Blog | Beechwood Bees

A bee blog for bee people.

Protect your beehive from a mouse attack

Many beekeepers who concentrate on keeping their bees in excellent health can often forget a simple step in helping their hive through the winter. Fitting a mouse guard to the front of a beehive will prevent mice getting into the hive and destroying the colony.

There is nothing worse than opening a hive for the first time in the spring only to find a mouse has eaten all the honey stocks and has destroyed your colony. Sadly at this point it’s too late to take any action. By fitting a cheap mouse guard to the entrance of your hive you can eliminate attack from mice. Mouse guards are easy to fit to most hives. Drawing pins or a few nails is all you need to fix the guard to the entrance of the hive.

Well made mouse guards have holes small enough to allow the bees to easily fit through while preventing any intruders from the outside. It’s worth making sure the mouse guard you fit to your hive has no sharp edges to the outside of the holes which can damage the bees wings.

Beehive mouse guard

Sign up to get your bees inspected

We thought it would be a good idea to suggest that old and new beekeepers alike join up to get their bees inspected by a qualified honey bee inspector. In conjunction with The Food and Environment Research Agency BeeBase encourages beekeepers to register with them for a bee inspection. This is part of the Healthy Bees Plan which has been set out to protect and sustain our bee stocks in the United Kingdom.

Knowing in the distribution of bees and beekeepers across the country can help in the control of disease and keep a monitor on any outbreak. Without a central control for disease beekeepers and bee colonies are in danger of infection when they could have been forewarned and taken action against disease.

Registering with BeeBase is easy and can be done online. The service is free of charge and an inspector will contact you and arrange for a visit at a mutually convenient time. Registration will also allow you to access information regarding disease and pest outbreaks. to sign up click here.


New York Beekeepers

It looks like our friends across the pond in New York city will soon be able to keep bees again. At present it is illegal to keep bees in the city of New York. The ban was brought in by Mayor Giuliani''s administration and holds a huge $2000 fine if you are found to be keeping bees. The same law also bans the keeping of crocodiles and lions in the city of New York...

Local beekeepers got together with council member David Yassky and petitioned the ban. It has now been given the provisional green light by the New York Department of Health pending another vote sometime in March. This will be followed by a public consultation period. It still has a while to go but it looks like bees may well be back in New York before long.


Chalkbrood is a nasty disease that can survive in bee colonies often undetected for months. Chalkbrood is caused by a fungus called Ascophaera aspis. This fungus has been detected in healthy colonies where the bees seem unaffected by chalkbrood.

It is thought that one of the main causes of chalkbrood is down to poor ventilation in the hive. The bee colony may not bee big enough to create adequate ventilation in the hive and thus the chalkbrood fungus sets in. Chalkbrood effects the bee larvae and germinates in the gut of the larvae. The larvae are killed in their cell and turn a white colour and effectively are mummified by the fungus. Hence the term chalkbrood.

Worker bees will take the dead brood out of the cells and dump them outside the hive. This is usually the first a beekeeper realizes they have chalkbrood. At present there is no cure for chalk brood other than monitoring the situation, treating with Beevital to help the bees overcome, and making sure the hive has sufficient ventilation. The fungus often  disappears  when the environment changes, it gets warmer, there is more pollen available and so forth. Some beekeepers suggest that re-queening your colony can help in removing chalkbrood. Generally only one frame at a time is effected by chalkbrood. This makes it easier to identify and remove and discard the frame.

Chalk Brood Treatment

Beekeepers Insurance

Beekeeping is a great hobby, is good for the environment, the bees and the beekeeper alike. There are however a few considerations that should be made when it comes to insuring The possibility of their bees injuring someone (sting which could result in anaphylactic shock).Somebody getting ill from consuming your honey (contaminated jars etc) Injury caused by some kind of action taken by a beekeeper. Claims against beekeeper for damage to property etc.

This may seem fairly straight forward and for the urban beekeeper perhaps something a household insurance would cover. The fact is that few household (we think none)  insurers will cover Urban beekeepers for liability and any other kind of cover. Specialist beekeeping insurance is needed in almost all cases. Part of the problem is that if a beekeeper sells their honey - perhaps at the front gate, or to a neighbour then they are profiting from their bees and are essentially running a business.

This brings a whole new aspec in terms of insurance considerations.\n\nMany beekeeping clubs offer advice on insurance and even recommend some insurers for beekeepers. We would suggest this is the best place to start. Join a club and ask about insurance. Some clubs even offer insurance as standard when joining.

Varroa open mesh floors

In the U.K. it is largely accepted that Varroa is rife and no bee colony is entirely free of Varroa mite in some degree or other. Accepting that Varroa is here to stay and looking for ways to lower the varroa population in our hives is the best possible course of action.

Varroa floors are an excellent way of keeping down the varroa population in your hives. Being relatively cheap and easy to come by, varroa floors are an essential part of beekeeping in the U.K. today.

The idea behind open mesh is to allow the varroa mites, when they fall off a bee to fall through the mesh floor and then out of the hive. Most good varroa floors have an inspection board which van be removed from the floor housing and inspected for mites. Having a standard floor in your hive will allow the varroa mite to climb back up into the hive, having a mesh floor prevents the mites from getting back into the hive.

Varroa floor

The crown board

The crown board is an inexpensive piece of beekeeping equipment that has been designed to keep the bees form sealing the beehive roof to the supers or brood box, depending on the way the beehive has been set up. The crown board sits between the roof of the beehive and the supers. The bees work to seal the crown board to the supers which is easily removable for inspection of the hive.

The roof of the hive remains free of propolis sealing and can be easily removed. If the bees were allowed to seal the roof of the hive to the super or brood chamber, removal of the roof would be almost impossible. Crown boards often have bee escapes built into the board. The most popular kind of bee escape is the one way “porter bee escape” which allows for a one way flow of bees out of a section of the beehive

Crown board

What are Drone bees?

Drone bees are the male bees of the bee colony. They have only one duty and that is fertilize the Queen bee. The queen bee and the drones fly out of the hive and mate in the air. These flights take place over a period of a few days and during the flights the queen could mate with literally hundreds of drone bees.

Drone bees a typically larger than the worker bees and are fairly easy to identify in a colony. Apart from the size difference drone bees have larger eyes than the worker or queen bees. This is because the drone bee needs to be able to spot the queen bee in flight and then mate with her. As drones are only there to mate with the queen they do not gather pollen or have any means of doing so.

Drones live in the hive and while stocks of honey are good they are allowed to stay. As winter approaches and honey stocks are in short supply the drone bees will be kicked out of the hives and left to their own devices. Unfortunately for the drones this means a pretty certain death. Drones are completely defenceless as they do not have a sting.

a Drone bee