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Posts posted by Otto

  1. BLIS = Bactieriocin-like inhibitory substance. They are generally antimocrobial compounds produced by bacteria that kill or inhibit the growth of closely related bacteria.

    A biotech company in Dunedin (BLIS technologies) was set up a number of years ago to commercialise BLIS produced by beneficial bacteria that live on your tongue. Their commercial strains produce BLIS that inhibit the bacteria that cause Strep throat.

  2. Did some monitoring on some of my hives over the last 2 days.

    One site with two hives in Dunedin had 2 day natural mite fall counts of 8 and 14. It's been 4 weeks since Bayvarol strips came out of these hives so suggests to me there are mites coming in from elsewhere.

    The other site on Pigeon Flat - 7 hives monitored, no mites found. This includes the hive that had the highest mite count pre-treatment in spring.


    All up I would re-iterate that hives in town are going to be under significant invasion pressure this season.

  3. In your hives seems a little odd. Description sounds like they could be March Flies (Dilophus nigrostigma). Lots of these around at the moment but have never seen them in hives.

    PS. If you can supply a photo I should be able to work it out for you.

  4. I didnt tidy up the hive aftert the bees "apparently" swarm out of the hive. I noticed bees coming and going from the hive over the weekend. I thought it was nosey bees from my other hives sniffing out the new hive, and didnt think any more of it. I lifted the lid to dismantel the hive and put away in the shed yesterday afternoon....there I found a cluster of Carniolan bees (from the original swarm), the cluster is about the size of my fist and they are drawing comb. I cant see a queen, is it safe to assume that there was probably more than one queen in the swarm and they swarmed from my hive with the bulk of the bees and left a virgin queen behind? I am feeding them at the moment to get more comb built and see if there is a queen that starts laying.


    So total hives this year is 1 Warre on to its third box and four 5 frame langstroth Nucs building up finaly with the good stretch of weather and finally a flow on ( a light flow, bees actually storing in the brood box rather than bone dry and me feeding.)

    Had a similar experience last year where I homed a swarm at one of my apiaries. Came back a few days later to check it - no bees. Came back a few days after that to check the other hives at the apiary and the 'empty' swarm box was humming again. Don't know if it was a different swarm or the same one that came back but this one stayed.

  5. Homed a small swarm into a nuc box that had settled in a pohutukawa on Otago Uni campus last Thursday. Was at the perfect height for collecting (around 1.7m off the ground). Went out Friday lunchtime to run an errand, looked up at the sky as I got outside and couldn't help but notice another swarm just flying by. Followed it briefly and it settled in an American Oak about 20m from the pohutukawa. This was a much bigger swarm and settled on an outer branch around 7m off the ground - didn't try housing this one as it was on Uni property and if you want to go over 5m off the ground you need all manner of equipment and safety gear. It was gone when I got back to work yesterday morning.

  6. I would argue that 50 hives is too many for any site. There's no way a beekeeper should have an apiary like this in an urban area. The only result will be complaints and negativity towards bees (which is no good for any of us).


    While there are always some morons who have nothing better to do with their time than complain about a speck of bee poo to their local council but the vast majority of people are pretty happy to have bees around. A few well positioned (hidden from plain sight) hives in an urban section will most likely go completely undetected. As others have said, those that complain only tend to do so if they know the bees are there.

    • Like 1
  7. Thanks for that Otto. But can he still use the honey for normal use.

    So, you can eat honey taken from Amitraz treated hives? (provided it has had a couple of weeks to hydrolyse???)

    But thanks Otto. :)

    If you're selling honey play by the rules and don't have apivar in the hive when the honey flow is on.


    If it's for your own consumption it is completely up to you. From what I've read I think you'd have to be amazingly super sensitive to amitraz to be able to suffer any side effects from amitraz in honey as a result of having Apivar in a hive. But this is ONLY AN OPINION.

    • Like 1
  8. Basic properties of these chemicals:


    Amitraz (Apivar) - is readily absorbed into honey but not into wax. This is why it is not recommended during a honey flow.


    Fluvalinate (Apistan) - very readily absorbed into wax. The reason it is not recommended during a honey flow is that the dose of fluvalinate in an Apistan strip is very high (from memory around 800mg per strip)


    Flumethrin (Bayvarol) is also very readily absorbed into wax. The dose is only 3.6mg per strip though so a treatment uses only around 1/100th of the chemical compared to Apistan. This is why it is the recommended emergency treatment if you have high mite numbers during a honeyflow.

    • Like 2
  9. Singles winter fine here, and come away well in spring. I guess it depends on the climate a bit - it gets bloody cold here at times and there's a broodless spell. But I leave on at least a 3/4 honey super, too, and I feed if needed to make sure that's full before the winter.

    I agree - singles overwinter just fine. I overwinter most of my hives on a single 3/4 box (8 frames plus a 2-frame feeder) and they do fine. I also have no problem getting 4-frame (3/4 frames) nucs through the winter here in Dunedin. Provided they have a good population of bees going into winter they get through fine. Once the weather warms up a bit and pollen starts coming in they can build up really quickly. Some of the colonies that I had as nucs last winter are now sitting on 3 boxes with most of a box of honey on them.

    I do find that there is a bit of variation from one site to the next. I have some hives up in the hills above Dunedin (350m altitude) and find there isn't as much honey around up there in Sept/Oct as there is in town so these get a bit of sugar to help them out. There always seems to be plenty of pollen where my hives are.

    • Like 1
  10. I work with Associate Professor Peter Dearden at the University of Otago. We have funding through a sustainable farming fund grant to screen the genetic diversity of honeybees in New Zealand. For this study we are doing a survey of sex alleles present in New Zealand's bee population.


    To be able to successfully carry out this study we need the help of New Zealand beekeepers. We need honeybee samples from different regions of New Zealand and from different beekeepers. We are particularly interested in samples from commercial beekeepers and queen breeders, as these beekeepers supply a very high percentage of queens within New Zealand.


    What will the samples be used for?

    DNA will be extracted from the drones collected and we will use this to determine the sex allele carried by that drone. This information will be used to map the sex allele diversity throughout New Zealand (and this information will be publicly available at the conclusion of the study). These samples will only be used for the currently funded study and will be destroyed at the conclusion of this study.


    The sampling is very straight forward.


    Sampling method:

    1) Collect some drones from one apiary into a queen cage (multiple hives if possible).

    2) Label the queen cage with location details (the more accurate the better).

    3) Place the queen cage in the freezer overnight.

    4) Send the queen cage/s with dead drones to us.


    If you are willing to help and send us samples please get in touch with me through email at:


  11. If you want to avoid any 'spin' the original paper is in the public domain and can be downloaded from here:




    One of the interesting things is that the degree of resistance varied hugely, but was greatest in colonies recently established from packages, and declined very significantly in colonies not treated after two years (including feral colonies). I'm interested because I think the study of honey bee nutrition (and so gut microbiota) is one of the great gaps in our knowledge about honey bees AND something with practical significance.


    Completely agree Dave.

    I did quite a bit of reading a few months ago on the natural gut microflora of honeybees - there are some pretty good papers on the topic starting to come out. My main aim was to find out what bee health outcomes there were in bees that were fed antibiotics as a rule to combat AFB. I was disappointed as I couldn't find any papers that even mentioned a possible effect of treating with antibiotics. Good to see that it is being worked on. Will have a read of the paper when I get some time. Thanks for pointing it out.

  12. Thet are actually very good in the garden as natural predators (on the bad bugs)

    I agree, not that we have them in Dunedin. The brood of paper wasps (and common/german wasps) is carnivorous and paper wasps collect a lot of caterpillars to feed to the larvae, such as those of the white cabbage butterfly. I do remember my Mum complaining about Monarch butterfly caterpillars disappearing though.

  13. Had another look through the hive today. Initially thought that the queen must have had an accident last time we looked. No eggs, almost no larvae and a couple of queen cells. Not to mention lots of honey and pollen being collected.

    After having a think about it I decided to split the hive as it has a very healthy population and being at a school in suburbia I do not want it swarming. Found a queen while doing this. Looks like she's stopped laying and is being superseded. Will go back and check both the hive and the split soon.

  14. I just wonder what advantage there is in being able to sit around a table and "talk" after the horse has bolted.


    The powers that be dont listen to us now why would they listen to us after signing an agreement?


    Whats the use in being able to "talk" when EFB is found in NZ?


    and it will be found if we allow honey imports there's nothing surer.


    Either way we will end up paying for it.


    Wasn't it MAF that said there's no problem with kiwi pollen imports?


    Wasn't it Maf that said deformed wing virus wasn't in drone sperm?


    but thats ok if they get it wrong because we can sit around a table with them and "talk" about it.

    Not sure I completely agree. I have to agree with Daniel Paul that getting input into pre-border security is what counts for us. To say that we are not being listened to now is being a little unfair. As far as I know there is still a complete ban on importing bee products?


    The kiwifruit pollen thing can only be viewed as a colossal mistake.


    Blaming the presence of Deformed Wing Virus in NZ on sperm imports is however very misinformed. Many strains of this virus existed in NZ before Varroa was found here. The mites just do a very good job of selecting the most virulent one and spreading it around.

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  15. Just checked one of my hives and when I lifted the lid it was black with ants. I got my butane burner out and scorched the ######s to dead and have put Lavendar essential oil under the lid.

    There were no ants inside the hive where the bees are.


    Does any know of any way of keeping the beggers out.


    Help Please

    Move down our way:) The only ants around here are a few native species that don't associate with beehives (or with people).

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  16. If at all possible get an experienced beekeeper to help populate your TBH. They can help shake the bees in and take away the frames with brood and put them into an existing hive so that they don't go to waste and aren't left to rot. Do you have a way of feeding the bees when you first introduce them? Shaking them in they'll have pretty much nothing.

    • Like 1
  17. Have just had a skim over this review so far - interesting theory!


    Immune suppression by Neonicotinoid Insecticides at the Root of Global Wildlife Declines

    Authors: R Mason, H Tennekes, F Sanchez-Bayo, PU Jepsen



    Outbreaks of infectious diseases in honey bees, fish, amphibians, bats and birds in the past two decades have coincided with the increasing use of systemic insecticides, notably the neonicotinoids and fipronil. A link between insecticides and such diseases is hypothesised. Firstly, the disease outbreaks started in countries and regions where systemic insecticides were used for the first time, and later they spread to other countries. Secondly, recent evidence of immune suppression in bees and fish caused by neonicotinoids has provided an important clue to understand the sub-lethal impact of these insecticides not only on these organisms, but probably on other wildlife affected by emerging infectious diseases. While this is occurring, environmental authorities in developed countries ignore the calls of apiarists (who are most affected) and do not target neonicotinoids in their regular monitoring schedules. Equally, scientists looking for answers to the problem are unaware of the new threat that systemic insecticides have introduced in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.

    Journal of Environmental Immunologyand Toxicology 2012; X:XX-XX (in press)




    Key words

    systemic insecticides; imidacloprid; infectious diseases; honeybees; bats; birds; fish; frogs; pollinators



    • Like 1
  18. I've talked to a few people wanting to start with bees and my advice has always been to start with a Lang hive. They are simply an easier format to start with. The frames are easier to handle and won't get built onto the sides of the hives. If you want to do a natural comb hive then you can always start with foundationless frames and let the bees do all that as well. There is plenty of information around as to how to do this.


    There is quite a lot to learn and work out when you're starting with bees and there is little point to making it harder. If, after a year or two of keeping a Lang hive, you still want a TBH then it will only be easier to set one up with a split from your existing hive and the experience and confidence of having been handling the bees for a couple of years.

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  19. Quick update:

    I put bayvarol strips in all my hives yesterday and put monitoring trays under 11 of them, spread around my different apiaries. Did 24hr mite drop counts.

    Opoho School hive: 104 mites

    Glenleith site: 12 mites and 30 mites for two hives monitored

    Pigeon Flat: One hive with around 220 mites (this one picked up the mites in Dunedin before being moved to Pigeon Flat in February this year). Seven hives at Pigeon Flat had zero mite drop after 24 hours.


    I interpret these results to mean that in Dunedin itself the mite situation is more advance than in the country surrounding Dunedin. I expect some significant invasion pressure in Dunedin later this season but a bit further out we MIGHT still be ok for another season. Would be interested to see monitoring results from others in the area.

    • Like 1
  20. Hey,


    We are looking at getting bees in our school. What sort of problems did you face when trying to introduce them to your school? I have already had a few teachers comment on how silly it sounds as the kids will get stung! Also, how did you set it up initially? We don't want to spend too much money to begin with, and wondered if a hive could be set up by an experienced beekeeper? Your ideas and suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

    The hive has now been there 4 weeks now so still early days. So far the feedback has been very positive. I've been through the hive a couple of times with a different group of 5 kids each time and they really enjoy it. I believe the Principal is still dealing with one concerned parent but I haven't heard anything more about that for a week or two now.

    It is a pity that there are teachers have such a short-sighted attitude. I would expect every school to have at least a few concerned parents but not so much the teachers. I've attached some guidelines that I gave the main teacher involved. This is adapted from "Practical Beekeeping in New Zealand" by Andrew Matheson and Murray Reid. It is a good place to start for finding somewhere to put the bees where they won't bother people.

    I certainly think it is a good idea to have an experienced beekeeper on board. I was keen to give the kids the opportunity to play with bees and am lucky enough to have a flexible job that allows me to go the school to look after the hive with the kids during school hours. The hive is still owned by me and I am responsible for making sure it is healthy. I am not sure how easy it is to find an experienced beekeeper who could do something similar up your way but would I suggest this forum and local beekeeping club/s as good places to start looking.

    In terms of spending money, Opoho School (where I have my hive) applied for a grant (from Bayer - every beekeeper's favourite company) which provided enough money to buy safety gear. As the hive belongs to me I wouldn't expect the school to spend money on the actual beehive and since the children only go through the hive with me the school also don't need a smoker, hive tools etc.

    Hope this info helps and fire away with more questions if you have them. Good luck!

    Rules for urban beekeeping.pdf

    • Like 3
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