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Our garden visit this month was in Tauranga, with Seaside Bees. This top-bar hive was kept in a local communal vege garden, sitting slightly exposed on a ridge that kept the flight paths over the heads of the reapers and tillers. It hasn't done particularly well, with a poor queen that has been changed and a bout of chalk brood. We have talked about chalk brood before; if you want to cause chalkbrood (and some people do) chill brood the day before its sealed down to 19C, and then keep it cool-ish (25C) for the next three days. Other combinations of time and temperature will cause some chalk, but the above apparently comes with an 85%+ guarantee. Your mileage may vary. For the disease enthusiast you can see some rather old and dirty 'mummies' in one of the pictures.

 

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We were also able to have a close look at a the latest toy, a new oxalic acid vapouriser. The 'Sublimox' vapouriser is powered from a small generator or inverter and designed with commercial use in mind. The tool is preheated and charged while inverted. Turning it over dumps (in this case) 2.5g of acid crystals into the hot chamber which instantly turn into a gas. The resulting increase in pressure in the chamber drives the vapour out of the nozzle and into the hive. Looking through a glass window into the hive we could see that the actual 'charge' was instantly and evenly distributed through all the frames. We 'treated' a small empty hive and examined the frames, and there was no obvious 'impact site' or any noticeable deposits anywhere.

 

By having a series of 'cups' pre-filled by a helper the tool can deliver consecutive doses every twenty-five seconds or so, ideal for a large apiary where all the hives are within a few steps. It certainly is pretty efficient and I have little doubt that it is capable of dealing with large blocks of hives held in a Continental winter apiary very quickly.

 

New Zealand apiaries tend to be smaller, and kilometres apart. More often than not we are also treating hives with brood too, where more than one dose might be required, and this is where it gets a bit tricky. You'll have to make your own mind up about humping a generator around, with a buddy to fill the dose-cups ahead of you, and about repeating that dose within a few weeks. In another account of the tool the dose was said to be 1g, with three repetitions 5 days apart. I haven't studied the matter but you might be getting into territory in which you are damaging your wintering bees with repeated treatments, so you need to determine an appropriate dose. While it looks beautifully efficient, its also in a price category that might be larger than the incremental cost of replacing your losses, even if you already have the generator and the buddy is free!

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