Newsletter - March 2017

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December 2016 newsletter
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Next meeting’s topics
Beginner’s session: 7:00pm,
Topic: AFB checks, final harvest and readying for winter
Main session: 7:30pm.
Speaker: David Cramp, author, science communicator
Meeting chaired by Sharon Mackie
1 Meeting's topics / Contents
2-3 Frank Lindsay – a note from the President
4 Club Profile – Sharon Mackie
5-6 Population Dynamics of Varroa in a Honey Bee Colony7
7-8 Book review – a Sting in the Tale by Dave Goulson /
9 Further reading
10 Apiculture Update
11 Beekeeping Quiz /Things to do this month
12 Honey Harvest Statistics 2016
13 Beekeeping Quiz answers
14-15 Last meeting’s minutes
16 Honey jar prices 17 Meeting location / Who can I speak to?
Next meeting | Wednesday 1st March 2017
Where | Main Hall, Johnsonville Community Centre, Moorefield Rd
March 2017 Newsletter
David Cramp - author, science communicator and beekeeper, is
our speaker at the March meeting.
From starting a beekeeping hobby with just two hives in England,
David Cramp progressed to full-time organic beekeeping in Spain and
then continued his interest in New Zealand.
December 2016 newsletter
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Frank Lindsay – a note from the
Five days of good, calm weather have made a real
difference to some of my hives. In some they put on
four frames of honey in two days, mostly catsear and
clover. I just hope this continues for a little longer.
Other hives haven't changed much perhaps due to
overstocking of hives around my apiaries and very little
autumn sources. Most of my nucs needed feeding otherwise they will be dead
in a few weeks. Normally they would have at least stored a frame or two but
not this season.
When the last of the autumn sources finish, robbing season will start. Field
bees with nothing to do, will probe all hives in the area for weakness and steal
their honey if they can. Close down entrances so the bees can better protect
your hive. Don't leave hives open for very long. If everything goes mad and
robbing starts (bee flying around stinging), close the hive entrance with grass
and turn the garden sprinkler on the hive until the bees from other hives stop
Club field day 19 February - treating varroa
We had a good number of mostly new beekeepers attend, taking the hives
apart check for disease, check for varroa mites with a cappings fork, then we
did a mite wash and following this up with two different types of application
using 40 mls of formic acid as a flash treatment to reduce mite numbers until
we can take off the honey.
The last lot of strips were removed on the 19th December although we found a
couple of hives with strips still in. Most hives had between 1 and 2 mites per
300 bees so these hives were in very good condition. Because 80% of the mites
December 2016 newsletter
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Frank Lindsay – a note from the President (cont.)
are in cells, 1 percent found on the nurse bees in an average hives of 25,000
bees means there are about 900 mites in the hives and this number
doubles every 18 days. We hope you all get your hives to this low level within
the next few weeks.
We had one surprise. One of the production hives that hadn't been split had 17
mites per 250 bees (about 40,000 bees) which took it to a 6% level of
infestation meaning that it had about 2,400 mites in the hive. The capping fork
test where about 20 drone brood were removed showed lots of mites in each
This hive is considered a "mite bomb". It would have died in two or three
months and then when it has been robbed out, the robbers would have spread
mites to all hives in the apiary.
This one at Chartwell means there could be other hives in the area (2.5 km)
which could be in a similar shape - test your hives or just treat. Varroa passes
on viruses to your bees and it's the viruses kill colonies. The more mites you
have in a hive, the quicker this happens.
It's very important to identify the heavily infested hives early and treat them so
mite levels stay low. I'm seeing one or two hives in my apiaries with mites
falling on to the bottom board slides where most have no mites falling. My
hives have low infestations because I have been treating hives each month
with formic acid.
So far the highest mite count is 3 mites per hundred in Johnsonville and 1 mite
per 200 in Ohariu Valley. What are the counts like in your area?
I'm really looking forward to this month's guest speaker. David has a long
history with bees and is a fountain of knowledge.
December 2016 newsletter
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Club Profile – Sharon Mackie
Sharon Mackie
Beekeeping five
years in the
Wellington Region.
Beekeeping brings
together a lot of
threads. My
grandfather had
300 hives, BV -
before Varroa in
North Otago and I
have fond memories of ‘helping out’ in his cellar as a kid. I am fourth
generation beekeeper in our family and the hobby ties together my
love for the outdoors and feeling connected with nature.
It wasn’t the honey for me, it was an interest in the life cycle of the
honey bee and its protection. It’s really satisfying to do something
productive with your hands, if you are not making bee boxes, you are
spinning honey or making decisions about the welfare of your
I find each year you learn a bit more and realise just how much you
don’t know. There is a certain magic with bees, a science and
husbandry all rolled into one.
I enjoy the bee club’s old fashioned principles of sharing and
exchanging of ideas – it’s very different from any workplace! The
club brings people from all walks of life with a common interest and
there are many wonderful characters to get to know.
My top tip would be to learn as much as you can before getting your
first hive. There are many ways to learn beekeeping and get hands
on experience before going solo on your own hive. It’s much cheaper
to buy honey in the supermarket but not nearly as much fun!
December 2016 newsletter
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Population dynamics of varroa in a
honeybee colony
Simplified bee and mite population growth curves for a temperate climate.
The mite growth curve lags behind the bee curve. Note how the number of
mites per hundred bees greatly increases in the fall months (USA). A
colony is unlikely to survive a fall infestation rate this high.
Let’s start by seeing just why it is typical for varroa to become a
problem in the fall.
Both the mite and bee population are at their lowest just before the
first brood emerges in spring. The bee population climbs at a quicker
rate than the mite population until midsummer, when the bees start
to ramp down. The mites get off to a slower start, and then hit their
stride during drone rearing season in spring and summer. Note how
the mite to bee infestation ratio climbs dramatically in early Autumn.
December 2016 newsletter
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dynamics of varroa in a honeybee colony (cont.)
When that occurs, the bees really feel population the impact of
varroa—brood is stressed or dies, viruses run rampant, and the
generation of bees that will form the winter cluster is weakened and
vulnerable. For a review of the insults that varroa parasitism visits
upon a honeybee colony, see the excellent New Zealand guide cited
at the end of this article (Honey Bee Health Coalition).
A key point to remember is that the relative infestation (percent, or
mites per 100 bees) is more important than total mite population—a
large colony can handle more mites than a small one. At much above
a 2% infestation in spring, honey production drops off severely. At
much above 5% in fall, colony winter survival suffers (although the
fall “economic injury threshold” numbers by various authors range
from 1% to 11%) (Currie & Gatien 2006). We will return to percent
infestation, and economic injury levels in my next article.
Unchecked, varroa can really multiply! A 12-fold increase is typical in
a short season consisting of 128 days of brood rearing (Martin 1998).
However, its population can increase 100- to 300-fold if brood rearing
is continuous! (Martin and Kemp 1997).
Extracted from:
Beekeeping Through the Eyes of a Biologist
Further reading on Varroa destructor:
December 2016 newsletter
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Book Review – A Sting in the Tale
by Dave Goulson
Reviewed by Frank Lindsay
Dave Goulson was the Professor of Biological
Science at the University of Sussex and is now at
the Sterling University in Scotland, studying and
directing graduates into further studies plus is
the founder of Bumblebee Conservation Trust
It’s a fascinating and interesting book for anybody interested in
bumblebees or honey bees with a bit of a sting in the tale for us here in
New Zealand.
Dave's prologue describes his early years living in Shropshire. He had
the normal pets then ventured into collecting more exotic things
storing them in boxes in his room. Doesn't every little boy collect road
kill to dissect? His fascination started with bumblebees when he tried to
warm up some chilled bees.
This book is 256 pages long and is written in an easy to read style full
of interesting information with a full index at the back. The 17 chapters
in the book basically follows his university career and his different
research projects. These include trips to Tasmania to assess the impact
the introduction of bumblebees has made since their
accidental/deliberate release. He has also visited New Zealand a
number of times to look at the distribution of the introduced
bumblebees and what they are feeding upon so he could mimic their
food requirements ready for their re-introduction back into Britain.
December 2016 newsletter
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Book review – A Sting in the Tale (cont.)
He includes a lovely, brief description of each of his co-workers making
them people not just names.
He touches on the bumblebee pollination industry that operates in
Europe which distributes bumblebees into Europe and Asia, and the
dangers they can pose to native bumblebees. Did you know that you
can use nurse honey bees to support a queen bumblebee in
establishing a nest and that over 500 tonnes of bee collected pollen is
used to produce over a million nest per year under factory farming
techniques for glass house pollination.
Bumblebees are in decline everywhere, mostly due to a loss of habitat
cause by intensive farming. They have to feed every 40 minute
otherwise they die. Based in Britain, he mentions a lot of the English
plants that bumblebees visit. I needed to use my Readers Digest “Field
Guide to the Wild Flowers of Britain” to understand what he was
referring to and surprise, surprise most are established in New
Zealand's pasture and gardens. These probably came with the English
grass seed brought in by the early farmers to establish pastures here.
The same with the bumblebee species named in the book. Although
there is a complete list of the different species of
British bumblebees in the appendix, I had to refer to the internet to
identify our NZ bumblebees and their distribution.
This book gave me a greater understanding on the requirements of
bumblebees. We need to have something flowering all year round to
support their nests. To date, I have been planting dahlias and dead
heading them so they produce a continuous flowering through the
summer. Now I'll be planting a lot of different clovers for them and my
bees. Did you know it is now possible to identify how many bees have
visited a flower?
I highly recommend this book to any beekeeper or anybody who is
interested in finding out something about those fluffy bumbling bees.
December 2016 newsletter
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Further reading from David Cramp:
Beekeeping A Beginners Guide: …
David Cramp (Paperback - Jun 27, 2012)
A Practical Manual of Beekeepin…
David Cramp (Paperback - Oct 31, 2008)
The Beekeeper's Field Guide: A …
David Cramp (Spiral-bound - Mar 25, 2…
The Complete Step-by-step Boo…
David Cramp (Hardcover - Oct 15, 2015)
December 2016 newsletter
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Update - February 17
From the CE - Karin Kos
Today the ApiNZ Board and I met with the Minister for Food Safety,
the Hon David Bennett who came to our Board meeting, along with
MPI and ministerial officials, to discuss the mānuka science
definition. The Minister and officials were very engaged in what we
had to say and it was a productive meeting. They heard loud and
clear the concerns of our industry, including the impact of delays on
our industry members. The Minister has committed to keeping the
lines of communication open and he’ll be meeting with us again in
about three weeks’ time. While supportive of this more open
approach, the Board was very clear on its role in ensuring that MPI
meet their obligations to industry, particularly in the consultation,
implementation and roll-out of the definition.
This week I was interviewed by TV1 on the issue of beehive theft.
TV1 is doing a story on the issue, and is also interviewing some
beekeepers around the country who have been victims of this theft. I
talked about the work that Apiculture New Zealand has been doing
with Police to address the issue, and how devastating it was for
beekeepers targeted by thieves. I provided some perspective to the
scale of the issue, while it’s undoubtedly serious, (there were 84
reported incidents of beehive theft from July 2015 to June 2016), the
strong industry growth over the past few years has seen a significant
rise in registered beehive numbers. I will let you know when the
story goes to air.
We’ve been advised that the Christchurch Hobbyist Beekeepers' Club
hives are in the Port Hills and are likely to have been affected by the
fire as the site is behind the Police roadblock. Our thoughts go out to
all those people who have been affected by this dreadful event.
December 2016 newsletter
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Beekeeping Quiz
Varroa destructor
1. What is the length of the mite’s life- cycle?
2. When did varroa first appear in NZ?
3. Why do varroa mites prefer to infest drone cells?
4. How does the varroa mite damage the bee?
5. How do varroa mites spread?
Answers on page 13
Things to do this month
March checklist
 Test for varroa mite levels and treat if necessary
 Extract honey
 Requeen hives
 Check for wasp damage
 Sell or store honey crop
 Store honey supers or return to hives
From this ….. to this
December 2016 newsletter
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Honey harvest statistics 2016
These statistics have various sources
 Hive numbers are provided by AsureQuality from the NZ National
Apiary Register
 Honey Production figures are an estimate of production undertaken
by AsureQuality by area and multiplied by hive numbers from the
National Apiary Register and are New Zealand's official production
figures for international reporting purposes. Export statistics are the
official overseas trade data provided by Statistics New Zealand.
Year Hive Nos
Bee Queen Bee
(tonnes) (tonnes) (kilos) Exports
1997 287,458 8,537 1,688 61,368 45,865 1,300
1998 298,921 8,081 1,836 155,229 52,704 10,724
1999 302,998 9,069 2,030 73,156 15,908 10,965
2000 320,113 9,609 2,528 64,730 19,344 21,120
2001 308,940 9,144 3,391 67,192 19,193 4,929
2002 312,658 4,682 2,555 105,024 14,791 5,049
2003 300,729 12,252 3,190 149,987 17,969
2004 294,623 8,888 2,767 114,044 14,142
2005 292,928 9,689 3,631 171,289 16,908 1,395
2006 300,569 10,423 4,134 295,301 20,034 7,666
2007 313,339 9,666 4,871 102,967 14,309 4,286
2008 344,123 12,375 6,099 115,329 21,580 2,741
2009 362,540 12,565 8,209 140,356 30,577 2,319
2010 376,672 12,553 6,555 133,264 34,352 5,906
2011 391,765 9,447 7,166 175,591 34,133 9,931
2012 422,728 10,382 7,709 158,937 24,754 5,712
2013 452,018 17,823 8,757 181,977 32,464 2,429
2014 507,247 17,608 8,648 143,418 58,138 11,318
2015 575,872 19,710 9,446 53,615 34,210 4,328
2016 684,000 19,885 7,820 23,884 24,559 2,441
December 2016 newsletter
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Beekeeping Quiz Answers
Varroa destructor
1 Mites reproduce on a 10-day cycle
2 In 2000
3 The drone takes longer to develop than a worker bee,
allowing the mite to reproduce one more time with the extra
three days it takes a drone to emerge.
4 The mites suck the "blood" (hemolymph) of adult honey bees
for sustenance, leaving open wounds and transmitting diseases
and viruses.
5 Robbing When a colony is severely affected it becomes a
target for robbers. Not only do they take any stores but also
pick up large numbers of mites.
Drifting Poor apiary design will allow young bees to ‘drift’
into neighbouring colonies. This is particularly important with
drones are they are accepted into any colony.
Migration Bees from collapsing colonies abscond from their
own hive with the robbers and increase the mite load in the
robbers’ hive.
Swarming A swarm from an infested colony will always carry
mites with it. It is essential to test any swarm for the mite and
treat it before introducing it to the apiary. Swarms from feral
colonies are no more likely to be free than those from managed
colonies but can spread the mite naturally by 3-5km per year.
Beekeepers manipulative management by the beekeeper
can transfer affected bees to other colonies in the apiary and to
other apiaries. Migratory beekeeping can cause a rapid spread
throughout a country.
December 2016 newsletter
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Last Meeting’s Minutes
held at the Johnsonville Community Centre from 6.30pm
(main meeting at 7.30pm) Wednesday 1 February 2017
7.30-7.40 pm Main meeting starts
Sharon to chair
General welcome and cover off what is on the agenda.
Reminders - sign the book, return your name tag, pick up your
induction pack from John if you've recently joined up
New beekeepers – 7 new members
Guest Beekeepers – guest from Sheffield, UK
Supper Roster reminder - Elizabeth Grove
7.40-7.45 pm
December Minutes approval, matters arising, notices
Club field day in February, hive checks, AFB checks, etc
Queen rearing course this year – probably in March. A number of
members are interested
7.45-8.45 pm
What's happening in the hives - Frank to lead
1. AFB – Upper Hutt/Wainui inspections. Checking for AFB before
extraction. One infected cell is an infected hive and it must be
2. Honey production and extraction
3. Tutin testing. Club batch testing. Honey should be tested if
harvested after 1 January. Collect sample jar from John and bring
back to March meeting.
4. Swarming. Late summer swarming happens now, swarms unlikely
to survive the winter without feeding
5. preparing your hives to take them through the winter. Varroa
treatments. Important to check and treat. Test before treating.
Sugar shake, alcohol wash, etc. Everyone should treat at the
same time, around 18 February. Hive feeding will be required for
December 2016 newsletter
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Last Meeting’s Minutes (cont.)
Q&A from the floor
Q: I have a hive with only drone brood – can I keep the pollen
to feed other hives?
A: yes, keep to feed next spring, but make sure there is no AFB.
Q: Can a drone-lying hive recover?
A: Not easily, bees may need to be sacrificed. Possibly add an old
queen who will lay some eggs and force the hive to supercedure. Not
a reliable method.
Q: Using the Chinese herb treatment for varroa and it seems
to be effective – is this true?
A: Only deals with the mites that have emerged, mites in the brood
will not be affected. Needs to be done often and for a long time.
Q: Making splits without a queen cell?
A: yes, make a walkaway split by letting bees create new queens
from cells.
Q: For tutin testing, does the honey need to be mixed?
A: Yes, unless you want to get batches done separately. $22.00 per
9.00-9.30 pm - Quiz and group meeting
Members broke into local area groups for a bee-knowledge quiz ad
general discussion.
9.30pm - Meeting closed
December 2016 newsletter
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Honey Jars (prices incl. GST)
PET plastic jar Hex. shaped clear (incl tamper evident lid)
Capital Beekeeping Supplies
500ml (500gram) $1.30 each
750ml (1kg) $2.00 each
Storage Box (Wgton & L/Hutt)
500ml (500gram) $2.29 each
750ml (1kg) $3.69 each
Storage Box (square jar)
500ml (500gram) N/A
750ml (1kg) $3.69 each
Storage Box - bulk supply $1.50 (carton 200) $2.00 (carton 100)
*Stowers (Seaview) $1.32 $2.68
*Stowers (Seaview) $1.30 (square jar) N/A
*with WBA discount
Glass and plastic jars are also available in a variety of sizes and shapes from
Arthur Holmes Ltd., 10-30 Horner St., Newtown.
December 2016 newsletter
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Meeting location
Johnsonville Community Centre, Moorefield Rd
Who can I speak to?
Frank Lindsay (04) 478 3367
John Burnet (04) 232 7863
Jane Harding (04) 499 4123
Newsletter editor
Eva Durrant (04) 470 7879 or (027) 3118700
Please submit contributions by the 20th of the month to: