Monday, 29 February 2016

The varroa look-a-like.

We are all familiar with the varroa mite and how devastating it is to the honey bees that we are desperately trying to help. The only place that we know of free of varroa is the Isle of Man...until recently that is. Right now they are desperately trying to locate a hive that may have been imported to the Isle of Man in order to stop the possibility of varroa being introduced to the island. If you would like to learn a little more about this then go visit Tanya who is a beekeeper on the Isle of Man and is currently one of the many beekeepers there worried that this infestation may have reached their shores.

It was whilst catching up with Tanya that I learnt about another mite that the bees live with and one that closely resembles the varroa mite......BRAULA.

Braula, also know as 'The bee louse'
Braula, also know as 'The bee louse'

Braula are small reddish brown mites that live on the backs of bees. Also known as 'the bee louse' these flies eat honey in the hive and are seen as harmless to bees. The reason that we don't know much about them and probably don't see them much is because they mingle in with the varroa well in our own hives and also the methods we use in which to control the varroa mite are also effective in killing the Braula. You can see in the above picture how very similar they are and how easily you could mistake one for the other.

These mites were originally brought to Tanya's attention whilst doing an inspection and gave her quite a scare as she had never seen them before and really thought she had a hive with varroa, find out more about that here.

The reason I am posting this is because in all the time I have been beekeeping these mites have never been mentioned to me and now I find myself wanting to look that little bit closer at my varroa drop to see whether some of these mites are there may mean that where I thought I had a lot of varroa and was listing incredibly high numbers they may not be as bad as I first thought.

Of course I don't expect to find a hive varroa free but it is always nice to know exactly what you are looking at and that you are identifying and logging things on your records right.

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Isle of Man versus Varroa and Foulbrood.

Were you aware that the bees on the Isle of Man are Varroa and Foulbrood-free?

We have been asked to spread the word about the danger to them as in the past week the Isle of Man's Senior Bee Inspector has announced that a colony of bees may have been brought in from outside the Isle of Man.

This could be a catastrophe for their bees and they are asking that anyone who might know of the colony(s) to get in touch as swiftly as possible so that the situation can be contained.

If anyone has any information that could help, the contact details of their Bee Inspector, Harry Owens, are:

Could you also please make sure that all beekeepers in the UK are informed about the protected state of Manx bees.

Many thanks for any help you can offer.

Kind regards

Wendy and the Bee Craft team

Friday, 12 February 2016

Frank Linton, author of, The Observation Hive Handbook, and the 'Beekeepers Quarterly'

So remember I wrote this review??

Well I was really pleased to be contacted by the author earlier this week thanking me for the review that I wrote and we have had quite a nice conversation back and forth via e-mail which I thought I would share with you.

Glad you like the book.
Thank you for the review.
Frank Linton

Frank Linton |

Hi Frank,

you are more than welcome…just out of curiosity how did you find the review?? I realised after I received this mail that I have never written the authors name…only book title…this is something I need to remedy.


The book was published in mid-2015 and I had asked some bee supply companies and some observation hive manufacturers to consider putting it in their 2016 catalogs and on their websites. 
I was searching the Internet for the title to see which sites it appeared on. Most of the sites I found were country-specific branches of or resellers such as e-Bay, but I did see it on some bee suppliers' website. Your site was unusual, so I checked it out.
I do recommend getting an observation hive. You will learn a lot about bees and all your colonies will benefit.

Hi Frank,

Yes I guess my site is a little on the unusual Basically Grantham beekeepers are a district of L.B.K.A. and therefore members of British Beekeepers Association. I set the blog up as I thought it would be good for members. I was hoping that members would share stories and pictures for me to post but that rarely happens and so I usually do the writing. I have always been an avid reader and like to look for all sorts of books and have found many good bee books. So far yours is the only observation hive book I have found from a personal point of view.

I would love an observation hive…unfortunately neither my son or Hubby like bees AT ALL and so my hives are not in my garden and unfortunately never will be!!

Anyway thank you for visiting the blog and I’m glad you enjoyed the review…would you mind if I published your comments on it?? I rarely get contacted but it does have quite a wide audience and I do love the personal touch.



Feel free to post my comments.
You may also refer to the review of the book in the last issue of the Beekeepers Quarterly, which was quite positive. 
I'd like to have Showler's book on observation hives, just to have it, the reissued version. The shipping cost from the UK is almost the same as the book's cost, and I can't find a US dealer that has it, so I'm ditthering... 

Hi Frank,
which beekeepers quarterly would that be??.


Here's the URL to the online version: 
I subscribe to the print version:
I don't know how broad their circulation is. 
Personally, I find the lack of information about this periodical and other items from Northern Bee Books
a bit frustrating.
And their website is very slow. I thought it was broken.

I have since checked out the website for the quarterly and you can actually download a sample to look at. The quarterly is well written and has lots of info in it so you may want to check it out. I haven't subscribed but I am thinking about it and thought some other readers may find it of interest too, just take note on Frank's comments of the websites being quite slow.

I would just like to personally thank Frank for showing an interest in the blog and being willing to give me more info and also thanking me for reviewing his book. I really feel that  should also be thanking  him for writing his book too as I really enjoyed reading it and maybe, one day, I will get that observation hive I would love to own.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

This is it you????

To be fair I was crazy BEFORE I
became a beekeeper!!

Saturday, 6 February 2016

The Observation HIve Handbook....Book Review

The observation hive review
The Observation Hive Handbook
Observation Hives are not liked or wanted by all but personally I think they are a wonderful thing. To be able to observe the bees in their natural habitat without disturbing seems like a wonderful opportunity to me.

So I went looking for a book and found this one here. It's a great book written from a personal point of view with lots of options and ways to obtain an observation hive. It is well written and easy to digest. If you are interested in finding out about observation hives then I would definitely recommend taking a look at this.