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john berry

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john berry last won the day on April 15

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About john berry

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    Guard Bee

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  • Beekeeping Experience
    Commercial Beekeeper

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    Hawke's Bay

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  1. I have been told they can't and have never seen them do it despite having plenty of grapes at home. I've seen a large vineyard where virtually every bunch was damaged by wasps but I have never seen grapes damaged by bees and I have plenty of grapes at home. The theory is that bees mouthparts are not adapted for chewing holes in things and they certainly don't have the chewing abilities of wasps and bumblebees. They chew the wax into shape and will remove staples and stuff like newspaper eventually, but they take a long time doing it. Honeybees don't chew their way into flowers like some bumblebees and I would have thought flower petals were softer than grape skins. Margaret Anne your observation is interesting and I would be fascinated to hear from anyone else who has also seen this behaviour . Was it just one variety? Are bees learning new tricks.
  2. They turn the honeydew into a type of honey. Unfortunately willow honeydew is not particularly nice and also crystallises very fast and hard and some of the sugars in the willow honeydew are also indigestible to bees. Long-term the aphids also damage and can even kill the host willow tree. There is a science project running at the moment with the aim of bringing in a parasite to naturally control the giant willow aphid. Willows are a very valuable source of spring nectar and pollen and this is far more valuable to beekeepers than the honeydew so the faster the aphids are controlled the better. Bees have an easy working range of 2 km and if the nectar source is good enough they will fly up to about 8 km.
  3. No they can't be caught and it wouldn't be ethical to trap someone else's bees anyway even if you could. They will be gathering honeydew which is produced by the giant willow aphid feeding on your willow tree and while they may all be bees they are most likely a mixture of bees and wasps. The other possibility of course is there is a hollow in your willow tree and a swarm of bees has moved in but from your description I would go for the honeydew theory.
  4. Bees will work grapes for grape juice at this time of year. They do not pierce the grapes themselves and are unable to do so. They are attracted to the remains after mechanical harvesting and to bird and wasp damaged fruit. Some grape growers blame bees for damage that they cannot cause and others like them because they clean up damaged fruit and help to prevent rot spreading to the rest of the bunch. For next year, tell the neighbour to cover the great from birds and poison the wasps before the grapes ripen and they won't have any trouble.
  5. You can't eat a motorbike but then again it doesn't kick you in the head after you fall off. I think I'll stick with my ute.
  6. I have written to Damien O'Connor on this issue and his reply was polite but noncommittal. There is nothing further I can do as an individual so it is up to the industry organisations to sort this out and I will be watching closely to see whether Apinz or New Zealand Beekeeping Inc do the best job. The standard is wrong and seriously wrong at that and if the minister and MPI can't see this they are either seriously misled or totally incompetent. If we must have a standard then at least it should be fit for purpose . It is not acceptable that good manuka honey does not always meet the standard and some is classed as non-manuka. It's as stupid as saying 10% of sheep are actually goats and we have the science to prove it. PS if you keep the sheep too long it may turn into a woolly goat.
  7. I agree with Trevor that MPI standards are self-inflicted on the beekeeping industry. They were necessary to rain in the Cowboys but it would have been nice if they had been fit for purpose and it's annoying that honest beekeepers have to suffer for other people's sins. Does anyone know which and how many companies have a (special) relationship with MPI and how this relationship works. I can't help wondering whether some of these companies are benefiting financially from the current situation and therefore are again some obvious and common sense changes. I know nothing about the special relationships except that they are supposed to exist.
  8. You learn something new every day. Before this if I had been asked what an Eke had to do with beehives I would have probably said it was the noise I made when a mouse jumped out unexpectedly.
  9. The problem I have with protected cells is that it's just too variable. You can put them out in the same hives at the same time of year and do well one year and terribly the next. You also end up with a percentage that are queenless with early research suggesting it was around 10%. I have tried it in the past and then gone back and carefully checked results and they weren't good enough for me. I have heard it said that most losses occur when the new Queen returns from a mating flight rather than in the hive but I have not verified this myself. I think protected cells have mainly gained favour because they are easy to use and relatively cheap , couple this with a lot of modern beekeepers distinct lack of knowledge and skill when it comes to finding queens and you see why so many people use them. If you really must use protected cells I suggest you do every hive every year ,preferably when there is still some sort of honey flow on . Beware! Putting out protected cells to early can lead to a percentage of swarming occasionally.. I have heard it said that Tweeddales put the cell straight on the floor but I have also heard that they tip the box back and place the cell between the bottoms of the frames. Not sure which is true but cells are a lot tougher than we give them credit for. I once forgot a couple of cells which I had sat on top of a lid and although it was a fairly cool autumn night, the next day they were emerging quite happily.
  10. Basically the standards we have now are stupid. Indifferent manuka is considered pure. Almost pure manuka can be non-manuka High activity manuka can do something to the DNA and becomes high activity non-manuka. MPI have got it wrong.
  11. For years we had nothing but tin top covers and although mine are all wood now I'm not sure it made that much difference. The bees heat the space they are using and ignore the rest which is exactly what they supposed to do. I've kept some bees in some pretty cold country and I don't really think there's anywhere in New Zealand cold enough to warrant extra installation.As for bottom ventilation I know a lot of people swear by it but I also know experienced beekeepers with some of each who would not use ventilated floors again. The bottom line is bees overwinter perfectly well in New Zealand with solid floors and top boards without any extra insulation.If my hives don't need it, they don't get it.
  12. I think a lot of beekeepers underestimate the importance of stored pollen for late winter and early spring brood rearing. Personally I would take off the box of honey and then feed sugar if the second box had less than 15 kg of honey. Plenty of people do over winter hives three high with no problems. There is a lot more than one right way to do things.
  13. Haven't seen any broodless yet but like Alistair I am mostly just seeing sealed brood and no eggs. Some still have good solid brood while a lot are pretty patchy and some have abandoned outlying brood to the cold which is surprising because it's not really cold, in fact the weather has been really nice for this time of year. Given the conditions there is a lot less brood than I would have expected. Hives generally have tons of stores and plenty of bees.
  14. I have seen queens that didn't lay but did produce enough Queen pheromone to stop them raising a new Queen but they are very very rare. I would definitely put some brood in with the new Queen with plenty of young bees as well. This will help with the acceptance of the new Queen. At this time of year I don't usually bother trying to save hives but there's no reason why you can't if you want to put in the effort.
  15. Jeff. The best case scenario is that you're hive has died from being queenless.. The most likely scenario is that it has died from varroa and there is a reasonable chance that it has died from American foulbrood. You need to urgently remove the hive to an environment where bees cannot gain access . Unfortunately when a hive dies it has the potential to impact on beekeepers for many kilometres around. Even if it was varoa it will still have a bad effect on surrounding hives and a robbed out AFB will mean the destruction by fire of a lot of hives belong to a lot of beekeepers.Worry about your neighbours hives before you worry about a bit of honey.
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