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  1. 26 points
    Hello everyone I am a Male father of 3, Geographer, Master in engeneering that as a good renegade became beekeeper in 2003 because of fighting corruption I lost my job and probably will never have a job again in what I used to do: Rural Services (water, electricity and the like). As I decided to became beekeeper when having wife, kids and a mortgage there was no way to start small and grow. So I decided to try a new model and associated with an avocado grower that need 1000 hives for pollination. Looks like I became a good beekeeper because I was invited by another grower, this time blueberry, to started in 2006 a second project for 2500 hives. I ended my relation with the avocado grower and keep on growing in hives with the blueberry producer, that became also an avocado, cherry and almond producer. We manage between 4000 and 5000 hives at Chile at the moment (you know, we grow in spring and lost hives in winter ) ... in 2015 I was invited to assist another company at Peru, here the project is for 12.000 hives and we are already close to 9000 hives La Libertad province. As a good engenier I like to solve problems, so started to develop diets for the bees, ways to eliminate virus, a good varroa control and now developing schemes forplanting for the bees. There is no way to get bored. Well, the use of Oxalic with glicerin was develop by argentinian beekeepers The Prieto brothers who had been using oxalic in all there form (dribled, sublimation, etc) and with the help of another beekeeper Fernando Esteban ended up with this great Idea of mixing with glicerin and develop monoxalate that when soaked on cardboard strip became an excellent contact treatment. I have been using it non stop since end of 2014 at Chile and end of 2015 at Perú. Fernando and I pushed Randy to try it because we new that if it had his approval lots of beekeepers around the world will benefit with this solution. Still do not know why Randy changed the method for those towels, since it is a contact treatment It must be placed between the frames. The way it is deployed with in the hive is directly proportional to its results. To have over 90% control you MUST cover 8 of the 11 between frames (or super) spaces. I recomend to change the strips after 15 days for a full treatment and also do sugar shaker monitoring before and after treatment. We monitor constantly and treat when varroa is getting closer to 1% (3 varroas in 300 bees). After all this years that end up been between 3 to 4 months between treatments. Because at Perú temperature is constantly higher - much like a constant spring - we still have lots of noise in our monitoring (Varroa Bombs?) so we will change the protocol to 3 repetitions separated 12 days one from the other so as to been able to break the varroa cycle. I end up saying sorry if I do not participate muchand lurks lots, but really I do not have much time with so many hives and people to manage ... Cheers and thanks for existing because I learn lots of you kiwi beekeepers !!!!
  2. 14 points
    We are coping with temps over 30C and at least next week also.. Really dry and hot.. Bees strong ( too strong), not rarely with 10 frames of brood.. Now I can see starting of making honey arches.. There will be quite an army to feed overwinter.. But I believe they know what are doing.. Some queens failed and I will merge mostly with others, since I am motivated to reduce the colony numbers.. The hazelnuts are now in focus for me..
  3. 12 points

    Version 1.2


    A Summary of the OA/GL Staples Thread.
  4. 11 points
    My apologies for the delayed response. I have just had a very busy and rewarding trip, bouncing around the world promoting wonderful New Zealand honey. I can only give my opinion and view on this topic. There is no single answer that explains the current market position of Manuka honey and the demand both domestically and internationally. There is no doubt that change is occurring and that some markets are maturing and new markets are emerging and others are just starting to really blossom. Whether you are busy and successful or not is dependent upon your brand or brands and the markets you choose to target. I see growing awareness, acceptance, appreciation, reputation and want for Manuka Honey in more and more large international markets. I also see buyer confusion and concern over standards and quality. I still see confusion with labelling and grading systems. Anecdotal, word of mouth, positive feed back for Manuka Honey is spreading faster than I have seen before. Yet, as an industry we are not ready to capitalise on the opportunity. We are not unified in our direction and approach. As an industry we are very immature and a short term, fast cash get rich quick mentality still permeates many quarters. We are very poor at self policing. In fact there are plenty in the industry that treat standards and labelling laws as a burden and costly interference. There will never be a $billion Manuka industry for NZ while these people companies exist. As fast as markets emerge and grow they will be the first to undermine and cause long term damage. I have just travelled extensively and the junk I have seen offered and portrayed as Manuka honey is in my opinion a disgrace and embarrassment. Firstly lets put to bed the Australian issue. It does not look smell or taste like real Manuka. It is like treacle or molasses. It is just honey with MGO. On its own this would be no threat to a united industry with fortitude, foresight and 20+ years of science. As it is, not only can we not agree and join together and garner Government support for the defence and the protection of the name Manuka. We actually have New Zealand producers trading in and offering Australian Manuka as an alternative at a lower price. What does this say for our position? What does it do for our argument? Next we have companies that flaunt the essence of the law. Those companies that ship bulk honey off shore to knowingly pack under far looser, less stringent labelling requirements. The MPI Manuka Honey definition is there for a reason. Like it or not it is there to formalise compliance and strengthen the New Zealand Manuka honey brand and reputation for quality. Those that look for legal grey areas to avoid or get around the standard, simply reduce respect, quality and value of the industry. Next we have the often deliberate confusion and false, detrimental marketing surrounding the use of variable grading systems. UMF and MGO still cause confusion. While UMF appears to be strengthening standard requirements, MGO on its own seems to be often used to confuse. There are many brands that promote MGO 30, 50 and 70 as Manuka honey with the words 'blend' or 'multi floral' very small, unclear or obscurely positioned. The UK is a prime example of a large market that has been saturated with lesser quality product, poor product education and now has a unnaturally low perception of the real value. Then we have China. The golden goose. The number of brands available are countless. Most I have never heard of. Most will not be there next year or the year after but will probably be replaced by the next brand who thinks the market is easy only to realise that the only marketing tool they posses is price. Even the biggest brands seem to be forever chasing volume at the expense of value and credibility. Buy 1 get one free, 50% discount, buy 2 get one free etc etc is common place. I did not see the same discounting for top Champaign, caviar, perfume and branded clothing etc So back to New Zealand and Manuka Inc. One year does not define a market and direction. There are some major corrections taking place. Some very large producers and brands are suffering or reversing and have reduced or stopped buying. Previous errors and direction are coming home to roost. The converse is that other companies and brands are emerging and defining a new standard and direction and value proposition. Genuinely exciting New product development will move Manuka honey to a new level and into new markets. I see growth opportunity every where I look and many untapped markets. From a personal perspective we see multiple new business enquiries every single day. The majority are Manuka related. Many have agressive price expectations. Some tick all the boxes and are worth developing. Time scales are often quite long for new business development but I see a very strong sales pipeline for the next three years. I am not looking beyond that at this point. Adam
  5. 11 points
    Thanks for all the advice this year from new & experienced beeks alike. And thanks to all the other newbees brave enough to ask the questions I couldn’t. Happy holidays.
  6. 10 points
    Push it over the line @Philbee Over 70 loads @ 2-2.5 cube on one of my wintering sites ready for shifting tonight Shifted 55 more hives to my wintering site, 20hour day yesterday finishing at 12:30 and unloading this morning at 9am then went on to put staples in and feed 3 sites with a bit of chainsaw clearing to let some light in
  7. 10 points
    OK ... time for another thought for the day. I always quite enjoy watching her Majesty The Queen's Speech ..... She's always so down to earth and generally hits the nail on the head about why we are here ..... for whether we like it or not we are here and generally it's about Faith, Family and Friendship. What more to life is there ? The same could be said about the honey industry. It's about building relationships .... Packers with Bee keepers and vica versa. Some people get a buzz opening hives and driving land cruisers down tracks axle deep in mud. Others get a buzz from working budgets and margins and squeezing honey into pots. The point is we are all interconnected, but that guy that gets a thrill from planting it through the mudout is possibly not very adept on the spreadsheet, just as the shiny butt on his computer would totally screw up the mission to get to the Bee yard. The Bee man has the skill to squeeze a crop from his bees in a lean year. The marketer has the skill to squeeze a few extra dollars from the pot on the shop shelf. If the marketer can grow the market, then the Bee man is happy to run more hives. The marketer has more honey to sell ..... everyone benefits. No Market, no honey .... so the bee man goes and drives a truck for Westland. It's a lose lose situation. The fact is , it's about family and friendship and growing a strong community where everyone makes a dollar and feels a valued part of it. But it probably starts at the pointy end with the Marketer getting out there into the world with his skill and contacts to crank the organ. It might be a dirty job, but it needs doing. So ... the New Years message to our big time honey exporters . Get out there and crank the organ coz us monkeys are waiting to dance.
  8. 9 points
    Okay. I'm going to be a bit harsher here. Feral hives living in rotten old trees still die from varroa. Pseudo-scorpions were a nice idea that was looked at quite closely and found to have no real relevance in varoa control. It's another one of those small cell size, foodgrade mineral oil, nasturtiums planted out the front of the hive, top bar hive, AMM, screen bottom boards et cetera ideas that might have worked but didn't and never will. There is little enough money for research without throwing it away. If you want something useful to spend research money on then how about looking at getting parasites from Australia to deal with the passion vine hopper. It's costing beekeepers millions of dollars each year and the kiwifruit industry over $30 million a year, plus it is implicated in the spreading of cabbage tree die back as well as debilitating other native plants. It may be that there are no suitable parasites and it may be that even if there are they won't work but it has got to be worth a try. Pseudo-scorpions have already had their chance.
  9. 9 points
    So this year I got no honey at all... But ive learnt about swarming, queen failure, varoa and wasp pressure. I’ve also rediscovered the fun of local honey, yum. Nothing better than going out for a coffee and leaving with an extra treat for later. Or being given a sympathy jar from a more successful colleague at work Get out out there and buy local.
  10. 9 points
    Randy found that in the dry climate of California shop towels worked in singles However in the humid State of Georgia they were much less effective because Georgia has a humid climate and the Glycerol in the towel outside the Brood nest absorbs that moisture ruining the Oxalic solution. Our New Zealand climate can do the same. However when the shop towel is used in a Double there is a higher chance that it will be within the climate controlled zone of the Brood Nest and therefore work better than in a single. This contributed to the inconsistent results from OA/GL Shop Towel system in New Zealand. Staples on the other hand are much more suitable than shop towels for placement between the frames within the Brood Nest where the Humidity is highly regulated. Shortly I will post a video of still shots of Late Autumn Hives in outstanding condition, all with Staples inserted within the Brood Nest. Here is a Video of stills that I threw together today while out and about tending to my Staple Efficacy trial The hives in the video are Hives opened consecutively for photos and not the pick of the bunch, just typical Hives in my operation. They have all been treated exclusively with Staples for 2 or more seasons and this season just spring and Autumn. Vast majority have low to zero mite counts after a month of treatment and will bolt through to Spring Every one of them has Staples in the Brood nest https://youtu.be/VmFuFjc8JZQ There may be a couple of double up photos, That 4 parts/6 parts works out to 31% OA by weight Does that sound about right to you?
  11. 9 points
  12. 8 points
    Hopefully me. I’m having another baby 😅🤣
  13. 8 points
    I gotta say as far as the staples go I’m very happy.. round 2 of my own bees complete. Drone production in full swing, no mites seen, fresh staples been in for 4 weeks, bees are clean as a whistle and building well. A trickle of nectar coming in at last.. willow still 3 weeks away. Have split anything building queen cups (14%) Only about 5% are chewing out the EPs. Around 12% lost population this time round.. with 7% creating supercedure cells upon fresh staple placement. Most have been torn down. happy as Larry.
  14. 8 points
    On the matter of placement. Ive always put mine in a straight line and killed the Mites but Ive also always had a split Brood as a result That is the Spring Hive has Brood at one end and stores at the other with the row of staples as the boundary. It never bothered me because at least the Hive was healthy and that really what my goal was. Recently Ive realised that the square pattern layout in the central part of the Box is probably a step up. I might try it this season.
  15. 8 points
    Just shows even a beginner can do it. Well done Hayden, if everyone was as good as you we would likely have eliminated AFB from New Zealand.
  16. 8 points
    Here's a couple of July Hives at 550m
  17. 8 points
    A year ago I opened the hives to the horror of seeing mites on bees , so I permanently binned synthetic strips. I then embarked upon successfully halting the decline and recovering them with @Philbee OA staples, mid Winter . Today I started on my June round of beekeeping , which involves checking where the brood is and moving the staples back into the middle of it and the cluster . So it's been 12 months since I started with staples and I will not use anything else. The bees are healthy , all of them . Far better than ever for winter . I believe it's vital to move the staples back into the cluster , monthly , Autumn and winter 😊😊
  18. 8 points
    Still in the drawing board stage, but some knowledgeable people working on this. QUOTE - The basis of the innovation is quite simple. When the queen bee eats something with pathogens in it, the pathogen signature molecules are bound by vitellogenin. Vitellogenin then carries these signature molecules into the queen’s eggs, where they work as inducers for future immune responses. Before this, no-one had thought that insect vaccination could be possible at all. That is because the insect immune system, although rather similar to the mammalian system, lacks one of the central mechanisms for immunological memory – antibodies. "Now we've discovered the mechanism to show that you can actually vaccinate them. You can transfer a signal from one generation to another," researcher Dalial Freitak states...... PrimeBEE's first aim is to develop a vaccine against American foulbrood, a bacterial disease caused by the spore-forming Paenibacillus larvae ssp. larvae. American foulbrood is the most widespread and destructive of the bee brood diseases. "We hope that we can also develop a vaccination against other infections, such as European foulbrood and fungal diseases. We have already started initial tests. The plan is to be able to vaccinate against any microbe". https://www.helsinki.fi/en/news/sustainability-news/the-first-ever-insect-vaccine-primebee-helps-bees-stay-healthy
  19. 8 points
    Looks like we are going to do something with UV detection. Setting out sugar water, with UVpens marking the trays somehow. Seeing if there is a colour preference. We may also look at the minimum sugar concentrations they can detect and will they go for a weaker solution that has a brighter UV signal. As she is a Year 12 their has to be a fair bit of science in it. We are going get on to next year's fair in spring for a bigger project. I have had this girl entering every year since year 9. She has won gold twice and got bronze for her first time in the senior section.
  20. 8 points
    @john berry just for you! Here are a bazillion baby photos. The videos are cute too but I have no idea how to do those
  21. 7 points
    Life's about ballance, Iv gone down over 50 hives so far, I'm not making my losses back and I'm just putting brood from outside to outside of my singles. That's the only way I could think of getting rid of my non profit sites so that I have a bit more time with my family instead of working 7days a week
  22. 7 points
    This was how we ran them at the start this time last season and later found we had cut the brood nest in half .. a small percentage of them layed past staples but majority didn’t which affected expansion of the nest. We now run a leg in every seam and alternate ends of the frames. Works for us. Always placed on outside edge of the brood, like say half on the brood and half on the pollen/stores band surrounding brood. For us that is most effective. A full box of bees gets 4, a double brood both boxes full of bees with brood gets 7 . A box of bees containing only 5 frames bees and couple small patches of brood I give 1... adding more as they expand up to a max of 4 in one box. Always wiping excess liquid off before placing. This works for us on our sites. We have done a full year ox staples only. First time we used them we lost bees but so far things appear fine this season. They MUST be with the brood and don’t appear anywhere near as effective if brood is away in the corner of the box post winter.
  23. 7 points
    I just spent two weeks wandering around the South Island taking an old mate on a boys trip. South Island roads are so much smoother and less potholed than the North Island roads. Beautiful bush almost everywhere and manuka all over the place including hundreds of acres sprayed to death on the Milford Road. Saw lots of hives but most seemed well spread out and not big sites. Roads were almost empty anywhere away from towns but I was a bit disappointed with roads like the hast pass and the Crown Road over Cardrona which while picturesque were not anywhere near as rugged as I was hoping for and we have more exciting roads here. Milford was a bit more real especially with heavy snow around both ends of the homer tunnel. I like where I live but the South Island is dropdead gorgeous.
  24. 7 points
    And the young guys are doing that as well ? Its a long bow to draw basing such a statement off one beekeeper in my opinion . I don’t like it when derogatory statements of fact are made about the old guard . To me it’s the old time beekeepers who are, on the whole, the real beekeepers. They are the ones that have been able to make a living from stuff all income. They are the ones that were labelled a bit weird when it was known they were beekeepers unlike today where it’s trendy. They are the beekeepers who had to deal with the arrival of varroa and they are the people who have watched as others have entered the industry with a pocket full of cash and no knowledge or care for bees and completely changed their way of doing business . I take my hat off to the old timers I’ve learnt so much from them and continue to learn. give me the knowledge and tenacity of an old timer over a young gun any day of the week.
  25. 7 points
    Just another opinion, personally i would not combine. Couple of reasons, firstly, with proper care the smaller hive can still survive the winter, it may need moving a few Km's to a buddies house to get it away from the wasps, after a month or two it could be brought back. But the main reason, if the hive is weak there could be a reason for that as in some type of infection. If that is the case, you don't want to dump it into the good hive. Me, I never dump struggling hives into good ones. If anything, I would add some brood and bees from a good hive to a small one that needs it, but not the other way around. However, that's just one opinion of many, so go with whatever works. Just some encouragement, a friend asked me to look at their hive as it was being attacked by wasps. Went there, took the lid off, and immediately a horde of wasps flew out. There were 100 or 200 bees left, scattered around, and the queen running around by herself. So i took the hive home and left it overnight so the bees could find each other and cluster. Also took a 1 kilo package of bees from another hive and left them queenless overnight. Next day sugar watered them and dumped them in. Had a look a week later and queen still alive, eggs being layed, bees cleaning out dead brood, things moving the right direction. Suspected possible varroa problem so put strips in. This hive will be ready to give back to the owner once brood starts hatching, so even the hopeless looking cases can be done.
  26. 7 points
    The old house is quiet tonight. I had an old mate up today. His boy brought him up riding shotgun on a sales trip. It's been one of those stunningly beautifull days in Te Wai Pounamu , that time of year when the trees start to turn and the mornings have an eye watering chill in them ,and the roar and the croak of the stags resound around the valley. The old mates' boy sells machinery, so seeing as the Can Am has been in the fix it shop for two weeks and they are having team meetings over what to do with it , I thought we should look at our options. There are always options. The stockman has been riding Shank's pony. He's been very polite about it. He always is. My new pony has been in the yards getting started ..... and he is a beauty .... a pure bred short coupled Arab that my mare from hell gave birth to eight years ago ..... but good things take time ..... So the Can Am is busted and it turns out my old mate's boy sells Mr Kubota's machinery. So they arrived at 8.00 am with the side by side on the trailer. We seem to go through the bikes. Side by sides, quad bikes, motorcross bikes ..... they all need fixing. The quads diff crapped out last week. The seal went on the back axle and the diff must have ran out of oil and ended up with one wheel drive. We won't talk about the Can Am. So we had a look at the Kubota . A 28hp three cylinder diesel that sounds like the Bobcat , powered by Kubota. She's got hydrostatic drive, oil immersed brakes, phenomenal engine braking on the descents ..... and a half tonne hydraulic tip deck. And she comes dressed in Camo. Eldest boy and Mum did the road testing. Old mate, his boy, and I followed in the cruiser. Climbed the dark side track to the top of the hill and sat in the sun absorbing the view of the foothills, the new snow on Mt Hutt, the mist in the Selwyn and the Torlesse ranges craggy skyline beckoning. And we talked of the old days .... back when .... when we worked for Airborne , about when old Arthur died up the Rakaia on his last mission to the bees, and had to be carted back to Leeston on the back of the bee truck, and the party's me other old mate had, who was my boss , when the young beekeepers passed out under the table at six o'clock ..... in the morning .... and the lack of high viz, and certificates .... and the phone calls on a thursday night to move a thousand bees out of pollination by the weekend and only armstrong cranes and grit to lift them. And as we sat in the sun and reflected .... Old mate , his Boy and I ..... and all was quiet as My boy and his mum went on daring deeds to try and kill the Kubota in some swamp hidden bog hole in the valley below .... I put it to old mate ..... "How d'ya grow such a good boy ?" 'Life and love. Lotsa love.'
  27. 7 points
    Saw these hives when having lunch on a Mekong River cruise They are right around the restaurant for the tourists Their bees are much smaller and very calm. Sampled some of the honey which is light and very runny. They served it with some pollen and tea made from pandan leaves. It was quite nice.
  28. 7 points
    No it isn't the same. And yes I can explain. When you choose to send in a composit sample you are hoping that it tests so far below the threshold that you know that all the batches in that composit must be OK. But if you send in a composit and it is close to the threshold, it means that a particular batch that is part of that composit might be over. You then have to test each batch to find out which one or ones it is. That is par for the course if you choose to mix up composit samples. It means that on this occasion your composit sample has tested close enough that one of the batches in it might be over, and that is the risk you knowingly took when you mixed up the composit. No one can reasonably complain about that, the result is what it is. You now have to test individually to find out which one is over, or, you can blend all your batches so you will have one batch which is under, just. And should have the same result as the composit sample you sent in.
  29. 7 points
    Some who sold out the corporate's were willing sellers and some were leaned on pretty heavily but the big difference between the corporate's and individuals is corporate's use somebody else's money and we have to use our own. It would be financial suicide for an individual to try and match the kind of money they were throwing round for hives and sites. Some of those hives are now coming back on the market, some of those apiary sites have changed hands two or three times in the last five years. Bankers seem to be totally naive and continue to finance corporate's that are losing millions of dollars every year and at least two of those operations are run by people that have been bankrupt before. Family businesses make far more profit per hive and pay far more taxes to keep the country running. Some of those corporate's also have a special relationship with the MPI which I also find deeply concerning.
  30. 7 points
    Which reminds me ..... we have a gully here on the farm full of goat carcasses. The previous owner got into goats .... but they ran rings around him. I think the moral to the story is that there is no quick 'Buck' ....... but slow and steady wins the day. Get onto Phil's staples, McKeowns fuel card, rice and beans for tea most nights to keep the costs down and when the conditions come right you will be alive and in a position to capitalise on it.
  31. 7 points
    There was a time when honey was just labelled as honey. Now we have pure, New Zealand, produced with organic principles, unadulterated, tested to the nth degree et cetera which has the unfortunate effect of making consumers wonder what is wrong with plain old honey. Even with manuka honey the only reason we needed a standard was there were so many people out there who were just plain dishonest. It's not hard to tell manuka honey from others. Now for the last few years of my beekeeping life I have to suffer for the greed, dishonesty and bull#### that a few greedy corporate's and individuals have brought into the world of bees. At least I have years of experience on how to run a business on the smell of an oily rag. I shouldn't say told you so that I have been predicting all this for a few years now. One last thing to look forward to. In the past every time there has been a major price correction there has also been a spike in AFB through neglected hives, and there are a lot more hives out there to be neglected then the used to be.
  32. 7 points
    I think these are tough times for a lot of people. We are no exception. Sometimes it's hard to stay positive when it seems like curved ball comes from every direction, but you know what ..... I start most days with six cups of coffee and take the dog for a walk. He does'nt care whether its raining or shining, he's just happy to be out there with dad. He goofs around and I put the day into perspective. Win or loose , I know I have many talents that I can put to use in another form of creativity when the crunch comes. the secret is knowing when to say when. I think if you are passionate about something you'll persevere and draw on some inner cunning to get you through the lean times. Kia kaha.
  33. 7 points
    Do yourself a favour and start with 3/4 format boxes !
  34. 7 points
    Bare foundation for swarms. The then use any potentially contaminated honey to make wax and bury the badness. Read the bible and then make a dozen mistakes, then read it again and realise you should have read it more carefully the first time. Get registered. Do your AFB course. And dredge every bit of help from your friendly beek. This is forum is GOLD.
  35. 6 points
    A more accurate statement would be “Almost everyone here has decided they don’t like the look of the ad” To say it’s because of the colour of the honey or a spelling mistake? I think your being a little obtuse. Feeding unknown honey to beehives is super dumb, if you don’t know that then you shouldn’t have bees. Selling honey to others as spring feed honey is irresponsible, failing to answer pertinent questions on your dodgy listing implies you are shady, and withdrawing the listing confirms all of the above. If I have concerns I’m going to say what I really think, I’m not going to pussy foot around to protect people’s feelings when they are doing something that is DUMB 😊 Do I want to mentor someone like that? Haha no.
  36. 6 points
    I see the latest Beekeeper magazine came out today with twice as much advertising material. I don't mind getting the magazine as it has some good information, but it does annoy me that a lot of trees have died just so I can throw it into the recycle bin unread.
  37. 6 points
    I should add that I for one would be happy to revert back to a much simpler way of life - self sufficiency is something that has always been close to my heart. I just don’t think the majority of society have the will or the ability to take that leap and the small changes being made eg single use supermarket bags will not make enough of a difference to halt the global warming trend.
  38. 6 points
    Everyone knows honeybee females (queens) mate at the beginning of their adult life and are then unable to mate again. A queen mates with many males (drones), often on a single occasion but sometimes after multiple flights in successive days. The mating is very quick, not more than 5 seconds and perhaps no more than one or two seconds, after which the male is paralysed and dies. Competition between males in a mating congregation occurs, mostly as a result of size and power, and some selection operates seemingly on the basis of flight altitude, different strains favouring different heights. A single drone congregation area might contain more than 20,000 drones from potentially hundreds of colonies, and the chance of an individual male being able to mate more than once would be very low. In honeybees therefore it’s not surprising a male expends his entire effort mating with a single queen, and not surprising that probably his best chance of improving his reproductive success is posthumous sperm competition. Queens, at least during mating, appear to have very little ability to choose the paternity of her offspring, but there are good reasons to suppose her interest is in being able to produce a sizeable range of genetic characteristics. Variation is good for managing conflict in a social group, protecting the colony from diseases and environmental change, and providing progressive, adaptable worker performance. Especially in honeybees, as she can never mate again, she has a particular interest in actually opposing or counteracting individual males’ reproductive success, negating sperm competition and choosing diversity. This ‘choice’ is said to be ‘cryptic’, because it is hidden from the male (Eberhard, 1996). Queens are estimated to lay about 200,000 eggs each year; something like 1.0 – 1.6 million fertilised eggs in her 5 – 8 year lifetime. Some hymenoptera (species of ants) do better by a significant margin, producing 8 million workers fertilised by sperm stored for decades. Much more sperm are stored in the spermatheca (in the order of 5 million) than will be needed. Drones will produce between 2 million and 12 million spermatozoa each, and at the end of a mating flight a queen might contain 200 million or so temporarily housed in her oviducts, vagina, and bursa copulatrix. Only around 2.5% of the sperm she acquires during mating is stored, and even less are actually used (think an average two per egg over her lifetime). Spermatozoa can be stored for many years and retain viability. Paternity studies have shown it is completely mixed and used equitably. Discovered in 1905 the key to this remarkable economy of sperm use is something called a Bresslau sperm pump. This structure sits between the spermathecal and the spermathecal duct, a valve in muscular tissue that, if you like, ‘reaches in’ and grabs a constant volume of spermathecal fluid (containing sperm) and transports it out to the eggs. (After mating it ‘pumps’ in the opposite way, filling the spermatheca). While the fluid volume is replaced and always stays the same, the density of spermatozoa it contains gradually declines. The Bresslau sperm pump is also found in ants. With the instruments available nowadays it’s actually possible to count sperm on eggs. Just how bees, wasps and any are able to keep spermatozoa alive for so long eludes a complete explanation, but in short, by an extreme conservation of energy and reduction in oxidative stress. Both seminal fluid and spermathecal fluid must have a role in providing a habitat that nourishing the cells, reduces oxidative stress, and protects them from pathogens, but it’s most likely spermathecal fluid evolved to maximise their long-term viability. Studying spermathecal fluid from virgins and mated queens shows they do differ, but also have some functional similarity with some elements in seminal fluid. Drones too store sperm, although not for as long. In a process that takes at least 40 hours it appears that the storage ‘environment’ is gradually changed from semen to a receptive queen’s spermathecal fluid, to a mated queen’s spermatheca. Spermatozoa in the spermathecal fluid ‘acclimatise’ to their new environment and begin to metabolise very, very slowly, essentially ‘outsourcing’ some of their vital functions to the female environment. In particular, while spermatozoa are able to metabolise aerobically, in storage there is evidence to suggest they switch to anaerobic energy production using a partly metabolised product in spermathecal fluid to limit the release of damaging Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS). As well, the spermatheca is a bead-like organ with two spermathecal glands situated outside a hard sclerotized wall impervious to oxygen. By comparison to other organs the spermatheca has significantly lower oxygen concentrations inside. Spermathecal fluid is also known to contain many highly-active antioxidant enzymes, and these increase if we compare virgins with mated queens. It's become well documented in many species that males don't just transfer spermatozoa during copulation but include a complex mixture of molecules, anti-oxidants, ions and cells other than spermatozoa, including sometimes pathogenic micro-organisms. These male compounds have a variety of functions. Some directly affect the sperm’s survival in the female’s reproductive tract, providing nutrition, pH and osmotic buffering, and defences against oxidizing agents. Other products have important effects on the physiology and behaviour of the female, such as promotion of sperm transport, and inducing ovulation or oviposition. We are now beginning to realise that seminal fluid contains molecules that have a demonstrable effect on gene expression, and that a number of proteins cross the vaginal wall into haemolymph where they can bind to receptors on neurons directly affecting nerve signalling. A somewhat surprising example, consistent with other insect studies and earlier work, establishes a (short-term) loss of visual ability in queens linked to a peptide transferred in male semen. The effect is that queens are less inclined to undertake further mating flights (because they can’t see properly), but with the consequence that the queen tries to fly earlier if she can, before the loss becomes too debilitating. Males have no interest in queens flying to mate with more males. The scientists used RNA-sequencing to look at the changes in gene expression following artificial insemination, comparing them with naturally inseminated queens and queens inseminated with a saline control. They were able to identify the changed genes as ones known to be associated with functions that mostly enable vision. They then carried out a similar exercise, but this time measured the actual performance of the eyes (all of them!), things like their response to different light frequencies, and sensitivity to visual contrast. Last, they used RFID tags to monitor natural flight activity (and queen loss) after the same set of treatments (insemination, mock insemination etc). Each set of experiments indicated that queen’s visual performance deteriorated 24 – 48 hrs after receiving seminal fluid, and they were more likely to be lost on subsequent mating flights. The same effect has been observed in other studies of fruit flies, a parasitoid wasp, and in the bumble bee Bombus terrestris, suggesting that this ability to manipulate female mating using components of seminal fluid could be widespread or even universal amongst Hymenoptera and perhaps all insects. Further reading Boris Baer, Sexual selection in Apis bees. Apidologie 36 (2005) 187–200, INRA/DIB-AGIB/ EDP Sciences. DOI: 10.1051/apido:2005013 Boris Baer, Jason Collins, Kristiina Maalaps & Susanne P. A. den Boer. Sperm use economy of honeybee (Apis mellifera) queens. Ecology and Evolution 2016; 6(9): 2877–2885 doi: 10.1002/ece3.2075 Laura M. Brutscher, Boris Baer, and Elina L. Niño. Putative Drone Copulation Factors Regulating Honey Bee (Apis mellifera) Queen Reproduction and Health: A Review. Insects 2019, 10, 8; doi:10.3390/insects10010008 G Koeniger et al (1988) Assortative mating in a mixed population of European honeybee Apis mellifera ligustica and Apis mellifera carnnica. Insectes Sociaux, Paris Vol36, No2, pp.129-138 Liberti et al. Seminal fluid compromises visual perception in honeybee queens reducing their survival during additional mating flights eLife 2019;8:e45009. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.45009 Boris Baer et al, Insights into female sperm storage from the spermathecal fluid proteome of the honeybee Apis mellifera. Genome Biology 2009, 10:R67 (doi:10.1186/gb-2009-10-6-r67) Ellen Paynter, A. Harvey Millar, Mat Welch, Barbara Baer-Imhoof, Danyang Cao & Boris Baer. Insights into the molecular basis of long-term storage and survival of sperm in the honeybee (Apis mellifera). Scientific Reports, (2017) 7:40236, doi: 10.1038/srep40236 Niño EL, Malka O, Hefetz A, Tarpy DR, Grozinger CM (2013) Chemical Profiles of Two Pheromone Glands Are Deferentially Regulated by Distinct Mating Factors in Honey Bee Queens (Apis mellifera L.). PLoS ONE 8(11): e78637. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0078637 J. Woyke (1983) Dynamics of Entry of Spermatozoa into the Spermatheca of Instrumentally inseminated Queen Honeybees, Journal of Apicultural Research, 22:3, 150-154, DOI: 10.1080/00218839.1983.11100579 Aldo Poiani, Complexity of seminal fluid: a review. Behav Ecol Sociobiol (2006) 60: 289–310. DOI 10.1007/s00265-006-0178-0 Eberhard, William. (1996) Female Control: Sexual Selection by Cryptic Female Choice. Princeton University Press, ISBN 0-691-01084-6
  39. 6 points
    And no-one rang to let you know.....pack of low lifes they must be.
  40. 6 points
    With regard leaving honey on, its about principle to me I resent being in a position where all the ticket clippers get to make their margin and the poor old beek gets whats left even worse a bill'. Id rather not work hard to make them money, getting non myself. What really peeved me off was to see one extraction outfit put their prices up as Honey went down. As for your comment about why do I keep Bees, Im sure you didnt mean that in a bad way but if you did just consider for a moment that those Bees have contributed to this industry in ways that a few tonne of Honey never will. So, I have my own reasons for Beekeeping and thankfully I dont need to sell Honey but I do need my Bees. Also, Palletized Hives in the context of this discussion is about Varroa not production. Whatever studies might have been done in the past are not necessarily relevant in today's environment because today's Varroa environment is different from the past. Lots of things are different.
  41. 6 points
    2 hives ¾ frames 10 frames boxes. No blower and before you know it you’ll have enough gear for 4 hives, 3 nucs 2 turtle doves & a partridge in a pear tree
  42. 6 points
    I reduced my plastic frames as follows: Make 4 small cuts in the 2 vertical beam, but leave the beam longer by 8mm or so. With a boxcutter, cut off the excess of plastic foundation. You can cut it an break it off. Take the end bar (with or without a slit) of a wooden frame (maybe you have some broken lying around) Cut wooden bar to size. Drill two holes per vertical (plastic frame) for the nails to go in. Place wooden bar in place and lock in place with the nails. Works for me, a bit of work but the frame doesn't warp. Photo's attached.
  43. 6 points
    killed this one the other day, photo doesn't do it much justice as I had to drop it to get it under 2 mb, but gives you an idea, was inside a container
  44. 6 points
    I agree. We need a lot of further discussion to figure out a way forward for the whole industry. This will not happen until all groups sit around a table and leave all old baggage at the door. It is time to talk together. Not be talked at by any group or individual.
  45. 6 points
    We've got fresh staples into the majority of hives over the past month or so as we're pulling honey. They staples are also going into all the nucs that are being made up. Mites levels are very low, but @philbee is right - don't leave it any later to get a treatment in because this is the start of the danger time. The staples in a reasonable hive seem to lose their tang (via the taste test) after a month or so, so we'll be looking at treating again. Beware late in Autumn too - this is where I got really smashed last year on some sites as I became a bit complacent. Re-invasion is very real and can be very nasty. I think that if the staples are a bit wet the solution can effect the bees negatively/kill bees, so dry them off if you need to, on the edge of the pail or the edge of the hive or on your bee-suit/overalls (yes I know I shouldn't but I do). As soon as you think you are on top of the mites give yourself a kick because its right at that time you need to be vigilant. Apologies for the lecture! Just passing on some hard earned lessons. I think @sailabee cracked it with the theory that younger bees can be effected by OA/Gly as their skeleton is so new/soft.
  46. 6 points
    The yard of bees in question was very strong in the spring. We broke it up for nucs and treated evrything with O/A staples. The bees grew like crazy and have excelled themselves as far as making honey is concerned. Some of the hives chewed the staples out quite quickly. I think possibly we should have put more in when supering up, but were still functioning on a synthetic strip mentality of pull the strip, super up and hope like heck they make through the summer. In reality the hives were treatement free for almost three months .....
  47. 6 points
    All my hives have had staples in from Nov/Dec. Oxalic acid is a natural constituent in honey. There is some info here: http://beespoke.info/2014/12/21/summer-oxalic-acid-varroa-treatment/ Previous studies have shown there is no significant increase in oxalic acid levels as a result of oxalic treatments - vapourising etc. As far as I am am concerned, treatment during Summer is one of the most important times of the year to be treating given the high brood production through that period. Low or no mite levels at harvest = healthy hives = no Autumn losses = much happier BK than last Autumn.
  48. 6 points
    As an aside, I think this will be a good year for us as our cost's have dropped dramatically. Phi'ls staples have saved us thousands, the upgrade to copper broadband internet has saved us another pile of dough, while today I got more good news with the McKeowns fuel bill ...... $1.12/litre. The price at the pump was $1.38, but with their card there was more saving. Good on yer guys !
  49. 6 points
    Thing is, this was a very extreme case. I'd like to see some of the less extreme cases be dealt with also. If it's deliberate, and causes pain to others, then it should be prosecutable. Some people have lost tens of thousands of dollars, and even into the 6 figures, due to the pig ignorance of someone else. And no compensation is ever paid cos it can never be proved the guilty party was 100% the cause.
  50. 6 points
    Have a look at Tudors Easy Beekeeping resource in the downloads area, it is a fabulous aid too. It’s in its draft form as chapters are added and will be published hopefully. 3/4 boxes have many advantages over full depth. I started with 3/4 boxes and am very glad I did so, a weighty honey laden full depth box can be quite something to heft. Thanks to my mentor providing a full depth nucleus recently I now have a dogs breakfast of mixed sizes, but will convert back using Tudors resource and Trevs Bees videos which are also excellent. This forum has been pivotal in keeping me on the right track and you will get a lot of swift and accurate advice in sticky situations. Keep us updated ?
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