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Gerry last won the day on April 22 2021

Gerry had the most liked content!


  • Beekeeping Experience
    Semi Commercial


  • Location
    Campbell River, BC, Canada

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  1. I'm a little far away to provide physical help, ie, not likely to get to your bees even if the border was open. But, I can provide some 'been there' kind of experience to help you relax. Years ago, wife and I had our first bees, we fussed and fussed over them. They swarmed, did everything we didn't want, we kinda gave up. It was early July for us, so, roughly the same part of the season as you are in now. At that point we essentially abandoned the bees for a couple months, distracted by other priorities (our wedding and the obligatory trip after). When we finally got back to check on the bees in September, they looked fantastic. They had finished drawing out second box, strong healthy population spread over the boxes, and _almost_ enough stores for the winter. I would posit that if you are damaged and not able to do things, then the absolute best thing you can do for the next 6 or 8 weeks, forget about the bees, leave them to own devices. If they are healthy they will survive and thrive without your interference.
  2. I was at a very interesting presentation on Nosema Ceranae at a provincial association agm a couple years ago. A very interesting comment from the presenter around Ceranae becoming prolific in our part of the world. Ceranae is apparently closely related to the type normally found in wasps, and there was some belief that wasps attacking a colony of bees will vector Ceranae into the hives. This was particularly fascinating to many of us, Apis has long been a springtime thing in our wet spring climate, but we rarely saw Ceranae. But what we do suffer is endless onslaught of wasps in August and September. The other tidbit he mentioned, Apis thrives in a moist environment, Ceranae moreso in a dry environment, and he had some reason to believe the real reason a lot of us saw little Ceranae in the hives is simply because we all check in the spring, but not late in the season when it's dry. A combination of the dry part of the year and an endless onslaught of wasps is apparently a recipe for 'lots of Ceranae in the hives', and that year was particularly bad for wasps. Turns out, it was also particularly bad for winter survival in the same areas that had been complaining of wasps. Using my own example, my bees out in the fireweed patch were inundated with attacks from ground wasps that year. So much so, it was impossible to walk from the electric fence to the hives without stepping on them, and it was only 3 steps. it was like a carpet of wasps on the ground. Exact same spot 2 years later, not a wasp to be seen thru all of August.
  3. Your situation sounds similar to something my wife and I ran into during our first year with bees. Keep in mind, we are northern hemisphere, so months will sound incorrect for you in the upside down part of the world. We hived our first bees on April 19 a decade ago. Two 4lb packages became 3 colonies, one at the house and 2 more in an orchard just down the road from us. They grew well, and by early June had filled the first box, and we had a second box on, which they were kind of ignoring. It was a deep box with 10 brand new frames in it. Late June on a Sunday morning walking into the orchard where our bees sat we found a swarm hanging in one of the Holly trees. While I was shaking it into a box, we saw a swarm come out of the other one there. By mid July we were very discouraged with the bees, had the swarms in boxes, seconds on everywhere, but all of them were essentially ignoring the second box. At that point we kind of gave up on them as we were pre-occupied with other things at the time. We had a wedding to attend (ours) and then we were headed off on that obligatory trip after a wedding (honeymoon it is referred to around here). When we got back it was mid September before we got around to taking a good look at the bees. Imagine our surprise, walk into the Holly orchard and lift the lid on a box, expecting the worst. What we found was, double deep full of bees, comb on every frame, and the top box rather heavy.
  4. Here is a graphic representation of that. The hive in question is a double deep lang, and it gets two supers at the start of the flow, both drawn. We try treat it exactly the same year over year as it sits on the scale and becomes our sentinel for measuring and comparing the flows year over year. The only manipulation of the data is to remove the artifacts from adding and removing supers. 2014 was the first year we put the scale under the colony, and the spring honey flow lasted exactly 9 days, those who did not have colonies 'ready for flow' at that time, missed the flow. 2015 was a bumper year. 2018 was indeed a different colony, altho in the same spot on the same scale. During winter 2017/2018 a 4 legged critter visited the colonies and knocked this one off the stand. They didn't survive till spring after spending a few days scattered on the ground (wife and I were out of town when it happened), so I restocked the spot with a package from NZ in March 2018. 2019 and 2020 data are missing for various reasons. 2019 due to beekeeper health issues, not much got done in the yard for that season, 2020 came with it's own host of issues, so we have not been collecting scale data for a couple years.
  5. My previous post has the corrected link
  6. Advances and perspectives in selecting resistance traits against the parasitic mite Varroa destructor in honey bees | Genetics Selection Evolution | Full Text GSEJOURNAL.BIOMEDCENTRAL.COM In spite of the implementation of control strategies in honey bee (Apis mellifera) keeping, the invasive parasitic mite Varroa destructor...
  7. This method is talked about a lot on our side of the world. I tell folks it's a waste of time and brood. Instead of wasting 3 brood frames and 3 weeks on a laying worker, put those 3 frames in a nuc box together. Now you have a viable colony which can either raise a queen, or you can introduce one. Shake out the laying worker colony and put the box away leaving it's spot empty, use some of the drawn frames to finish populating the box you put the new nuc in. the bees you shook out will beg their way into any other colonies in the area. This method uses the same amount of resources, but gets you to the finish line 3 weeks quicker, and is not prone to failure the way the 'frame of brood once a week' method is. If you do the once a week method, it often takes 3 weeks before the bees start a cell, if they start a cell, then it's 4 weeks till you have a laying queen. There wont be much left of that colony by then, and it'll be a struggle to get it built to an acceptable state by end of season. An alternative that works well too, specifically for those folks adverse to shaking out a colony. Newspaper combine the LW colony with a very strong queenright colony. Use a few layers of paper so it takes a couple days for them to work thru and get mingling. Queen will move up and lay up the box you added. After the 3 weeks mentioned above, split the resulting colony. Standard thoughts from there, let one part raise a queen, or introduce a mated queen to the queenless part. With this method, you do end up with a reasonable size split, not one withering away.
  8. I used to believe that. A few years back I was shy on excluders, had one colony with 2 brood boxes and 2 full honey boxes above so I stole the excluder from that one, then put a third honey box above the two full boxes. A week later, top box was full of brood and the queen was up there. Two mediums full of honey between the now two nests. I bought more excluders. I dont know if it's an old wives tale or not, but we were told some years ago, honey boxes that have no cocoons, ie have never had brood in them, wont get attacked by the wax moths in winter storage. Since then we've used excluders, and have seen this to be the case here, honey boxes that have no cocoons and stored wet dont seem to have problems with wax moths in winter storage. In our area, having boxes of drawn comb to place on colonies in April is the difference between chasing swarms in May or extracting 2 to 3 boxes of honey in June.
  9. Not unique to NZ, big deal in Canada and Europe too.
  10. If I was moving up to 500 colonies, I would want the Cowan 28 extractor with the Silver Queen uncapper. We currently have no plans to move up to that sort of scale and have built our extracting around a Mann Lake 18 frame radial unit. The other bit we did when we built our new honey shed, we put in a small room well insulated for storing honey prior to extracting. We call it the 'warm room', but in fact it's more like a 'warm closet', set up to hold 100 supers max. This year was the first time we stored honey in the warm room prior to extracting, and kept the temp in there around 32C, so we were dealing with warm honey to extract. We also switched to using a hot knife to uncap, used to use cold knife and or capping fork. This is what we realized. In the old system, put a load of frames in the extractor then start it out at low speed. It would shake and rattle a LOT, it would move around if it wasn't bolted down. After 5 or so minutes it would settle some, then we could go up to medium speed, and finally after another 5 minutes, up to high speed. Extracting was a long, slow, laborious process. This year we had warm honey in the frames. Load the extractor and run it directly up to medium speed. Very little shaking, and within a minute we could run it up to high speed. After 5 minutes at high speed, frames were completely empty. The lesson learned from that exercise, investing in how we prepare the honey for extracting allows us to make far more efficient use of the rest of the equipment. Prior to this exercise we felt that after 50 colonies we would need a bigger extractor because it was a stretch to do 3 loads an hour in the unit we have. Now that we can have warm honey on extracting day, we can extract much faster, and the bottleneck is more likely to be uncapping than spinning. I dont know about that manuka stuff, we dont have it in our part of the world, but for regular honey, I have learned it is a mistake to focus on extracting equipment without first putting the focus on how you prepare everything for an extracting run. A proper warm room has got to be first on the list if thinking about upgrades to the extracting facilities. So back to the original question, the 'dream honey house' for a 500 colony operation. I've actually had a tour of exactly that. On the input end it has room with concrete floor, in floor heating, holds about 1000 boxes. There is an overhead system that allows picking up a stack of boxes then go thru the door and drop the stack by the de-boxer. The same overhead picker then is used to put them in the de-boxer one at a time. After de-boxing they go thru a silver queen uncapper, then next is the Cowan 28 extractor. On the far end, frames go back into empty boxes and on into another cold storage room same size as the warm room. The extractor and uncapper outputs are mixed, then pumped into a spin float. Honey coming out of the spin float is further pumped into a large tank that feeds into the nassenheider bottling setup. The whole facility had multiple floor drains in strategic spots and was completely set up for cleaning with a hot water power washer. The day we went thru, the facility was spotless. An amazing facility, on one end you bring a truckload of boxes off the hives, out the other end comes cases of honey in bottles with labels at one door, and boxes of empty frames at the other door. There wasn't a barrel to be found anywhere on the property. The business case for that setup was equally stunning. No middle man anywhere in the process. The family runs bee colonies, and the honey ends up in a large store chain as store label product.
  11. His wife managed to get him injected, then loaded him into the car and drove like a maniac to the hospital, about a 15 minute drive from their place. We had an incident here a bunch of years ago, which was the one that inspired us to keep an auto-injector in inventory ourselves. Circumstances were such that I was prohibited from driving for a couple weeks due to a drug I had been perscribed for a back problem. It was at the time of the year when we do a 'deep look' checking colonies for swarm cells, beautiful Saturday morning and my wife was along to hinder, er help, my progress. We were on the sixth or seventh colony and wouldn't you know it, I dropped a frame that was packed with bees, it landed on her foot. Bees started crawling up her leg, and she had not tucked the pants into her boots, took 50 or more stings by the time the dust settled. A couple minutes later she is feeling woozy and having trouble walking. Lucky for us, just as I got her back to the house, my dad drove up, so we all jumped in his car and he drove us to the hospital. My wife works there, so everybody knows her. There was a fairly long line at the emergency desk, but the gal took one look at Chris and said 'you are coming to the back right now'. They injected her and kept her for observation for an hour. Before she left, the ER doc wrote a perscription for an epi-pen and told her to pick it up on the way home.
  12. Sitting up here in the northern hemisphere reading this thread gets me wondering. What percentage of overall beekeeping income is derived from shaking packages in March and April for shipping to our part of the world ? On the Canadian prairies a lot of folks recover from winter losses by simply 'buy NZ packages in March / April'. The flights stopped this spring, and it left a lot of folks scrambling to figure out other means. Some simply downsized a bit, others were more aggressive in the split than in a normal year. wondering how much this affected the bottom line of various producers...
  13. We know another couple well, they keep bees about 20km from here. He is a pharmacist, she works in an office in town, they have 6 colonies on their property. He decided to just keep a kit around 'just in case', the type where you have to draw into a syringe then inject. His rationale, if anybody around was having a reaction, he is well versed in how to do the process and apply the injection, so no need to spend the extra on the auto-injector. Wind the clock forward 4 years, they are out in the bee yard one Saturday afternoon and he got stung, has never had a reaction in the past. 30 seconds later he is saying to his wife 'I think my throat is swelling' in an almost unintelligibe gibber due to his throat swelling up. She ran and got the kit, but struggled to get it going. At that point he was on the ground and totally unable to help, and unable to tell her what to do or help with injecting. Every spring now he gives a talk to the bee club about how important it is to have an epi-pen around. He emphasizes, even if you think you are quite capable of doing a manual injection, the reaction can come on so fast you become incapable before you have the syringe out and ready. With an auto-injector, anybody can quickly and safely do the job. I keep one around, it's a matter of personal choice. Current one is expired, but, I've discussed this with the family doc. His summary, after the expiration date they do start to lose potency, but, in the event of somebody having a severe reaction, the lower dose of a 2 year old pen is better than nothing, and could save a life. We replace ours every couple of years.
  14. Ok, I can play this game. Happened last year during our spring swarm season. I was working in the office here at the house, my wife was in the back of our property going to work on one of the garden plots. I got a text from her, said 'there are bees in the wasp trap'. My response, 'didn't think they would go in, but I guess it'll catch a few'. She texts back 'no, there are bees in the wasp trap, you must come look'. Guess a mating nuc swarmed, and the swarm set up shop in the wasp trap.
  15. I did some hunting after seeing your post with the gaphic snippet. Original is here: Pollen Identification Chart WWW.NSBKA.ORG North Shropshire Beekeepers' Association It's interactive New to this forum, so not sure how some things work here, ie links. That is a link to the source of the original graphic.
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