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John M

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  • Beekeeping Experience
    Bee Research


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    East Coast

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  1. I had a Zonda nest in my backyard one year and in the cluster of 8 houses around us there were no problems. In fact much curiousity (I had asked first if I could have the nest in the area). A few observations about bumble bees in gardens but nowhere near the same numbers of the honey bees seen in gardens.
  2. An excellent feature of last year's science talks, for me as I was not able to attend the day, was that they were videoed and made available on the ApiNZ web site. I for one like the opportunity to stop a presentation and make detailed notes that I can follow up on and continue when I am ready without missing additional points of interest. You also have the opportunity to make contact with the presenter in your own time and of course, replaying the video. For others replying to this question, please let us know what you think of the videoed summaries. (JMcL, also S&R Focus Group)
  3. I had two Italian professional honey tasters sample some willow honeydew honey in Napier last year. They thought it tasted better than manuka honey. Guess it is all about what you are used to. Honeydew honeys in Germany are often the product of aphids feeding on pine trees. I have never tasted any of them though.
  4. Hope you all saw Bruce Willis and John Berry on Rural Delivery over the weekend. Check it out at Watch Rural Delivery - Yesterday - TVNZ OnDemand GWA numbers are huge this year. There are some potentially useful compounds in willow honeydew honey - salicylic acid for one. The jury is out on the kynurenic acid phase until someone with medical knowledge checks it out. Some may notice an "apple" like taste that is related to the relatively high malate in the honey component. The trisaccharide melezitose (G-F-G) has very low solubility (~14%) so if the willow honeydew component is all t
  5. First colony of GWA was collected in the Gisborne area in late September. I have yet to see another colony I kept the 8 late stage nymphs in a 500g pottle with a stick of tortured willow. They soon moulted to the mature wingless form and started birthing young - more that 200 at times. One of those progeny developed wing pads and has now moulted to a fully winged form. This not a good time for the GWA on willows as trees in full leaf have a very dilute sap. If the weather contnues to warm up and the trees suffer moisture stress then they will mobilise more sugars and amino acids. The
  6. Great picture Charles. These indigestible white crystals get cleaned out of the frames eventually - all extra work for the hive bees. Willows are producing pollen and nectar at the moment that will be good for the balanced build up of hive stores. The GWA has a lean time of it during the period from now until about late January as the willow trees will have a low concentration of aminoacids in the sap (0.03% compared to the 0.20% when the first sap flows at budbreak - Mittler 1958). When the willows start to withdraw nutrients before leaf fall late in summer the protein content will
  7. There was a picture in the last Beekeeper of white crystals on a monitoring board. The bees can't digest the melezitose sugar so they clean it out. %melezitose will vary according to supply of honeydew in the autumn. My highest amount in an extraction was over 50% large melezitose crystals. Unlike cane sugar which is still a liquid at 65%, melezitose is only 14% soluble. First nymphs seen here September 19th. These were 18 overwintering 4th stage nymphs (N4). No other stages seen. Shed skins were seen Sept 27th and the insects now moulted to the mature wingless form (called aptera)
  8. Tests on the white sugar crystals we saw on frames last year were determined to be melezitose. Once it is in the white crystalline stage it is an undigestible trisaccharide to the bees. Bees will clean it out of the cells and you will see white deposits on baseboards and on pallets under mesh hives. Several winged (alate) forms trapped on yellow sticky boards in willow trees in late March. Last week I was able to collect a wingless mature GWA (aptera) and so far she has birthed 27 young. So there is still some activity in the field. This is the time of the year when the willows are w
  9. I have catalogued several feral hives in the Gisborne area. The sites have remained occupied over the last couple of years since I started doing this. Is it a case of varroa not yet finding the bees? There is more to be learn't I think. If those hives have a naturally selected strict hygiene behaviour there may be something to be gained here. I wonder if there are really many suitable feral hive sites close to areas people travel regularly and would notice them. Older trees, with possible ideal cavities, get cut down (or blow down) and are removed. I have seen a rural bridge with hollow
  10. GWA thriving on some willow species in the Gisborne area. Have put out yellow sticky cards to see if the winged adults (alates) are attracted. Have seen two trees with thinning and yellowing foliage. Will watch carefully for wasps in our area. Very large Asian paper wasp nests last year - 12 cd diameter flat disk. Were GWA aphids harvested by these wasps. Would welcome any feedback on GWA in your area. Will collate it for the NBA Research Committee as we seek to decide on a response. By European standards, the high melezitose sugar content (that blocks your filters) is a marker for a t
  11. Hi Barbarian: What is our experience with GWA in Manchester. The early Ph.D.s on this insect, and subsequent papers, have been by T. Mittler at Cambridge (1958), Llewellyn et al at Queen Elizabeth College (1970s) and Tilly Collins at Imperial College (2001). What impact does GWA have on British beekeeping?
  12. Great photos Rob. By the time the nymph makes her final moult to the mature aptera (wingless adult) with the strongly developed shark's fin tubercle she has 12 mature embryos in her abdomen and is ready to continue the procreation cycle. If you squash the thorax region of the aphid you will squeeze some of them out - you will see the tiny black eyes on the heads of the embryos.
  13. The wasps thrive on the sugars (some glucose, fructose and sucrose) from the willow sap do get through and the wasps love them. We found the largest Asian paper wasp nest I have ever seen (10 cm in diameter, single layer) attached to a roadside rock adjacent to GWA infested willow tree. So far this year we have seen very little activity but it is going to depend on how hot and dry late February and March are. In the Gisborne area we are getting the occasional rain which washes off the honeydew and removes the food source for honeybees, bumble bees and wasps alike.
  14. The sugar in GWA honeydew honey is melezitose, undigestible by the honeybee, they will clean it out cells in the spring. This crystalline sugar blocks filters during extraction. In my home extraction I end up with quite a thick layer of the melezitose sugar in my bowl.
  15. Giant Willow Aphids (GWA) are well distributed throughout New Zealand. Although first formally identified in 2013 they have been here much longer - 5 years plus. These aphids became active in the Gisborne area in January this year. The colonies are building in number. The GWA relies on plugging in to the willows sap stream and then gulps what it wants and literally blows-off the rest which falls as honey dew on to whatever is beneath; lower leaves glisten, the ground looks "wet"; sheep sheltering under the willow get sticky wool that picks up dirt to really p--- off the farmers. Last
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