Finding Bees

My biggest challenge was where to get bees for my hive. Everywhere says that bees are available from April depending on the climate. You can either buy a nuc of bees or wait for someone who needs to split a colony or have a swarm.

I decided to buy a small nuc so that at least i would give is a go this year. The next challenge was where to get them from. There are website of companies that sell them but none of them were very local so hard to collect.

I joined a google group – buybees – this group is managed by Patrick Laslett and he publishes bee colony’s that are available via local people or businesses. It covers the whole country but you can easily see by location. I cam across a small nuc for sale in Essex and decided to take the plunge. Turns out it if with a company – HoneyMan ( who promptly got in touch to register my details  and give me details of when they would be available. They are about an hour away  and confirmed it would be May when they are ready for collection. Just need to build the hive now and be patient…..


Course Notes – Week 5 – Pests & Disease

Week 5 – Pests & Disease

How to recognise a healthy brood.

  • Eggs – 1 to a cell and in a pattern and blocks (not random).
  • Larvae – pearly white (glistening), curled in a ‘c’ shape, moist and segmented (like an orange).
  • Sealed Brood – honey coloured, doomed caps, no holes/gaps and dry.

Pathogens – these spread horizontally via sharing food between bee to bee. If a bee dies in the hive, they will carry the bee out of the hive. Vertically is where spread from the queen but this is very rare.

Notifiable Disease – if you find these you must notify the National Bee Unit. These include American Fouldbrood, European Fouldbrood, Small Hive Beetle & Tropaelaps (these last 2 are not in the UK).

American Fouldbrood

European Fouldbrood

  • This is bacteria
  • It affects the larvae pre capping
  • Larvae is a yellowish brown and appears melted and they lie in a unnatural position
  • The bacteria is growing in the cell and feeding on the food.
  • Larvae can grow into an adult bee if sufficient food.
  • Inform Bee Inspector who tests for EFB.
  • If early states then they may suggest antibiotics or take the bees off the frames.
  • If far gone – will have to destroy everything. EFB

Frequency – very rare.

  • AFB – 2013 was the last incident
  • EFB – 2014 – 1 and 2015 – 2.
  • A bottling plant in Histon imports honey from China and China doesn’t destroy AFB. Bees will eat the honey in the empty crates and carry it outside of the plant.

How prevent –

  • clean kit
  • wash gloves in between inspections.
  • Look for diseases specifically at beginning and end of season
  • Don’t swap frames and boxes
  • Don’t feed honey from another hive
  • Wary of second hand equipment
  • Be wary if swarms from unknown origin

What to do

  • Rope test – The “rope” test is where you put a matchstick in the sealed cell and the contents comes out as a “rope”. I find that just putting it in and removing it doesn’t always work, you need to twist or stir it a bit.
  • Ask experienced bee keeper
  • Don’t take them to another bee keeper
  • Don’t move


  • this is no longer a notifiable disease and you will end up with it in the colony.
  • Parasite mites
  • Bite into the cuticle and feed off the equivalent of the bee brood.
  • Breed in capped calls (preference drone cells)
  • Doubles in population every month – especially in active season
  • Lives 2-3 months and population grows quicker than the colony
  • Not easily visible.
  • When varroa population is high – it can lead to a colony collapse.
  • Aim is to keep the population as low as possible.

How manage

  • chemical and bio technical
  • open mesh floor – put tray underneath and this will collect the dead mites.
  • Page 34 – Managing Varroa Booklet
  • Apiguard – don’t use when got honey supers as honey will smell. Put on as soon as honey taken off (end of July/early august). Its effective when warm.
  • Alt – Mike Away Quick Strips. Very new so best to wait and see how successful.
  • Varroa doesn’t kills bees but they spread virus. There are currently 18 identified. All similar strands. Nothing able to do – just more stressed skills are more affected.

How know if effected –

  • deformed wings (appear melted)
  • trembling flightless bees
  • deformed ‘k’ kings – wing not tucked in when wandering
  • Shiny/hairless bees
  • bloated abdomens.


CBKA Beginners Course – Hive Inspection