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The ability of a colony of honeybees to produce a good harvest of honey during the summer season is dependent upon its survival in good shape through the winter and upon its growth in strength during the spring. In this sense, therefore, the beekeeping year can be said to begin in the autumn with the preparation of the bees for the winter. In order to survive through the winter and into the spring period of growth, a colony must be queen-right and healthy; it must have an ample supply of suitable food in the combs; and must be housed in a hive that provides good protection against the weather and freedom from disturbance by other external factors. The steps necessary to ensure that these conditions are satisfied should be planned soon after the honey crop has been removed in August. They should be completed by the end of September or early in October. The four main items requiring attention are the re-queening of colonies having old or unsatisfactory queens, feeding, making the hive entrances mouse proof, and the securing of the hives to withstand the hazards likely to be encountered during the winter months.

The Bee Act (1980 ) Full

Bees Act 1980 1980 CHAPTER 12 An Act to make new provision for the control of pests and diseases affecting bees. [20th March 1980] Be it enactedby the Queen’s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:— 1Control of pests and diseases affecting bees (1)The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Secretary of State for Wales, acting jointly, may by order make such provision as they think fit for the purpose of preventing the introduction into or spreading within Great Britain of pests or diseases affecting bees. (2)Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (1) above, for the purpose there mentioned an order under this section— (a)may prohibit or regulate the importation into or movement within Great Britain of bees and combs, bee products, hives, containers and other appliances used in connection with keeping or transporting bees, and of any other thing which has or may have been exposed to infection with any pest or disease to which the order applies; (b)may make provision with respect to any of the matters specified in the Schedule to this Act; and (c)may make different provision for different cases or different areas. (3)Any authorised person may examine any bees or other things subject to control under an order under this section, and may take samples of them, in order to see if they are free from infection. (4)Where any bees or other things subject to control under any such order are found to be infected, or to have been exposed to infection, with any pest or disease to which the order applies, any authorised person may destroy them by such means as he thinks fit, or cause them to be so destroyed. (5)Without prejudice to subsection (4) above, where any bees or other things are imported into Great Britain in contravention of an order under this section, any authorised person may destroy them by such means as he thinks fit, or cause them to be so destroyed, and may do so with or without first allowing an opportunity for them to be re-exported. (6)No compensation shall be payable in respect of any exercise of the powers conferred by subsections (3) and (5) above. (7)Any person who— (a)imports any bees or other things into Great Britain in contravention of an order under this section; (b)moves any bees or other things within Great Britain in contravention of any such order ; or (c)otherwise contravenes or fails to comply with the provisions of any such order or with any condition imposed by any licence issued under any such order; shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £1,000. (8)Any expenses incurred by any of the Ministers mentioned in subsection (1) above under this section (or under any order made under this section) shall be defrayed out of moneys provided by Parliament. (9)The power to make an order under this section shall be exercisable by statutory instrument, which shall be subject to annulment by resolution of either House of Parliament. 2Power of entry (1)For the purpose of exercising any power conferred on him by or under section 1 of this Act an authorised person may at any time enter— (a)any premises or other place; or (b)any vessel, boat, hovercraft, aircraft or vehicle of any other description; on or in which he has reasonable grounds for supposing there are or have been any bees or other things subject to control under an order under that section. (2)A person seeking to enter any premises or other place, or any vessel, boat, hovercraft, aircraft or other vehicle in exercise of the power of entry under this section, shall, if so required by or on behalf of the owner or occupier or person in charge, produce evidence of his authority before entering. (3)Any person who intentionally obstructs a person acting in exercise of the power of entry under this section shall be liable on summary conviction, or, in Scotland, on conviction by a court of summary jurisdiction, to a fine not exceeding £200. 3Interpretation In this Act— ” authorised person ” means a person generally or specially authorised in writing by the responsible Minister ; ” bees ” includes bees in any stage of their life cycle ; ” bee product ” means any natural product of the activities of bees (such as, for example, honey or beeswax) in its natural state; and ” the responsible Minister ” means— (a) in relation to England, the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food; and (b) in relation to Scotland and Wales, the Secretary of State. 4Enactment of same provisions for Northern Ireland An Order in Council under paragraph 1(1)(b) of Schedule 1 to the Northern Ireland Act 1974 (legislation for Northern Ireland in the interim period) which contains a statement that it operates only so as to make for Northern Ireland provision corresponding to this Act— (a)shall not be subject to paragraph 1(4) and (5) of that Schedule (affirmative resolution by both Houses of Parliament); but (b)shall be subject to annulment by resolution of either House. 5Short title, commencement, repeals, transitional provision and extent (1)This Act may be cited as the Bees Act 1980. (2)This Act shall come into force on such day as the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Secretary of State for Wales, acting jointly, may by order made by statutory instrument appoint. (3)The following enactments shall cease to have effect— sections 11 and 12(8) of the Agriculture (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1941 ; section 10 of the Agriculture (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1954. (4)Without prejudice to section 17(2)(b) of the Interpretation Act 1978 (effect of repeal and re-enactment in relation to subordinate legislation), any order made under section 11 of the Agriculture (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1941 which is in force at the commencement of this Act shall have effect as if made under section 1 of this Act (and may be revoked or amended by an order made under section 1 accordingly). (5)This Act, with the exception of section 4, does not extend to Northern Ireland. Schedules ScheduleSpecific Matters with respect to which Provision may be made by Orders under section 1 1The conditions to be observed before, during and after importation. 2Exemptions from prohibitions on importation in the order by means of licences, whether general or specific and whether conditional or unconditional, issued in accordance with the order (whether on or before importation) by the responsible Minister or (where the order so provides) by any authorised person. 3The revocation of any licence issued in accordance with the order and the variation of any conditions attached to a licence so issued. 4Securing information with respect to— (a)the persons who keep bees ; (b)the occurrence of any pest or disease to which the order applies ; (c)the country or place of origin or consignment, contacts in transit and destination of any bees or other things subject to control under the order (whether the information is required on, before or following their importation into or transportation within Great Britain) ; (d)any other matter relevant to determining whether any bees or other things subject to control under the order have been exposed to infection with any pest or disease to which the order applies. 5The circumstances in which and the time when any bees or other things brought into Great Britain are to be regarded for the purposes of this Act as being imported into Great Britain. 6Treatment of any bees found to be infected or to have been exposed to infection with any pest or disease to which the order applies. 7Cleansing and disinfection. 8Marking of hives or other containers for identification. 9Recovery of costs. 10Payment of compensation for bees or other things subject to control destroyed in accordance with section 1(4). 11Any matter incidental or supplementary to any of the matters mentioned above.

The Bee Act (1980) [Guide]

The Bee Act (1980)


The Bees Act 1980 (citation 1980 c.12) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom.

An Act to make new provision for the control of pests and diseases affecting bees. It seeks to stop the damage caused by diseases, chemicals and pests that damage the wellbeing of bees.

Territorial extent England and Wales; Scotland

It repealed the Agriculture (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1941.

Royal Assent 20 March 1980

Commencement 20 March 1980

Status: Current legislation


The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (now the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), along with the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Secretary of State for Wales must convene in the case of any threat posed to bees in Britain by diseases or pests and enact the powers granted to them in this legislation.


If all three decide that a threat is posed to the health of bees, they may prohibit the transportation into or around the United Kingdom of bees, honeycomb, beehives or anything connected with beekeeping. They may appoint any person (in writing) they choose to seize and examine bees for disease.

Any bees found to be diseased may be destroyed if the inspector sees fit.

Bees or related equipment imported into Britain may also be destroyed at the discretion of government officials. No compensation is available for those whose bees are destroyed.

Any expenses incurred during this process were to be compensated by Parliament.

Power of forced entry was also given to officials who suspect diseased bees to be on the premises (“any premises or other place, or any vessel, boat, hovercraft, aircraft or other vehicle”).



It was made an offence to transport bees into or around Britain while the Act was in force – either by importing them, or by failing to cooperate with government orders. A maximum fine of £1,000 was introduced for committing this offence.

Any person who refused government officials entry to any premises or other place, or any vessel, boat, hovercraft, aircraft or other vehicle which was suspected to harbour diseased bees was to be charged with obstruction of justice and fined up to £200.


The Act does not extend to Northern Ireland.

The full copy of the legislation can be found here in pdf format

Basic Equipment

Five essential equipment items are Bee-veil or Full Suit, Smoker, Hive-tool, Gloves, Feeder A bee-veil or Full suit is necessary to protect the head, face and neck from stings. It must do this effectively, without being uncomfortably hot or heavy, while allowing clear vision for the job in hand. The veil should therefore be worn on or attached to a broad-brimmed hat to keep bees away from the face and the nape of the neck; at the bottom it should be fitted with tapes or elasticated across the shoulders and around the chest to prevent bees getting inside from below. A choice of net, plastic or wire-mesh veils, or combined hats and veils, is available . In use, a smoker should be capable of producing a good volume of smoke quickly at any time during the examination of a colony. If it fails to respond at once when the bellows are operated, control of the bees may be lost because of lack of smoke at a critical moment. Rolls of corrugated cardboard are commonly used as smoker cartridges, but they tend to burn away quickly, even when the bellows are not being worked. A more satisfactory, slower- burning fuel is old, dry hessian sacking, always provided that it has not previously been in contact with insecticide-dressed seed or any other product that could give off a toxic vapour when burnt. Old cotton rags (not wool, silk or synthetic materials) also burn slowly in the firebox and give plenty of cool, if pungent, smoke when required. The hive-tool is a multipurpose instrument made of steel. It usually has a flat blade at one end, the other being bent at right-angles to form a scraper. It is specially designed for prizing hive units apart, for scraping wax from the top-bars of frames, for separating frames from one another preparatory to lifting them out for examination and for other jobs where a stout lever or scraper is needed. This most useful tool should be as much a part of the basic outfit of bee appliances as the veil or smoker. In the absence of adequate stores of food in the combs bees need to be fed with sugar syrup to ensure their survival. A feeder is, therefore, included among the essential initial items of equipment. Numerous types and sizes of feeder are available, but one should be chosen that will take at least half a gallon of syrup. The simplest, and in many ways the best type of feeder consists of a container filled with syrup, and closed with a perforated lid, which is then inverted over the feed hole of the hive. Such a feeder can be made from a jam jar honey can.* The plastic bucket feeder now on the market works on the same principle. Gloves make rather difficult the delicate task of handling of combs of bees, but if it is found necessary to protect the hands and forearms against stings, a leather pair may be obtained from the bee appliance dealers. The thin rubber gloves now available from chemists have been found suitable by some beekeepers particularly if the gap between glove and sleeve is covered by a short cuff. Many beekeepers prefer to work with bare hands but with some form of cuff fitting closely at the wrists. Some beekeepers find cover cloths are useful to lay across a box of combs to prevent the bees from running over the tops of the frames when the hive is open. They can be made from pieces of light deck-chair canvas or similar material, with a batten fixed at each end. The width of the material should be slightly greater than the length of the top-bars of the frames and the length just sufficient to allow a batten to hang over each side of the box. The battens should be heavy enough to keep the cloth flat when laid over the hive and to prevent it being blown off by the wind. The battens, used as rollers, enable a pair of cover cloths to be used so as to expose one frame at a time when examining a set of combs in a brood box or super. Other items of equipment will be needed later on to deal with the removal of honey from the hive, its extraction from the combs, and with its subsequent straining and bottling.

Artificial Swarm Method (Images and style pending)

Artificial Swarm Method

Move the original Parent Colony hive with the brood, Bees Queen cell and queen about one metre to one side of it’s original location with the entrance facing the same direction.  

Prepare a new hive with frames of drawn comb or foundation, remove three frames leaving a space in the center (you will use these frames later) Then place the new empty spare hive now the Artificial swarm colony hive where the Parent Colony hive WAS. Check the Parent Colony hive ,take the marked frame with the Queen and brood in various stages, along with all the bees on it, ensure there are no queen cells and put it into the middle of the Artificial swarm colony hive , add one of the empty frames of fully-drawn foundation so that the queen has room to continue laying eggs immediately, rather than wait for the workers to draw out cells on the new foundation. Select an additional frame of brood in all stages of development and ample food stores and move this to the Artificial swarm colony hive, Remember this must NOT contain any more queen cells Remember the Artificial swarm colony hive is in the original place of the Parent Colony hive. So you are putting the old queen back in her previous location with food stores and combs of sealed brood and foraging /flying bees Ensure there are food reserves in the combs of the Parent Colony hive and it is never advisable to split existing brood with empty frames , close all the frames together and insert new frames removed from the Artificial swarm colony hive earlier at the outer edges to completely fill the brood box.  

Put the queen excluder, supers, crown board and roof back onto the Artificial swarm colony hive. This procedure has now produced an artificial swarm, giving you another colony and without the loss of honey production.   The Parent Colony hive will behave as if a swarm has just departed as it is now Queenless with nursery bees, Queen cells and some foraging bees, but the forager /flying bees will return to the Artificial swarm colony hive hive thinking it’s the Parent Colony hive. The nursery bees in the Parent Colony hive will act as normal and raise the queen cells until one is hatched or selected. The Artificial swarm colony hive will behave as if it has just swarmed and set up a new colony, consisting of the existing queen, all the flying bees, and plenty of honey to start comb-building and brood-rearing straight away. Do not feed straight away, wait a couple of days. Feeding sugar syrup immediately could cause robbing. For brood promotion use a 50/50 mix. Wait …………for 7 days After exactly seven days, usually one day before the new virgin queen is due to emerge from her cell, we need to move the parent colony hive to a new location.

  Move the Parent Colony hive one metre on the opposite side of the Artificial swarm colony hive. The forager /flying bees from this Parent Colony Hive will return to find their home missing and will go to the nearest hive, which will be the Artificial swarm colony hive and because the new queen has not hatched , they will not have an unfamiliar ‘Queen pheromone ‘ on them – this means that the guard bees at the entrance will freely allow them enter. This will help build up the loss of bees in the Artificial swarm colony hive and will encourage the growth of the colony . This procedure also reduces the risk of flying bees leaving the Parent Colony hive with a new queen, known as a cast swarm, because it leaves fewer flying bees in the Parent Colony hive The Parent Colony hive is a very weak because it has lost all the flying bees (their main defence force). For this reason do not feed them for 2 days, giving them enough time to organise their defences against honey-robbing. Check the Artificial swarm colony hive to see if the old queen has continued to lay and there are no queen cells. Wait at least 14 days and up to 21 days …then check the Parent Colony hive to see if the new queen has been mated and is laying. If the weather has been bad or there is no sign of eggs or larvae be prepared to re-unite the two hives. This can sometimes happen if the queen cannot fly to mate. Once you know the queen is laying in the Parent Colony hive you can either unite the two hives and remove the old queen or increase your number of colonies. Sometimes a virgin queen will swarm as soon as she has hatched, taking all the flying bees and as much honey as they can carry. Now this new queen will have few (if any) flying bees in her colony when she hatches, so this ‘cast’ swarm is almost certainly weak and vulnerable This is probably the most commonly used method of carrying out artificial swarm control. The rule of thumb is to master one method before trying others, do not try to attempt various methods because you could confuse yourself, or at worst even loose your bees

Artificial Swarm

There are many reasons why bees swarm, this can be due to lack of room in the hive, an old queen which is unable to create enough Pheromone ( The control chemical) for all the bees and a breed of bees that are just “smarmy by nature” A ‘natural’ swarm consists of the existing queen, all the flying bees, and as much honey as they can carry; we have now are manually creating this situation. By carrying out an artificial swarm procedure you can benefit from another colony and possibly prevent your bees from actually swarming. There are many methods of doing this but this method is most probably the easiest and most straightforward. This method can also create another colony without affecting the honey flow and the later harvest. So at the very least you will need the following spare or new equipment
  • Floor Brood
  • Box Full
  • Set of frames with drawn comb, but if not with frames with foundation sheets.
  • Crown board
  • Roof
The method described will hopefully maintain the maximum amount of foraging bees with the queen who can continue to lay eggs without interrupting the honey flow. The key to success is to carry out careful inspections and to ensure you don’t miss any queen cells. If during an inspection you see an unsealed Queen cell containing larvae in a pool of royal jelly , it’s time to carry out an artificial swarm procedure. When a queen cell is found do not shake any bees off the comb because this is likely to damage the developing queen. just knocking a developed queen cell off will not delay the inevitable swarm as the swarming process has already been started; be aware that another one could be built in as little as 20 minutes Gently push the bees aside with your finger or use a bee brush (brush with very soft bristle) so you can see the whole comb and look to see if there are more queen cells. After checking each comb in the brood box, note which frames has a queen cell or cells. Select the two best cells and destroy the reminder Mark this frame with some mark you will be able to remember ( a drawing pin or map pin is ideal and quick with gloves on ) to avoid having to handle it again. Queen larvae are notoriously fragile, it’s very easy for the precious larva to become dislodged and fall straight out. Remember the cell’s opening is at the bottom!! The next step is to find the existing queen and isolate her on one frame. Method…

Apitoxin ( Honey Bee Venom )

Apitoxin, or honey bee venom, is a bitter colourless liquid. The active portion of the venom is a complex mixture of proteins, which causes local inflammation and acts as an anticoagulant. The venom is produced in the abdomen of worker bees from a mixture of acidic and basic secretions. Apitoxin is acidic (pH 4.5 to 5.5). A honeybee can inject 0.1 mg of venom via its stinger. Apitoxin is similar to nettle toxin. It is estimated that 1% of the population is allergic to bee stings. it is un confirmed that Apitoxin can be deactivated with ethanol. Bee venom therapy is used by some as a treatment for rheumatism and joint diseases due to its anticoagulant and anti-inflammatory properties. It is also used to desensitise people allergic to insect stings. Bee venom therapy can also be delivered in the form of Bee Venom Balm although this may be less potent than using live bee stings.

Bee Stings

Bees leave stingers behind. Get them out as soon as possible anyway you can. Bee Stings can often cause anaphylaxis (Shock) in people allergic to bee venom. Treatment of hornet and wasp stings is the same as for bees, except that hornets and wasps don’t leave their stingers behind and each insect can sting multiple times. React quickly in case of anaphylaxis (Shock) 1. Get away from the bee. Bees release a scent when in danger to attract other bees. If you’re still around when reinforcements get there, they’ll sting you. 2. Remove any stingers immediately! No need to scrape off bee stingers, just remove them. It’s OK to pull stingers out with your fingers, brush them off or get them out any way you can. The longer bee stingers are allowed to remain in the body, the more severe the reaction will be. 3. If the victim is allergic to bees, check to see if the victim is carrying an epinephrine auto-injector (EpiPen). If so, help the victim use the EpiPen. If the victim is supposed to carry an EpiPen and does not have it, call for medical help immediately! Do not wait for symptoms to appear. Watch any victim closely for signs of anaphylaxis. •Itching •Redness •Hives (Raised Welts) •Shortness of Breath If there is any concern that the victim may be developing anaphylaxis, call for emergency help immediately. Antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine (Benedryl), can slow an anaphylactic reaction, but will not stop it. 4. Non-allergic victims will almost always develop local reactions to bee stings. Redness, swelling, and pain are all common at the site of the bee sting. The pain will usually go away pretty quickly, but swelling may last for more than a day. Use an ice pack to reduce swelling at the site. It’s common to develop some itching at the bee sting site. Antihistamines or calamine lotion should help. 5. Take the victim to the Hospital if stung more than 10 times, or if there are bee stings inside the nose, mouth, or throat. Swelling from these stings can cause shortness of breath, even in non-allergic victims. 6. Use ibuprofen or acetaminophen for minor pain relief. For tenderness at the site, try a bee-sting swab to dull the pain. You can also use an ice pack to help with swelling. Put a cloth towel between the ice and the skin and do not let the ice stay on the skin for longer than 20 minutes. Letting ice sit directly on the skin or keeping ice on too long could result in frostbite from the ice pack. Conventional wisdom says to scrape bee stingers away from the skin because pinching the venom sack could push extra venom into the victim. In fact, how fast you get the stinger out is much more important than how. Honey bees leave a stinger behind when they sting a victim. Wasps, yellow jackets, and hornets do not leave a stinger. These relatives of the honey bee can also cause an anaphylactic reaction.

The Apiary

The Apiary Site
The site chosen for the apiary should be on firm ground sheltered (but not overhung) by hedges, bushes or trees to break the force of the wind and to elevate the bees’ line of flight safely out of way of passers-by or neighbours in adjoining gardens. The plot should enough to accommodate one or more additional hives, spaced 4-6 ft – and to provide ample room around them for the beekeeper when attending to or Inspecting the bees. Hives should be set upon firm stands to raise them clear of the ground. Their entrances should preferably have a southerly aspect though this is not essential. The immediate surroundings should be kept free of long grass and tall weeds.

Siting and Equipping a Small Apiary
The beginner is advised to start no more than two small colonies of bees, it is likely that he will or later find himself keeping more, deliberately or otherwise. Bearing mind, he /she should select a site for the apiary accordingly, and be to think ahead when assessing the amount of equipment that will be needed.

Choice of Hive

For those proposing to keep bees for the first time there is a choice of several hives. Those most widely used in Britain are British National Hive, Smith Hive, Modified Commercial Hive, Langstroth and Modified Dadant Hives. The basic feature common to all these hives is that they use rectangular wooden boxes, open top and bottom, which can be tiered one upon another, the first resting on a floorboard incorporating an entrance and the top one covered with a roof.

The frames enclosing the combs hang in the boxes. The combs in the lower part of the hive form the brood nest in which the eggs are laid by the queen and in which the resulting larvae are reared by the nurse bees. Above the box, or boxes, containing the brood nest are placed .boxes of combs for the storage of honey, as required during the season. Between the brood nest and the upper boxes (usually known as honey ‘supers’) may be placed a perforated horizontal screen (queen excluder) through which worker bees can pass but not the larger-bodied queen. The use of a queen excluder prevents the queen from laying eggs in the boxes provided for honey storage and facilitates removal of the honey at the end of the season. Whereas deep boxes with correspondingly deep combs are used for the brood nest, shallower boxes (supers) with shallower combs are usually used for honey storage. Sometimes, in order to give more room for brood rearing, a shallow box or a second deep box is added to the brood nest.

The hives described above take frames of different sizes. The frames most in demand from British manufacturers are, at present, the Standard British 14 x 81/2 in. deep and 14 X 51/2 in. shallow frames. With 1 ½ in. long lugs these frames fit the British National hive; if the hugs are shortened to 3/4 in. they are suitable for the Smith hive. These hives, like the others described, are single walled and suitable for large or small scale beekeeping. There are other hives, namely The WBC (double skinned) that look more decorative in a small garden apiary but with single walled hives management is simpler, the labour involved is less and the movement of whole apiaries for pollination or to heather moors becomes a much more practicable

To start with, a hive consisting of a floor, deep box and two or three shallow super boxes, inner cover (or crownboard) and roof should be obtained, together with a queen excluder. This will usually suffice for the first season, but it is useful to have a spare hive of the same pattern, with one deep box, in reserve in case it becomes necessary to house a swarm.

Frames can be bought completely assembled and fitted with foundation ready for use, but a cheaper alternative is to buy flat pack or self assembly along with sheets of wired foundation for assembly and nailing together at home.