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About SuperB

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    Chris Fraser
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    Semi Commercial
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    Kinmont Park

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  1. An interesting puzzle to help you get your mind off the craziness going on around the world: I checked a friend's hobby hives today. She found a queenless hive last week and successfully merged it with a queen-right nuc. Today I went through the other 3 hives at her house and found two more apparently queenless. No eggs and almost no brood left, although what was there looked healthy, no sign of disease. I couldn't see any sign of the queens, but they might have been playing hide and seek. The hives were all strong, the two that seemed queenless were very heavily loaded with drones which tends to suggest that they are indeed queenless. She has 3 other hives in different locations, all doing well. We put mite treatment in today, so I have ruled out strips as being part of the problem. Two of the queens that appear to have failed come from a reliable local breeder, the other from a split she did herself. I realise that perhaps the queens are on a break so have suggested she wait another week before acting. If there is no sign of eggs in a week I am thinking that it would be best to re-queen them by merging them with a couple of my spare nucs so they have some winter bees in the hive. I would appreciate your thoughts. I am not sure how to explain the (potential) loss of so many queens in one location. I am helping her because her first two hives didn't make it their first winter at this location. I haven't seen such a high queen mortality rate before in what appear to be otherwise healthy hives. It is quite a cold site in Dunedin and she has ventilated hives floors that are still open. I have told her to close them up. While that might cause a weak hive I would have thought that it seems unlikely to explain so many missing queens?
  2. Yes, without approval you can't use GM here, but there is a lot of approved GM in use in NZ.
  3. Some new research was published in The Scientist on 31 Jan 2020 titled "Engineered Microbe in Bees’ Guts Fends off Deadly Varroa Mite". A genetically modified microbe has been developed which, when introduced to the bee's gut, causes Varroa mites to self destruct! It is not ready of commercialisation yet, but it may be eventually. I am sure there will be debate about whether this is a good idea here if it becomes commercially available, my impression is that NZers are very anti GM. Personally, since I have started using OA strips Varroa is no longer a real issue in my hives. I tested 15 hives in one apiary treated with strips over last winter in the spring and got a count 3 mites. Not 3 per 100. A total of 3. 100% of the hives in that apiary made it through winter. I did have to requeen one in October due to a failing queen. Link to the article: https://www.the-scientist.com/news-opinion/engineered-microbe-in-bees-guts-fends-off-deadly-varroa-mite-67048 Happy beekeeping.
  4. Where are the queen cells on the frames, along the bottom or higher up? If they are higher up they could be emergency cells or supercedure cells. Along the bottom means the hive is most likely preparing to swarm and removing the cells is the right thing to do. Before you tear out cells you need to be sure you still have a laying queen. Finding the queen is helpful, but not absolutely necessary. If you see eggs then you know you had a laying queen within the last 3 days. If you have no laying queen and you take the queen cells out your hive is in big trouble. Once you have confirmed you have a laying queen you can take the queen cells out. Just tear them out with your hive tool. Keep checking weekly and removing new cells until they stop producing them. If you miss one your hive will very likely swarm. Adding space as noted above is very important or they will just keep making cells. For future reference, it is easier to prevent a hive going into swarm mode by ensuring the queen has always got somewhere to lay than it is to get them out of swarm mode once they have started making cells.
  5. Sorry to hear. When things go wrong it is human nature to find someone to blame, but I am not sure it is helpful to jump to the conclusion you have expressed. AFB spores can be present and be spread for some time before symptoms show. A quote from the AFB website to support this: "Symptoms of AFB can often take time to show Just under half of the colonies developed disease symptoms within two months of being fed spores. However, approximately one-third of the colonies did not show any symptoms until three months or longer." In reality your hive could have been infected and been infecting neighbour's hives for some months prior to you being able to detect the AFB, despite your vigilance. This doesn't make you incompetent. There is no certainty that the beekeeper whose hives infected your hives was incompetent, if it came from a managed hive. I'm not saying they were not incompetent. I am just saying that they may have been just as vigilant and competent as you. I know that doesn't make the disappointment of your situation go away. Well done for spotting it and acting swiftly. At the end of the day that is all any of us can do.
  6. Sorry John, that reply doesn't make any sense. Of course the space between frames and between the outside frame and the side of the box matters and bee space applies here too. The bees will fill any space with comb if the space between frames is too big after the bees have drawn comb on the frame. Just leave a frame out and see what happens.
  7. I have built all my boxes, many out of untreated ply - up to 50 now. The ply works fine provided you seal the cut edges well to keep the moisture out. Pine is better. Like you, I read lots, studied bee space and carefully designed my initial box size so that the bee space would be perfect taking into account that ply is a bit thinner so the overall dimensions I used were smaller too. Big mistake! If you build odd sized gear nothing made commercially will fit it, queen excluders, top feeders and so on. Luckily I learned that before building too many, I now have 4 special "9 frame hives" that don't fit any of my other gear. My advice is regardless of whether you go 8 frame or 10 frame, 3/4 or full depth, use the commonly used commercial external dimensions. I use 10 frame boxes (505mm x 405mm external) because they fit most other gear. That means that if you have 33mm frames you have quite wide spaces on the outside edges of you push them to the centre. My bees don't care, apparently they read a different book on bee space.......
  8. I tried these (picture) on some of my hives this winter. They are a removable mesh cover over a 25 - 30 mm hole in the inner. I am in Otago, so winters are cold and condensation is quite a big a problem here. I run solid floors and feel that ventilated floors can provide too much airflow here during extreme conditions. The benefit of this system is that it allows the bees to decide how much ventilation they have. If there is too much they can (and do) propolis it partly or fully shut. Some hives propolis them up, others leave them alone. More importantly, among my hives there was less condensation and the hives were stronger this spring when they were fitted. They are on all my hives now.
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