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BSB last won the day on January 24

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About BSB

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    House Bee


  • Business name
    Blue Sky Beekeeping Ltd
  • DECA Holder
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    Bee Breeder
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  1. Yep and I push that too....heavy spring demand is a relatively new thing.
  2. We have a number of clients booking in for the next seasons spring or over wintered queens towards the end of the season. If you are just after small numbers later in the year is fine. In the past the question from new clients generally revolved around availability, not breeding or practices and some times not even cost. That seemed crazy to me tbh and I always talked through what we do to ensure everyone was on the same page. In part that was to ensure that the extra effort and care that we put into what we do was recognized, and if I'm honest, in part to differentiate our business from others. I have always maintained that good breeding is part science part art....I have spoken with other beekeepers about the different types of beekeepers around. The first should be no where near a hive cause they are sloppy, the 2nd kind is a technician who can follow a plan and is fine but limited, and the 3rd is the intuitive beekeeper who can feel, almost sense, what is going on in a hive when opening it. Breeders are the same. If you are looking for a breeder I would say do your research on their years beekeeping and breeding, how they run their operation and their scale. I would personally not buy from anyone running less than 400-600 supply hives or who didnt at least buy in some genetics. I also wouldn't buy from anyone where the owner/manager wasnt out caging and celling themselves. I believe that without full and direct oversite beekeepers and workers often cut corners...its a hot and hard job after all. I dont believe that at the end of a long day or week when you have a last site to pull honey from or the last queens to get that you are doing as thorough disease checks on hives or queen quality checks without oversite. Queens are a little different to other stock in the range of their open matings ie less control however good breeders should be able to largely mitigate that....cells well it's a cheap option and you are getting a lot of quality genetics and ip but still only controlling half the equation on the matings. There is a fair bit of evidence around nutrition and its importance in cell development and therefore queen development so buying in from breeders is still well worthwhile. Right, better go put some cells out before the sun comes up and I lose the will to live in the heat 🙂
  3. Yep, we are all go through till the end of March here!
  4. We have always sold to hobbyists, the only sticking point with them in the past has been that orders often come in the week that they need it and we are often fully booked out with others who order months or years in advance. While dealing with large clients is sometimes easier in terms of queens per interaction, just in amount of time. I have always found that the enthusiasm of hobbiests is quite up lifting. I agree breeding is like a pyramid general hives at the bottom then drone supply hives with breeders at the top. The more that you have in your pyramid the better the breeders are and therefore queens/cells. We are constantly monitoring and marking hives/queens that we may want to use. The other aspect is that inexperienced breeders ( or those who dont care) cage anything that is laying not taking into account what the pattern is like, if they are drone laying etc....anything we are not sure about has a line put on its cage and is run through another nuc for at least a further 2 weeks before we make a call on it. Anything laying poorly is pinched.
  5. So everyone knows that things are a bit 'interesting' in the industry at the moment. There are also some things going on with respect to queens and queen breeding too. A number of beekeepers are all of a sudden 'queen breeders' also. I personally find this a little insulting. We eschewed the honey money and developed our breeding program over the past 12 years. Anyone can produce a few cells, maybe even a few queens but delivering high quality queens consistently to order is a bit more challenging than that! I now hear that some of the new breeders (honey producers until a year ago) are buying from others, marking up and on selling the queens while still claiming to be breeders....yeah that's not how it works. A bit or schmoozing and marketing doesnt make you a queen breeder...and I dont believe that the supplying operation will be as careful with the product when their name isnt on the product. The queen is your hive motor....without a good one you are just wasting money no matter how cheap it is... find a reputable breeder who has a track record and is hands on and spend your money is my advice. Or breed your own and uss a breeder for extra support/diversity supply or to patch up in poor mating seasons.
  6. When we were involved in organic pollination a while back the requirement was that they not be under treatment when we put the hives in. Our requirement was that they not spray while we had hives in the orchard.
  7. Things are tight in the industry and people are looking to cut costs and generate income from sources that they hadn't previously. That all makes sense but rather than looking to grow the pie it seems that everyone is looking to get their bit of other people's slice. In the past week I have heard of 2 overseas clients being poached from those who developed them by other NZ beekeepers who are selling honey at well below cost. Similarly everyone seems to be attaching 'queen breeder' to their company name in the hope that the queens that they have carried through from last spring can be sold as 'overwintered' and that their beekeepers ( who arent breeders) can produce quality, consistent queens to sell to others. I guess this is what the industry has become at least for the short term until a few beekeepers and companies are shaken out but geez it is depressing. Honey is not really my game but queens are, and in my mind an effective breeding program is much more than just throwing some cells into a nuc. There are a lot of things that we do, developed over years that increase our productivity, quality and consistency that someone playing af queens wont have a clue about. I just hope that the $10 or $15 some people save on queens from fly by nighters at the front end doesn't cost them $100's in lost production at the back end.
  8. I have been surprised by the attitude of many beekeepers buying from me in the past. When the industry was hot it was all about availability, many didn't even ask about price or even breed let alone the other, more important info. Having a chat to the breeder about what they do and what they breed for would be a minimum I would think and yes, test running a few queens/ cells/ virgins would also be wise. Finding someone who has the same ethos and ethics around beekeeping is a good idea I reckon. As noted, once the insect leaves our hands it is pretty hard to track how they are cared for and/or introduced. Its pretty rough pinning failure on me as a breeder when there is such a wide variation in skill level in the industry. One missed virgin in a hive and that will likely be it for my queen. That said I do follow up with clients regarding service and product and as it is my name behind what I sell, and my hands all over the queens that go out the door I take my quality control seriously. I note that there have been a number of new entrants into queen breeding.. personally you couldn't pay me enough to take their products. Breeding is part science, part art and most of the newbies don't have enough of either to be much good in my opinion....though their ads do look flash and shiny. 16+years beekeeping and most of that breeding here and overseas....you'd hope by now I know what I'm doing. 😀
  9. The key to my mind is talking to each breeder about what they do and what they are trying to get. There are a number of breeders out there who look flash on paper but have no clue what they are doing and poor quality control if any....calling them breeders is kind of insulting to those who do it for a living. People who do queens on the side of their other business wouldn't be my choice tbh.
  10. Try changing the excluder for a mat with an entrance cut out. Assuming strength is good and they are set up right it should be sweet.
  11. I would suggest that 'working with the wider industry' might be where at least some of the issues arise.
  12. Not to mention beekeeping organisations putting their hands out for grant funding from the levy to conduct research of dubious practical use and/or to prop their businesses up. Case in point all of the VSH research money that vanished off into the ether a few years back. All very visible while the money flowed and completely invisible for the past few years. Whether you voted for or against the levy it is clear that many beekeepers feel disconnected from ApiNZ.
  13. Enough in each of the presentations that I saw to make the day worth doing. There were definitely a lot of people scribbling away at Sue Coby and the single vs double brood debate although most of that info was pretty obvious to an experienced beekeeper I would have thought. I am hoping that todays presentations are going to go deeper (and hopefully more technical) which will be more interesting for me. I always find it interesting to see how much things have changed since my first conference (in Nelson when I was still working and living in the north island). I come sporadically and the growth of products and suppliers supplying things that we 'need' to keep our bees healthy and thriving is always interesting also. My personal opinion (which I have stated here previously) is that if you are going to increase production and hive health better beekeeping/training, site location and young/good queens along with hive health/varroa control are the first steps and the key ones. A $100,000 truck with a lifter is a tool and sometimes a useful one but it should come after the basics of hive work and health if you want to make money at this game....as for seaweed and other inputs, some of my clients swear by them and if they are applied after you have done the hard/less glamorous work all good. There are no silver bullets to hives thriving unfortunately. Good to spend some time with a few of the commercial beekeepers around and get their feel for what is going on....general consensus is that the truck and lifter guys will be having a hard conference this year despite the number of beekeepers drooling over the rigs on show.
  14. I'll be staying over there for the full run. I dont really fancy going back and forth so I have accommodation booked.
  15. Just wondering who might be heading down our way for the Apiculture NZ conference this year. I haven't been since the last one in Taupo a few years ago mainly due to a feeling that I was being sold to rather than informed by it (kind of the same feeling that I get from the Beekeeper now too). Thought it was about time to poke my head in and as this year is just down the road it seemed like a good chance. Not sure if anyone has posted up about this already, I couldn't find anything but if they already have, apologies. But if anyone is around it might be a good chance to catch up face to face...always nice to put a face to the name and opinions. ?
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