Get Involved

Are you a local beekeeper?

Would you like to be involved in our work?

SHCG have discovered honeybees that are able to do two types of Hygienic Varroa Control:

1. Grooming mites from each other when the mites are on the adult bee

2. Workers uncapping and removing larval bees when they detect Varroa  within the cell

As both, or either, of these skills interrupts the breeding cycle of the mite the resultant number of mites should never reach a level that will cause colony collapse. The adult female mite is capable of breeding several generations, which obviously means that her female offspring have the same potential, unless of course, they are destroyed by worker bees. SHCG have not carried out any forms of Varroa control for many years.

We have been breeding queens from the best of the above and now wish to extend our work by firstly involving local beekeepers then gradually extending the areas covered by SHCG queens and drones.

Would you like to be a participant in our work? There are conditions…

1. Your home location may mean you cannot participate in Phase 1 as the objective is to get areas fairly densely covered with SHCG drones to make their genes available to as small an area as possible

2. The initial plan is to involve twenty beekeepers, more if we can raise enough money

3. Phase 2 (and so on) will be to involve other beekeepers in surrounding areas, always to increase the ‘gene-pool’ area

4. You should be a competent beekeeper (and have bees of your own)

5. You must be able to keep a 5-frame nucleus hive in your garden. (Nucleus hives of bees are not normally aggressive).

6. You will be expected to carry out very regular checks of the debris on the Varroa tray, daily if possible. (You will be loaned all the equipment needed and trained in it’s use, and what to look for).

7. You must be able to take the Varroa tray indoors for examination.

8. Whilst in your care the equipment, some of which is quite costly, must be looked after and kept out of harm’s way.

9. You will be asked to keep records of your findings and report back to the SHCG.

10. You must never be tempted to use chemicals or cull drones as a means of Varroa control. The bees must control the mites themselves. Should the colony collapse then so be it. They were obviously not sufficiently hygienic to survive.

11. One frame within the nuke will be with drone foundation. There is the obvious need to have as many drones as possible flying to spread their genes so once the nuke becomes stronger the ‘drone-frame’ should be placed central.

12. Continuous steady feeding will cause the colony to maintain the drone population should the weather change and the ‘flow’ stops. Worker will normally stop feeding and eject drones at such times, unless syrup is made available.

13. The time will come when the nuke will build in strength to where it is ready to be ‘hived up’. You may then transfer the one drone frame and three other frames to a hive you own, together with most of the bees and the queen.

14. The one frame left in the nuke will contain capped brood with some stores and sufficient workers to look after them.

15. The timing of 8 & 9 must be co-ordinated with SHCG as they will need to have a new queen ready for introduction to the now queen-less nuke.

16. All equipment, records and mites collected will be returned to SHCG at this time, ready for re-allocation.

17. Once the bees are in your hive you are asked to still continue as before by not controlling Varroa; always encouraging drone breeding and always having syrup on tap ready for a bad spell of weather. Drones are the essential product of  this colony. Honey production comes second.

18. Keep in touch with SHCG about the development of the colony. They will have a record of the queen who has a coloured number and her wing has been clipped to aid swarm control.

19. This only means that as she cannot fly you will not normally lose the bees (the honey producers), but you may still lose the queen in the grass. Therefore …

20. Routine brood inspections should still be carried out to prevent queen loss. Presuming the queen is heading a hygienic colony any cells found could be advantageously used to start a nuke or to re-queen.

21. As the virgins will be mating local to your apiary they may, or may not, prove to become hygienic.

22. You may now wish to purchase similar equipment to that which was loaned to be able to conduct future checks on your own bees.

23. It should be understood that when we breed queens the selected larva may have a father that has not contributed anything to the hygienic ability and therefore the nuke may prove less effective with only the queen’s contribution.

24. The workers used in the initial hive may have been from a non-hygienic source so the hygienic ‘signs’ may not be seen for some time.

25. If the first queen proves not to be very hygienic by about the sixth week you could be asked to continue the study using a new queen.

You will need to complete an Agreement, please click the link below to download the Agreement

SHCG Queen Assessment Program Agreement

See our article about Hygienic Bees

If you feel you would like to help, then please email me at ron@honeybee1.org.uk