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john berry

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john berry last won the day on December 24 2020

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  • Beekeeping Experience
    Commercial Beekeeper


  • Location
    Hawke's Bay

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  1. I personally have no doubt that dogs are very effective at detecting both clinical and subclinical AFB.. Entrance swabs can do the same thing and testing of bulk honey can detect if somebody has a problem. These are all useful tools and could and should be used to detect when someone has an unidentified problem but the only way we have of differentiating clinical and subclinical hives at the moment is a visual inspection. I'm not sure what the difference in cost is between a dog and a swab but I suspect swabs will give a more accurate picture of the spore loading on the particular hive whereas a dog will only be able to to say yes or no. I have some hives that have been tested twice if anyone wants to run a dog around them and compare results.
  2. Had a cruise round today checking hives. Coastal hives have been doing okay but the rest are pretty disappointing. Still some life in the clover but it doesn't seem to have yielded much. Can't help feeling that the season is going to be a bit of a flop but it's a bit too soon to give up yet. Cold, windy and dry today.
  3. Urban areas can be extremely productive with a friend of mine on bluff hill Napier once producing 200 kg in a year. At the time the area was probably under stocked. The trouble with urban areas is that most of the area is made up of roads roofs and lawns and while there is usually a very diverse supply of nectar sources they are also very limited and easily over utilised. Up till about 20 years ago there was little or no pressure on beekeeping sites in most areas and apiarys were normally around 2 miles apart with many of them being in the same place for decades. This gave good opportunities for working out optimal stocking rates which varies considerably from area to area but many times we found that even a modest increase of 25% would lead to a decrease in the average production. Most areas would have supported higher hive numbers at the peak of the flow but sensible stocking rates mean less feeding and more production at both the start and the end of the season giving less costs and much higher production per hive on average. My 10 year average increased dramatically after varoa with the elimination of feral colonies and has decreased even more dramatically since the arrival of corporate beekeeping.
  4. Bad weather obviously has a strong effect on mating success but over the years I have also had apiarys which for no obvious reason always seem to have well below average mating success. I have also had sites that regularly have well above average success with over 90% not being unusual. I am sure that shelter has some effect but one apiary in particular that always had lousy mating was in a beautifully sheltered and productive site. I generally don't raise many queens in spring but if I do I don't start till there are enough drones and try and finish before the equinoxial gales start. Autumn weather tends to be far more settled but unless there is a really bad drought I don't start until 15 February as for some reason you get poorer results before this time and I like to be finished by 15 March but you can go a lot later than that if you need to depending on the season.
  5. Hate to disagree with you Maggie but I don't think you can fit more than 30 kg of honey in a full depth box and that box would be absolutely bollix.
  6. You have to assume that somebody will .. I remember talking to Dr Peter Molan about UMF and he told me that 10+ was all that was needed for external wounds . It's also debatable whether you should be even eating honey with levels higher than +10 .
  7. Years ago when I lived in a dairy farming area I couldn't grow tomatoes or grapes because of hormone spray drift. I had a similar problem where I live now when I got some really nice topsoil from a dairy farm and all the tomatoes curled their toes (and their leaves) up. I am not sure whether I should be worried about glyphosate residues in my food or not but I am sure there are plenty of things that are worse.
  8. If they really want to improve pollination they should breed male flowers that look the same to the bees as female flowers. The other thing they could do is breed flowers that produce nectar. A lot of self fertile flowers still need pollination and many of them need cross pollination
  9. Bees don't care if they store honey in old combs and why should we. No one gets hurt but suddenly we have this ability to detect something so we do. If bacteria is a problem in honey then what does that say about cheese and yoghurt. There are good bacteria, non-harmful bacteria and harmful bacteria. Personally I would rather eat honey from natural comb with a few bacteria than from plastic frames.
  10. I have seen fantastic manuka crops the year after a drought and also after very wet years. Manuka certainly flowers better some years and I suspect it has a poor flowering after a heavy seed set the year before but I'm not sure as there are just too many variables. It'snot just how many flowers there are but whether they all come out together and how long they last. Some years around here anyway they come out and then just wither up . Some areas are pretty reliable and can produce a crop nearly every year while others only yield every four or five years or on one apiary I used to have once in 20 years. High country manuka can also be severely affected for many years following bad snow break. And you have to have good weather as well.
  11. Perhaps the majority of hobbyists struggle to find queens and I suspect the same may be the case these days for commercial beekeepers. Stroppy hives make it even harder to find the Queen and they are also harder to re-queen full stop as they tend to be less accepting of cage queens especially and even sometimes cells. If you have the skills to find queens then you have a lot more options when it comes to re-queening but if you don't then protected cells are a reasonable fallback option with reasonable results. When you get queens from cells that have come from good quite stock then even if they mate with aggressive local stock the bees tend to be of reasonable temperament and of course the drones from that Queen will be exclusively from her genetics. You could for instance kill your aggressive Queen and then go through the hive seven days later and destroy every single queen cell. Then place a brood frame with some eggs from your quietest hive and you would have about an 80% chance of ending up with a reasonable Queen.
  12. i have had a couple of goes with protected cells and have to say I was underwhelmed with them. We went through the hives afterwards and I can't remember the exact percentage but it wasn't good enough to make me want to do it again. On the other hand it's an easy way to do it and if you only have a few hives you can always have several goes at it.
  13. Central North Island mountains aren't the Southern Alps but it can snow any day of the year up there. We had one quite hot day followed by a ripper frost the next morning.
  14. Genetics plays an important part but so does weather and high humidity is something that tends to wind them up. Bees on a honey flow are generally at their quietest but when there has been a dearth for a long time and they are just starting on some fresh honey they can be really grumpy for the first day or two. I got five stings today while checking a hive with a smoker but without any gear on.
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