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Don Mac

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Don Mac last won the day on October 20

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About Don Mac

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  1. Oh dears. Our industry has a problem - still more worried about who does the work with the money - rather than look at the issue I wrote about. 5 words lamenting the fact we do not have funding for research for our industry. Look what it created. Sorry guys. Looks like many of you folk have forgotten what a neonicotinoid looks like and what it does. I would like to hear from those concerned about pesticide residues in our environment.........
  2. Diane, examine the dead bees carefully. Have they all got their tongues out? This is a first up sign of pesticide poisoning. Take a ziplock bag and sample about 50 dead bees in each, date and place in freezer. If it is pesticide poisoning you will have to get a sample tested to confirm the pesticide used - such as this pesticide screen at Hills Labs or Asure Quality. Phone the lab for advice. Please report this incident to the EPA - on line service even for 'suspected poisoning' . https://www.epa.govt.nz/everyday-environment/animals-and-insects/bees/pollinator-incident-report-form/ Finally ask your neighbours if they have been spraying in the last day or two. Communicating that you have bees and that your bees can be affected during spraying is the best means of reducing this happening.
  3. Hi Beekeepers and interested readers. The first survey ever of the effects of neonicotinoid pesticides has been published in NZ. Imidacloprid was first registered as a seed treatment in 1992 and it has taken 27 years to research and publish environmental data on its fate in our soils. You see the EPA or MPI or growers do not do any monitoring or measuring of pesticides and their effects in the environment. And this study by Dr Chris Pook (now working at the Liggins Institute) was only done because beekeepers said they could not keep their hives alive near maize growing areas immediately after harvest. His study measured the levels of neonicotinoids in the soil. We do not know yet how this is connected to the death of the hive. More research needed - oh for a funding levy! Some of this work was presented at an Apiculture Conference in Rotorua three years ago and at the EPA Hearing for APP202077. Now it has been published internationally unfortunately behind a pay wall. But the press release is attached. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0269749119301381?via%3Dihub https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2019.113075 Press release - Chris Pook 2019 - Neonicotinoid residues in NZ maize field soil.docx
  4. Hi folks, I want to update those following this thread of where we are at with this bee kill. We have learnt that the spray tank contained a mixture of Wuxal Amino + Spreadwet 1000 + some foliar minerals. It is not a single component mixture. The avocados were sprayed during the middle of the day. There are two possible causes to the loss of bees. 1) Nosema ceranae. As a possible cause it fits because there are no dead bees in or around the hives. The bees normally abscond when they leave the hive leaving a queen and a cadre of bees. We can diagnose bee samples for Nosema ceranae. It has been an identified problem around east cape this early spring I am told. Tristan I believe has not had a bee sample diagnosed so I cannot discard this possible cause. But he has told me the hives removed from the site to a new location and beginning to show signs of rejuvenation - 'they are gathering strength'. 2) The spraying of foraging bees whilst the avocados were flowering with the spray mixture detailed above. I have tried to make contact with all involved. Horticentre is the importer and distributor of Wuxal Amino. They have spoken to me twice since I contacted them initially. They said they have never had a problem with any bee kills with Wuxal products which are foliar nutrient products. The German manufacturer was in the country last week and he reported no evidence of beekills. But they admitted they have no testing data - that is they have not tested the product to the accepted international OECD standards for bee safety as a minimum requirement. And secondly they have no data on bee safety when their product is used in a tank mixture. Horticentre did express concern that this happened. Hopefully they will put a warning on the label to not spray during flowering. SST New Zealand is the importer and distributor of Spreadwet 1000 mostly consisting of Poly(oxy-1,2-ethanediyl), alpha-(4-nonylphenyl)-omega-hydroxy-, branched. I have emailed them, outlined the problem, but to date they have not bothered to reply. SST NZ is related to SST Australia and is a specialty chemical supplier of spray tank adjuvants such as surfactants and penetrants. There is no evidence of any ecotoxicological data or bee safety information on their Safety Data Sheet for Spreadwet 1000 despite the product having these hazardous properties; acutely toxic 6.1E, Irritating to the skin 6.3A, Substance that is corrosive to ocular tissue 8.3A etc. Toxic to aquatic life 9.1D and harmful for terrestrial vertebrates 9.3C. Note the HSNO Classification. http://www.sstnewzealand.co.nz/cms/content/uploads/2017/05/X01E8_SPREADWET-1000-NZ_NEW-ZEALAND.pdf My experience is that these guys will have no testing on honey bees as per OECD guidelines and they will avoid the discussion when challenged. They will tell you surfactants are safe, but they all hazardous in some way - see the hazard classification for Spreadwet 1000. I have gathered no information on the mineral products added to the spray tank. Mineral products used as foliar nutrient products are not regulated by the EPA or MPI - so it is a cowboy market (like surfactants). Until these products are regulated like pesticides we are still going to experience problems. At the moment we do have a problem as we cannot do an assay of dead bees to determine the effects of foliar nutrient products and surfactants. Testing with a pesticide screen can identify up to 250 different products, but these screens do not cover these specific products. If we cannot analyze it is almost impossible to make a determination of what killed our bees. I want to thank Tristan's efforts, especially when he is presently flat out in the busiest time of the year. I believe he has reported this as a pollinator incident to the EPA which should always be done. If you are involved in pollination of major crops at this time of the year, I recommend maintaining good communication especially during flowering with the orchard owner or manager. Do share with them the details of The Bee Protection programme a joint effort by AgCARM and Apiculture NZ - brochures available from the Api NZ office. http://agcarm.co.nz/wp-content/uploads/Bee-Tri-Fold-Brochure-web.pdf
  5. I had a very good phone call with Tristan last night and the supplier of Wuxal Amino, Horticentre has been in touch with me. So we have some more unanswered questions.....so Monday will be very busy.
  6. @tristan Can you please contact me. Ph 021336580
  7. Hi Tristan, sorry to hear about your loss of bees. Wuxal Amino falls into the 'mystery mixture products'......because liquid fertilizer products and surfactants are not regulated by the EPA. And that really frustrates me as it should frustrate you. Complain to your local MP. @Dave Black is dead right it is a foliar fert, applied as a biostimulant to fruit trees and vines. https://horticentre.co.nz/wp-content/uploads/Technical Sheets/Wuxal Amino.pdf What exactly is the composition of the product is a mystery. The SDS states the following; Preparation:Liquid hydrolysate of amino acid Description:Aqueous solution of amino acid hydrolysate. Amino acids and peptides obtained by enzymatic hydrolysis Reference - https://horticentre.co.nz/wp-content/uploads/Safety Datasheets/Wuxal Amino SDS.pdf The SDS states it is non hazardous in the environment (see Section 12). But we know if the surfactant properties claimed on this tech bulletin, it is most likely to knock down foraging bees. https://horticentre.co.nz/wp-content/uploads/Technical Sheets/Wuxal Amino.pdf Note there are two products, another called Wuxal Aminoplant https://horticentre.co.nz/wp-content/uploads/Safety Datasheets/Wuxal Aminoplant SDS.pdf You will note that this What can you do; Please communicate with the orchard manager/ owner and tell him of your bee loss. Ask him nicely if he can find out if the product has been tested for bee safety? Find out if additional products (stickers, penetrants were added to the spray tank). Ask him to get his supplier representative to contact you to discuss. Horticentre should be using a stronger standard of technical bulletin. If you have no luck, I will drop in and see them at Head Office which is nearby. Report the incident to the EPA _ pollinator incidents report form; https://www.epa.govt.nz/everyday-environment/animals-and-insects/bees/pollinator-incident-report-form/ Tell them that the SDS suggests it is non hazardous in the environment, and ask them to investigate the SDS claim. Doing nothing is not helpful to many other beekeepers or for us with respect to our dealings with the regulator. We are meeting the EPA next week, so report it now, and I will raise it with them. Thank you for informing us of this incident. Every bit of info of an adverse event is very helpful. DonMac PS to prevent future incidents happening give the orchard owner and the Wuxal representative one of these brochures - simple spraying rules to protect honey bees. http://agcarm.co.nz/wp-content/uploads/Bee-Tri-Fold-Brochure-web.pdf
  8. Kaihoka. It was not ramarama, it was NZ Myrtle, Rohutu Lophomyrtus obcordata http://nzpcn.org.nz/flora_details.aspx?ID=943 Note it is now identified as a threatened species. The observation is most recent, 9th March and 10 to 25 infected plants were noted. https://inaturalist.nz/observations/21107914 The observer was well qualified to make the observation - Alex Fergus His job; Ecology technician (field botanist mostly) at Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research, Is this site near you?
  9. I agree Stoney. All stakeholders will wish to be involved. My concern is that many may not know the seriousness of threat myrtle rust presents to the myrtacae species. No country has eradicated myrtle rust. It has economically wiped out significant species around the world until they have found short term solutions. This is not scare mongering it is a fact. Smart land managers maximising farm income will want to consider all strengths, weaknesses and threats to their new investments.
  10. I do not like cold calling phone calls from folk I have no connection to. So I feel exactly like Trevor - my privacy has been invaded. This also happens with some privacy invaded emails I get more of today. Today I recieved two emails from beekeepersagainstapitax@gmail.com The email is not signed by any individual, probably sent by a gutless shame faced individual who will not stand up. But is prepared to criticise those who have stood up and worked for this cause for sometime. What I liked was the postal address given - Beekeepers Against Api Tax The Queen Bee The Beehive Wellington, Wellington 6011 New Zealand I think emails like this are also an invasion of privacy. Why did they put New Zealand on the address - there must be a lot of AFB levy payers from overseas I can conclude.
  11. Do not be surprised to learn Frazzled that there is no systematic surveying or monitoring programme under way for myrtle rust in NZ. This may well change over the coming months. From my data base, which is not systematic, just collecting information; Ramarama has been the most susceptible species. Pohutukawa has been infected with confirmed myrtle rust. Some of the first sites in the Bay of Plenty and in Northland were infected pohutukawa. The first Manuka infection was identified in a nursery in Taranaki. Plant & Food have been running a large programme in Australia in exposing manuka families (there is no genotyping of strains of manuka yet) to MR over the past 12 months. They have measuring the resistance to MR for both stem and leaf infections - note it also infects flowers. The Australia strain of MR is the same we have in NZ. Rata - I have no reports on Rata to date. Suggest you look at the observations on I Naturalist - note there are few observers. https://inaturalist.nz/observations?place_id=6803&taxon_id=549208 Learn how to identify MR with this on line course - http://myrtlerust.org.nz/ A big problem is lack of interest by NZers. In January Manaaki Whenua reported 100 queries about MR, only got 9 in February. The problem is growing but the interest of NZers in what is happening is declining. Perhaps they realise it will not go away! Some beekeeper funding would have been very helpful to bring to the table - but that is not going to happen.
  12. Might not need to spray the manuka @Nab. The way myrtle rust is gathering steam, it will wipeout the manuka for you. Attended last week's MR stakeholders meeting and NZ has to do alot to slow its spread. Australia has had two myrtacae species go extinct and a third is on its way due to this fungus. Australia has identified 350 susceptible species, NZ has identified 28 species. No family of NZ manuka has shown 100% resistance to myrtle rust in Australian based testing. It appears well established in the South Island, in forest south of Farewell Spit. Main species being affected is Ramarama. NZ has not invested in any research into Botany especially our native species in recent years. There is still very little known about native plant phenology versus MR life cycle. Here we are extracting manuka honey with very little scientific knowledge about the very ecosystem we are working in. It is showing the classic biosecurity incursion growth curve for NZ. Showing up in spread areas and increasing it's presence. It is going to take a number of research teams working on many facets of this disease to find a solution to protect our unique position plus a lot of money and time. Want to know more then start living on this website - http://www.myrtlerust.org.nz/ And if you see something suspicous, photo it and send it to INaturalist - https://inaturalist.nz/ Life is tough and maybe tougher for many beekeepers. So I am not surprised to hear some folk will bail out of this industry.
  13. Thank you for sharing this with the forum Dave. My knowledge and some limited experience with entomopathogenic fungi in beehives, includes beauvaria bassiana, lecancillium lecanni and metarhizium. The major problem was keeping the fungi active and alive inside the hive as the thermal death temperature for the fungi was normally just below the temperature of the hive. Back about 2008 (thereabouts) Plant & Food found this out when they tried to develop metarhizium for varroa control and they could not get it to survive in the hive. The fungi killed varroa and was safe to bees (when tested outside the hive - it showed promise) but the fungi could not be kept alive and therefore active once introduced to the hive. https://www.sciencelearn.org.nz/resources/2453-fighting-a-little-bee-mite I am aware of attempts to introduce the other entomopathogenic fungi and they have failed when introduced to the hive. Temperature and the humidity in the hive appear to be the limiting factor. To be successful in controlling varroa with an entomopathogenic fungi you need to accomplish two things; 1) keep the fungi alive in the hive for a few days at least so it can grow and multiply. 2) in order to grow and multiply the fungal spores needs to attach to the varroa, infect it and then grow and release more spores. Some photos of beauvaria bassiana infecting cicada here. http://www.terrain.net.nz/friends-of-te-henui-group/fungi-te-henui/parasitic-fungi.html My thinking is that it will be effective on adult varroa only and unlikely to infect larvae. These fungi are used in horticultural covered crops in NZ and the secret to their success is maintaining humidity to enable the entomopathogenic fungi to grow through the crop. Glasshouses can closely control humidity and temperature to ensure success. Growers spray the fungi spores throughout the whole crop so the spores come into contact with the target insects - they stick to the insect, then pentrate the cuticle and then grow, the insect dies and they then release more spores. It has occurred to me that in North America that their hives may have a lower interior temperature during winter than ours do in NZ and Australia - but not sure about this. The paper you shared gave me two new insights. a) the ability to now GC-MS analyse the cuticular hydrocarbons (CHCs) of fungus-exposed versus unexposed bees. b) that even naturally occurring fungus can affect bees behaviour, especially leading to drift. Thank you for sharing this paper.
  14. CBank - very good question. I agree that there would be real stink if someone did offer "honey hinted oxalic acid". There are two issues in the Food Safety Document Maximum Residues for Agricultural Compounds and they do require clarification from MPI Food Safety in my opinion. There is no MRL listed for oxalic acid, so the default limit would be 0.1mg/kg. See page 4. This is in .Part 6 of the Food Regulations 2015 (the regulations) But it is listed as having an exemption in Appendix 3 of the same document. Now I have not seen any residue data showing the levels of oxalic acid that have been detected in honey. If I had access to residue data the questions I would ask: is the default level being exceeded by some types of OA treatment or not? We also have to consider that oxalic acid is a common naturally occurring plant based product and if you seek on google you will find many foods contain oxalic acid. Rhubarb leaves have such high levels they are considered toxic to eat, hence we eat only the stem. But it appears in a single serving we can eat 100mg - 900 mg / serving in beet greens, rhubarb stems, spinach,nuts and other foods safely and our body can synthesize it. Like much of what we eat we consume some bad actors with the good ones - which means there is no perfectly safe diet. I am not aware of any evidence that OA levels are excessively high in honey or have caused a problem anywhere overseas. So that is an answer which is not conclusive.......but we just do not know. My advice do not put any honey in the OA jar or the OA/glycerine pot without thorough cleaning.
  15. If you can find out the herbicide they are spraying, can you also check what they are adding to the spray tank. I would be interested in knowing if they are using any organo silicone surfactants because that would definitely knock the bees out. Based on GWA activity in Franklin, bees are already harvesting with the wasps GWA honeydew. So if middle of day spraying is occurring then local beekeepers may get their foraging bees knocked out.
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