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Posts posted by Otto

  1. Hi Greg,

    If you're interested I can give you my brother's contact details. He's a commercial beekeepers and has been doing it for 20+ years and just happens to live in Waikino. I don't think there's a better way to learn about bees than some hands on experience with someone that knows what they're doing.


    • Like 4
  2. Otto, do you think those figures have a message for us here in the broodless south?

    Yes. One that I'll start playing with once we're through the invasion phase. Next couple of seasons are all about getting through the invasion phase and synthetics are really a must for that (fingers crossed there's no resistance here). My main aim in terms of Varroa management for this season is to work out what form of monitoring works best for me.

    For this season I plan to put Bayvarol in around mid-September (8 weeks), Apivar end of Jan (10 weeks) after honey is off and a second round of bayvarol if required after the apivar. Just depends on how many mites are coming into the hives from colonies collapsing around the place.

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  3. Hi Tony,

    Have had a play with the numbers. Looking at the first treatment both Bayvarol and Oxalic look like they are working. Gets more interesting when you start looking at the second treatment though. Counts for both treatments are 48-hr mite drop post treatment. Bayvarol did not remove many mites at all in the second treatment and these were the hives treated with Oxalic the month before. The mites removed with oxalic acid in July were not surprisingly quite high for the June controls but not insignificant for those tested with Bayvarol in June. Have to be very careful to read too much into these numbers as haven't done any stats and the test sample is pretty small. All up I would cautiously say that the oxalic looks like a worthwhile winter treatment and that I would monitor hives being treated with Bayvarol quite closely following treatment.




    Mites removed by 1st treatment










    Mites removed by 2nd treatment

    Bayvarol (Oxalic first treatment)


    Oxalic (Bayvarol first treatment)


    Oxalic (Sugar first treatment)




    Looking at the average 7-day mite count after the second treatment you could conclude that bayvarol did the better job.



    Average 7-day mite count after 2nd treatment with:

    Bayvarol (Oxalic 1st)


    Oxalic (Bayvarol 1st)


    Oxalic (sugar 1st)




    If you look at this same data but using the first treatment as the reference point:


    Based on 1st treatment (exclude 2 with very high mite counts)

    Bayvarol (Oxalic 2nd)


    Oxalic (Bayvarol 2nd)


    Sugar (Oxalic 2nd)


    • Like 1
  4. Otto are they the spider beetle found in flour, cereals etc in kitchens here?


    Could explain why they'd be in the hives, maybe looking for pollen maybe?

    No, same sub-family but different Genus/species. The ones in my hive were either down in a bottom corner or in small gaps between the box and hive mat. Tend to hang out together in small groups rather than by themselves. No idea what they eat, could be pollen, wax, general hive debris...

  5. On the topic of scavengers, I have one hive that seems to have a fairly steady population (a few dozen) of small beetles. I knew they weren't small hive beetle but was interested to know what they were. I gave them to Anthony Harris (Entomologist at the Otago Museum) and this was what he came up with:


    "They are a species of spider beetle (Subfamily Ptininae, family Anobiidae).

    I first thought they were Ptinus tectus Boieldieu, the Australian Spider beetle, but the antennae are too wide apart at the insertion for them to be that species.

    In a key in one of my books, they key out to Tipnus unicolor Pillar & Mitterpacher, but I don’t think that species has been detected in New Zealand.

    They are definitely in the subfamily Ptininae. Some of these species destroy comb and or eat debris in bee hives of Apis mellifera and destroy wax and or generally scavenge in the nests of bumblebees Bombus spp."

    I'll try to collect some more next time I go there and take a photo or two...

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  6. interesting to note they are scavengers, explains no dead bees in or in-front of that hive. It is also a wet site and the pallets the hives are on are soaking wet and rotten. So a great place for them to hang out I'd imagine (y) Thanks Otto....

    Just to clarify - centipedes are all predators (from memory pretty general predators - i.e. not that fussy). The things they like to eat will no doubt include many scavengers.

  7. Whats the strangest things you have found in your hives???


    This colony had dwindled and I wondered if this centipede had much to do with it anyone else have this experience? It's my biggest bug to see to date. I was amazed at it structure and size, such a kool thing to see.


    A single centipede is never going to bring a hive down. A hive going backwards quite quickly for some reason is likely to have dead bees in it. That is in turn likely to attract scavenging insects. I would expect that these are the likely food for the centipede. Centipedes cannot cope with drying out very well. They lose moisture quickly in the wrong environment which is why you tend to find them under rocks/debris etc. It is quite possible that this one thought the bottom of the hive was quite a good sheltered place to spend the day.


    We only have smaller centipedes down here in Dunedin. I think they are awesome and always love seeing them. I can't say I've spotted any in a beehive as yet.

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  8. They've been available here for years at garden centres, supermarkets etc. I remember buying a bottle of Confidor from the supermarket around 4 years ago to use in my orchid greenhouse. Didn't check the label at the time and was annoyed with myself when I read it many months later and found it to be imidacloprid.

    I don't think an outright ban will happen anytime soon. Many people rely on insecticides and the neonics are in many ways a considerable improvement on the organophosphate chemicals they replaced. Yes they are extremely toxic to insects but that is the point of an insecticide.

    I think the best we can hope for at the moment is education to minimise the risk to bees and other beneficial insects. The ones being sold in garden centres and supermarkets are used to control insect pests in backyards. Making sure your friends and neighbours know not to use them on anything in flower or about to flower is a good start.

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  9. I took advantage of some mild weather last week and had a quick look through all my hives. Some were sitting tight, others had some brood in them. No unexpected surprises which is always good.

    Unlike most of the country, Beekeepers down here will be hoping for a repeat of last season. The only thing I can accurately predict for this season is that the year will bring mites - no doubt many of them.

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  10. Thanks for the pic. I'm still a varroa novice - will be putting my first treatment in this spring. Ants seem a likely option but how do they get over the sticky board?

    Is it possible that there is something in the hive eating the mites (ridiculously optimistic suggestion I know).

  11. Yea Chris all i know is it as is, 6 mesh it would be about 3.4mm opening, price boat delivery, whats the time frame on that, you could do Air price also,

    What width are the rolls? and what lengths do they come in.

    The '6 mesh' refers to the number of wires per inch. Xcluder sell 6 mesh and 8 mesh, i.e. 6 wires per inch (hole size 3.4mm) or 8 wires per inch (hole size 2.5mm). They source their mesh from a leading manufacturer in China...

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  12. The only bracken I've ever used is dry and long dead. Beekeepers have used it for many, many years and I've never heard of bees suffering any ill consequences. Had a quick hunt around but couldn't find anything about the levels of Ptaquiloside (the carcinogenic compound found in bracken) in dry, dead bracken. Would be interested to know if anyone else knows if this information is out there somewhere?

    Never heard of this compound being found in honey either.

  13. I do what we always did growing up. Stuff the feeder full of dried (dead) bracken. There are two reasons for doing this.

    1) Prevents bees drowning in the sugar solution.

    2) Prevents the bees building comb in the feeder.

    The bees not finding the sugar immediately is only really an issue if they are starving. If they have honey stores they'll find it in their own time.

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  14. I'll confess that I have not looked at any of these papers as yet but have some serious reservations about this technology being anywhere near ready to use in the field.


    We use RNA interference a lot in our research into bee development. Won't get into that here but if people are interested I can try to write something about that a little later.


    My first reservation is $$$. To produce the RNA we use to knockdown the expression of one gene for our research costs hundreds of dollars. I doubt if targeting a Varroa gene or virus gene this would be enough to treat more than a few beehives. As far as I am aware the technology to produce very large quantities of interfering RNA molecules cheaply does not exist yet (and is quite a long way off).


    Secondly, some very serious research needs to be done as to how one could deliver the RNA in a beehive so that it would get to the majority of mites. From reading the above abstract (second one) they achieve RNA knockdown of a specific gene by "The immersion in dsRNA solution method" - i.e. get a mite and soak it in a solution containing the interfering RNA molecules and you can get gene knockdown. From a research perspective this is good. If you have to soak the mites in a solution to achieve control I struggle to see a practical application in the field.


    If the big companies can work through these issues I agree that RNA interference could be close to a perfect pesticide. It could be used to specifically control a single species of pest and have no effect on anything else! I am certain it is being heavily invested in by some of the big agricultural players but no commercial products are around yet. When this technology starts being used to specifically control major agricultural insect pests can we really start getting excited about it's potential to control varroa and other bee parasites/diseases.

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  15. I am not sure why the aversion to a smart phone. I use Beetight - available as a free app or $25 for larger users. It keeps good track of each hive (which I think is the objective rather than keeping track of paper which proves nothing) by utilising a QR code for each hive - access at the site with a smart phone. Another massive help is being able to take photos at the site and it is attached to that hive record. Makes close analysis of a frame easier when later looking at the photo - not having to find other cues to associate that frame with a particular hive. If you don't want a smart phone then maybe go to a tablet!



    Not so much an aversion. I know they are useful but I don't think I'd be that good at only using it for work. I'll end up wasting a lot of time on pointless stuff just because I can. At this stage it's easier to not have that temptation.

    Beekeeping is also only a small part of my job and I like being 'off the grid' while being out with the bees. The smarter the phone the easier it gets for people to interrupt this quality time. I managed to resist getting a cell phone of any sort until 5 years ago...

    I am getting reasonably efficient at collecting data on my visits to the bees so that it doesn't take too much time. It doesn't take me much time to transfer the data into excel and play with it. I am a bit of a data/number geek and very much enjoy this part.

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