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Posts posted by Otto

  1. I firmly believe that one of the biggest problems with AFB is that there is a stigma associated with it. People don't really want to fess up to having it. I found one nuc in a mating yard a month or two ago with AFB. I reported it and got rid of it. I didn't shout "I found AFB" to everyone around though, which, if we want to get rid of it, is what needs to happen. It feels like there is a very big negative vibe to finding it, even if you do everything right (which I don't). So this is me saying yes, I have found AFB in my outfit.


    As for finding it, I felt gutted about finding it in one of my hives. But my real concern is that I have no idea where it picked up AFB. Likely cause number 1 is that I inadvertently took a split from a hive with low-level AFB that I did not see at the time. After all, AFB is a beekeepers disease, spread by beekeepers. I have given all my other hives a thorough inspection and found no more AFB. This does not necessarily rule out this cause, maybe I have a hive with sub-clinical AFB and the queen in the split happened to have the wrong genetics, making this hive super-susceptible to AFB. The scarier (for me) option is that it was picked up locally from someone else's beehive. The nuc with AFB was not a strong one and if it picked it up locally it can only be a matter of time until more shows up.


    The thing that finding it really highlighted for me is that I need to up my game. My record-keeping is lousy. When it comes to the beekeeping side of things I back myself to be able to find and deal with issues. I have a pretty good knowledge and experience base to call on and believe I have a good eye for finding anything out of the ordinary. What I am not good at is record keeping. I tend to rely on my memory rather than making decent notes about what I did and when I did it. My response to finding AFB was to go out and buy a diary so that at a minimum I had somewhere to write down when I visit an apiary and especially whether or not I took any splits away and where they went. Still nowhere near enough but it is a start...

    • Like 3
  2. When you realise that AFB like the other diseases raise their head when the hives are under stress including nutritional stress.

    One of the problems with AFB is that this is not the case. AFB does not go hand in hand with other stressors. It can often be the healthiest, strongest hives that end up getting it because they have the workforce to find a rob out 2km away.

  3. When you shake bees off the frame it is not at all uncommon for some eggs to be dislodged and end up on the side of cells. The laying pattern looks tidy, like that of a queen. It is also not uncommon for a young queen to lay several eggs in a cell, especially if the colony is not very big.

  4. Looks like Megarhyssa nortoni. Has the most awesome ovipositor. I've pasted in a little information below (from Wikipedia). These wasps were introduced to NZ as a biological control agent against woodwasp (Sirex noctilio), a pest of pine.


    From wikipedia:

    Megarhyssa nortoni is a predatory insect. Its larvae are parasitoids of horntail wasp larvae in coniferous trees. The adult female hunts horntail larvae for egg placement. It smells wood-eating fungus, utilized by the horntail larvae to predigest wood pulp, and uses its antennae to detect vibrations made by the horntail larvae. The female Megarhyssa nortoni curls its ovipositor over its abdomen to insert the tip of the ovipositor at a right angle into the bark and cuts into the tree until it reaches the horntail larval tunnel. The female then deposits a very slender egg through its ovipositor into the tunnel on or near the horntail larva. The Megarhyssa nortoni larva then hatches to eat the live horntail larval host from the inside causing the horntail larva's eventual death. The Megarhyssa nortoni larva pupates inside its host and emerges the following summer as an adult.

  5. The ones I've received from my brother come in wee custom made bags made of several layers of shadecloth with a decent tag stapled across the top (for address etc). Tape then put across the staples. They have been sent on overnight courier (NZ post). I've also sent the occasional one in much the same way. Never had an issue.

    The queens are obviously sent in queen cages with fresh nurse bees and queen candy.

    My main concerns have always been temperature. Early or late in the season they could get too cold and this time of year they could get too hot. Clear instructions on the label stating "live bees - do not leave in direct sunlight" is a good idea.

  6. @tudor Yes we do have plenty of genetic variation in our bees at present.

    I very much think it best if there are as many different breeders with different breeding stock in NZ as possible. As long as breeders have good reasons for selecting the stock they breed from it can only be a good thing. By good reasons all I mean is not just picking a hive at random as a breeder. At least pick a good honey producer, one with a good temperament or hygiene traits...

    It would be best if the biggest breeders in NZ (the ones producing breeders that lots of people breed from) very actively managed genetic diversity in their breeding stock to ensure the largest possible amount of genetic variation (so that the queens everyone else is breeding from are as outbred as possible). Unfortunately, they tend to go the other way, running closed populations that get more and more inbred every year. On the flip side, this does allow them to breed for desirable traits more rapidly.

    Sorry @tristan Your hive journal seems to be getting side-tracked by this conversation.

  7. Hi @Otto how do you hold the queen cells in it? I am wondering of the foam for in the Caricell holder will work?

    I mostly store them in the incubator on their bars straight out of the cell raisers (see attached picture). I have also stored them in the foam insert (similar to a carricell one) and yes and this works just fine too.




    • Like 1
  8. My bottles of water live in the incubator permanently.


    Yes, I did realise that. I was agreeing that some bottles of hot water are a very good option for keeping temperature in the event of a powercut and for buffering temperature fluctuations from a controller that isn't super accurate.

    I use a bottle of hot water quite frequently. My cell carrier for use in the field is a polystyrene box, some foam with holes cut in it and a bottle of warm water. Keeps cells warm enough easily long enough (and on a sunny day, doesn't really lose any temperature at all in the cab of my ute). This cost me nothing and I trust this more than I would a carricell - I just don't understand using a metal tool box which can overheat so quickly if left in the sun. But that's getting off topic...

  9. Thanks Otto, that is a very good option.

    What humidity do you use?

    I make sure it always has some water in the bottom and the humidity tends to sit in the 60s. I need to add some water every 3-4 days. It alarms if either humidity or temperature gets outside your set limits (more than 0.5 degrees below or above, humidity below 45).



    @Otto do you have backup power?

    Nope. I live in town and where I am we've had maybe 2 or 3 unexpected powercuts in 8 years and I think only one that has lasted more than an hour. We have the odd scheduled outage for lines work/tree felling around lines etc but we get a letter in the mail saying this is happening and when, so easy to plan around.

    If we did get one I have a thick towel folded over 3 times on top of the incubator to provide some extra insulation and think the incubator would stay warm enough for an hour or two. This incubator also has a plain on/off switch so as soon as power is restored it will start again.

    If we did get a powercut that went on longer I'd go with one of the following options.

    1) Fill a bottle of hot water or two and put them in with the cells (like Philbee).

    2) Put the bars back into some hives.

  10. My concern is that I've been placing cells on day 10.

    (10day cells)

    Now Im thinking that the 10 day cell may be of commercial origin and 11 or 12 (am) may be better for Queen yard use.

    As long as you're gentle with day 10 cells they're fine. Picking them up from a cell supplier at day 10 makes sense as it gives a couple of days to get them out into the field.

    Day 11 is my preferred day but depending on what else I am doing I use them from day 10 through to day 12 (and sometimes day 9). Just need be as gentle as you can with them.

    • Like 1
  11. Today I watched 3 good looking Queens emerge within 5- 10 minutes in incubator cages.

    Two were Italian/ Carni Hybrid types and one was a darker Carni type.

    They were grafted on the afternoon of 25/10/16.

    by my reckoning that's day 12.

    The incubator temp is set at 34.5 and humidity typically sits at 55-65%

    Any comments on these numbers?


    Not sure if I'm misinterpreting something but day 12 is when the queens are expected to hatch, which is exactly what happened with yours... My incubator is set to 34 degrees and my cells very reliably emerge 12-13 days after grafting (which is what would be expected from the larvae a maximum of 24 hours old at grafting). @Rob Stockley - yes your incubator is set a little low.

    • Like 1
  12. Haven't tried grafting eggs before but I know they are difficult to pick out of cells without damaging them. What you're doing is not actually grafting though. The EZIqueen system does not require any actual handling of the eggs or larvae that you're wanting to make into queens so eggs might well work just fine for this, especially if your cell starters are keen to make cells.

  13. The irony is @Otto that many beekeepers are excellent scientists - they are constantly trialling (experimenting) with good controls and well-thought out reasoning.


    Couldn't agree more. Beekeepers like to tinker and try things out and many useful things results from it. And with the bouyant nature of the industry at the moment I am sure there are actually quite a few dollars being spent on some very good (private) research projects. I haven't been to a conference for a year or two but the trade area of the annual conference has certainly grown drastically in recent times, which is a reflection of this.


    I think @So isolation distances to maintain pure lines Dave\? Sounds like the sort of work \[uSER\=142\]@Otto could do. These days would be faster to perform next generation (aka whole genome) sequencing





    I'm just a beekeeper at the moment (and loving it too), so not research I could do. Will no doubt spend a small amount of time in the lab again this season but likely only for making buffer for a few different people who need it for their AI work.


    I agree - some good ideas but funding is always the issue. Doing good science costs and there is very little money in the pot coming from the beekeeping industry. I understand Dave's view of looking at the overall stats for science funding but it isn't really a relevant way to look at it. Getting funding from the government for applied science (science that industry wants done and is product/practical outcome driven) is doable, but only if industry coughs up. If you look at some other NZ agriculture/horticulture industries, they regularly get large pools of money for research projects. The different as I see it is that those industries invest in research. The beekeeping industry does not.

    • Like 1
  15. Otto, what preservative would you put in?, I have played with agar gels for sugar syrup in top feeders before moving hives into pollination.

    Hi @Dennis Crowley,

    I didn't have anything specific in mind as a preservative when making that statement sorry. Just the knowledge that agar gel with sugar in it will be a very good medium for encouraging growth by spoilage organisms such as bacteria and fungi. As I've never used it for this purpose I've never explored what might be used as a preservative.

    What would be your reason for using agar in a top feeder? Does it have some positive nutritional value for the bees or do you have it in there when you're moving bees so you're using it to stop sugar spilling?

  16. Has anyone had experience with Agar gels

    Its known that the big exporters of bees use Agar to create a syrup gel that doesn't melt.

    I've been using it to make thymol gels.

    Im about to start making spearmint and lemongrass syrup gels but am not an expert by any measure.

    Honey cant be gelled using Agar unless it is boiled first.

    The bees will eat Agar gels as long as the gel is at the weak end of the concentration scale.

    I decided to share this idea as it possibly has some merit that others can exploit in the field of feeding supplements etc.

    It isnt a viable bulk feed mechanism other than in mating nuc pods


    I've used plenty of agar in lab work over the years. Not quite sure what information you're actually after here. Do you want advice about what concentration to use it at?

    Agar needs to be heated to around 85 degrees (or more) to melt and then forms a gel on cooling. I've mostly used it for making agar plates for growing bacteria in which case the growing medium (including the agar) is autoclaved so that it is sterile before use.

    Haven't used it for making sugar syrup gels but I should think it would be pretty straight forward. Measure out your sugar, water and agar and heat to almost boiling point (you don't want the sugar to caramelise). Then pour into a tray and let it cool to set it. You probably need to consider some sort of preservative unless using them straight away. Bacteria, yeasts and fungi will all grow happily on it.

    Some more base information:

    All About Agar

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