Ten tips for healthy bees

  1. Apiary hygiene

Keep the apiary clean and tidy and practice good hygiene. Clean hive tools in washing soda and use disposable or washable gloves. Wash bee suits, when dirty, and tuck the hood into the body or inside an arm to protect it.

2. Foul brood disease

Make sure you are familiar with the symptoms and causes of brood disorders especially the foul broods. Inspect your colonies, at the very least every spring and autumn, specifically to check for brood disease. If you are unsure, seek expert advice. Beebase provides information to help keep colonies healthy and productive.

Photo: Crown copyright

3. Hive hygiene

Never buy old combs. Always sterilise second hand equipment by thoroughly scorching with a blow lamp before use. Polystyrene or plastic hives should be sterilised by cleaning them with washing soda followed by immersion for at least 20 minutes in 0.5% bleach.

Photo: Crown copyright

4. Disease-free bees

Never buy colonies of bees unless you are sure that they come from disease free apiaries. Swarms should be hived onto foundation and kept in an isolation apiary until you are sure they are disease free.

5. Dead outs

If a colony of bees dies out at any time, seal the hive to prevent robbing, and when convenient remove from the apiary and examine the brood comb for signs of disease.

Photo: Crown copyright

6. Failure to thrive

If a colony is not thriving and the reason is unknown, examine the brood for signs of disease.

7. Replace old brood combs regularly

Replace brood frames every three years. Either render the wax or burn it. Clean frames thoroughly and boil in a washing soda solution.

Photo: Crown copyright

8. Careful feeding

Prevent robbing in the apiary. Do not discard comb or spill honey or syrup in the apiary.

9. Funny honey

Never feed honey from another source to your bees.

10. Drifting and robbing

Arrange hives in such a way that drifting is kept to a minimum.

Photo: Crown copyright

More information about notifiable diseases:

The National Bee Unit (NBU) is charged with controlling the notifiable brood diseases American and European Foulbrood (AFB and EFB). Both Foulbroods are statutory notifiable diseases and therefore beekeepers are legally obligated to report any suspected diseased colonies under the Bee Diseases and Pests Control Order 2006 (as amended).

Click here to discover more about AFB and EFB.