72kg for their sisters. This effect was not due to the location, another set at Oakwell was one of the highest producers.

I split my ‘flock’ of hives into four groups: nucs, second years, third years, and ‘oldies’ ready for retirement. Due to attrition from losses of about 20% a year the younger groups are larger in number and produce the bulk of the honey. Every year I make plenty of nucs, so that by the autumn in the UK about 40% of the hives are nucs from that year. I reduce the number of old hives by uniting them together. On average I look in a hive three times in a season: early spring to check all is OK, mid spring to make a nuc, and autumn to check all is OK for overwintering. It is a bit like the old British tradition of skep beekeeping but instead of encouraging my hives to swarm I make nucs. These nucs must be nurtured so that they are not stunted by lack of food or other stress and development is unchecked and keeps them healthy and strong. They do not produce much honey in their first year as they put all their vigour into raising brood to expand their population. In the following two years they will produce a good crop. In their third or fourth year they usually start to have problems and are approaching their allotted span, so they are moved out to our retirement sites.

The first months are crucial for a colony’s future performance

The two groups below were all sister colonies, started in May 2018 from the same batch of sister queen cells. The only difference is that in September 2018 one group was neglected and ran out of food, while the cared for group had plenty of nutritious forage. The after effects of this stress affected the neglected group for the rest of their lifespan as shown below:

The empty sites created are filled up with 24 nucs from our nursery sites. The hives in each site are a group, with sister queens started on the same day. I try to track the life history of each group and compare groups of different ages and origins etc. One lesson I have learned from these life histories is that early months of colony development are crucial to the entire life history of the colony. If a developing young colony is subjected to stress and their development is checked then they will never come right in the years to come.

Neglected Group

Cared for Group

Number alive after two years



Average life expectancy

0.7 years

2.8 years

Average honey production



The lesson I have learned over the years is that a colony will carry the after effects of stress throughout its lifespan, it will be more liable to disease, will swarm more and will not gather the same crop as its well cared for sisters. I put a lot of effort into caring for my developing colonies in their early months, to make sure they have everything that they need. Opening hives creates stress and is only done when there is a clear purpose. We do not do swarm control as this creates stress which further encourages bees to swarm. I do not find swarm control to be cost effective in the long run, I try to provide my bees with all that they want so they do not feel the need to swarm. Swarming is usually around 15% per annum.

A good example of the effects of stress in the early months is the life history of a number of colonies on Oakwell Farm. These were sister colonies to three other groups at Atcham, Cross and Haughmond Houses, all started in 2018 with sister queens. I neglected the Oakwell bees and they became hungry in September 2018, meanwhile their sisters were well cared for and had good forage throughout. I fed the Oakwell bees when I found they had become hungry, all looked well going into winter and I thought that all would be ok in the coming years, but I was mistaken. By September 2020 only 15% of the Oakwell hives were alive compared with 70% of their sisters at the other

In the UK we spend the winter months preparing and renovating a lot of hives for the young colonies we will begin to produce in the next season. This minimises disease transmission opportunities as colonies are always started in a clean hive. Many colonies are in the expansion phase and have the energy of a new swarm. 6

Bees for Development Journal 139 June 2021

Number of hives 22 24 14 17 13 24 22 27 27 28 22 19 23 25 32 20 23 24 23 20 20 12 19 17 17 20 21 25 20 17


Ivy House Triangle Strawberry Hill Longdean Warren Cratt Edington Wellhead Gore Cross Honey Street Lower Everleigh Bush Bottom Starvall Lawn Pewsey Green Drove Lynchetts castle Mount Orleans Limekiln Everleigh Cheverell Ranch Longcombe bottom Bishopstrow Hougoumont Pitmead Berwick St James Perham Figheldean

Year group Varroa was started autumn 2019 2019 2019 2019 2018 2019 2016 2019 2019 2017 2019 2019 2018 2019 2018 old 2018 2018 2019 2017 2019 2019 2018 2018 2017 2018 2016 2018 2018 2018 2017

DWV 11% DWV 29% DWV 25% DWV 13%

DWV 5%

DWV 5%

winter mortality 20192020 new 28% 25% 0% 33% 38% 24% 6% 4% 10% 29% 25% 4% 4% 3% 24% 27% 0% 24% 8% 13% 0% 14% 19% 6% 22% 13% 11% 5% 14%

kg honey per kg honey hive 2019 per hive 2020 63.0 46.7 47.0 56.9 58.0 61.1 59.6 45.6 54.3 49.7 32.7 34.6 46.3 36.2 66.1 58.2 53.1 64.7 53.5 60.6 54.9 53.1 65.3 61.8 58.6 54.6 66.6 80.4 70.9

8.9 12.0 14.7 16.5 20.0 20.8 21.5 22.6 24.2 24.6 26.0 37.4 42.5 44.6 49.3 49.4 50.7 51.2 51.4 53.2 54.9 55.5 68.0 68.4 69.0 70.4 77.5 79.0 79.1 99.4

Production from 30 apiaries on Salisbury Plain, 2020 and 2019 season. This demonstrates the variation from site to site, in many cases due to past stress events in the life history of these groups of hives. Over the years the ‘flock’ develops its own character, vigour and health (if things are done right) a swarm or nuc from a healthy calm hive will have the best start in life and will in turn produce another healthy swarm or nuc. By contrast a colony started from purchased bees which have been subject to stress in transit will struggle to feed the next generation adequately so a level of malnutrition will be passed from generation to generation. The colony will lack the resilience and vigour of a well raised nuc that has been given everything it needs for its start in life. How this ‘trauma’ is passed down the generations through the years of the colonies’ lifespan I am not sure. It is not a genetic effect originating with the queen. It could be that the queen herself has been harmed in the traumatic event, but I doubt this as the colony always makes sure the queen gets the best food. I suspect that the trauma is somehow transmitted by the workers themselves down the generations.

are all different heights, a few are piled with boxes, but most have only one or two. I also have yards of hives which are evenly piled high, like Pitmead in the photo. Some of the best yards are old groups, they just keep producing a good crop year after year. If all the yards were as good as the best, then the crop would be a lot higher. But every year there are various problems, some affect all the colonies, some affect only certain yards. It is my job as a bee farmer to try to eliminate problems where they are under my control, although in some years there are problems beyond that: freezing storms, droughts or excessive rainfall which affect all the colonies in an area and lower production. In the table below I have listed the crop records for my apiaries in Salisbury Plain to illustrate the problems and successes which occur every year in honey production. This chart shows that 2020 could have been a very good year as the best yards produced excellent crops of 70kg or above. The worst yards produced poor crops of 20kg or lower. 2019 was a more even year with not

There is a lot of variation in my hives, some yards of old hives produce a poor crop, in the summer the hives 7

Image © David Wainwright

Bees for Development Journal 139 June 2021

Pitmead Apiary. This group of colonies have produced good crops in 2019 and 2020. All colonies are very similar: strong and healthy with very little swarming. The group was started as nucs in 2018, they were well cared for and grew fast, and they went on to become strong, stress free, top honey producers. so much variation from yard to yard, they produced a higher average crop, even though 2020 was potentially the better year. To improve my beekeeping, I need to look into these figures and work out what went wrong with the unproductive yards and try to make sure that we do not repeat these mistakes the next year. Also bearing in mind the lesson learned in Oakwell that problems created by neglect will be a burden on these colonies for the rest of their lives.

This alone is a new way of working for many of us. Then you start discussing your bee operation in detail, not just the bits you are proud of but also the bits that have gone wrong. You learn that everyone makes mistakes, but also everyone has some parts of their business that have done well. As David Rowse used to say: ‘Things in beekeeping are seldom as bad or as good as you think they are’.

The main factor lowering average production in 2020 is that the second-year colonies produced only 29kg compared with the second years in 2019 which produced 55kg. 2020 second year colonies started off too weak and could not grow strong enough to produce much when the honey flow came in July. If they had done as well as the 2019 second year the average crop would have exceeded 2019. For this problem we only have ourselves to blame as we made various mistakes in caring for the nucs in their first year of life in 2019. These sets of bees can be expected to perform poorly now throughout the rest of their lifespan. I now make sure that all the team are very aware of a precise recipe for nuc making that has to be followed to the letter.

Coming along behind these groups which have ongoing problems is a new cohort of young vigorous stock that we started in 2020. These are looking very prosperous and should produce well in 2021. Meanwhile we have started to clear some sites of old unproductive bees in order to make space for the new generation. The old stocks are taken to ‘retirement’ sites like Pewsey where they are united together to reduce their numbers. In these articles I have referred a lot to production figures that I have recorded from my hives as well as what I know about the operation of the bee farms run by colleagues in the UK. All of this information has come from a programme of Knowledge Exchange Groups that we have set up amongst ourselves in the UK Bee Farmers Association. These groups consist of about six members who agree to share all the information about the operation of their bee businesses. It is a very stimulating experience to be part of one of these groups. Firstly, you are required to measure the performance of your hives and record the data so that discussions can be on a factual basis.

Another problem that stunted some colonies in 2020 was the high levels of Deformed Wing Virus (DWV) seen in 6 yards in autumn 2019. Four of these yards were amongst the lowest producing groups. The DWV problem was no longer visible in these yards during 2020 but the after effects still persisted and reduced the honey crop. 8

Bees for Development Journal 139 June 2021

Residue Monitoring Plans explained Giacomo Ciriello, Project Manager, Bees for Development What a Residue Monitoring Plan contains

A Residue Monitoring Plan (RMP) is a risk assessment undertaken to assure that honey imported into the European Union (EU) will not contain chemical residues. Residues may come from veterinary products used in bee hives, from pesticides and other pollutants bees encounter in the environment, or somehow contaminating honey during its processing and packing. Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) for pharmacological substances are listed in Regulation (EU) No 37/2010, while those for pesticides are set in the framework of Regulation (EC) No 396/2005. A RMP is required for all animal products imported into the EU, and without it honey cannot legally be imported by any EU nation. Honey is the only bee product for which a RMP is necessary.

• Details of the non-EU nation’s competent authority • Information about the legislative framework covering the use of veterinary medicines in the non-EU nation • List of approved laboratories for residue testing and their accreditation status - these labs do not have to be in the exporting nation • Details of actions to be taken in the event of a noncompliant result Samples must be tested for residues in the following five sub-groups: B1 Antibacterial substances, including sulphonamides and quinolones B2c Carbamates and pyrethroids B3a Organochlorine compounds including Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) B3b Organophosphorus compounds B3c Chemical elements

To comply, non-EU countries must submit a RMP to the Director General, Health and Food Safety of the European Commission. The plan must state the government department responsible for monitoring residues in honey, the description of the exporting country’s legislative framework covering the rules on the use of veterinary medicines, the sampling procedures and the laboratories approved to undertake residue analysis, as well as measures for noncompliance.

Image © Bees for Development

Samples may be exempt from testing for a particular class of substances where producers can prove these are not being used. For example, the Zambian RMP does not test for B2c substances because exporters

Honey of COOPSOL in Argentina, ready for export. With the RMP in place, this honey can be imported by any EU nation 9

Bees for Development Journal 139 June 2021

sell honey harvested by beekeepers who use fixed comb hives and do not treat their colonies against mite infestations.

seeking to export. RMPs must be renewed by 31 March every year, and this is the only time when new exporters can be added. Something to bear in mind for your business planning.

Plans vary in complexity and cost depending on the size of exports and the beekeeping context.

What if my country does not have an RMP yet?

The number of samples required depends on the size of exports: 10 per 300 tonnes of annual production for human consumption for the first 3,000 tonnes + one sample for every 300 tonnes thereafter. Tests can be expensive, so economies of scale are significant.

The RMP is shared by all honey exporters in the country. As it is approved at country level and needs to be supported by a legal framework, government authorities must endorse it and officials must be designated to act as mediators between exporters and the EU. The development of a RMP is therefore a collaborative effort in which potential honey exporters to the EU team up with relevant governmental agencies.

Examples of required number of samples for RMP relative to size of exports Number of samples

Tonnes of honey













The first step towards developing the RMP is to forge alliances. If there are any, you should try reaching out to other wholesale honey businesses in your country who stand to benefit from access to EU markets. Expressions of interest from buyers in the EU will boost your cause. While it may be a struggle at first to get someone’s attention in government, getting the RMP for honey approved can be a major political win for export promotion, livestock or agricultural development ministries. Being proactive generates momentum!

As a rule of thumb, around 100 tonnes are needed to sustain the costs of a simple RMP. When the RMP is approved by the European Standing Veterinary Committee, the country submitting it is added to the list of so-called third countries eligible for import. The RMP must be renewed yearly for honey exports to continue – testing new honey samples and documenting any changes to the plan.

Once the key stakeholders are committed, the process is not difficult. You will have to identify the agencies responsible for accrediting honey exporters and the laboratories where samples will be tested. These testing laboratories do not have to be in the exporting country, it is quite usual for samples to be sent to laboratories in the EU with the means to test samples against the EU standards. Samples can be collected at random by the accredited laboratory personnel at the listed exporters’ warehouses. The RMP will also need to specify what records exporters and their suppliers must keep to ensure that the honey consignments are traceable back to producers.

When is an RMP needed?

It only becomes worthwhile to export honey to buyers within the EU, when you are confident that they will purchase larger volumes and/or at higher prices than buyers elsewhere. You should start looking into setting up, or joining an existing RMP, when you are in contact with serious buyers you know and trust. Towards building such relationships, it may be a good idea to discuss with prospective buyers whether they can support you with some of the costs associated to participating in an RMP.

If you are in the process of developing an RMP and need any advice or guidance, do reach out to Bees for Development at

If your country is not already on the list of those eligible to export honey to the EU, it may be difficult to approach and gain interest from buyers within the EU. However if you have the capacity to trade large volumes of high-quality honey, it is worth seeking funding to develop an RMP in your country. Depending on where you are, there may be grant opportunities for enterprise and trade development – and since the RMP benefits all current and potential honey exporters in your country, it is possible to make a strong case for seeking financial support.

We can help you find the information you need.

TOP TIP If a non-EU nation plans to develop a RMP for honey – it can be useful to check if the country already has a RMP for another animal product such as milk or eggs. If so, liaise with the authority that developed that RMP and seek their advice. For example, Bangladesh already has a RMP for aquaculture but not honey. The principles and processes will be similar for both.

What if my country already has an RMP in place? You can find the list of countries eligible to export honey to the EU by searching for Document 32021D0800 on If your country is already on the list, you can join the RMP. To do so you will need to contact the authority responsible for accrediting honey exporters and be able to comply with the requirements set out in the RMP, as well as provide an estimate of how much honey you are


Bees for Development Journal 139 June 2021

World Bee Day 2021 Now in its fourth year World Bee Day is celebrated on 20 May. The main purpose of the special day is to draw attention to the hugely important role of bees and pollinators for all life on earth. World Bee Day is a fantastic opportunity for beekeepers to share their knowledge, for farmers to raise awareness about pollinators and for the public to learn more about these wonderful insects.

World Bee Day aims to: • Encourage the world’s decisionmakers to appreciate the importance of protecting bees • Remind us that we all depend on bees and other pollinators • Protect bees and pollinators • Halt the further loss of biodiversity and degradation of ecosystems, thereby contributing to the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals*.

Worldwide FAO organised a virtual event with the theme Bee engaged: Build Back Better for Bees. The webinar was attended by scientists and practitioners who drew attention to the urgent need to restore pollinator populations, and their habitats.

Bees and their pollination services are renowned for the important contribution they make to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals – notably SDG 2, Zero Hunger; SDG 12, Responsible Production and Consumption; and SDG 15, Life on Land. There are roles for beekeepers, governments, private sector enterprises, civil society organisations, researchers and consumers to safeguard and promote thriving bee populations. The conclusion of the event was that to protect pollinators, we all need to protect their habitat. Pollinators need floral diversity, nesting sites and an environment free from pesticides. The event shared these resources: YouTube – Imagine a world without bees


UTMTS organised multiple events throughout the week of World Bee Day, celebrating bees, raising awareness, and calling on stakeholders to work together to protect them. UTMTS put together a series of Instagram live events with three different bee organisations - including Bees for Development – who focussed on the importance of bees and biodiversity in the ecosystem. Through its work with indigenous bees, UTMTS seeks to improve biodiversity management and ecosystem services for small holders and recognises that beekeeping is a highly costeffective way to adapt to climate change.

BOLIVIA On World Bee Day beekeeping groups in Bolivia shared the news that the demand for honey and propolis from their indigenous stingless bee Melipona sp has increased during COVID-19,

Image © Under The Mango Tree Society

World Bee Day was celebrated by organisations including Under The Mango Tree Society (UTMTS) and The Keystone Foundation.

A clay bee hive decorated by the children of local beekeepers because of their importance in local medicines. Osvaldo Soruco, of the Association of Beekeepers of the Department of Santa Cruz explained that people mix honey with herbs and roots to prepare medicines for helping with colds and flu. Maria Luisa Añez, of the 11

Association of Beekeepers of San Ignacio de Velasco noticed an increase in demand, and indigenous women are responding by developing their home-based activities into vibrant enterprises. Read more at forestry/news/98584/en

Bees for Development Journal 139 June 2021

GHANA Bees for Development Ghana attended Ghana’s very first Honey Festival and World Bee Day celebration. Isaac Mbroh and Stephen Adu hosted our stand at the premises of the CSIR Forestry Research Institute of Ghana (CSIR-FORIG), Kumasi and answered many questions from visitors. The occasion was used to discuss the role of bees and pollinators to humans, honey quality and safety, sensory analysis of honey, and habitat protection.

Honey Festival and World Bee Day Celebrations in Ghana

Image © Isaac Mbroh/Bees for Development Ghana

Dr Courage Besah-Adanu, Research Scientist at CSIR-FORIG and the Coordinator of Ghana National Apiculture Platform said the main objective of the Honey Festival was to create a common platform for honey producers, researchers, consumers and other stakeholders in the industry to share knowledge and innovation for the growth of the industry. The theme for the occasion was A Spotlight on Pollinators, Beekeeping, and Honey Safety for Sustainable Livelihoods and Biodiversity Conservation.

Isaac Mbroh enthusiastically hosts the BfD Ghana stand during World Bee Day celebrations

UGANDA In Uganda, World Bee Day was marked by an interview with Dickson Biryomumaisho, Director of TUNADO (The Uganda National Apiculture Organisation) which aired on prime-time TV channel, NBS, and viewed by millions of Ugandans. Dickson explained to viewers about investment opportunities in the sector in Uganda and recommended that beekeeping can be a rewarding selfemployment option for young people struggling Dickson Biryomumaisho, Director of TUNADO speaking on Ugandan prime-time TV on to find jobs. World Bee Day 12

Bees for Development Journal 139 June 2021


better home for ourselves and our generations to come”.

World Bee Day celebrations were hosted by Kitui County, reports James Muriuki. At the Municipal Stadium in Kitui town it brought together beekeepers and equipment manufacturers, honey and hive product processors, policy makers, development agencies and the media. Due to restrictions from Covid-19 a limited number of participants were allowed. The event was streamed to reach many people across the country and worldwide.

Image © James Muriuki

Speeches focused on conservation of honey bees as pollinators and their role in food security and biodiversity conservation. In his keynote address the Principal Secretary, of the Director of Livestock Production noted that in the face of the devastating impacts of climate change, all must arise and “bee engaged” in taking bold action to protect, conserve and create resilience for our natural resource base on which humanity depends for survival and through such initiatives “we will make the world a safer place for bees and a

The Principal Secretary also enumerated efforts taken by the government to develop a thriving, profitable and sustainable bee

industry including genetic resource conservation (aimed at reversing the trend of bee population decline in Kenya), and development of a honey Residue Monitoring Plan to enhance honey traceability and quality assurance.

Api-Expo for WBD Kenya – bee farmers from Caritas Kitui showcase the products they offer

*Sustainable Development Goals The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by all UN Member States in 2015, provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. At its heart are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are an urgent call for action by all countries – developed and developing – in a global partnership. They recognise that ending poverty and other deprivations must go together with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve oceans and forests. Source Beekeeping contributes to achieve Sustainable Development Goals Published by Apimondia in 2021, you can read and download this 164 page book here

Bees for Development Journal Distribution Hubs This Journal has not been distributed in print during the past year because of Covid’s prevention of international postal services. We are now resuming a print edition with this issue, and are setting up a new distribution system to ensure sponsored copies get to where they are most needed. Our new system will rely on BfDJ Hubs to receive a bulk delivery of printed copies to be handed out at local and national beekeeping events and made freely available for pick-up. We are trialling the new system with hubs in the Caribbean, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Rwanda, Uganda and Zimbabwe. We will announce more BfDJ Hubs in the next issue. Paying subscribers will continue receiving BfDJ by post. If you are in any of the countries or region above and would like printed copies of BfDJ – or if you can help us with distributing the Journal by becoming a Hub – email 13

Bees for Development Journal 139 June 2021

New training manual from Bees for Development We are delighted to inform you that our new training manual Harvesting and Processing Honey is now available. This Manual is for beekeepers and trainers in Africa. It is designed to serve as a practical reference tool to be used as part of a training course. Featuring colourful photos, easy to follow instructional content and a suggested training schedule, this Manual is the perfect companion to any theoretical training session. Ideas for group energisers, example test questions and tips for trainers are provided. From comb to jar, the Manual explains how to maintain honey quality throughout the entire value chain. It is most applicable for trainers using fixed comb or top-bar hives, however it can be used in any training course where beekeepers need to know how to properly harvest and handle honey.

Topics include: • Honey - value, uses and quality • Harvesting honey • Post-harvest handling - maintaining quality • Processing honey • Storing and packing To gain an insight into the content and style, we have reproduced pages 6-8 across right.

Beekeepers and trainers can access the full version of this Manual or any in the series by applying for a digital Resource Box. Due to the implications of COVID-19 on global postal infrastructure we are currently able to offer these manuals only as a digital PDF. Apply for your free copy of our Training Manuals here: apply-for-beekeeping-learning-resources/ Other Manuals in this series are:

• Processing beeswax • African honey bees 14

Bees for Development Journal 139 June 2021

Harvesting honey

Gentle use of smoke can calm the bees and encourage them to move.

Equipment • Means of making smoke (e.g. a bundle of sticks or grass or smoker) • Rope – if your hive is high in a tree you may need a rope to raise your honey bucket or lower the hive • Protective equipment (especially a veil) • Hive tool and/or knife • Container with close-fitting lid A simple veil and smoke are normally enough protection to work safely with bees. The veil can be made locally using a polypropylene sack and some mosquito netting. If you feel safe when harvesting, you will have the confidence to work slowly. This will reduce the temptation to use too much smoke when harvesting. Doing this can destroy large portions of the colony and reduce the quality of the honey. The aim should be always to preserve the colony; never disturb the brood nest. Always close the hive properly when finished. Failure to do so will encourage pests.

Top tips to hand bees safely:

1. Use cool, gently smoke – to keep the bees calm and encourage them to move to another area. 2. Be gentle – avoid killing bees and making sudden movements. 3. Work with a partner – to aid and assist one another. 15

Bees for Development Journal 139 June 2021

HARVESTING HONEY FROM TOP-BAR HIVES Top-bar hives enable the beekeeper to inspect each comb before deciding whether or not to remove it from the hive. Only combs full of ripe, capped honey should be removed. Brood combs or partially filled honeycombs should be left in the hive.

Step 1

After preparing your equipment, approach the beehive from behind and smoke. Remove the lid of the hive and smoke across the top-bars. Gently tap on the bars to determine where the combs have been built. The honey area is likely to be furthest from the entrance. Remove two or three empty top-bars from beyond the next area to create a working space.

Identify the top-bars which contain ripe honey

Step 2

Starting at the end furthest from the entrance, inspect each top-bar, examining the comb carefully. As each top-bar is removed, gently smoke inside the hive. Lift out sealed honeycombs and remove the bees using either a brush, feather or bunch of leaves. Use your knife to carefully cut the honeycomb so it falls directly into the bucket. Leave 10mm of wax on the top-bar to act as a starter strip for the bees to rebuild their combs. Put the lid on your container immediately to protect the honey and keep bees away.

Carefully cut the honeycomb from the topbar into a bucket.

Put the lid on your bucket of honey when finished 16

Bees for Development Journal 139 June 2021

BOOKSHELF Keeping bees simply and respectfully Johannes Wirz and Norbert Poeplau 2021 172 pages Softcover This excellent new book details a current, up to date and thoughtful approach to beekeeping. Mellifera e. V. is an association in Germany that works for bees, nature and humans. Over many years of study, observation and teaching, the association arrived at good beekeeping methods underpinned by the belief that honey bee colonies must be allowed to swarm and to mate naturally, and to live on their own, natural combs. To enable beekeeping in this way, the association advocates the use of the Golden Hive, a movable frame hive that provides optimal living conditions for honey bees, enabling them to build their own comb, and to swarm, while enabling people to live near to bees and to harvest from them. The feature which most distinguishes the Golden Hive from others is that while it contains frames, foundation* is never introduced to the hive: instead, the bees are allowed to build their own natural, elliptical combs. The horizontal hive consists of one cavity (not split into separate parts as in modular frame hives), and the brood nest and storage area are easily expanded without major disturbance to the bees. With clear explanations and an abundance of illustrations and good diagrams, this new text now makes this excellent beekeeping system widely available to beekeepers in the Englishspeaking world. In Germany, beekeepers are still required by law to treat their bees to manage the Varroa mite, and the text still advocates this approach, while acknowledging that it was a mistake for Germany to have taken this ‘chemical route’. With its excellent and clear explanations, this new book can be followed by beginner beekeepers and provides plentiful and interesting food for thought for experienced beekeepers too. *Foundation is the hexagon-embossed, rectangular sheet of beeswax conventionally provided within frames

A lively hive – a biodynamic beekeeping guide for honeybee health Alex Tuchman 2021 200 pages Softcover Another encouraging and fresh book about simple and sustainable beekeeping. Spikenard Farm Honeybeee Sanctuary in Virginia, USA was founded by Gunther and Vivian Hauk in 2007 to research into biodynamic beekeeping and teach practices that consider the needs of the honey bee above everything else. This text is written for beginners and describes a biodynamic approach applied to the use of Langstroth hives, which are the most commonly used style of frame hives in North America. A very helpful and interesting, practical guide.

Good Nutrition Good Bees David Aston & Sally Bucknall 2021 423 pages Softcover This a large paperback book, bursting with facts about honey bees and beekeeping in the British Isles. The central theme is the importance of providing bees with good nutrition, and how we must ensure this for the future. However the text covers far more than this – it contains 62 sections, the first third covering apicultural history, fundamentals of the superorganism, its biology and physiology with respect to nutrition, the nutrients that bees need, honey bee health and diseases, the second third focussing on the floral sources and how bees acquire their nutrition from them, and the final sections devoted to beekeepers’ feeding of honey bee colonies and whether or how best to do this. This book is very clearly laid out with a comprehensive index, is completely up-to-date with current research on honey bee nutrition, is packed full of reliable information and data, and will be of interest and value to beekeepers far beyond the UK. Very highly recommended for readers who need to be well informed about honey bees’ requirements. 17

Bees for Development Journal 139 June 2021

Wasps – the astonishing diversity of a misunderstand insect Eric R Eaton 2021 256 pages hardcover This book will make you love wasps and appreciate them as amazing, mostly solitary insects thriving in nearly every Earthly habitat. They are overwhelmingly beneficial to humans. They are pest control agents, and precious pollinators. Their nests are architectural masterpieces. This is a beautiful book, consisting of 11 chapters covering all the topics, and filled with amazing and interesting pictures. For our readers who already love bees, the good news is that wasps are wonderful insects too, and deserve our interest and protection. Indeed bees arose from stinging wasps approximately 125 million years ago, and as the book tells us, bees are just hairy wasps!

Wasp R A Jones 2019 208 pages Softcover This informative text shows exactly why wasps are worthy of far greater understanding and awareness of their major role at the centre of many food webs. Reading this book will help you to gain far greater appreciation of the roles that wasps play, their natural and cultural history. Like bees, they have highly sophisticated nesting and colony behaviour. Next time someone says to you ‘I love bees but I hate wasps’, you will be able to explain why they ought to adjust that view. We reviewed another excellent book on wasps in BfDJ 107 – Bees and wasps by James Maclaine

Britain’s Insects Paul D Brock 2021 608 pages Softcover A wonderful introduction towards the 25,000 species of insects that have been recorded in Great Britain and Ireland. It is a photographic guide, providing a clear introduction to each of the 25 orders of insects, their key characteristics, biology and ecology. The introduction is incredibly useful – beginning with how to first establish if something is an insect: that is does it have six legs, and the three main body parts - head, thorax and abdomen? If it is, then begin to determine the order of insect to which it belongs. Containing 2,600 excellent photographs, the book covers 1,653 species, gives up-to date distribution maps, and for grasshoppers and crickets, QR codes leading to sound recordings of the various species. A future ideal world will have experts like Paul Brock and brilliant guides like this for every region – it is a most wonderful book and must surely help to raise awareness towards protecting this precious insect biodiversity.

A natural history of insects in 100 limericks R A Jones and C Ure-Jones 2021 120 pages Softcover This sweet book by Jones and his son, Brings insects to everyone, With quick texts and nice pics, In your head they will fix, Insect knowledge imparted with fun!


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Bees for Development Journal 139 June 2021


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

SICAMM Conference NEW DATES 3-5 September 2021, Athlone Further details



APIMONDIA: 47th International Apicultural Congress NEW DATES Online 20-21 September 2021, 28 August – 1 September 2022, Ufa Further details

UK Monmouth Bee Festival 1 August 2021 Central Monmouth, NP25 3UZ


EurBee 9 Congress NEW DATES September 2022, University of Belgrade Further details

Introduction to skep beekeeping 28 August 2021 Westmill Farm SN6 8TH


Sustainable Beekeeping 4-5 September 2021 Ragman’s Lane Farm, GL17 9PA

12th International Meeting of Young Beekeepers NEW DATES 2023, Ivančna Gorica Further details

Straw skep making 18 September 2021 Ross on Wye HR9 6JZ


XII International Symposium on Pollination NEW DATES 31 August – 4 September 2021 Cape Town Further details

Skep hackles and floors 19 September 2021 Ross on Wye HR9 6JZ


For details of all these courses and events visit

Conwy Honey Fair 13th September 2021 TO BE CONFIRMED Further details 90th National Honey Show 21-23 October 2021 Further details

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The pollination services of forests A review of forest and landscape interventions to enhance their cross-sectoral benefits FAO, 2020, 100 pages Most flowering plants, including wild species and many food crops, are pollinated by animals including insects and are vital for biological production and the maintenance of biodiversity. Pollinators need diverse natural habitats for forage and nesting, yet these are limited in plant production systems. Forest management practices can have significant effects on pollinator abundance and diversity. They affect forest variables such as structure, species composition, soil dynamics, hydrology and light availability, all of which can affect pollinator species composition and diversity. Indigenous and local knowledge can contribute to the conservation of pollinators through traditional management practices. This text reviews literature on the impact of forest and landscape management practices on pollinators. It addresses the implications of climate change, collates 36 case studies, and makes recommendation on measures to maintain pollinator diversity and abundance in forests and landscapes. Citation Download at 19

Bees for Development Journal 137 December 2020

BfD Connect

Reaching people who are out of touch by existing routes. Regular broadcasts via WhatsApp to the phone of everyone who has signed up. Broadcasts provide links to find out more about topics. Subscribers receive messages from BfD Connect and can reply if they wish. We are encouraging subscribers to engage in this way and send us information, photos and videos for broadcast. Broadcasts will send updates on new resources, gain information through surveys and promote your events and projects to a wide audience. Sign up at blog/bfd-connect/

Attention – trainers in developing nations Due to the impact of Covid-19 on international mail services, distribution of our Resource Boxes and printed materials has been severely restricted. We will restart distribution as soon as possible. Resources available in pdf format/digital download are: • Beekeeping Training Modules: African honey bees, Harvesting and processing honey, Processing beeswax • Beekeeping training posters • Past issues of Bees for Development Journal If you are planning a training event, contact us for free access to these resources

Also available for purchase from our webstore

Tell us your story... We accept articles and short reports on new or improved techniques, information about bees and beekeeping in your country and your events, and welcome comments and responses to articles we have published. Articles should be 800–1,600 words in length and accompanied by images. Items can be sent by email text, as attachments in Word or PDF format, or by post. Please send digital images (as individual jpeg files) at the size they are taken off the camera. Images resized for website use are not suitable for printing. If it is not possible to include your submission in BfD Journal, we may place it in the Resource Centre on our website.

Bees for Development, 1 Agincourt Street, Monmouth NP25 3DZ, UK Telephone +44 (0)1600 714848 © Bees for Development 2021 ISSN 1477-6588 Printed on environmentally friendly paper and delivered in a fully compostable wrapper made from potato and corn starch