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Old Timer

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Old Timer last won the day on April 7 2018

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About Old Timer

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  1. I feel that I need to inform you that there are still some pockets of southern New Zealand where varroa hasn't found it's way in. These areas used to be prime sheep country until some fool discovered more money to be made in milk production. Hundreds of square kilometres turned into cow country, and now are void of bees. This has formed a natural barrier between clover producing areas - (a bit like Cook Strait), and a large beekeeping operation way down somewhere near Tuatapere. I believe that to this day he hasn't needed any varroa treatments as he keeps all his hives - some 3000 - in the deep south and into Fiordland National Park. Also southern Westland has no varroa, but not many bees also.
  2. Hey Raewyn, I'm in Dunedin. I could look at it for you if you want. I'm a retiring beekeeper with a little more time on my hands, so it wouldn't be a problem. Only problem we have is the weather at the moment, Thursday coming is fine but then it turns cold with snow to 600m. Give me a ring or text if you want some sound advice : 027 6258606
  3. On this note, I have watched my honey bees land at the base of the long Fuscia flower (fuscia - not sure of the spelling), and chew a small opening through the petal then proceed to draw out the nectar with its tongue. I watched with great interest as the bees went from flower to flower making the perforation at the base as described.
  4. I have not read all the posts as they seem to be going off subject after 1 1/2 pages. I note that you inspected the hive close to the time of shifting, and all was well inside. A good brood pattern, laying queen, strong bee numbers - all good. The complaint from a neighbour worries me, as does the pattern of brown damp looking spots on the floor entrance. I have seen this before, it is a sure sign of the bees landing after feeding from a poison trap. Their feet and lower bodies have been touching a tacky poison probably laced with honey or sugar to attract the bees. They carry it back to the hive and upon landing a good portion is shaken off or preened off before entering. If the hive died over several days then the deceased are cleaned out by the house bees. I have seen this same residue on my hives after a neighbour decided that he didn't want my bees flying over his house anymore. His poison trap killed 85 of my top breeders that were on my farm, being prepared for splitting. If I were you I would take scrapings of this substance and samples of dead bees, wax and wood-ware where the bees walk the most, and get them to an appropriate laboratory for analysis. If it is poison then you may have to destroy all of the gear because if you use it again you may poison the next lot of bees.
  5. Thank you John for 7 very worthy reasons against my earlier response. Seven, eight and nine are looking like you are scraping the bottom of the proverbial barrel to fill your quota. Down here in the lower South Island we don't suffer from ants, cockroaches, humidity nor aggressive bees. Every hive that I have seen that has died from varroa has had less than 100 bees left remaining, therefore no rotting/maggots and no smell. There are reasons why people usually keep the bees within, usually the cost of removal outweighs the nuisance value. As a beekeeper I would try to remove them or at least use expanding gap filler to lock them in and encase them in their own tomb.
  6. Utter bs! I have wax moth in my shed, if I don't regularly go through my stored blocks of beeswax and rub the moth out then in a couple of years there won't be much left. Also, I have to seal all cartons of foundation otherwise it'll be chewed away too. I'm lucky that we don't have the greater wax moth down south, we would then have to wage war against them, we don't have time for that.
  7. I agree with Alistair and John Berry. Basically clean all the wax from the frames, stack the supers (with frames in them), don't cover the stacks. As long as the supers aren't in direct sunlight they'll be as good as gold till you return.
  8. Why, may I ask is there a problem with having a resident colony within the exterior walls of your home? Over my lifetime of beekeeping I have met numerous people who are quite proud of their resident bees, always wanting to show them off to visitors, especially those with an interest in beekeeping. Many years prior to the onslaught of varroa mite I was shown a bee nest in the wall of a house by the owner, a zoology lecturer. He had hives in his back garden, but insisted that the bees were residents prior to him buying the house. Using some heat detection equipment he borrowed from the zoology department he discovered that the nest covered an area of about 5 sq metres. The bees were in the wall above the head of his bed. Every night he would go to sleep to the sound of a gentle hum. I cannot for any reason think why someone would want the bees removed. If they are using a vent that would be problematic for the human residents, then you block off all vents excluding those that are above head height or are in a position where the bee flight does not affect you. If you leave them there they may die off from varroa mite, in which case there won't be many dead bees to cause any smells. If they survive many years you can sell them to a breeder for being varroa resistant.
  9. I had my honey supers stored in a 20 foot insulated container. A full container holds approx 640 3/4 depths. Only last year I discovered an infestation of wax moth, probably due to a non-season last year so the supers didn't go out. In autumn I removed all the supers and sent 200 away for rendering down, and the remainder I stacked on wooden pallets outside. That is where all the supers still are, open to the weather all winter, spring and into summer. When I stacked them on the pallets I spaced out the 8 frames as if they were being put on the hives thus making it impossible for the grubs to move from frame to frame. The wind blows through them, it has rained, snowed and hailed onto the exposed supers. The top two supers of each stack have been bleached by the sun and all burr comb has fallen off the most exposed frames. The wax moth is DEAD! Now I'm trying to sell all my hives and beekeeping equipment to retire from the business. I'm still tossing up whether to render down the remaining 300 odd supers, hardly worth it for the wax and nobody wants to buy second hand empty honey supers. Any ideas??
  10. Most queen breeders I know have an old saucepan and gently boil the cell cups. Not too hot or they'll distort in shape. Tip saucepan out (NOT down a drain), rather onto some dirt outside where you want to kill the weeds, but tip it through a large sieve. Give them a jostle (gentle shake) in the sieve to release the water, and there you have it, clean cell cups! Repeat this process till all cups are ready for use again.
  11. There is a bit of talk about jigs. I've been using a jig for 35+ years, I've used other peoples' jigs but I always prefer mine. My jig is home made from wood, can be screwed down to the workbench in a position that suits me. As for tension of the frame/wire, it is really not that important, as long as there is a little bit of tension in the wire. The frame must be held firmly so that it doesn't pull out when you are pulling on the wire. The wire tension doesn't have to be so taught that you can play a song, just tight enough to embed. As soon as the frames go into a warm hive the wire will expand anyway but won't sag. The problem we face these days is that the quality of the frame wood is very poor due to the early harvesting of trees and the genetic modifications that have been carried out with Pinus Radiata. The trees are growing too fast so there is no strength left in the wood. With this in mind, pulling tight on frame wire can result in the wire cutting through the wood, so it pays not to pull too hard.
  12. I bought a cheapie from Bunnings ( about $40.00 ), I've had it for about five years and done in excess of 30,000 frames. No problems with it so far, does not require lubricant, (it is a dry running stapler, as a lot of them are these days). When it eventually will break down then I'll buy another cheapie to replace it. I have Bostich staplers that do not last as long and cost a small fortune to be repaired. With a stapler you put in the first staple near the inside edge of the end bar, then bend the wire back over it and staple. Twist the wire until it breaks, leaving no wastage. I purchase boxes of 10,000 staples, enough for 2,500 frames. There is no need to spend heaps of money on small staplers, there are plenty of cheapies to choose from. You have to 'feel' each stapler in your hand to ensure the grip is good for you, not too heavy, nor too light. Happy hunting.
  13. The tallest hive I've ever had the displeasure of harvesting exceptionally full boxes from, was when I worked for Keith Herron of Greenvale Apiaries back in the early 1980's. To remove the top four supers we used a step ladder that was on the deck of his big Ford truck. All his honey supers were full depth, and in that particular season the average weight was between 35 - 40 kgs.I remember the yard, in the Waikia Valley, a real sun trap. That season, I think it was either 1980 or 1981, he had the best honey crop of his life. From 1600 hives we pulled off slightly over 130 tons of bulk honey and he filled two refrigerated containers of cut-comb honey for export. It went to Saudi Arabia if I remember rightly, got some serious coin for that. The hives were run at either two or three full depth brood nest, and every hive had a half depth on all year round, that was their winter feed box. I think the tallest hive had 12 or 14 supers above the 1/2 depth. It was Keith who insisted that these particular hives be supered excessively. Can anyone beat that? Personally, I have never experienced a crop like that.
  14. When I started beekeeping this is what I used. The drum was an ex-petrol drum, heavy gauge steel that is galvanized inside and out. The drum lasts for about 10 years, usually the bottom burning out. Mine was outside on a red brick base, a fire underneath at first. After a couple of boil-over wax fires I bought a 4 ring gas burner, 15' (5 metre) of hose and regulator, and hired a 45kg bottle of gas from the local bottle filling company. With the gas I could control the temperature of the wax, and keep the heat constant when dipping and turn it up when melting more wax. Don't use a standard honey drum because the metal is far too thin and will burn out within two years. If you don't mind spending a little money then it would pay to seek out an engineer or someone who is an excellent welder and get them to make a rectangular box dipper, ideally with two bars in place that will hold the box(s) under the surface of the wax in the middle of the tank, with a feed in and out feed trays at either end. with this arrangement you would need two either three or four burner gas rings and two standard gas bottles. I don't like the idea of having a fire anywhere near a paraffin dipper, it is a dangerous threat. Use gas, it is much safer and less likely you'll have to explain to your insurance company how you set your neighbourhood alight. My friend Brian (Beeline Supplies) had a dipping tank made for the business. Made from stainless steel; holds five boxes under and one half under at either end, plus a drain shute at either end, so you could say it holds nine boxes. Three x two ring burners in the middle and two four ring burners - one at each end. A box pushed in every 30 seconds. The top of the tank has a lid, to be removed when waxing smaller items, - mats, excluders etc. The dipper was expensive to be built, I think around $8,000. But it has proved its worth many times over. It can be stored outside, as it has covers over the ends so rain cannot get in. You are a commercial beekeeper, it would be cost effective to have one made to your specifications, it would last your lifetime of beekeeping. Brian's dipper is transferred inside using a forklift the day before dipping, then you can dip in any weather.
  15. My personal experience, I don't use purchased supplements. I put pollen traps out on some selected hives (those that have an abundance of stored pollen), collect and freeze. When it comes to making the patties, I remove the large debris then mix the pollen with a 50/50 sugar syrup in my wifes' cake blender (it is a semi-commercial one). I add pollen to one litre of syrup, keep adding in small amounts till the mix is the consistency of a heavy dough. Remove the mix from the bowl and spread out on baking paper, then roll with rolling-pin. If the mix sticks to the rolling-pin then you need to add more pollen. Cut out the patties using a circular cutter then lay the patties on another sheet of baking paper, place the patties in the freezer. Each sheet of patties can be laid on top of the sheet before, as the patties will not stick to the baking paper. Keep them frozen until you need to take them out and use them. I prefer to use my own pollen, then I am sure that I'll not be picking up someone else's diseases. When distributing the patties carry scissors or a utility knife to cut the baking paper into squares, place the patties (on paper) on the top bars just under the excluder. It'll be devoured overnight and the paper shredded out the front door.
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