Current Bee- Health Issues
The forecast for May is for temperatures under average for the time of year, the dry spell in April will have an effect on the Whitethorn and most likely will not produce nectar in a lot of areas. The excess ivy stores that stocks were carrying have been used up in the past two weeks on a lot of stocks and the spell of cold weather has taken its toll on some stocks. Stocks need to be checked for stores as the rapid build up at this time of year can lead to them getting hungry very fast.
Reports of losses to date
Reports are starting to dribble in of winter losses and very weak hives with high levels of varroa after the winter.Some stocks are carrying high loads of nosema. Those that have not treated in the autumn appear to be suffering the most at this stage
Wexford up to 50% losses reported in some areas
North Mayo 50% losses
East Cork 15% losses
West Cork 25% losses
The forecast for April is for temperatures to be below normal for the time of year. Stocks that overwintered strong have brood boxes stuffed with ivy , give a frame a scratch with a hive tool on the next inspection to uncap it and the bees will move it out. Give the queen room to lay. Drones are reported in some strong colonies with over three weeks in some areas. This is a warning sign for iminent swarming. Get your bait boxes out now.
Some beekeepers that had problems with queens going off lay in August / September to to varroa treatment and were superceded to some extent late will find that the bees will replace them early this season again as they mated very badly. Queen cells are being reported as early supercedure in some areas hopefully there will be enough drones around.
Some stocks that went to heather and did not get a crop appear to have high levels of nosema. Send your samples to the bee diagnositc unit for confirmation 30 bees per sample the testing is free for 2016.
Dandelion is in full flower in a lot of areas get your supers on.
Foulbrood updates The bee diagnotic unit are reporting the following since the testing of bees for nosema and acarine and foulbroods was made free.
In the last month foulbrood has been Foulbrood has been diagnosed in Cork , Clare , Kilkenny, Wicklow and Dublin with one apiary having all 4 stocks positive for foulbrood .
Bees in the samples also have high levels of nosema , chalkbrood and varroa mites on the bees.
Temperatures for the first two weeks of March are expected to be around normal , the second two weeks they are expected to be lower than normal.
Big stocks can run out of food very easily this month as the brood numbers start to increase, there are a few reports of oil seed rape coming into flower three - four weeks earlier than normal due to the mild weather. Feed fondant if night frosts persist.
Sample your bees for acarine and noseam now the season is starting ( testing is free see the middle pages of this months Beachaire) and make preparations to change out as many brood frames as possible, the bees will thank you.
The forecast for the first two weeks of February is forcast wet with temperatures above normal or slightly above. Beekeepers need to check their hives reguarly for stores as some stocks are running light due to the mild winter especially nucs.
For those of you sending in samples to the bee diagnostic unit, the Eu5.00 charge is being dropped. New forms for submitting samples will be available here shortlyand in the middle pages of the Beachaire in March 2017.
Two more beehealth workshops are planned for this month one in Galway and one in Limerick. The beehealth officer is still looking for samples and donations for the Sex Allele project being run for FIBKA beekeepers at the CIT
Keep an eye on the weight of the hives , some are running low on stores and need a fondant feed put on
The winter so far has been mild which means the bees have been out a lot and munching through the stores they put away in the autumn. The day time temperatures are around normal or slightly above for the time of year . There is still time to get apibioxal on if the stock needs it , but the window for the broodless period if it ever happened this winter is running out.
Two more beehealth workshops are planned for early in 2017, Galway and Limerick are the proposed venues. At his point and time the workshops are full.
We are still looking for bees for the sex allele sampling at the CIT . The beehealth officer is the person to contact ( 50 bees frozen in the sample from your intended breeding stocks)
Check stocks for stores and feed fondant if stocks are getting light
2016 Outbreaks from the Diagnostics unit . As you can see from the figures 168 beekeepers out of 3.5K sent in samples
The counties represent the address of the beekeepers sending in the samples and may not be the location of the hives. . For example , if you look at Waterford , one beekeeper had an outbreak of foulbrood but there were 10 stocks destroyed, there were 4 positive samples of Nosema found , 31 samples were tested in total from 7 beekeepers.
Elsewhere the number of cases of Acarine mite are on the increase again in certain areas due to a change in varroa medications and the non-treatment of stocks promoted by certain associations.
Please note that just because there were no outbreaks of AFB or EFB reported in a county does not mean they were not there , it most likely means the samples were not sent into the Teagasc lab for diagnostics.
Jan - November 2016
|no of outbreaks||No of samples positive||no of samples||no B'keepers submitting|
|Country||AFB||EFB||AFB||EFB||Nosema||Acarine||submitted per county|
Temperatures for December are forecast slightly higher than normal for the fist two weeks of the month and temperatures are around average for December for the rest of the month. Beekeepers that intend to use Apibioxal for varroa treatment , need to try and get a period with as little brood as possible to get the highest efficacy. A lot of the hives are heaving with ivy which produced well this autumn. Keep an eye on the weaker stocks for feeding from now on.
Beehealth workshops are in progress again this winter with Cork, Tullamore, Rosscommon targeted before the end of 2016. Two more are planned for early in 2017
Weather outlook for the next month are for temperatures to be around normal or slightly above for the time of year. Now is the time to clean up your apiaries , disinfect your equipment and sterilise it in preparation for next season. Sales will be coming up with some of the UK suppliers and with the decline in sterling , equipment may be a bit more affordable. Bees are still working what ivy remains on fine days.
Bee Health workshops are scheduled for a few areas again this winter. All associations were contacted by email , those that responded by the set date were entertained. Four locations have been decided on . Those involved will be contacted in due course. Check with your association secretaries for times and dates
Sentinal Hive Apairy Programme
The sentinal Hive Apairy programme run by DAFM has concluded for 2016 with no exotic pests found in the samples returned. If any beekeeper wishes to take part in the 2017 Programme just drop an email to Rachel Wisdom at DAFM for the 2017 inclusion . Apiaries close to harbours and the coastline are ideal locations in the 26 counties.
Forecast for October is for temperatures to be around normal for the time of year. Ivy should continue to produce both pollen and nectar for winter feeding . Varroa treatments should be almost finished. For those of you partcipating in the Sentinel Hive Apiary monitoring, the second round of floor scraping samples is now due .
Veto Pharm of France have been given a temporary licence to sell APIVAR on to the Irish Market for Varroa treatment. The good news is that this product is not temperature dependent. Further details to follow
There have been two different outbreaks of the asian hornet in the UK instructions on how to make Asian Hornet traps can be found at http://www.nationalbeeunit.com/downloadNews.cfm?id=145
If you find an Asian Hornet the person to contact is Rachel Wisdom at the department of Agriculture.
Apiguard treatments and feeding should be almost finished at this stage , please make sure your stocks have enough stores for the winter , there is currently a good flow from the ivy. A lot of stocks that were on heather in the southern half of the country are hungry.
The project aims to identify the DNA of your bees and mark out the sex alleles so that going forward any beekeeper in the country ( lager or small) can improve their bee health by selecting sex alleles within their preferred range to stock their drone colonies. We hope to create a database with numbers only no names, so you can select accordingly.
This can only help improve the genetic diversity of our bees and the overall bee-health.
In the past 6 or 7 weeks a lot of problems have been noted in colonies with both the use of Maqs and ApiguardIf you are having problems you need to report it on the website www.hpra.ie
Problems with MAQS have been the death of a queen after applying it .
Problems with Apiguard are the queens going off lay or the bees trying to supersede the queens while the treatment is on and then the queens do not mate , or mate properly due to lack of sufficient drones (not related to herself)
Please report the issues under veterinary medicines section , you will need the licence no, batch no and expiry date of the product you used. This makes our case for getting other products on the market stronger.
The fundraising for the genetic bee-health programme has progressed a small bit and we are now in a position to cover the first round of testing, however there is a shortfall and we need to raise Eu20K in total so for any of you that were thinking of making personal donations now would be a good time to come forward with them. Again if any of you are working for companies that will have CSR funds available in 2017 please come back to me on it so we can put in application and follow this up.
I am delighted to say that the Cork Institute of Technology have put a student in place to start the sampling of the bees for our sex allele project. She is starting next week.
Samples of bees will be collected at the following honey shows
Clonmel 25th September
Fota 2nd of October
Navan 16th October
Dublin 5th November
Please email the bee-health office for the criteria for testing firstname.lastname@example.org I have a form for you to fill up with your sample so that you can be advised what sex alleles your sample held and select accordingly based on that.
We would like to get as many samples as possible from the whole country regardless of what strain of bee you have. The ownership of the sample will be confidential and a number only put on it. If you started with one hive and now have three and they all came from the same genetic source then only one sample is required from your apiary. Likewise if you sourced your bees from a breeder whose bees we already have samples of then there is no need for us to test yours.
We need to get as many different unrelated samples as possible done. This will help to improve the overall genetic diversity of all our stocks regardless of the strain of bee which will improve our honey bees bee-health. It benefits all beekeepers
Please email the beehealth officer email@example.com to get the form and have it filled in advance to expedite the collection process
Beehealth Officer FIBKA
Reports from the UK 20 September that the Asian Hornet has been found in the UK.
The weather for September , looks like it will be ok , some sunny days some overcast with temperatures around average for the time of year.
Wasps are very active right now and for those feeding weak nucs need to reduce the entrance to help the bees protect what they have , they will get wiped out very fast. Try not to spill that syrup in the apiary it will lead to robbing. Transfer weak stocks to nucs to make it easier for them to survive as well
Reports from Wicklow area is that heather is producing in the fine weather at the moment and the crop there looks good. However some are reporting very light honey crops in a lot of areas. Some areas are reporting balsam open and ivy about to open , so keep an eye on your bees if it is as strong nucs will build very fast on the ivy and balsam and start to swarm due to lack of space.
Reports of ivy open in Dublin , Galway and Mayo by the end of the first week of September, shouldn't be long now for the rest of the country
Those of you involved in the Sentinal Hive Apairy programme need to second the second lot of floor samples in. Read the information that came in the envelope if you can still find it!
The weather for August is unsettled and showery with around average daytime temperatures.
18 August , Dublin are reporting ivy about to open ( 2 or 3 weeks early) Get your supers off if it goes into your main crop it will settle rock hard.
Some areas of the country reported a good flow for July others had a lot of rain , it simply depends on your area. For those of you treating for varroa mite now the honey is coming off , there are three licenced medical products currently on the market
If any of you find problems with those products please email the beehealth officer and fill in the appropriate form on HPRA MEDICINES REPORTING that includes lack of efficiency and queen failure on a stock.
The forms do not go back to the department of agriculture they go to the medicines board and your name is not passed on to anybody , it is totally confidential. It will however give us a stronger case for getting new medication approved here for 2017. The department of Agriculture think the products that are currently on the market work and have refused a licence for another product , that is not temperature dependent and that does not kill queens.
Coloss figures have been released from the Eu as reported locally further down this page Ireland had the highest losses across the Eu 29.9% . The beekeepers on the ground are putting it down to bad supercedure of queen late in the season and are attributing it to high varroa loads due to lack of efficacy in the current varroa products currently on the market. High varroa loads lead to increased DWV in stocks and sterile drones.
The Department of Agriculture think the current medecation are sufficient. Beekeepers need to start reporting the medication problems to HPRA.
Wasps are becoming a problem to weak stocks in the last week. Reduce the entrances in the weaker stocks and make it harder for the wasps to get in .
A confirmed case of AFB has been identified in Longford. Beekeepers in the area are being asked to send in 6" of comb (no honey) for testing. As it has happened in that area before , it is suspected that it is in other hives nearby and the bees are getting access to it.
A lot of overcast days forecast for July with average temperatures below normal for the time of year.
A consignment of queens , illegally imported into Ireland was picked up by customs recently. On the instruction of the Department they were destroyed. You need an import licence and bees need a health cert to come into Ireland. The department would prefer if you purchased locally but will accommodate imports provided the correct procedure is followed.
Not a great start to the month weather wise .Beekeepers may wish to monitor their colony food levels closely over the next month as many colonies, particularly those which are strong and had their spring honey crop removed, will be at risk of starving. In some parts of the UK, the weather is still cold and foraging opportunities for large colonies are few and far between. It is important to check and monitor all your colonies feed levels, if you do not wish to open them up because of poor weather, lift below the floor, in turn, on both sides of the hive to see how much it weighs. Where the hive is light, liquid feed should be applied directly above the bees. Feed can be prepared from refined white sugar and water mixed at a 2:1 ratio or one of the proprietary ready mixed syrups available from Beekeeping equipment suppliers. More information about mixing up sugar can be found in the Best Practice Guidelines no. 7 http://www.nationalbeeunit.com/index.cfm?pageid=167
Large starving colonies of bees will take 1 gallon (approx. 5 Litres) of syrup very quickly while smaller colonies will take half a gallon (approx. 2.5 Litres). After feeding, heft the hives again and check the weight and if in doubt feed some more in a few days."
I don't know about your area but we are waiting for the current wet and windy weather to pass and in the meantime have had to feed several of our colonies despite the fact that we have not removed any spring honey.
A number of cases of foul brood have shown up in the Leinster Region. ( Suspected foulbrood in the Laois/Offaly area) . A strong stock can easily pick it up as the bees are strong for a very good reason ( excellent robbers). Be vigalent when doing inspections and try and pick up the issues of foulbrood early. Further details on how to deal with foulbrood are on the foulbrood section of the web site.
Reports are coming in from around the country that due to the wet weather and showers we are having , that new queens are taking a week longer than usual to get mated and laying. Apidea queens that are usually taking up 14 days to start laying are taking up to 21 and queens in full stocks or nucs are taking up to 5 weeks to start up again. Look for polished cells and put in a test frame before you decide to purchase another queen. If there is a queen ( that you cannot see) in there the bees will kill the newly intoduced one. For those of you that have bees in the sunshine the bees are working the lime trees on warm days and the blackberry is in full bloom in some areas.
Kerry beekeepers had a beehealth open day with hive openings recently . The event was very well organised and representatives from most Kerry assocaiations attended. As beehealth was the topic of the day , the areas concentrated on were varroa monitoring with the sugar shaker, chalkbrood in stocks , sampling bees where a sample from one hive was taken and put under the microscope and brought up on a computer screen to show people how easy it is and what the lab looks for. The use of lateral flow devices for AFB were also demonstrated. One hive brought up a positive for AFB using the device . The beekeeeper was advised to send the whole comb off to Mary Coffey for lab confirmation.
Due to stress of varroa loads and cold temperatures over night in May chalkbrood seems to be a major problem in hives this year. Chalkbrood spores remain in old combs and reinfect weaker stressed stocks . Beekeepers should be getting rid of those old combs and giving the bees fresh foundation to draw out and get rid of both the chalkbrood and the old combs.
Weather outlook for June isn't bad, temperatures hitting average or slightly above for most of the month. If your bees had access to Oilseed rape you need to extract it once the flowers start to drop ( when that golden colour starts to fade back to green). Remember oilseed rape is glucose dominant , which means it will granulate very fast, even in the combs. Have spare boxes ready swarming season will start as soon as the oilseed rape finishes. If you queens are clipped and marked 9 day inspections , if they are not you will need to implement seven day inspections going forward.
Put out a bait box in your apiary but remember , the bees that come to it may not be from your stocks. Quarantine them in another spot well away from your bees until you are sure they are free from foulbrood. It would be no harm to send a sample off for testing from those swarms
For those or you in border areas the Northern Bee inspectors have identified 10 outbreaks of AFB up to the end of May . Two of them are on the Donegal border , while the inspectors do not cross the border , have no doubt that the bees know nothing about it. Full details available from Northern Ireland website
Reports are coming in that depite the bit of fine weather some stocks that came out of winter weak and are failing to build up are now showing signs of parasitic mite syndrome another side effect of varroa . Pepper pot brood pattern , sunken cappings on the cell , but more gungy than ropy larval contents in the cell
In the past week there was a huge flow , assumed from the sycamore depending on where you are. Field Beans are in flower for those of you that have access to it. Reports from drier areas are that while the temperatures are good , the whitethorn is not producing nectar , the plants do no have enough moisture. Plenty of flowers , no flow. Take a look in your area and see if the bees are working it, not every area is dry , so those of you living in a wetter region might be doing better. Reports from the south are that the early blackberry has started to open and bees were seen working clover over the June weekend. Looks like it will be another early season in the South of the country. Hopefully not as bad as last year.
2016 Sentinel Monitoring Programme The Department are sending out the equipment this week for those of you that signed up to the programme. If you have any questions just email Rachel at the department she will be happy to answer them.
June 8th; Reports are coming in that because of the lack of flow in some areas from the whitethorn due to lack of moisture in the soil, that some stocks are out of food . Please check your hives and feed if necessary
19th June , Farmers have started spraying cereal crops like wheat for aphids etc. Be aware that spraying is going on in rural areas. There has been no flow all week with the wet weather, check your stocks for feed, some are very light. Swarms need to be fed. Blackberry , willowherb and clover have started to open , but the bees have not been on either the blackberry or the clover yet due to the rain in the last week and the cooler temperatures.
Weather outlook Average daytime temperatures will be 2C below average for most of the month , the second week of May is forecasting slightly warmer returning to the lower temperatures again after that.
The feedback you give to the bee health officer is just to give the beehealth committee an idea of what the local problems are. If the beehealth committee can help you out in anyway just email the beehealth officer beehealthatirishbeekeeping.ie ( at is replaced with @). If you are having difficulty with foul brood just let us know and we will try and find find somebody in your area to help out. Please don't ask for names of beekeepers with foulbrood as we will not be telling you under the data protection act.
Bee Inspectors in the North are revisiting the apiaries that had AFB outbreaks in 2015 , to date another two positive outbreaks have been found in 2016. For those of you that are vigilant and responsible , who found AFB in your stocks last year , please keep your eyes open for another outbreak in your area. There maybe a dead stock of bees nearby with infected honey or comb. All beekeepers should be checking for both AFB and EFB. Details on how to do it are on our foulbrood page.
Lateral flow device for foulbrood testing are available at a discounted price in bulk (boxes of 40) to associations. The current ones available have an expiry date of June 2018. If you get a positive test you must still notify the relevent authorities, it may however relieve the worry when you have similar symptoms from parasitic mite syndrome. Email the beehealth officer for details.
Incidents of chalkbrood are still high in stocks that came out of winter in poor condition, this is because the nights have been cold and the stocks don't really have enough of bees to cover the brood .
A lot of the queens that mated in late 2015 are badly mated with spotty brood pattern, now that the weather has warmed up a small bit , you can expect early swarming , the qualitiy of the queens in those swarms will be bad , remember that is why they swarmed in the first place.
Average daytime temperatures are set to be 2C under average for April which will lead to slow build up on weak stocks
Initial reports from
Laois 40% losses
Suck Valley 39%losses
Armagh Monaghan 25% losses
East Waterford losses ranging 20-40% depending on the apiary
West Meath losses around 10%
Louth losses around 8%
New Ross area approx 10% losses with the bigger operators with up to 75% losses with the smaller hobbist beekeepers
Wicklow and general area 43%
South Tipp 21%
Meath less than 5%
North Cork losses at 25%
East Cork inital reports in between 20-25%
Sligo Leitrim inital reports approx 35%
North Dublin losses around 10%
Kilkenny losses in around 10%
Roscommon losses about 39%
South Donegal losses in around 35%
North Donegal reports of up to 50%
Kerry losses reported at 43% out of 100 hives ( overall) from one association, however those that had losses within that association had losses between 50-100%
West Kerry losses up to 80%
A second Kerry Association reporting 27 out of 49 hives wiped out , 55% losses again with the smaller beekeepers suffering total wipeout.
A third Kerry association about 50% losses
plenty of stores in the hives.
North Kerry about 30% losses
Limerick 15-50% losses depending on the area
Clare 10% losses
North Tipp losses in the region of 15% for the bigger operators , but a lot of the small beekeepers with less than 5 stocks are suffering 100% losses
North West Cork losses between 20-50%
Cavan losses between 25-50%
Sligo/ Leitrim losses up to 50%
Wexford 10-15% losses with one beekeeper so far on 50%
Longford losses so far in around 25%
East Mayo in around 10%
North Mayo losses about 40%
Carlow only one beekeeper reporting losses in around 90% so far the rest around 15%
Initial reports from ;
Dublin ; feedback just starting to come in , losses in the region of 30%-35%.
Wexford up to 50% so far.
Cork City and surrounding area to date winter losses up to 70% in areas, as a result of high varroa loads , bad weather lack of pollen & forage in 2015. Please remove the dead hives to prevent robbing and the spread of disease. Melt down the wax frames and sterilise the hive.
West Cork Area to date is reporting losses in the region of 60-70% with hives that swarmed in 2015 , failing to make it through the winter. Some beekeepers with just a few stocks suffering total wipeout.
Beehealth workshops have been completed in 6 different regions of the country with 25% of the samples brought in by the beekeepers having some degree of Nosema, acarine was found in one sample as well.
Breakdown of American Foulbrood (AFB) & European Fouldbrood (EFB) Outbreaks and Positive samples
submitted to the Bee Disease Diagnostic Unit: January - November 2015 The last coloum are the number of samples per county. We encourage you to have your bees tested as the chart below represents only the samples that were sent in and not the whole story nationwide .