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john berry

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Everything posted by john berry

  1. I worked an apiary today that was quite a bit weaker than I thought they would be , the brood was patchy which is a sign of pollen shortage. There were also very few adult bees in the hives. Apiarys 2 km away were really booming but this one was just a little bit close to the mountains and the wind.I killed one queen that was showing signs of becoming a drone layer. It was also a stroppy carniolan cross hives so I was quite happy to get rid of her.
  2. Since no one seems to want to say something nice about AMM bees I will give you my experience with them. They are nasty, unproductive , swarmy and disease prone. on the plus side they tend to be wasp resistant, frugal with their stores and produce beautiful white cappings. All the plus things can and have been bred into strains of Italian bees so unless you like being stung all of time there's not much point in keeping AMM's. There are societies dedicated to breeding AMM bees in England and when I was there a couple of years ago and worked with some they were every bit as
  3. Most of my hives were pretty good today but I found one weak hive that was obviously a partial drone layer. Luckily I spotted her running across the comb so it was a quick whack with the hive tool. Next thing I see her running away so I whacked it properly. Unfortunately I got the drone layer the first time and the nice young replacement Queen on the second hit. Sometimes when you have been beekeeping as long as I have your body reacts before your brain can kick into gear.
  4. I hear lots of stories about feral hives that have been there for years but they always turn out to have died of varoa and then been replaced almost straight away by a new swarm. Bees are quite selective about the cavities they use so they tend to go back time and again to the same spot and having wax in their already makes it even more desirable.
  5. I can't think of anywhere in Hawke's Bay that would never produce a honey crop but there are plenty of areas that don't produce enough on average to be worth keeping hives. They tend to be either the driest areas or the mountain areas. There are also a few areas that are natural wind funnels and they also tend to be a waste of time. The biggest problem I have at the moment is my dry areas which do produce a good average crop as long as there are not many hives. There must be some stunningly amazing beekeepers out there if they can make a crop off 32 hives when beekeepers that have been th
  6. Bees can and do work wind pollinated plants. Two days ago they were threshing the karamu for pollen even though there were other sources available. I agree with everyone else that they have to be pretty desperate to work pine trees however. I have seen bees collecting horse feed and also tar from the side of the road but I suspect the later was a propolis substitute.
  7. It's a bit before my time but that is my father Ian inside the mobile extracting plant with my grandfather Percy holding onto a 40 lb tin . The extractor is an eight frame reversible tangential which was pretty much standard gear for a long time after this photo was taken. 40 lb and 20 lb Tins were still used when I started beekeeping for storing extracted honey. I am sure that an in-depth study would show that there is more actual harm done from the stress of meeting modern standards than ever came from eating honey from a time when there were none.
  8. I wonder if the taste varies between different subspecies. Our local one has a distinctive chemical taste similar to brake fluid and people that try it are normally still trying to spit the taste out of their mouths half an hour later. I would rate it as worse than ragwort .
  9. I'm not an expert on this but my understanding is that the testing is both very sensitive and capable of detecting differing levels of infection. There is currently a lot of work being done on what different levels mean. The selection of the honey to be sampled will also not be random but will be particularly targeting beekeepers with no recorded AFB when their neighbours do have a problem. As I have said before they can't inspect every hive of every beekeeper and even the inspection now wastes a lot of time looking at perfectly healthy hives before you hit the jackpot.No spores, no need for i
  10. My preference would be to burn or give a full AFB paraffin treatment to the pallet and also to dig over the ground in front of the hive. Infected ground isn't supposed to be a huge risk but it is a slight risk and is something that can be easily dealt with.
  11. I am not keen on any levy increases especially at the moment but I am also not keen on my hives picking up any more AFB from neighbouring hives. The testing of 1000 honey samples will be expensive but also hopefully find some of those hidden, unreported AFB hotspots. There are some very large beekeeping\having operations out there that consistently report little or no AFB despite lots of evidence to the contrary. Large-scale Honey testing will identify whether they are being honest or not. It has always been difficult to identify who has a problem until the problem is so big it can't be h
  12. If anyone gets any kowhai honey this year they should try a finger full. It's a unique taste that you won't forget in a hurry.
  13. I would name and shame if I was 100% certain but I'm only about 95% . Over the years I have had AFB hives where I was 100% certain of the source but I have always tried to work with people and educate them as this is more productive in the long run but with corporate bee havers you might as well hit your head on a brick wall . Most beekeepers are capable of learning from their mistakes. Beehive owners , not so much.
  14. A month ago I treated a hive with formic acid pro. Before treating it I did an alcohol wash and got 21 varoa. I did an alcohol wash on the same hive today and got one varoa so it did work although I would have to say it was pretty harsh on the hive with several handfuls of dead bees over the first few days and the grass is still scorched out the front of the hive. The hive is only about the same strength it was a month ago and although it still has the original Queen she is not laying startlingly well and there are a lot of dummy cells. The hive next door had five varoa a month ago
  15. Arataki did produce a thistle probably around that time . Despite being a beautiful honey it didn't sell well probably because of the name Thistle. You have to remember this was back in the days when New Zealanders ate clover honey, mild cheddar used fat for frying and anybody that ate anything different was either foreign, Communist or both. Mind you I still think food fried in fat tasted better.
  16. Inside are the nice ,quiet and productive Italian bees from Arataki. Outside are robbers and wastrels (probably AMM/carniolan hybrids). I have to say that eight shillings per queen seems a bit steep. You would have had to have sold close to 200 lb of manuka to pay for that (3p per lb - 1 p per lb seals levie).
  17. I am 100% sure that winged Thistle produces a purple pollen. I'm pretty sure nodding Thistle is purple as well and Scotch Thistle has a cream-coloured pollen but maybe I have mixed the last two up. We used to get major crops of nodding Thistle honey every four or five years but the introduced parasites have pretty much destroyed it as far as honey production goes. Nodding Thistle was a beautiful honey, in my opinion even better than clover or pumpkin which are both some of the nicest white honeys around..
  18. When that ad was made I wasn't even a twinkle in my father's eye . I don't remember granddad ever smoking and my father Ian certainly didn't. I certainly remember the descending fug of tobacco smoke at the beekeepers meetings (or any other meeting for that matter) in the good old days. One of my first jobs as a lad was raising queens but they were for Canada rather than the local market. I haven't seen that ad before. Nick is there any chance you could send me an email copy. Thanks.
  19. Winged and nodding Thistles have purple pollen. I once saw a white nodding Thistle , from a distance it looked pretty good but close up it resembled a small cup of maggots . The other day my bees at home were working a silver birch, quite freely for pollen. This is a wind pollinated plant.
  20. I could name the beehaver corporate that I believe is responsible but without proof it would be slanderous although still true.
  21. I believe that there are pheromone traps available for cotton moth.
  22. I was having a good day today until the 2nd yard when I found an infected cell in the fourth hive. I could only see one cell and it was a very light milk chocolate colour. After sterilising everything I went back through the first three hives and gave them a thorough going over but they were clean. Careful checking of the 24 hives yielded another three cases of disease with all of them being very light infections. I know that it is possible that I caused this infection but given my AFB history it's pretty unlikely and I would be 99% certain that somebody within flying range has allowed
  23. If you put a ripe cell in at the same time as you make the nuke up they are less likely to start raising queens of their own and I believe less likely to swarm. Every area and every hive is different so you can only generalise when it comes to swarming.
  24. I was once to a little bit of re-queening at home and had a couple of cells left over which I forgot about and left on a hive lid. The next morning they were hatching out quite happily. I think it pays to be as careful as you can be with temperature but there is no doubt you will damage ripe cells a lot quicker with heat then you will with a little bit of cold.
  25. I know how you feel. The strong winds up here are really knocking my broomstick around.
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