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The August meeting was hosted by Kevin Kramer and our focus was on AFB inspections. Our local AP2 John brought along two fresh AFB frames for practice roping out.  Coming into Spring the meeting attendance was higher than recent meetings due to winter and covid. The meetings normally expand over the warmer months as we meet/visit at individual members. There is a such a variety in different ways people keep bees it is always interesting and then we either admire or advise to help them with their beekeeping. At this meeting the group was split in half to do AFB checks on two groups of hives on the property. We then joined back up to see the infected frames John had brought, rope them out and have our usual tea/coffee chin wag. I think it was a bit of a win on several levels, a chance for non-DECA newbies to rope AFB, nice for people to meet John and hopefully the AFB check demonstrations will not only improve those inspections, but spur people to take a refresher course etc. Sorry I didn't think to take a photo [very poor] some roped out AFB would have been ideal. Maybe someone else did?

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#3 probably not for forum discussion but in passing, this reminds me... In our group most members were standing directly in front of the entrances, each so close to the other that they couldn't see mu

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So two posts for this meeting. We want more stories every time, don't be shy!

 

The most important inspection you will do this year will probably be your first spring inspection. I’m not thinking of those alive/dead visits, or the quick peek and heft to check the food stores, but the first proper visit to go through the brood nest, what I’m going to call the ‘disease inspection’. It’s not a good description. In this case the concern is about one disease, AFB, and these days with so many hives around you will always have an eye open for AFB, and everything else. But the moniker ‘disease inspection’ has stuck, and so that’s what it will be.


So the first of our ‘garden’ meetings of the year was a disease inspection, with the lucky host getting their COI. The hives were kept on a property largely turned over to greenhouses growing export orchids, but with avocados and the ever-present surrounding kiwifruit orchards in the mix. The arrangement allowed us to have some AFB infected frames on display under the supervision of our local Appointed Person, kept safely away from the bees in the flower packing shed.


There were two small groups of hives to check on opposite sides of the property, so we were able to divide the pretty good number of attendees into two so everyone had a fair chance of seeing the action. Our AP2 took one group; in the second group with me it was great to have experienced people like @Dennis Crowley and @NickWallingford for company. Fortune provided some bright warm weather for the afternoon. Around here a good phenological marker for timing these inspections is the flowering of the Taiwanese cherry (Prunus campanulata) which most people seem to recognise with the publicity given to invasive pests by the Council!


The weather is not always on your side, so something as invasive as poring over a disassembled brood nest ought to be done purposely but quickly. My advice is focus. Do not get distracted looking for the queen or whatever, get straight to the sealed brood, shake the bees off every brood frame, look carefully, and get out. If there are other things you want to do, do them on another occasion.


In my mind an inspection now has some significant advantages. In the first place, the colonies are small with compact brood nests. Doing this with 50,000 bees and multi-box brood chambers is not nearly as easy. In addition, the more marginal state of the colonies reveal problems that could get masked later on. Now, colonies short on labour and food, but pushing the envelope when it comes to laying, are taking a chance on the health of brood. Some disorders you will spot, like chilled brood, chalkbrood, and some viral infections, will probably sort themselves out as the colonies grow bigger and healthier, but you might have an early pointer to who will need requeening, and, for colonies that have struggled through the winter, now you have a clean bill-of-health, which to unite and move on.

 

You can read more about AFB here:
https://www.nzbees.net/blogs/entry/10-another-look-at-american-foul-brood/

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17 minutes ago, Dave Black said:

the pretty good number of attendees into two so everyone had a fair chance of seeing the action.

#3 probably not for forum discussion but in passing, this reminds me... In our group most members were standing directly in front of the entrances, each so close to the other that they couldn't see much plus also a pile of bees backed up behind them trying to figure out why the final approach to their hive was blocked by white clothed moving clumsy things. Most members had bees parked/landed on their backs.

I think we should have implored people to stand back (not forwards) and for each one of an inspecting team of about ~5 take one frame to a small group of ~6 people away from the hive, let alone the entrance. Not a criticism but hopefully a constructive suggestion, because this often happens at meetings and is an area we could improve on to benefit all. This also might have sped up the inspection with multiple frames checked in parallel instead of one frame at a time in sequence and would allow more relaxed question -answer so to avoid needing to be a loudish orator. It was also more sunny and quite warm out on the lawn.

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