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Posts posted by Otto

  1. A few more photos of the observation hive. It holds 3 3/4 frames and is double glazed perspex (Dad built it for me). Has a mesh floor and board you can pull out to check for mites. Also has ventilation holes (the ones my son is listening to intently.

    First three photos are my boys looking at the hive in our lounge after I first put bees in it and then a couple of it installed in the classroom.DSC07172.jpg.7722f088ce046fc7a416db8f841813c5.jpg





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  2. The beekeeper side of me loves the idea of bees in schools, of course.


    As the parent of a child with a genuine anaphylactic allergy to bee stings.... to be honest, yes.. I'm ambivalent.


    I know there's always the possibility of her encountering a beesting, wherever she is.


    I also know there is a much higher likelihood of her encountering bees in the vicinity of a hive. That's why I no longer bring home hives to breed my own queens - it's too high risk.


    I know that our local school playing field this year has been straight grass (mostly dead and dry!), with no apparent clover. But before I would be happy for a hive in the school grounds, I would want to know that a grass sward without clover or flowers was policy, not just coincidence.


    I know that the gardens are mostly shrubbery for hard wear and low maintenance. Without having noticed in particular to date, I would want to check those plantings (which tend edge walkways) to know they were not going to flower and become bee attractive.


    I know we've taught her as well as we can for her age to avoid bees. I know she knows if she is ever stung to run for a grownup and yell 'I have a beesting! I need my medicine! Call an ambulance!" I know she knows she could die.


    I also know she has no idea of her own mortality. I know, no matter what I tell her, in her heart she believes that dying means you lie still for a few minutes and then get up and carry on, just like in the cartoons.


    I know that she is a budding entomologist with insatiable curiosity... Friday's tally of "Emma Collectibles" at daycare was a praying mantis, a cricket, and two different species of spider. Today, she spent 15 minutes lying on her tummy a foot from a queen bumble bee, carefully pushing fresh picked flowers towards the bee.


    I know that however brilliant she is, when she is in the company of her friends and the thrill of whatever the game is takes over, everything we have taught her to avoid stings.. wearing shoes.. looking before touching and so on... ceases to exist.


    and I know what it feels like to hold her as she starts to lose consciousness and goes limp in my arms.


    She's only three now. Her daycare is low risk, and the staff are trained and she is always within about 40 feet of a teacher.


    Perhaps I'll feel better as she gets older. The thought of a hive in an intermediate or high school does not particularly phase me, assuming the school could satisfy me on those issues of plantings.


    At primary school?


    As a beekeeper I understand the risks.


    As a parent I understand the impacts.


    I guess you could call me 'one of those parents' if you like.

    Very good to hear this side - especially from someone who loves and keeps bees. Must create a few difficult dilemmas for you.


    I certainly wouldn't lump you into the same category as the parent concerned at my son's school though. In this case we were told the child 'might be' allergic to bees. My assumption is he had a reaction to something in the past and they have no idea what it actually was.


    I did move the hive out yes. Instead we are going to set up a school hive on a lifestyle property bordering the school. The hive will be in a paddock, a good 50 or so metres away from any houses or school buildings with a decent border of trees in between as well. Not really any further for the kids and me to go compared to the school garden it was in. I'm happier with this set-up too.


    Had there been a child with a diagnosed bee allergy the bees would never have been placed on school grounds. Having the bees there was discussed at length at board meetings and parents were told that the school was looking at getting a hive. The decision was that it would provide a great learning opportunity and there was no real reason to not have them. The 'might be' allergy only came up after the bees had been moved in.

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  3. cant stand top feeders another thing to lift off when working on the hive think about the extra 2000 bending motions per round : 1 for lifting them off and one for lifting them on. I have more enjoyable ways to wear my back out

    They don't work well when collecting propolis

    Bees glue them down with honey and wax

    Frame feeders are if set up correctly ie all on the same side etc are as easy to access as top feeders


    Currently using my top feeders for fire wood and thats all they are good for

    I prefer internal frame feeders too. Seem to be in the minority here though. Judging by their popularity you might be better off selling those top feeders rather than burning them Stephen. Could be worth a bit.

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  4. err... not exactly. They're patenting their versions of everyday vegetables - a fairly important distinction.


    Really, I wonder what the difference is between patent protection and PVR (plant variety rights) protection, which is commonly used when new varieties are developed by conventional breeding practices. Perhaps a patent might last longer than the 23 years afforded by PVR?

    I would expect that PVR is for a clonal line of plants propagated through dividing/cuttings/meristem culture/grafting etc and wouldn't apply to seed - i.e. asexual reproduction rather than sexual (just a guess, not something I've read up on). I do find the idea that you could enforce a patent for an inserted gene beyond the initial seed sold to farmers very worrying.


    Here's a hypothetical:

    What if I could genetically modify a honeybee by inserting a gene that makes them completely impervious to Varroa and patent the bee carrying this gene? Very strong selective pressure for this in the field so I could release it and sit back and sue or collect royalties from anyone that ends up with my gene in their bees.

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  5. They omit the mention of pollen itself as a key and discretely handled nutrient for honeybees. If there's a bit of p-coumaric in honey, surely there's a truckload more in actual gathered and stored pollen. Hard to imagine that the lack of a trace of p-coumaric in honey could be so detrimental compared to the high load in bee bread.

    I'm with you. If this is the case the primary cause for problems is going to be a pollen shortage, rather than having a honey substitute, rather than honey. I've no doubt that in the absence of pollen honey will be slightly better for the bees than sugar or HFCS but without protein the bees will go downhill regardless. Would be interesting to see if any of the compounds they found are in protein supplements used as pollen substitutes...

  6. See abstract of the paper below. I've had a quick skim over the paper and (to me) what it actually says that HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup) is not a complete replacement for honey. While honey is mostly sugar it also contains many other compounds and some pollen. In this paper the authors show that the several compounds, mainly found in pollen, are required for the bees to express genes involved in detoxification (e.g. breaking down of the miticide coumaphos so that it is less toxic to bees). These compounds were found in honey but not in HFCS.


    In the last sentence of the abstract the authors state that "the use of honey substitutes (including HFCS) MAY compromise the ability of bees to cope with pesticides and pathogens and contribute to honey bee losses". Please bear in mind that this is speculative and has not actually been tested experimentally (hence the "may").


    TAKE HOME MESSAGE FROM THIS PAPER: Honey is very likely a better food source for bees than sugar solution or HFCS, especially in the event of a pollen shortage.


    Honey constituents up-regulate detoxification and immunity genes in the western honey bee Apis mellifera



    As a managed pollinator, the honey bee Apis mellifera is critical to the American agricultural enterprise. Recent colony losses have thus raised concerns; possible explanations for bee decline include nutritional deficiencies and exposures to pesticides and pathogens. We determined that constituents found in honey, including p-coumaric acid, pinocembrin, and pinobanksin 5-methyl ether, specifically induce detoxification genes. These inducers are primarily found not in nectar but in pollen in the case of p-coumaric acid (a monomer of sporopollenin, the principal constituent of pollen cell walls) and propolis, a resinous material gathered and processed by bees to line wax cells. RNA-seq analysis (massively parallel RNA sequencing) revealed that p-coumaric acid specifically up-regulates all classes of detoxification genes as well as select antimicrobial peptide genes. This up-regulation has functional significance in that that adding p-coumaric acid to a diet of sucrose increases midgut metabolism of coumaphos, a widely used in-hive acaricide, by ∼60%. As a major component of pollen grains, p-coumaric acid is ubiquitous in the natural diet of honey bees and may function as a nutraceutical regulating immune and detoxification processes. The widespread apicultural use of honey substitutes, including high-fructose corn syrup, may thus compromise the ability of honey bees to cope with pesticides and pathogens and contribute to colony losses.

  7. I use an old Agee preserver. fits 12.5L water and 25kg sugar pretty much exactly. I add a teaspoon of citric acid then heat to almost boiling. Need to stir it quite a bit early on while the sugar dissolves. While still very hot I bottle it up into cleaned plastic milk bottles (these don't shrink when you put hot liquids into them). I've stored this for months and it's still fine.


    Heating serves several purposes.

    1) It ensures the sugar dissolves well.

    2) It kills nearly all bacteria/fungi etc that might grow in the sugar solution.

    3) In the presence of a little acid you get partial breakdown of sucrose to it's two constituent sugars (fructose and glucose). This is supposed to be healthier for bees that straight sucrose.


    The milk bottles are easy to carry to and from hives.


    If you need smaller amounts of sugar scale down and do it stove top in a stockpot.

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  8. We keep 6 nucs in a 'bee room' at work. Room is through two doors off our lab, which is behind swipe card access. Apiary is registered. Two years ago the local inspector showed up to do some testing. I showed him the set up and he decided he would be better off testing some extra hives elsewhere. I imagine the same would probably be done for an observation hive as getting strips in, putting sticky boards underneath etc is just going to be too much hassle and too time consuming.

  9. Had one of my hives inspected at the start of this week also. Inspectors must have landowners permission, otherwise they are trespassing. Had a conversation about this on a thread this time last year (can't remember the thread). The general agreement then was that landowners permission was a must but it is best if it is not pre-announced to beekeepers. Some beekeepers are known to move hives around if they know inspections are coming...

  10. it's a good thing if bees take a break in autumn. usually it means they are happy and relaxed about winter coming.

    i always feel good when my bees take a brood break. it marks the change to winter bees. and if they don't have to nurse any brood, they are excellent winter bees and will live for ever, well but at least till august/september.


    in some cases a brood break can mean that there is absolutely no pollen or nectar out there.

    you usually know because all beeks in the forum are depressed.

    I agree. My hives are in great shape going into this winter and think it is a good thing they have little brood left to nurse. They are stuffed full of honey and there's plenty of pollen.


    Roz - sorry, missed your other post re not having seen mites yet. Find it slightly surprising but sounds like you've been looking for them regularly so would have seen them if they are there. I would say keep doing what you're doing and treat when you see them with your monitoring.

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  11. hi janice, just wintered my hives down yesterday. chokka of honey and bees, but three hives no brood or eggs. couldnt find queen but then i dont usually when i look and eggs are present. i was wondering if your girls were laying alot at the moment. mine tend to slow right down after a few frosts, but i dont want them queenless into winter. will recheck next weekend. any advise appreciated - 3 year of beekeeping and first time this has happened.

    Hi Roz,

    Went through some of mine just over a week ago - same story. Lots of honey and bees, most had almost no brood. Last season I had a bunch of hives that had no brood in them in early March because we'd had a run of cooler weather. In april they had brood again as the weather was great. I wouldn't worry about the lack of brood, as long as there are lots of bees, they are calm and happy and you've done your mite treatments they'll be fine.

  12. It's fine to use carbaryl. There's nothing in the wasp nest for the bees and the nest is far enough away. Alternative would be to use some petrol - put a hose into the nest then quickly cover nest entrance with a bucketful of soil. Pour petrol into nest through hose, pull the hose out and you're done.

  13. Haven't seen any in my hives here either. Have never had a decent hunt for them but did see one on a piece of rimu bark I grabbed off a fallen tree on Stewart Island a few year back (the piece of bark just happened to have a native orchid attached to it).

  14. I would like to rule out starvation before thinking disease. When a hive goes hungry the brood is no longer fed and kept warm enough and you end up with some very messy looking brood, dead bees out front etc. That's not to say it can't be disease but if it has been hungry recently that would explain all these symptoms.


    PS. Good to see these pictures being posted. This is a great place to do some trouble shooting and get advice from experienced beekeepers.

  15. Do you believe then that if no-one treated their hives in any way for varroa, NZ would still have the honeybee in ten years time ?

    Can't say I understand why you would ask this. It is another thing that is not going to happen. I believe that we will always be in the position to keep Varroa (and whatever other pests might arrive) at bay through a combination of breeding more resilient bees and coming up with effective integrated pest management strategies that can work long term. It may well be that the cost of such a strategy will make beekeeping less profitable but as long as we're around we'll keep bees.


    This question is asking if everybody completely neglects their hives for the next ten years will we still have some? Yes, I think we would. This sounds to me like us trying to eradicate bees from NZ though rather than have them go extinct.

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  16. probably the DS RNA work? Looking at introducing manipulated mite RNA into bees via feeding dosed syrup so that when the mites feed on the bees they get a dose of the manipulated RNA and either die or become infertile or whatever.

    At the moment we don't have the technology/capability for this to work as a commercial anti-varroa treatment. Not impossible in the future but I think it would likely be a decade or two (or more) away.

  17. Dave in your opinion do you think there's ever likely to be a break through in managing varroa effectively either through a fool proof treatment or maybe genetic manipulation of varroa itself?

    I don't think we'll do it through genetic manipulation of Varroa. Genetic manipulation of bees to make them resistant to Varroa could however be quite feasible.

    Same scenario as plant crops and pests. You can't modify the pest to no longer be a problem but you can modify the plant to be resistant to the pest (for a while at least).

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