SUN-lovers weren’t the only ones enjoying the recent heatwave – bees of all kinds have been very active, which means that our local beekeepers have been very active too retrieving swarms, writes Amanda Clydesdale, of Peeblesshire Beekeepers Association.

This year has been good for bumblebees of all kinds, great news for wildlife – and it’s resulted in lots of calls to our beekeepers about removing “swarms” of bumblebees from bird nesting boxes – the des res of choice for the discerning bumble.

Solitary bees and mason bees have also been seen in increased numbers (perhaps reducing the amount of neonicotinoids has helped?). 

We usually advise householders to simply leave all these alone (the nest will be abandoned later in the year) unless the bees really are a nuisance – in which case it’s a job for a certified pest controller, not a beekeeper.

Beekeepers can only try to deal with genuine swarms of honeybees: we try to remove any swarms sitting out in the open, and take them away. Swarms of bees are usually quite good natured, but even so should only be tackled by a beekeeper.

Most householders are fascinated to see them, and we usually encourage them to don a beesuit and get to know bees a bit better at the apiary.

One householder who called us in to remove a swarm even made a generous donation to Peeblesshire Beekeepers Association’s new conservation project – a breeding programme to encourage Scotland’s native dark honeybee.

This bee has had good press coverage lately, following the creation of the Scottish Native Honeybee Society ( 

This part of the Borders is recognised as a hotspot where near-pure populations of this bee (formally Apis mellifera mellifera) have survived. In most of the rest of the UK this bee was almost wiped out nearly a century ago, as the result of imported disease.

The Peeblesshire Beekeepers Association (PBKA) is delighted to play a part in increasing the numbers of this bee – two good bloodlines have been bought from the national bee reserve on Colonsay.

We provided hives and equipment, and two PBKA volunteers will be looking after the colonies at an undisclosed site in Peeblesshire. 

In June, the PBKA launched a conservation project for Scotland’s native bee in the Borders. Peeblesshire is thought to be a ‘hotspot’ for colonies of bees with a high percentage of black bee genetics within them.

It is hoped the project will help preserve black bees in the Borders and contribute to the strengthening of their population.

​The aim is to establish a breeding programme for local beekeepers. It will enable them to obtain small honey colonies (nucs) or re-queen with pure black bees, known as Apis mellifera mellifera (Amm for short), with a view to increase the bees own colonies.

The colonies will produce drones and queens from these bloodlines, and in a few years the native honeybees should be found in good numbers again in this area.

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Look out for more from the Peeblesshire Beekeepers in our new column, The Buzz in the Peeblesshire News next month!