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john berry

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Posts posted by john berry

  1. I personally have no doubt that dogs are very effective at detecting both clinical and subclinical AFB..

    Entrance swabs can do the same thing and testing of bulk honey can detect if somebody has a problem.

    These are all useful tools and could and should be used to detect when someone has an unidentified problem but the only way we have of differentiating clinical and subclinical hives at the moment is a visual inspection. I'm not sure what the difference in cost is between a dog and a swab but I suspect swabs will give a more accurate picture of the spore loading on the particular hive whereas a dog will only be able to to say yes or no. 

    I have some hives that have been tested twice if anyone wants to run a dog around them and compare results.

  2. Had a cruise round today checking hives. Coastal hives have been doing okay but the rest are pretty disappointing. Still some life in the clover but it doesn't seem to have yielded much.

    Can't help feeling that the season is going to be a bit of a flop but it's a bit too soon to give up yet.

    Cold, windy and dry today.

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  3. Bad weather obviously has  a strong effect on mating success but over the years I have also had apiarys which for no obvious reason always seem to have well below average mating success.

    I have also had sites that regularly have well above average success with over 90% not being unusual.

    I am sure that shelter has some effect but one apiary in particular that always had lousy mating was in a beautifully sheltered and productive site.

    I generally don't raise many queens in spring but if I do I don't start till there are enough drones and try and finish before  the equinoxial  gales start. Autumn weather tends to be far more settled but unless there is a really bad drought I don't start until 15 February as for some reason you get poorer results before this time and I like to be finished by 15 March but you can go a lot later than that if you need to depending on the season.

     

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  4. Years ago when I lived in a dairy farming area I couldn't grow tomatoes or grapes because of hormone spray drift. I had a similar problem where I live now when I got some really nice topsoil from a dairy farm and all the tomatoes curled their toes (and their leaves) up. I am not sure whether I should be worried about glyphosate residues in my food or not but I am sure there are plenty of things that are worse.

  5. I have seen fantastic manuka crops the year after a drought and also after very wet years. Manuka certainly flowers better some years and I suspect it has a poor flowering after a heavy seed set the year before but I'm not sure as there are just too many variables. It'snot just how many flowers there are but whether they all come out together and how long they last. Some years around here anyway they come out and then just wither up . Some areas are pretty reliable and can produce a crop nearly every year while others only yield every four or five years or on one apiary I used to have once in 20 years. High country manuka can also be severely affected for many years following bad snow break.

    And you have to have good weather as well.

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  6. Perhaps the majority of hobbyists struggle to find queens and I suspect the same may be the case these days for commercial beekeepers. Stroppy hives make it even harder to find the Queen and they are also harder to re-queen full stop as they tend to be less accepting of cage queens especially and even sometimes cells.

    If you have the skills to find  queens then you have a lot more options when it comes to re-queening but if you don't then protected cells are a reasonable fallback option with reasonable results.

    When you get queens from cells that have come from good quite stock then even if they mate with aggressive local stock the bees tend to be of reasonable temperament and of course the drones from that Queen will be exclusively from her genetics.

    You could for instance kill your aggressive Queen and then go through the hive seven days later and destroy every single queen cell. Then place a brood frame with some eggs from your quietest hive and you would have about an 80% chance of ending up with a reasonable Queen.

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  7. i have had a couple of goes with protected cells and have to say I was underwhelmed with them. We went through the hives afterwards and I can't remember the exact percentage but it wasn't  good enough to make me want to do it again. On the other hand it's an easy way to do it and if you only have a few hives you can always have several goes at it.

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  8. Genetics plays an important part but so does weather and high humidity is something that tends to wind them up.

    Bees on a honey flow are generally at their quietest but when there has been a dearth for a long time and they are just starting on some fresh honey they can be really grumpy for the first day or two. I got five stings today while checking a hive with a smoker but without any gear on.

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  9. 17 hours ago, Bighands said:

    DID you shoot anything?

    Let's just say that my mates now call me miss Berry.

    Thousands of acres of manuka where we were, all still in tight bud. If I was offered sites for free  up their I still wouldn't take them as its very high cold country, would be all helicopters and if it is like the rest of the Bay fairly low UMF plus that mountain manuka all flowers at the same time and generally only last two weeks and 14 days of that two weeks it normally either rains or blows.

    At least my mates got something so we won't go hungry.

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  10. When you get an AFB hive there is considerable cost involved. It's not just the loss of the hive that has to be burnt.

    You have to go and collect the hive. Usually several hours minimum.

    You have to burn the hive and that can take all day when you could be doing something else.

    Round here you have to get a fire permit and that is an enjoyable and frustrating minimum half-hour on the computer.

    Then there is the extra time spent checking remaining hives and neighbouring apiarys.

    Loss of crop including loss of crop from other hives in the apiary because they have not been evened up properly as swapping brood between hives is not a good idea when there is an AFB outbreak.

    If most of the AFB you get is domestic AFB from within your own outfit then you probably won't see much benefit from the levy increase but if the only AFB you get is from someone else then I really do believe you will see an actual cost benefit from the increase .

    Good beekeepers are not subsidising bad beekeepers. 

    They are paying someone to protect them from  bad beekeepers.

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  11. Unregistered apiarys get a notice under the lid and after 30 days they  can be destroyed. Unfortunately if the site is registered but all the hives are dead or there is gear lying around everywhere there is not a lot that can be done about it at the moment unless there is a reasonable suspicion that it is AFB infected.

    I am not sure whether an AP one has the ability to deregister a site themselves.

  12. In any given year I see quite a few drone layers and partial drone layers along with plenty of queenless hives. I have seen what I believed to be laying worker's but in my hives anyway they are very very uncommon and I literally can't remember when I saw my last one. I doubt if I would see one every five years.. They do exist but the vast majority of supposed laying worker's are just drone layers which are often are a lot harder to find than a good laying Queen. When I do find one I tend to  load it up with frames of brood and young bees and sooner or later it will usually come right .

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