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Posts posted by Bikernz

  1. 9 hours ago, Maggie James said:

    What is the process of follow up to check that the qPCR testing is accurate?  

    R U referring to individual beekeepers paying for the AFB sniffer dog service in their outfit, or to something else?

    There is work underway the validate the test accuracy but I am no expert on lab procedures. As I understand it checking new processes against existing standards is routine in a lab.

    1 hour ago, tommy dave said:

    i would hope that it never becomes an approved alternative to visual inspections, the only real strength of the AFB rules right now is that every hive has to receive visual inspection at a minimum of once a year. Definitely useful to have more indication tools in the toolbox though.

    It would be great if other, complementary, steps became more common - whether they be hive sampling, running a dog through apiaries, etc.


    as a possible approach: imagine an AP2 working with a dog-handler and running a verified indicator dog through a series of geographically close apiaries over the course of one evening, marking and recording the indicated hives/apiaries, and then using this to inform targeted visual inspection over the following day(s)

    Good point. Regular inspections will still be the mainstay of managing apiaries. I was really just focussed on how to improve the specific AFB outcome. 

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  2. One of the weaknesses of the current approach to managing AFB, IMHO, is that we rely on humans to visually identify it. Scanning over brood frame after brood frame looking for even a single cell that has been infected. I know very well from previous experience in high volume electronic component manufacturing that people, no matter how well intentioned, are not reliable at this type of repetitive task. We are looking for needles in haystacks at reported incidence rates of ~0.3% (yes, I know there is probably an under-reporting issue too). I believe that we need to engage modern science and use lab techniques like qPCR testing based on a sample of bees. It is very sensitive and the machines that do this work don’t get tired, have bad days, etc.


    The WDBA (Waikato Domestic Beekeepers Association) is about to start its third season of getting bee samples from members and having them tested in a lab. Not all members participate at this stage but with more work this will change - it is a long term project. Traditional AFB inspections are still required but hopefully in the future, after reviewing a body of evidence, this new technique will become an approved alternative to visual inspections. It may also turn out that some other pathogens can be diagnosed at the same time providing critical information in a timely manner to the beekeeping operation.


    There is the task of collecting samples that may seem like a show-stopper but give it some thought. I recall that Randy Oliver took the cumbersome process of doing alcohol wash varroa mite counts and incrementally industrialised it so that it only took seconds to do.

  3. On 10/04/2020 at 11:06 AM, Alastair said:

    Male wool carders are aggressive to any other pollinator. Except female wool carders. I saw one have a crack at a blowfly also.


    Trevor looking at that pic I'm not convinced it is a wool carder. Also I'm not sure if a mantis could eat a wool carder, they have a very hard shell.




    On 10/04/2020 at 9:02 AM, Maggie James said:





    Carder bees seem to be of European origin.  MPI thinks they are unlikely to have a noticeable effect on NZ's api industry, and they don't appear to annoy our native bees.  The only bit I could see about being aggression to other insects, was male carders v male carders.  They are called wool carders, cos the strip the hairs of plants to build their nests e.g. off thistles and lamb ear plants.  Check this link http://www.terrain.net.nz/friends-of-te-henui-group/bees-and-wasps/bee-wool-carder-bee-anthidium-manicatum.html

    I have noticed a lot of these European Wool Carder Bees here in the north Waikato this year. The males (quite a bit larger than the females) can be very aggressive towards other insects and they have no respect for size or who was there first. I have seen them bombing bumblebees and white butterflies on the Hysop plant in my garden. They also like to build their small nests around the window frames on the north side of the house.

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  4. I use top feeders and also leave them permanently in place on each hive, just moving the mat underneath when feeding is not required (otherwise the bees wav up all the underside of the feeder tray). There are no issues with needing the hive to be level when using the newer feeder trays having a bee access in all corners. I don’t use the central chimney.  However, I did find that putting the mat directly over the syrup feeder tray caused the mat to go mouldy. This seemed to be due to the hive heat causing moisture to be driven off the syrup and that moisture then condensing on the mat. My solution was to add a sheet of polystyrene under the mat. I used the stuff that gets put behind concrete block walls before they backfill with scoria. It’s about 15mm thick. I also have a couple of hives where I have used a piece of coreflute (real estate sign). Both appear to work well. These extra layers always stay over the feeder tray, only the mat shifts under or over as the season changes.

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