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Posts posted by Otto

  1. I've been looking at the "Join Apiculture NZ" sleeve that was around this months beekeeper journal and am a little confused about a few things.


    I've been trying to work out why commercial members get charged a per hive amount to belong to Apiculture NZ. Is it once again down to some biased voting system based on how many hives you have (I thought I had read somewhere it was going to be one vote per beekeeper but maybe this is wrong?) or is it just revenue gathering.


    With respect to voting, if it is one beekeeper, one vote, does this include all beekeepers (commercial and non-commercial)? I notice that if you don't declare your hive numbers correctly you can be 'punished' by having your membership down-graded to a non-commercial membership so what are you missing out on by only being a non-commercial member?


    One thing I have managed to work out so far is that the benefits of a commercial over a non-commercial membership are a paper copy of the journal (rather than electronic) and a 20% discount (rather than 5% for non-commercials) on some tea towels and wildflower seeds.


    I'm sure there are answers to some of this in the constitution but I failed to find this on the Apiculture NZ website so cannot check.


    At this stage I'm really struggling with the idea of joining Apiculture NZ and if I do join I see no point of joining as anything other than a non-commercial beekeeper.


    PS. I'm sorry if these questions have already been covered elsewhere, I've not been doing a very good job of keeping up with threads lately.

    • Like 4
  2. Not quite so much these days. Although many still do it they are trying to move away from this, and in some states it is a legal requirement that AFB infected hives are burned.


    Good that they are trying. Is Vermont one of these states?

  3. It is my understanding that every year a random sample of New Zealand honey is tested for AFB spores and that the vast majority is clear of AFB. Under NZ law it is illegal to store AFB infective material, which honey containing AFB spores is. It is one of the arguments used to keep Australian honey out of NZ.


    Back to the original purpose of this thread - it would be lovely to have such nicely spaced out apiaries. Before the current boom most beekeepers adhered to gentleman's agreements and didn't put hives too close to other beekeepers apiaries. That's obviously ancient history now and I doubt that sort of cooperation will be seen again any time soon. To try and achieve this through legislation would probably be disastrous for smaller beekeepers.


    In the USA it is standard practice to treat beehives with antibiotics to control AFB. I would never advocate using a system that allows this as a model for us to follow.

  4. I dont know too many breeders that focus on pure lines theres the select few who provide Instumentally inseminated breeder queens but these are purely used for grafting from and are notorios fir falling iff the perch after a couple of months.

    Most queen rearers rely on open mating which is pretty much a lucky dip.

    @Otto has done research on the sex allelles of drones in NZ supplied by various beekeepers throughout the country and he was pleasantly surprised at the variation and feels that the gene pool is not as narrow as previously thought.

    I hope I got that right @Otto?

    Yes. That's correct. I don't think we suffer from a lack of genetic diversity in our bees.

    Not so sure I agree about AI queens failing after a couple of months. I've worked part-time for BettaBees over the last few seasons and most of the AI queens have very good longevity. Certainly on a par with what you'd expect from a good naturally mated queen.

  5. Hey all, anybody use woven plastic as a hive mat? Just made a bunch of ply lids - wow the difference in price was less than quarter of tin ones I'd been getting. I'm trying to save even more money now using woven plastic from calf meal bags to stop bees sticking to ply lid. Thoughts?

    Not sure what the calf meal bags are made of exactly but I cut up and use the ones from my chicken feed (peck 'n' lay) and these work really well under a wooden roof. I've had some there a couple of years already and still work just fine. If the bags have been out in the sun for a while they do get brittle and are useless at that point. The bags that the wheat I get for the chickens comes in, which is the 'reliance' brand, are more flimsy and I haven't used these ones as I think they'll come apart.


    I wouldn't use one of these as a hive mat under a tin or plastic roof though. Too much heat generated under these rooves on hot days and some extra insulation is required.

  6. Hi @Otto good paper, no conclusion, lots of thoughts and advice.


    Yes, the timing is the issue. Here I have not yet started opening hives as its very cold, should start next week. Apivar goes in for 10 weeks, so that takes one until second or third week of November, and lots of nectar activity before then, typically Tree Fuchsia. But lots of that honey is fed to the larvae by the nurse bees. So the concern is that early honey may contain amitraz breakdown products, and I don't take that off, and "Spring Honey" usually comes off in December/January before the effect of kanuka is noticed in the honey. Then main flow.


    Our honey does not have any testing, so I would be interested to know what levels of amitraz and breakdown residues are found in hives which has amitraz treatment before or during honey collection ? Or are levels more theoretical than real ?


    I don't know if this has been looked at here. The data that I've seen showing Amitraz breakdown products in honey comes from the US where beekeepers presumably used home made formulations of Taktic to treat for Varroa (as there was no legal Amitraz product approved for use). No idea what kind of dose they might have been using.

  7. @yesbut

    Bayvarol is the only synthetic miticide recommended as an emergency treatment in Mark Goodwin and Michelle Taylor's Control of Varroa book.

    While it does say that Amitraz "completely degrades in 3-4 weeks" it also states that it degrades into two main breakdown products (DMF and DPMF). These breakdown products have been detected in wax and honey, although are not often tested for. Haven't been able to find much on how toxic or not these are (to bees or humans), but the use of Apivar during a honey flow can result in chemical residues in your honey.


    Some further reading on the use of Amitraz to combat Varroa:

    Amitraz: Red Flags Or Red Herrings? @ Scientific Beekeeping

    • Like 1
  8. [uSER=79]


    My understanding is that a number of treatments do require you have it out before supers go on, but theoretically, apivar is not one of them. Is that right or wrong?[/uSER]


    Apiivar is definitely NOT recommended as a treatment during a honey flow where you're aiming to harvest the honey. Amitraz (Apivar's active ingredient) does not get absorbed into beeswax but it and its breakdown products are readily absorbed into honey. If you need to do an emergency treatment during a honey flow Bayvarol is the synthetic recommended for use.

  9. Ive heard that bees will keep the virgins in the cell and feed her through a small gap in the tip but its not something I've ever seen so I couldn't say for sure :)

    Actually I think the bees would seal the cell up as the virgin was chewing her way out and feed her through a gap in the cap of the cell where she had chewed.

    Could be an old beekeepers myth :)


    Definitely no myth. I've seen this numerous times during swarm season. Multiple mature virgin queen inside their cells in a hive getting ready to swarm (or already swarmed and thinking of sending another swarm on their way). These virgin queens are very quick and lively when you disturb the cell which wouldn't be the case if they were just chewing their way out.

  10. Quite possible, but I thought @Otto (who has disappeared lately!) had shown that mostly genetic diversity shouldn't be a problem.

    Genetic diversity | NZ Beekeepers Forum

    I think I'm right in saying that in the US and EU too the feared lack of diversity has proved unfounded.

    No, haven't disappeared.

    I don't think a lack of genetic diversity is a problem. I think far more likely is nutritional distress and knock-on effects (such as reduced hive immunity leading to parasite/disease problems). My guess is that increasing hive numbers is leading to over-crowding and insufficient quality pollen to go round. This is not my area of expertise though so could be a wee way off base.

    • Like 2
  11. The weather on the coast down here (Dunedin) is very up and down - not prime real estate for getting quick reliable queen matings. I have certainly found queens can take 4-5 weeks from emerging to getting going. With my own cells it is not down to slower development due to cells being raised at lower temperatures.

    I have read in numerous places that taking this long to get going can't result in decent queen but at this stage I would agree with what @tommy dave said above that, once going, these queens seem to perform just fine. I haven't had the time to carefully follow queens for the season (or longer) to see if longevity is compromised though. This is on my to do list for next season.

    • Like 1
  12. I got in touch with Asurequality and I've pasted today's reply below. So should be able to do it online by the end of next week.


    Gidday Otto


    Just signed the APIWEB upgrade and have been informed by our IT folk that it is scheduled for release next week.

    If you could try again next Thursday or Friday, it should be ready to go.


    Thanks and regards


  13. i kept them in jar.

    anyone here that can identify them?

    can you? or maybe @Otto?

    @tom sayn. I'm no expert on mites sorry. Landcare research as Don Mac suggests might be a good idea. Try getting in touch with Zhi-Qiang through the contact link on this page Mites & ticks (Acari) | Invertebrate systematics | Landcare Research

    He is their expert on mite systematics. The best option would be to collect a bunch of the mites into 70% alcohol so that he can have them to study under a microscope.

  14. I have changed the queen in the hive which had the betta bee queen in it as it was not safe to be kept in town. You can see a marked difference in the bees temperment within a few days. Although I like a lot of characters of the AMM bees, they are not the ones to be kept in town.

    There shouldn't really be much AMM genetics left in the BettaBees line. Even open mated ones shouldn't have it as we've lost all our ferals down here now. It is possible that the queen you got was mated away from the main breeding yard where there is more of an influence from bees kept by other beekeepers. There is certainly some Carniolan genetics in the line though - would expect this is the darker bees you are seeing.

    As for the temperament - if you think it is that much better in just a few days this has nothing to do with the queen. Hive temperament is based on the genetics of the workers. As not a single bee in that hive decends from the new queen there is no way she will be contributing to hive temperament yet. Bees vary in temperament considerably from one day to another depending on environmental conditions. To change the temperament of a hive by replacing the queen would take a minimum of 4-6 weeks before a difference due to the new queen can be noticed.

  15. The other reason this work is valuable is that it might provide a 'workaround' for the problem of antibiotic resistance. I looks like it might be possible to inhibit the toxins in some way, rather than attack the bacteria. That way, the disease symptoms will not appear (death being a symptom!) and, importantly, the bacteria cannot evolve a resistance to the inhibitor.

    Haven't read the paper but had a quick read of the abstract and a press release. Still looks like the completely wrong approach to AFB to me. We have the right approach here (burn when you find symptoms).

  16. apparently there is also genetic information in the egg that is not in the chromosoms.

    only 1 or 2 %, but very relevant cos only there to be found.

    maybe @Otto could comment on that too? would like to know a bit more about that.

    Not so sure about what you mean here sorry. An unfertilised egg has half of the chromosomes from it's mother (the queen). When it gets fertilised it gets a second set of chromosomes from the sperm cell that fertilised it (which obviously came from a drone).

    Usually the only other genetic information in animal cells is mitochondrial DNA (feel free to google mitochondria if you want to know more).

    • Like 3
  17. @Alastair

    Had my first go at grafting some larvae from the EziQueen strip/plugs today. Was very simple but the proof will be in how many cells I get. I've attached some photos.


    Photo of front of frame. If you look carefully you can see larvae and eggs in the bottom of the cells. A cage unit fits onto the front so that you can restrict the queen to laying only in this area for a given time. I caged her for about 5-6 hours on Thursday last week. There were plenty of eggs in the frame when I released her again.


    The back of the frame. Strips of plugs fit in and the top of the plugs form the base of the cells the queen lays into.


    Two strips of plugs pulled out from the back. You can see both eggs and small larvae on the plugs. I fished the larvae off with a fine paint brush into some standard cell cups. I believe the the full system has cell cups with holes in the bottom that the plugs slot into to make it a system where you do not have to handle the larvae at all. I've never had these cell cups to play with. We use these frames in our research lab for getting eggs of known age to work with.




    • Like 1
  18. I have two hives located on a lifestyle block where a house is now being built. One hive, from a split last summer, has been very productive but also very aggressive (at any time of the year, rain or shine). However my also once calm hive seems more aggressive now also. So I was wondering if the building and stereo bass noise could be agitating them - I myself find the vibration irritating so reason they may too! Does anyone know if this may be the case and I have stressed out hives? (I did move them from Motueka so maybe they just prefer it there???)

    I doubt the noise is bothering them. I would think it likely that your once calm hive has superceded (replaced their queen) and the new queen mated with at least some drones from the more aggressive hive resulting in more aggressive bees. As Grant suggests requeening with gentler stock would be the best solution.

  19. if we could at least find a large area where we could agree to have only italian or carni stock, that would be a start.

    and then maybe could arrange VHS stock only or something like that and take it from there.


    Why would you start with just carnis or just italians? I agree finding a large isolated area would be the way set up a breeding program, but then get queens from as many different places around the country as possible and then get into the breeding and selection (ideally survival being the selection criteria). The larger the genetic pool you start with the more likely you'll get a combination of genes that works.

  20. Not much point in a comparison with only 1 nuc in each group. If you get a difference between the two after mating you would still have no idea what caused it (too many other variables in the system). If you're confident there are not too many mites wait until the queens are mated and laying and then treat if necessary.

  21. Just watch the dose on repeat treatments Fraz, OA can accumulate. It would probably be good to work out a total annual hive budget for OA., like 2g/hive/a. See if you find this useful:

    @Dave Black Do you have a reference for build up of OA in the hive with repeat doses?

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