Asian Hornet

With the recent discovery of an Asian hornet (Vespa velutina) and nest in the Tetbury area of Gloucestershire, and the further discovery of an Asian hornet and nest in Woolacombe, North Devon it is important for beekeepers to be aware of what an Asian hornet looks like and to remain vigilant.

Asian Hornet
Asian Hornet (Vespa velutina)

The easiest way to differentiate the Asian hornet from the more common European hornet (Vespa carabro) is by looking at the abdomen. The Asian Hornets abdomen is almost entirely dark except for the fourth segment which is yellow.

Identifying Asian HornetsMore information about identification, where to report sightings and other background information is available from the Nation Bee Unit website.

Sightings should be reported to Great British Non Native Species Secretariat and our Asian Hornet Action Team leader Colin Lodge.

Also see the Asian Hornet Action Team website


Beekeeping Timetable

We are lucky to have Glyn Davies coordinating our apiary management in Torbay, some years ago Glyn produced a beekeeping timetable detailing the yearly schedule for beekeepers in Devon.

The timetable includes among other things, details about how many bees one would expect in a colony what main sources of forage are available, when to apply treatments for varroa and when to take samples for disease testing. Loads of stuff in fact, it is a really useful schedule which both new and more experienced beekeepers will find useful and informative.

Beekeeping Timetable

Beekeeping Timetable 

There is also an editable version available in word format on the DARG website.

Labelling Advice

General Honey Labelling Advice

  • The word “honey” is required.
  • When packed in quantities exceeding 50g may only be packed in prescribed quantities of 57g(2oz), 113g (4oz), 227g (8oz), 340g (12oz), 454g(1lb) or multiples of 454g(1lb).
  • The weight must be on the label.
  • The weight must be metric (and it’s optional to add the Imperial weight as well).
  • The weight must be net, i.e. not including the glass-jar and lid.
  • The minimum height of figures on the label must be as follows: <50g 2mm; 50-200g, 3mm; 200g-1kg, 4mm; >1kg, 6mm.
  • You can specify the area where the honey is produced, e.g., Devonshire honey.
  • You can specify the type of honey, e.g. heather, but the honey must be at least 75% of that type.
  • If you are selling the honey, you must have your name and address on the label. It does not need to be complete but you should be able to be found from the information.
  • If you are selling the honey through a third party, you must have a lot number (though if your Best Before date specifies day, month and year then a lot number is not required).
  • You must have a Best Before date on the jar. 2 years from now seems to be pretty standard.
  • You must have a country of origin on the jar, e.g. Produce of England. Just adding the country to the end of your address is not acceptable.

There is more information in the BBKA leaflet Selling Honey .


The Torbay Branch of Devon Beekeepers Association disclaims all responsibility for all consequences of any person acting on, or refraining from acting in reliance on information contained above.

Queen Marking Colours

The international queen marking colours code was created to allow beekeepers to mark their queens using a code which all other beekeepers, wherever they were in the world, would understand.

The colours are used to show which year the queen was born in, they also help to enable beekeepers to spot the queen when doing a hive inspection.

Year ending inColourMnemonic
1 or 6WhiteWill
2 or 7YellowYou
3 or 8 RedRear
4 or 9GreenGood
5 or 0BlueBees?

Honey Extraction

This sequence of photographs show the principles of extracting honey to keep it fresh clean and undamaged by heat. The set-up has been developed over several years on a domestic scale but is able to manage now a crop of dozens of supers. Many beekeepers with just 2 or 3 hives yielding 5 or 6 supers can manage with smaller apparatus adapted for the kitchen but the basic principles are the same. These are summarised below. Clean water and hand cleaning cloths are essential.

  1. Extract the honey as soon as it comes from the hive or keep the supers warm. This allows the honey to flow more easily.
  2. Uncap safely and drain cappings which will contain a lot of honey. Remove the wax capping with a very shallow cut. At least three quarters of honey in the combs should be sealed and no honey should drop out of the comb before cells are uncapped.
  3. Avoid equipment that heats the honey and cappings such as Pratley trays.
  4. A radial extractor is the most efficient and a motorised one is a wise investment.
  5. Coarsely strain honey from the extractor as is runs into to the Settling tank or container to remove wax bits.
  6. Store the honey in air-tight food containers. It will set firmly sooner or later.
  7. Warm the containers to melt the honey to maximum of 50C, Then fine filter it through 200 mesh nylon or stainless steel, allow it to settle to let micro air bubbles rise to the surface then run into jars.
  8. Do not store honey in jars for long periods.
  9. Well-drained cappings can be rendered down in a solar wax extractor. Other methods can be read about in guide books or invented!