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Trevor Gillbanks

Apiary Diary. March 2020

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Month three has arrived already.

I feels like just yesterday that I started the February Dairy, but 19 pages of posts later we have done and dusted it.

 

Lot's of interesting things in the world at present.

Stupid panic buying of supermarket products, the first Corona virus patient in NZ, and a couple of new millionaires with a pretty big lotto win each.

 

Best wishes to every one.

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4 hours ago, Trevor Gillbanks said:

and a couple of new millionaires with a pretty big lotto win each.

I hope they are greatful to my and lots and lots of other NZers contribution to their win.

I think a percentage of the lotto money goes to charities.

There will be a big pool for charity after the last 2 weeks game.

 

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Beekeeping for me this month should consist of pulling off the last of the honey, chucking in strips, and setting things up for winter. Then pull the strips a while later and leave them alone for three or four months

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Ah whatever ..... Sunday is a day of rest from thinking about honey prices ..... a day for checking waterholes, savouring the cool of the first autumn morning that was bit Nippy on the Pippy , popping a couple of lids and Ooohing that we could put some more boxes out  ..... and savouring  the silence of the hill and the first stags starting to get vocal.

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1 hour ago, jamesc said:

Ah whatever ..... Sunday is a day of rest from thinking about honey prices ..... a day for checking waterholes, savouring the cool of the first autumn morning that was bit Nippy on the Pippy , popping a couple of lids and Ooohing that we could put some more boxes out  ..... and savouring  the silence of the hill and the first stags starting to get vocal.

Agree!!  Roaring stags sounds far more exciting!!

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On 1/03/2020 at 12:42 PM, jamesc said:

Ah whatever ..... Sunday is a day of rest from thinking about honey prices ..... a day for checking waterholes, savouring the cool of the first autumn morning that was bit Nippy on the Pippy , popping a couple of lids and Ooohing that we could put some more boxes out  ..... and savouring  the silence of the hill and the first stags starting to get vocal.

And sending some beech dew to the Waikato to a guy with an idea for value add.....🤔🤣😉

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I haven't forgotten .....  it's jus that there are only 24 hrs in day at the moment.

How the times have changed.

 

Used to be we were the only Beekeepers in the valley.  It gave us free reign to run our operation as the season dictated, move bees from hungry sites to fat sites  and not worry about getting usurped.

We now have two new beekeepers  who have pushed us out of a couple of sites. 

That's no big deal ... much.

 

The issue this week  is we have a wax moth problem in a couple of hundred   of dead brood boxes that never got  made up this spring .

Rather  than store them in the shed to infest everything else ,we packed them up onto pallets today and parked them in a yard to let the bees and the weather  sort the problem.

 

Beekeeping is a highly sociable pastime.

 

In the old days it would have been no big deal.

 

 

But back in the old days I wouldn't have worked for three years with no income, so I guess at the end of the day I really don't give a sht any more .

They could go into a freezer , but it all cost money , right ?

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Up and gone before sun up this am and out to a spot.  Took a bunch of Q's with me as intended to Re-Q by making up nucs and papering them on next visit.  Instead I was greeted by the best Autumn brood I've seen in a few years, solid brood in hive after hive and only a couple will be replaced, still made up a bunch of nucs. Got hungry on the return and had a snack, the bee dog decided to check out the remains and got his head stuck in the box.  Told the story at home and re-baited the box with his favourite sausage, and enjoyed his replay.....  

IMG_4837.JPG

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We've been splitting and requeening too. Good amount of brood but very little pollen being stored.  Only 1 site with varroa issues so far. Best of all I did 37 Grafts and got 34 cells. Stoked with that. 

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18 minutes ago, nikki watts said:

We've been splitting and requeening too. Good amount of brood but very little pollen being stored.  Only 1 site with varroa issues so far. Best of all I did 37 Grafts and got 34 cells. Stoked with that. 

Nice strike-rate on the cells for this time of the year.  Have just stopped grafting here and just had to turn down a customer who wanted quite a few cells.  Its getting late to put Queens out with robbing winding the bees up putting them straight in not a good idea, but nucs with lots of young bees is a way around it.  The area I was at today is a bit remote and no varroa to be seen, and was surprised to see good amounts of drone brood still in some hives.  The hives on one site were on a bit of a flow of something, not quite sure what, with good stores, but all got a feed as I wanted to keep the hives occupied and leave the nucs to settle and release the Queen.  We'll have to catch up for a txt about the manuka market some time 🙂    

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On 3/03/2020 at 6:39 AM, jamesc said:

The issue this week  is we have a wax moth problem in a couple of hundred   of dead brood boxes that never got  made up this spring .

Rather  than store them in the shed to infest everything else ,we packed them up onto pallets today and parked them in a yard to let the bees and the weather  sort the problem.

They could go into a freezer , but it all cost money , right ?

 

A few years ago i had around 40 boxes of darks in storage that got infested, some pretty bad. I used formic acid just cos i had a 20 litre container of it.

 

Formic acid vapourises, the vapour is heavier than air. So you stack the boxes up and put a cloth or something on top soaked with 100 or so ml's of FA. The fumes drift down through the stack and kill the moths. Try to keep the stacks airtight to not lose the vapour too quickly. 

 

FA vapour is volatile and will eventually evaporate without leaving a trace, so I had to re treat every month or so. Cold winters down south, you'd just need to get your stuff through till it's too cold for the moths.

 

It was great looking through the boxes after treatment and finding all the dead caterpillars.

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Posted (edited)
On 3/03/2020 at 6:39 AM, jamesc said:

he issue this week  is we have a wax moth problem in a couple of hundred   of dead brood boxes that never got  made up this spring .

Rather  than store them in the shed to infest everything else ,we packed them up onto pallets today and parked them in a yard to let the bees and the weather  sort the problem

Years ago I had a prob like this.  I stacked all the brood boxes in an air tight container and went to the local engineering company and got a couple of cylinders of C02 and closed the door on the container. Worked a treat.  Then returned the empty cylinders.  V cheap option to save an asset of brood comb.  

 

9 hours ago, CraBee said:

Nice strike-rate on the cells for this time of the year.  Have just stopped grafting here and just had to turn down a customer who wanted quite a few cells.  Its getting late to put Queens out with robbing winding the bees up putting them straight in not a good idea, but nucs with lots of young bees is a way around it.  The area I was at today is a bit remote and no varroa to be seen, and was surprised to see good amounts of drone brood still in some hives.  The hives on one site were on a bit of a flow of something, not quite sure what, with good stores, but all got a fee

Still grafting.  My last graft is generally 22-24 March.  Depending on weather, so Day 10 1-3 April.  

 

When getting near the date of the last graft, I study the forecast for the first two weeks of April.  Last year v good results.  

 

 

With regard to comments about cold winters and wax moth not surviving.  The great wax moth will happily munch away on brood comb whilst snow is on the ground and thaw frosts prevail!  

 

I ensure that the shed floor is swept, brood boxes stacked aligned up and are bee proof (so wax moth can't get in), place a hive mat on top and if I've got spare lids these go on top of the hive mat.  

Edited by Maggie James
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On 5/03/2020 at 7:19 AM, Maggie James said:

Years ago I had a prob like this.  I stacked all the brood boxes in an air tight container and went to the local engineering company and got a couple of cylinders of C02 and closed the door on the container. Worked a treat.  Then returned the empty cylinders.  V cheap option to save an asset of brood comb.  

 

Still grafting.  My last graft is generally 22-24 March.  Depending on weather, so Day 10 1-3 April.  

 

When getting near the date of the last graft, I study the forecast for the first two weeks of April.  Last year v good results.  

 

 

With regard to comments about cold winters and wax moth not surviving.  The great wax moth will happily munch away on brood comb whilst snow is on the ground and thaw frosts prevail!  

 

I ensure that the shed floor is swept, brood boxes stacked aligned up and are bee proof (so wax moth can't get in), place a hive mat on top and if I've got spare lids these go on top of the hive mat.  

Then you cling wrap the pallet,,,

I normally stop grafting beginning of march, gives me a bit of hope, might shoot down the hill and do another graft!!!

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On 5/03/2020 at 7:19 AM, Maggie James said:

With regard to comments about cold winters and wax moth not surviving.  The great wax moth will happily munch away on brood comb whilst snow is on the ground and thaw frosts prevail!  

 

My observation is that greater wax moths are not even able to be active in an Auckland winter. Once things chill down a bit we can forget about them.

 

On 5/03/2020 at 7:19 AM, Maggie James said:

I ensure that the shed floor is swept, brood boxes stacked aligned up and are bee proof (so wax moth can't get in), place a hive mat on top and if I've got spare lids these go on top of the hive mat.  

 

The stack may be sealed, but the moths are already in there. Trust me 😎. It's better to keep your whites and darks seperated, and have the darks well ventilated, not sealed, even though that may seem counter intuitive.

 

I suspect that what is saving you is not putting a mat on the top of the stack, but the cold. And that the wax moths you find happily munching through your brood combs will be through the less cold periods, but you just found them in the cold period, or after the cold period.

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4 minutes ago, Alastair said:

My observation is that greater wax moths are not even able to be active in an Auckland winter. Once things chill down a bit we can forget about them.

A number of years ago there was a major infestation causing much devastation of greater wax moth in quite a southern area of the Sth Is prone to snow and haw frosts.  

7 minutes ago, Alastair said:

I suspect that what is saving you is not putting a mat on the top of the stack, but the cold. And that the wax moths you find happily munching through your brood combs will be through the less cold periods, but you just found them in the cold period, or after the cold period.

I have only ever once had a problem with wax moths, and that was in the lead up to varroa.  When it first arrived in NZ there was an opinion that we were better off running single decker brood boxes, and that is why at that particular time I had quite a surplus.  The brood boxes were C02d in the height of summer.  I disliked single decker brood boxes in this environment and the next year went back to double brood boxes, and was able to use those treated in the summer.  

 

So as a rule, I don't have wax moth happily munching through my brood combs.  

26 minutes ago, Maru Hoani said:

I normally stop grafting beginning of march, gives me a bit of hope, might shoot down the hill and do another graft!!!

I used to do a 1500 cell order in March for a really good beekeeper ex Airborne beekeeper, now deceased, in the mid Canty area.  Dougal was adamant that 21-22 March was the last day; making Day 10 on 31Mar-1April and I have always stuck to 22 March.  Occasionally if superb weather if in the long range forecast I will graft to the 24th; but rarely.  

 

The hit rate goes down a bit from now on, and you have to ensure that hive conditions etc are optimal.  I wasn't happy with things yesterday, but am pretty sure today will be ok for a graft.  

The first time I had to graft large amounts mid March, major learning curve, had to take majoir advice from Ridd the Kidd on how to achieve the quality.  

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17 minutes ago, Maggie James said:

I have only ever once had a problem with wax moths

 

And as I stated, that would be down to the cold, down there in Leeston. But your experience was a one time only so you didn't get enough experience to figure that out yet.

 

18 minutes ago, Maggie James said:

So as a rule, I don't have wax moth happily munching through my brood combs.  

 

Sorry i just quoted because you said you did. But if as a rule you don't, it's because of the cold.

 

Nothing to be ashamed of, I too have had them happily munching through brood combs, same as probably nearly all beekeepers. I'm just stating, as an experienced guy who unlike yourself has to deal with wax moth issues every year, that when it gets cold, activity will cease, even in Auckland.

 

Mind you, things are warming up. 😎

 

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1 hour ago, Alastair said:

My observation is that greater wax moths are not even able to be active in an Auckland winter. Once things chill down a bit we can forget about them.

absolutely.

there is tons of myths about wax moths. any infestation is typically caused by the beek, especially if its in a cooler aera and they are not used to dealing with it.

 

once the weather cools down they are no longer a problem.

sometimes the beek is the problem because they go and store boxes in nice warm sheds.

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Lack of wax moth is often down to hygiene and storage in the shed.  Prevention is better than cure.  

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Posted (edited)

They can never be prevented, or cured, at least in some regions. Up here they are ever present in my hives, and my equipment.

 

So they have to be managed, rather than eradicated. I use pretty successful management and damage from wax moths is not a factor for me. But I'd be lying if i said i had no wax moths.

 

Much like varroa.

Edited by Alastair
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2 hours ago, tristan said:

absolutely.

there is tons of myths about wax moths. any infestation is typically caused by the beek, especially if its in a cooler aera and they are not used to dealing with it.

 

once the weather cools down they are no longer a problem.

sometimes the beek is the problem because they go and store boxes in nice warm sheds.

Had my first experience of wax moth this year in Wellington. Stacked a few boxes on a solid surface and left them over winter, through spring, and into summer. They were heaving with grubs when I went to grab one. Guess a bit different to what you can get away with on a mesh base otherwise closed up through a southern winter and then straight into use when spring rolls around. Scraped the plastic frames back after submerging in water a few days - figured drowning would work. Dead wax moth grubs float, in case you were wondering. Then soaked again, scrubbed the frames down, and will wax coat when I next want to use them

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I moved my hives onto the reduced entrance setting on the HD bases today .

Two are under sustained robbing , one has lots of dead bees at entrance .

I reduced entrance to two bee wide with gause until a few days ago and waited till things had calmed down before I went near .

I tried some of the honey and even though I looked carefully at the hive tool a bee must have jumped on just before it went under the gap in my veil and in my mouth .

I knew straight away,  even before it stung my tounge , by the taste .

I just have to wait it out now , but the tounge heals quickly .

 

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1 hour ago, tommy dave said:

and then straight into use when spring rolls around

thats just it.

that can be difficult if spring weather isn't playing ball, sometimes you just have to put them in the hives regardless of honey flow. 

and then being able to leave them on after flow has ended until its cool enough to store them.

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Just some info about that. Wax moths actually mainly live on things other than wax, such as the cocoons in dark combs, pollen, dead larvae, etc. On pure white combs they do very poorly indeed. But they will eat clean white comb, if it's next to dark comb where they can get the other things they need in their diet.

 

So when storing boxes of comb, seperate out the clean white combs and store them seperately. There will be near zero wax moth issues in those boxes. Dark combs and combs with pollen should be stored seperately, and those are the only ones that will need to be monitored.

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I stack dark boxes outside on pallets on top of a propolis mat (at least they are good for something..) and put a lid on the top.  I've played with formic treating them but anything to do with formic is no fun to deal with.

 

Separately, I put out cells on 27/2 and went through some mating nucs today.  In four of the first six I looked at the recent Virgin was showing mating sign.  I've never seen so many like that before.  And today is only Day 9, that is about as early as I remember for having Queens mated.

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2 hours ago, Alastair said:

seperate out the clean white combs and store them seperately. There will be near zero wax moth issues in those boxes.

actually no.

there will be LESS moth issues but there is no guarantee that there will be anything close to zero issues in those boxes.

if its warm enough they will lay in anything. i have had it where they laid between the stacked boxes and ate into the boxes. they will lay anywhere they can get to.

just spent the last few days extracting some boxes that have been stored for a bit and wax moth is in any frames including perfectly drawn out new wax frames.

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