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Beekeeping on the west coast of the South Island

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Would just like to get some views on what it's like working the flow on the west coast of SI? I hear Rata provides amazing flows, but then how does the weather effect over all yield, is it a good place to over winter hives or too breed?

 

My friend whom I'm getting into business with owns a big property in Karamea that borders Kahurangi national park, but we have little idea as to the suitability of this spot to run a breeding operation and whether it's profitable to focus on Rata honey considering the weather can be terrible at times, mostly during spring and start of summer, then it tends to settle late summer and Autumn.

 

So another idea is shift hives to Canterbury for spring/early summer and then back over for Rata flow and for late summer and Autumn breeding.

 

Opinions?

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Now from what I have learnt over 30 yrs on the coast.The only place to get fabulous yields of Southern Rata honey is Otira or Taramakau valley.We have yiels of up to ans over 100kg/hive but the bees have to be upto stregth.Then you have the problem if rapid crystalisation on the beehive.I have seen a beek with 750 3/4 boxes all crystalised.What do you do.Very hard to melt out.Bees die,eating it.

Now I do not know what the yields would be,like in Karamea.Where would you extract the honey.A long wy to take your boxes back to Canterbury to extract.How are you going to tell when the Rata is going to flower.Rata does not flower every year.Where are your markets for this honey.Lots of things to consider.

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Lots of things to consider.

 

LIke finally getting a break from the bees, down with the veil & wham the sandflies getcha. So you gotta sit in the truck to get away from them. It's always raining so the windows gotta be up. Everything's fogged up. A very limited universe. (y) :rofl:

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Rubbish,The last few days in the Otira valley were extremely hot.Snd flies luv new blood.If you cant handle it go back to where you came from.

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Thanks @Roy Arbon

 

I'm not interested in Rata as a main source of income, rather using it as food to help boost our hives ready for breeding, drawing comb and as a bit extra money on the side. I'm much more interested as Karamea as a potential breeding site in the hope there ain't so many beehives around to retain some kind of closed population.

 

What other flows over on the coast do you use to sustain yourself? How does the weather effect you and is it easier to over winter your hives compared to here in Canterbury?

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I have Kamahi,Rata,White Rata and ground flower such as lotus clover catsear.I think Karamea would be a great breeding spot.Thereis only a handful of hobbiest hives there.Do not forget it is 100km North of Westport so is very isolated.Good luck

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And once you've got all your gear there, it's a great motorbike ride....

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I have Kamahi,Rata,White Rata and ground flower such as lotus clover catsear.I think Karamea would be a great breeding spot.Thereis only a handful of hobbiest hives there.Do not forget it is 100km North of Westport so is very isolated.Good luck

 

What is your reasoning there for it being a good breeding spot? I take there may be at least one or two commercial beeks up that way? I was wondering if it would be doable if there was access to push into the national park a bit to find an isolated site, but it may be unnecessary, would you expect flows up that way to be reasonable throughout summer and Autumn?

 

Thanks for all advice, clearly we are quite naive about it all.

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And once you've got all your gear there, it's a great motorbike ride....

 

Yes, if only I trusted myself on a motorbike, brilliant road between Westport and Karamea,

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The winterless north you will never have to worry about drought again nice place but as always home work needs to be done

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What is your reasoning there for it being a good breeding spot? I take there may be at least one or two commercial beeks up that way? I was wondering if it would be doable if there was access to push into the national park a bit to find an isolated site, but it may be unnecessary, would you expect flows up that way to be reasonable throughout summer and Autumn?

 

Thanks for all advice, clearly we are quite naive about it all.

I am sure you would find isolated sites up there.Have you seen the work that needs to be done to get D.O.C.sites?There are no commercial beeks up there.There was a beek up the Wangapeka but he lost most of his hives to varroa.Withthe big Nelson boy being on the,other side if the Wangapeka no wonder.Isolation and costs are the problem in Karamea.

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Thanks Roy,

 

We have a good drive around, including to Wangapeka, no sign of bee hives anywhere. We caught a rumor someone was planting out Manuka around Wangapeka for bee's, we spotted a few Manuka plantings but nothing of significance. This area is a good 15-20km south of our site, hopefully far enough away to not be a concern.

 

I have a good feeling about Karamea in general, plenty of red/white clover around and white rata in full bloom. We treated all the hives for varroa in the weekend in the hope we create a low varroa area. It was only 2 years ago my mate removed a european black bee wild hive from behind the wall inside his lounge, only to have another european bee swarm move in a few months later (presumably from the bush?), we figured this may be a sign of a lack of varroa in this specific area or it happened to be tolerant to varroa.

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When you say 25 km,do you mean by roador on the map in a straight line.Do not forget any honey after 31/12 has to be tested for tutin as Karamea is above the,line.Vedy little Manuka around that I know of.

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Straight line, including running over several hills, and valleys. Did not know about the tutin.

 

As long as we can sustain some kind of closed breeding population we will be happy.

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You have to make it your priority to know all the regulations or you stuff it up for other beeks. I magine if someone had died from eating your honey

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Arebyou going to leave the beehives their all year or are you going to mve them in and out.?If you are going to leave them there I hope you are going to be prepared to feed them.The queens lay all year rounsup there as it is so warm.Not a lot of feed in the winted.Glasson s reckon on a bag of sugar /hive to gt them through.Yo will need to raise a lot of drones because the dark drones fly earlier in the spring than the yellow ones do.Just some thoughts.No one has eved been a commercial beek up there sorry Jack Wilkes was.No one ever moved bees in and out of Karamea.Gary Jefferies had a site on the Westport said of the Bluff.It would be wise to talk to him.

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^ Yes we are hoping to keep them there, but may split the operation across Canterbury/Karamea, though there ain't much in the way of suitable sites in Canterbury here, we may have an opportunity to be on the beech close to Ashley gorge.

 

A bag of sugar? Are you talking a 20kg bag? We are going to go on a big planting this Autumn, planting Tasmanian blue gum, willows, bee loving natives, tree lucerne, and whatever species we can to get nectar/pollen source over winter.

 

I'm glad the pace is relatively free of commercials, the spring weather may still pose an issue for breeding? If the queens breed over winter, could it be possible to start breeding at the end of winter?

 

Thanks or all ya help, we have a S... ton to learn.

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Im trying to get a handle on what you are proposing to do in Karamea.

 

How many nucs will you run? Over how many sites?

Will you be doing your cell raising in Canterbury and transporting them to Karamea? How many drone hives will you be running?

 

You will be spending all your time travelling!

Also to sustain bees with nectar and pollen by planting would take many hectares of land and thousands of trees.

.

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No problem over the winter but think bout your spring build up.The bees come out of the winter looking great but come end of September October spring dwindling.When I talk about sugar a 25kg bag per hive.There is no significant nectar source until the Kamahi comes into bloom late October early November.Tell exactly what youplan to do and,I can help.

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Im trying to get a handle on what you are proposing to do in Karamea.

.

 

So am I, this idea is all new to us and we really at the beginning stage of considering it, as you know I have little experience, so just seeing how it would work.

 

Why Karamea? Well my friend has about 150hectare bit of land, with half of it being native bush, that's pretty much sitting there doing nothing, plenty of room for trees and we probably can plant 1000's of trees if it's worth while.

 

In terms of cell raising, would like to keep alot of it in Karamea if the weather plays ball, if not then we will have to transport to chase the weather, however that's even if we can find a good site over Canterbury ways. Alot of the motivation for Karamea is merely the place to retain some kind of closed breeding population.

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If you are doing cell raising in Karamea one of you will live there for the season?

 

Why do you want a closed population?

What is it that you are breeding in your bees that it needs to be closed?

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Why do you want a closed brreding site.What are you breeding for.Do not forget theirare still feral survivors out there.

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Why? Ain't that a desirable thing for breeding? I would like to have control over both queen and drone blood lines if I decide to retain some traits. Perhaps I'm over exaggerating the importance of this?

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