back to article Brit honeybees crawl through rotten winter

British honeybees have survived the coldest winter in 31 years with losses of one in six hives - higher than the natural rate but a marked improvement over previous years. According to the Telegraph, 2008-09 saw one fifth of hives wiped out. The previous year did for 30 per cent of colonies. Regionally, the north of England …


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  1. Mike Cardwell


    "British honeybees have survived the coldest winter in 31 years with losses of one in six hives - higher than the natural rate but a marked improvement over previous years."

    Natural selection?

  2. Paul Shirley

    honey bees not needed

    Honey bees - aggressive freeloading buzzing bastards and not native to the UK. My garden seems to do perfectly well with our army of assorted bumble bees and other pollinating insects. Rather less food crops need insect pollination than the beekeepers would like you to believe anyway - grains are wind pollinated for example.

    But what would summer be without the honey lobby whining ;)

    1. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart


      There are two main spices of European Honey bee the, western or yellow honey bee and the black European bee.

      Oh hang I see the problem; you probably object to the notion of a European bee, you'd prefer a British bee, preferably with red white and blue stripes and its own currency as well. I bet you read the daily mail a lot.

      Beer icon 'cos you can make mead from honey....

    2. 46Bit


      So you see the continuing decline in honeybee numbers to be such a non-issue that El Reg shouldn't report on it, just because there's some crops that don't need them? Grow up and smell the coffee ... or actually since it's sometimes grown using Bees as pollinators* I guess you can't.

      * According to anyway4

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This cant be right.

    I've read it several times and at no point does it mention climate change. How can this be? I thought all problems were due to climate change.

    1. Rumcajz

      re: This cant be right.

      Climate change was last year. I think this year it's the volcano in Iceland, and I think they're getting into plane crashes again (makes a change from oil spills).

      The point is to keep the level of panic at a low simmer...

      1. ravenviz Silver badge

        re: This cant be right.

        It's the sunpsots I tell you.

        Edward Maunder.

  4. MarkRBowyer

    On the positive side...;

    While I know a few beekeepers who have lost colonies over the winter, the early blossom coming late and the late blossom coming early has led to colonies growing very fast, and lots of swarms, or keepers doing fake swarms to split their colonies. Most of the keepers I know around Hampshire have nearly doubled their hives in the last 2 months, for instance.

    I had my first, empty hive stored down the side of my house. A swarm came out of nowhere and settled it, which is just *so* lucky it's untrue, and saved me spending £150 with a bee farmer to stock it.

    So if that's true nationwide, this winter loss has more than been made up for already.



  5. Graham Dawson Silver badge


    I have a friend who keeps bees and something he mentioned to me might be the reason for all these lost hives. Common belief has become that hives should be extremely well insulated, which he hadn't heard despite being a keeper for years. He tried it, and the bees all came flying out on a very cold day and promptly died. The other hives, the ones that he hadn't insulated to this degree, survived the whole winter without any problems.

    Based on this tiny, tiny sample I suspect that fashionable nonsense has killed these bees. Such is life.

  6. Lionel Baden
    IT Angle

    dont get annoyed

    I know I know But seriosly this is very far from IT

    I understand its in the Science, Biology section, but howcome front page news ...

    1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: dont get annoyed

      We've done news on this subject before. It's science news. The Reg covers matters other than IT and always has.


      1. Nick Stallman


        But Sarah dont you have a vested interest in Bees?

        1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

          Re: But

          Yes because it's the same as my last name! Amazing!

      2. The BigYin

        Speaking of science

        Looks like one of the "Boffin" icons has gone AWOL

        "boffin_32.png" is OK (\/ down there when editing a post), but boffin_48.png (< over thar when reading a post) seems to be missing.

      3. Lionel Baden


        i understand the reg does many other topics and i actually read quite alot of bootnotes and enjoy them.

        Just wondered why this was on the front page.

        Not for me to say what the reg consists of, I just had / have the presumption that it is primarily a IT site. Ergo front page IT stuff (and / or high profile stories)

        This one just seemed completely random to me. cant see it attracting much attention etc etc

        @ Nick Stallman

        :D made me giggle :D

        1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

          Re: title

          It's a fairly major science issue at the moment.

      4. Steven Hunter


        Sarah, you're just being overly sensitive to criticism of your fellow Bees...

        OK, I'm going, stop pushing!

  7. Noogie Brown

    I'm off to the garden centre

    to get some emergency budlias

  8. Mike Banahan

    Anecdotal stuff

    I lost one of three but it was weak before the winter started and despite feeding it gave up in January.

    I can vouch for the high swarm level this year - had one very strong colony and one marginal in February, by April the strong one had to be split which should have prevented swarming but the queenless side of the split has thrown four swarms in the last week, getting on for a record even for our local famously productive black bees (colloquially known as fen bastards as a nod towards their ill-temper). Looks as if they had made up their mind before the split ... luckily I was around to capture two of the four and hive them. Given the fab weather the virgin queens will presumably have little problems mating either.

    Here's to a LOT of mead in the autumn - hence the glass!

    1. ravenviz Silver badge

      Anecdotal stuff

      If you've only got 3 bees you might as well have kept them inside in a jar with holes in the lid.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lots of them around atm

    Lots may have died but there's been massive numbers of swarms moving around over the past few weeks - we've had one ourselves coming taking a look at the house (not staying though) and that's what I've been told by some locals.

  10. Philip Nicholls Silver badge

    Priority Please

    Gentlemen my sympathies but surely we should all be mourning as a priority the loss of Gene Hunt?

    Come on. let's get real.

  11. SleepyJohn

    Cold winters do not kill bees

    'Winter losses' are usually actually 'Spring losses'. Cold weather keeps bees cuddled up and dormant so they eat little of their stored supplies. Warm early Spring can cause starvation as they become more active and eat up their stores before the nectar begins to flow. As Graham Dawson noted, the worst thing you can do in Winter is warm them up so they become active and consume their stores too quickly.

  12. BossHog
    Thumb Up


    Bees are fucking awesome!

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Especially Sarah

      Yeah, i'm sucking up to the moderatrix. who knows when i'll need it next.

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