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THE BRITISH BEEKEEPERS ASSOCIATION

THE

BEE ALL AND

END ALL EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE BBKA 2014


WHO ARE C O N T E NTT SH E BBKA? 3 - Who are the BBKA 4 - The Honey bee; Conceptualised 23 - The problem 27 - What you can do to help 30 - Contact The British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) was founded in 1874 bringing together 26 county beekeeping associations, not to replicate their work, but to be in a stronger position to represent their interests at government level and to facilitate a nationwide educational structure supported by a common examination process. The identification and treatment of diseases, parasites and infections has also been central to the BBKA’s initiatives to foster best practice in bee husbandry.

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WHO ARE THE BBKA?

The British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) was founded in 1874 bringing together 26 county beekeeping associations, not to replicate their work, but to be in a stronger position to represent their interests at government level and to facilitate a nationwide educational structure supported by a common examination process. The identification and treatment of diseases, parasites and infections has also been central to the BBKA’s initiatives to foster best practice in bee husbandry.

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During the two World Wars, the BBKA was successful in persuading government to grant extra sugar rations to beekeepers, as honey was recognised to be an important foodstuff. This in turn stimulated public interest in beekeeping and in 1970 there were 32,000 beekeepers in England and Wales.

This caught the interest of the media, which then started publishing general interest articles and broadcasting programmes about bees and honey bees in particular. Public interest in beekeeping was awakened and, supported by BBKA-led initiatives, beekeeping membership of the BBKA doubled to 20,000 by 2010.

1990 marked the arrival of the parasitic varroa mite in England. It took several years to develop treatments to control these infestations and, in the meantime, many beekeepers gave up in despair and the number of beekeepers dropped to around 10,000. In 1992, the National Beekeeping Centre was built at Stoneleigh, which gave more focus to the BBKA’s activities and in 2008 the BBKA launched a political campaign to persuade the government not to cut its inspection and research facilities and to assemble a £10 million fund for research projects identified as crucial by an advisory group assembled by the BBKA.

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WE ARE THE UK’S LEADING ORGANISATION REPRESENTING BEEKEEPERS. We promote: The importance of bees in the environment

Support for beekeepers through education necessary to maintain healthy colonies of honey bees

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Awareness of the craft of beekeeping


In 1910, our country supported a million bee hives; today that figure is 250,000 - a decline of 75 per cent.

England’s bees are vanishing faster than anywhere else in Europe, with more than half of hives dying out over the last 20 years. Butterflies and other insects are also in decline due to habitat loss and climate change.

The plummeting population has been accelerated by the varroa mite which came to the country 15-20 years ago and devastated our honey bee population entirely.

The situation is so serious that the government has launched a £10 million project to find out exactly what is causing bees and other insects to disappear.

Increase urbanisation and loss of habitat such as wildflower meadows have hit the bumble bee population. Indeed some wild bee species are close to extinction. Now, beekeepers need our support in building up honeybee colonies.

It is estimated insect pollinators contribute £440 million to the British economy through their role in fertilising crops.

“It’s not just beekeepers who can help bees to recover. People with their gardens can make a very big difference by providing desperately needed forage.” The BBKA urges gardeners not to deck and pave over too much, and farmers to let wildflowers grow.

There are around 40,000 honey beekeepers in the UK with just over 200,000 colonies of honey bees. About 300 of these are commercial beekeepers that manage around 40,000 colonies.

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THE HONEY BEE; CONCEPTUALISED

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THE WAGGLE DANCE

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A waggle dance consists of 1 to 100 or more circuits, each of which consists of two phases: the waggle phase and the return phase. A worker bee’s waggle dance involves running through a small figure-eight pattern alternating from left circles to right. The direction and duration of waggle runs are closely correlated with the direction and distance of the resource being advertised by the dancing bee. For cavity-nesting honey bees, flowers that are located directly in line with the sun are represented by waggle runs in an upward direction on the vertical combs, and any angle to the right or left of the sun is coded by a corresponding angle to the right or left of the upward direction. The distance between hive and recruitment target is encoded in the duration of the waggle runs. The farther the target, the longer the waggle phase. The more excited the bee is about the location, the more rapidly it will waggle, so it will grab the attention of the observing bees, and try to convince them. If multiple bees are doing the waggle dance, it’s becomes a competition to convince the observing bees to follow their lead, and competing bees may even disrupt other bees’ dances or fight each other off.

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SUN

FLOWERS

40째

BEEHIVE

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THE HIVE

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The hive is quite simply the bees’ home. It is not the bees’ natural home, but it’s the beekeeper’s idea of how to keep the bees in a controlled environment where they can produce the maximum amount of honey for us humans to use. Bees would be as happy living in an old log or up under the eaves of your house, but you would not have much luck harvesting their honey or taking them through the tough times of the winter. There are many different designs of hive around the world, but the two you are most likely to see in the UK are the WBC and the National, The WBC stands for William Broughton Carr. He was a famous beekeeper who invented it at the turn of the century.

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The other design, The National works on the same principle as the WBC, but lacks its characteristic outer walls which are known as ‘lifts’ - lift them off and you will find a similar floor, brood box and supers. On the right is the basic components of a National Hive. All modern hives work on the same principles, being a collection of boxes holding the brood and the stores. The queen excluder prevents the queen from laying among the excess stores, and makes honey removing easier for the beekeeper.


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Roof

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Queen excluder

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Glass quilt/transparent crown board

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Brood box with frame

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Shallow super

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Floor with entrance block

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FUNCTION OF DISTANCE

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For bees, their forage or food supply consists of nectar and pollen from blooming plants within flight range. The forage sources for honey bees are an important consideration for beekeepers. In order to determine where to locate hives for maximum honey production and brood one must consider the off-season. If there are no honey flows the bees may have to be fed. Bees that are used for pollination are usually fed in the holding yards. Forage is also significant for pollination management with other bee species. Nectar contains sugars that are the primary source of energy for the bees’ wing muscles and for heat for honey bee colonies for winter. Pollen provides the protein and trace minerals that are mostly fed to the brood in order to replace bees lost in the normal course of life cycle and colony activity.

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As a rule of thumb the foraging area around a beehive extends for around two miles, although bees have been observed foraging twice and three times this distance from the hive. Experiments have shown that beehives within 4 miles of a food source will gain weight, but beyond that the energy expended is greater than that gained during the foraging flight. Foraging at extreme distances wears out the wings of individual bees, reduces the life expectancy of foraging bees and therefore the efficiency of the colony. Bees communicate direction and distance of a food source by the waggle dance, this graph shows the length of time they take to undertake the procedure in relation to distance.


5200

METERS

4200

3200

2200

1200

200

0.5

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SECONDS

Duration of the waggle dance in seconds in relation to the distance of nectar in meters

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DISTANCE OF FORAGE

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Honey bees collect pollen and nectar as food for the entire colony, and as they do, they pollinate plants. Nectar stored within their stomachs is passed from one worker to the next until the water within it diminishes. At this point, the nectar becomes honey, which workers store in the cells of the honeycomb. Although the main diet of honey bees is comprised of honey and pollen, they collect other liquids and juices from plant and fruit exudates as well. If they encounter insects that secrete honeydew, honey bees collect these liquids and store them as honey. However, when there is no pollen, nectar or honeydew available, honey bees may also collect and store plant spores and dusty animal feed as they would nectar or pollen. If the honey bees visited the total area within 100 yards of their beehive they would have 6.5 acres of forage, but if they went half a mile, they would cover 540 acres. Generally, two miles is considered the limit bees will fly to explore their area for food. If this is the case they will cover 8656 acres in order to produce enough honey for themselves, and you. Bees have been known to fly even further, and if they went as far as five miles they would have access to an astonishing 50,000 acres.

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DISTANCE OF FORAGE IN RELATION TO ACRES TRAVELLED

100 YARDS

5 MILE

6.5 ACRES

1/2 MILE 540 ACRES

1 MILE

2000 ACRES

2 MILE

8656 ACRES

50,000 ACRES

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BIRTH OF A HONEY BEE

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Unlike a bumble bee colony or a paper wasp colony, the life of a honey bee colony is perennial. There are three castes of honey bees: queens, which produce eggs; and workers, which are all non reproducing females, while the Drone’s (males) only duty is to find and mate with a queen. The queen lays eggs singly in cells of the comb. Larvae hatch from eggs in three to four days. They are then fed by worker bees and develop through several stages in the cells. Worker bees cap cells when the larva pupates. Queens and drones are larger than workers and so require larger cells to develop. A colony may typically consist of tens of thousands of individuals. Development from egg to emerging bee varies among queens, workers and drones. Queens emerge from their cells in 16 days, workers in 21 days and drones in 24 days. Only one queen is usually present

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in a hive. New virgin queens develop in enlarged cells through differential feeding of royal jelly by workers. When the existing queen ages or dies or the colony becomes very large a new queen is raised by the worker bees. The virgin queen takes one or several nuptial flights and once she is established starts laying eggs in the hive. A fertile queen is able to lay fertilized or unfertilized eggs. Each unfertilized egg contains a unique combination of 50% of the queen’s genes and develops into a haploid drone. The fertilized eggs develop into either workers or virgin queens. The average lifespan of a queen is three to four years; drones usually die upon mating or are expelled from the hive before the winter; and workers may live for a few weeks in the summer and several months in areas with an extended winter.


EGG

The Queen bee lays eggs in a wax cell.

The Worker bees feed the hatched Larva.

The Worker bee then seals the cell with wax.

The Larva spins a cocoon and changes into a Pupa.

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The Larva reaches full growth.

When the bees ready and becomes an adult it leaves the cell.


COLLECTING POLLEN

Many plants use nectar as a way of encouraging insects (bees, wasps, butterflies, etc.) to stop at the flower. Honey bees “make their living,� so to speak, by gathering nectar from flowers and turning it into honey. In the process of gathering nectar, a worker bee transfers pollen grains from one flower to another and pollinates the flower. This is why the plant made the nectar. Bees also gather the pollen - it is a source of protein for bees. They have little baskets on their hind legs, and they fill the baskets with pollen so they can carry it back to the hive. When the bees mix honey and pollen together they make beebread, one of the foods that bees feed to

larva as they are growing. Some bees in the hive produce a food called royal jelly using special glands in their heads. Royal jelly is a special kind of food fed to bee larvae. If you feed nothing but royal jelly to a bee during four critical days while it is growing, you get a queen bee. Sometimes bees gather sticky substances like tree sap. They turn the sap into propolis, which is also called bee glue. Bees use this glue to fix the hive, plug holes and more. Finally, bees at a certain age can make beeswax. They have little glands on their undersides that secrete wax as tiny flakes. The bees grab the wax flakes with their mouths and add them to the hive.

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THE COLONY

A honey bee colony consists of three kinds of adult bees: workers, drones, and a queen. Several thousand worker bees cooperate in nest building, food collection, and brood rearing. Each member has a definite task to perform, related to its adult age. But surviving and reproducing take the combined efforts of the entire colony. Individual bees (workers, drones, and queens) cannot survive without the support of the colony. Each colony has only one queen and because she is the only sexually developed female, her primary function is reproduction. She produces both fertilized and unfertilized eggs. Queens lay the greatest number of eggs in the spring and early summer. During peak production, queens may lay up to 1,500 eggs per day. They gradually cease laying eggs in early October and produce few or no eggs until early next spring (January). One queen may produce up to 250,000 eggs per year and possibly more than a million in her lifetime. A queen is easily distinguished from other members of the colony. Her body is normally much longer than either the drone’s or worker’s bees. Drones (male bees) are the largest bees in the colony. They are generally present only during late spring and summer.

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Drones have no stinger, pollen baskets, or wax glands. Their main function is to fertilize the virgin queen during her mating flight. Drones become sexually mature about a week after emerging and die instantly upon mating. Although drones perform no useful work for the hive, their presence is believed to be important for normal colony functioning. While drones normally rely on workers for food, they can feed themselves within the hive after they are 4 days old. Workers are the smallest and constitute the majority of bees occupying the colony. They are sexually undeveloped females and under normal hive conditions do not lay eggs. Workers have specialized structures, such as brood food glands, scent glands, wax glands, and pollen baskets, which allow them to perform all the labors of the hive. They clean and polish the cells, feed the brood, care for the queen, remove debris, handle incoming nectar, build beeswax combs, guard the entrance, and air-condition and ventilate the hive during their initial few weeks as adults. Later as field bees they forage for nectar, pollen, water, and propolis (plant sap).


THE THREE TYPES OF HONEY BEE

Worker

Drone

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Queen


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SO THERES SOME PROBLEMS

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HONEY BEES RELATIVE TO DEMAND

The map on the right shows the honey bee relative to demand in Europe. As you can see there are no honey bees in Russia or Estonia and a vast majority of Europe is struggling with only having 25% of the honey bees needed for demand to supply. The European Union barred all shipments of honey from India because of the presence of lead and illegal animal antibiotics. A large amount of honey had been concocted without the help of bees, made from artificial sweeteners and then extensively filtered to remove any proof of contaminants or adulteration or indications of precisely where the honey actually originated. This type of honey is being smuggled into Europe everyday, it’s not the type of honey we want to be buying and certainly not eating. Supporting local beekeepers by purchasing locally sourced honey is a much greener option whilst lowering food miles and tasting fantastic.

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PERCENTAGE OF BEES NEEDED FOR COMPLETE POLLINATION

10% more bees needed

50-75% more bees needed

10-25% more bees needed

75% more bees needed

25-50% more bees needed

100% more bees needed

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There is just one species of honey bee in the UK, although several races of this species inter-mate.

insect-pollinated crops in the UK is approximately £220 million per year. The UK has lost more than 3 million hectares of wildflower rich habitat since the Second World War, but farming wildlife schemes have only recreated 6,500 hectares.

In the last 70 years, two species of bumblebee have become nationally extinct, and others are seriously threatened. A worker honey bee in summer lives only 6-8 weeks from the time it hatches as an adult bee.

In 2009, the Co-operative Group became the first UK retailer to prohibit the use of eight pesticides, which have been implicated in honey bee colony collapse on its own brand produce.

One in three mouthfuls of the food we eat is dependent on pollination at a time when a crisis is threatening the world’s honey bees.

The group has also donated £150,000 to research into the decline of the honey bee, the largest ever-private donation to bee research. They also have a campaign to increase Britain’s bee population called ‘Plan Bee’.

In the UK, it is estimated that 70 crops are dependent on, or benefit from, bees. The economic value of honey bees and bumble bees as pollinators of commercially grown

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WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP? Adopt a Beehive through a scheme run by the British Beekeepers’ Association to help fund research programmes to investigate the threat to honey bees. One hive will support 50,000 bees and can produce 60lb (27kg) of honey and even more in a good season. The honey bees fly about 55,000 miles to make just one pound of honey, that’s 1½ times around the world. Upon subscription you will receive regular updates, your own unique batch of honey and other goodies.

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ROOFTOP HONEY

We want you to be part of are global effort to help save the honey bee from the various threats of disease and human habitation. Are plan is to get you to install a beehive on your rooftop and help with this universal problem. We have a vision of bringing bees back to the city and the suburbs. By installing our beehives on your rooftop you will not only be helping this incredible species but be producing your very own unique batch of honey. With the variety of location every batch will taste different depending on where the honey bees have collected the nectar. You will be given lessons on how to maintain the hive and learn the wonders of this fascinating insect whilst flourishing a new passion for beekeeping. We are hoping this urban beekeeping movement will take over the nation encouraging numerous companies and organisation to get on board.

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Keeping honey bees in cities will help the overall bee population; the bees in the cities will not be exposed to high level of agricultural chemicals that might be present outside of these areas. This project not only seeks to address issues of sustainability, it also aims to raise awareness of the importance of the honey bee whilst creating delicious honey. By placing hives on the roof spaces of cafÊs, restaurants, hotels and individual’s gardens in and around cities we have reduced the distance from production to plate to mere metres lowering the food miles be a considerable amount.


The honey bee polinates from the surrounding plants with a radius of up to 3 miles.

Once the honey bee has collected the pollen it will retreat back to the hive located on top of one of the rooftops.

This is where it will begin the process of being produced into honey.

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GET I N V O LV E D Get in contact with us today and see how you can help this amazing species and prevent the loss of more and more honey bees.

Website: www.bbka.org.uk

Head Office British Beekeepers Association, National Beekeeping Centre, Stoneleigh Park, Kenilworth, Warwickshire, CV8 2LG

Opening Hours: Mon - Fri 9.00am - 5.00pm

Email: bbka@britishbeekeepers.com

Telephone: 0871 811 2282 or 0871 811 2337

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GET I N V O LV E D Get in contact with us today and see how you can help this amazing species and prevent the loss of more and more honey bees.

Website: www.bbka.org.uk

Head Office British Beekeepers Association, National Beekeeping Centre, Stoneleigh Park, Kenilworth, Warwickshire, CV8 2LG

Opening Hours: Mon - Fri 9.00am - 5.00pm

Email: bbka@britishbeekeepers.com

Telephone: 0871 811 2282 or 0871 811 2337

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THANK YOU


WWW.BBKA.ORG.UK


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