Preparing honey bee colonies for winter & anti-varroa bees

I found out about these two links from Andy Pedley’s Ealing and District Beekeepers email newsletter, which I always enjoy reading…

Fera’s National Bee Unit have put together a leaflet on preparing your colony for winter. Essential reading. I always fear for my bees during the winter, even though the colony has survived two winters now (obviously different sets of bees each time!). Must remember to put my mouse guard on, and also find it first. Now, where would I have put it?!

Also… a beekeeper claims to have bred a ‘superbee’ which has increased grooming behaviours, making it unusually resistant to the varroa mite. Ron Hoskins is obviously not your average beekeeper. Not only did he study his bees under a microscope to find tiny marks where varroa mites had been previously before being removed by grooming bees, he then bred this ‘superbee’ strain by extracting the sperm from mite-beating drones and inseminating virgin queens. Now that must require a seriously steady hand! Extremely impressive stuff.

The Asian honeybee, Apis cerana, is the natural host of the varroa mite. What appears to have been a long period of co-existence with varroa has enabled the Asian bee to evolve defence strategies, including grooming behaviour, to cope with varroa and keep their numbers to a minimum. It would be wonderful if the European honeybee, Apis mellifera, could evolve similar strategies and Mr Hoskin’s findings offer encouraging news.

About Emily Scott

I am a UK beekeeper who has recently moved from London to windswept, wet Cornwall. I first started keeping bees in the Ealing Beekeepers Association’s local apiary in 2008, when I created this blog as a record for myself of my various beekeeping related disasters and - hopefully! - future successes.
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4 Responses to Preparing honey bee colonies for winter & anti-varroa bees

  1. Emma Tennant says:

    Hi Emily,
    Another insightful blog post. Thanks for highlighting the ‘preparing your bees for winter’ link in Andy’s newsletter, I had almost skimmed past this. Something I am most interested in as I shall be worried for my little ladies over the cold season. I have bought them Thornes ambrosia to keep them healthy and well between now and spring, I hope!
    Em 😛


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  3. Liz C says:

    I didn’t even know bees groomed! It reminds me of the bit in Charlie and Lola with the spiders: “You hold the mirror, while Sidney combs his legs.”


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