Meeting - October 2001

Minutes of October Meeting

PRESENT: Frank Lindsay (Pres.), Mary Ann Lindsay (Treas), John Burnet (Sec.) and 26 members as listed in the attendance book.

APOLOGIES: Ernst Segessenmann, Richard Hatfield, Ken Breden, Andrew Yung, Pam McDowell, Bob Porter

MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING: Minutes of meeting held 10th September as detailed in the October newsletter were confirmed.

MATTERS ARISING: GPS purchase clarification – the Sept meeting indicated two of these instruments had been purchased however one had been purchased for the Southern North Island branch. President confirmed it was likely however the Club would be able to borrow this unit for diseaseathons etc.

CORRESPONDENCE: Telford Rural Polytechnic – Letter received from Telford indicating its concerns about the ongoing viability of the one-year apiculture course due to insufficient student numbers. Telford enclosed details of all beekeeping courses and requested club’s assistance in circulating these to colleges and identifying prospective local students. Two club members later expressed their interest in obtaining course details etc.

Foot and Mouth Disease Brochure - Copies of MAF’s brochure for farmers were circulated and the impact of the disease on UK beekeepers was discussed. With few livestock remaining in disease affected areas of the UK, pasture flowers were more prolific than they had been for many years however many beekeepers were unable to gain access to their hives in these areas.

VARROA UPDATE: President confirmed that the recent outbreak at Jerusalem on the Whanganui River was probably "assisted" by a self-interested beekeeper and there was a similar infestation at Turangi which was also highly suspicious.

The varroa infestation rate is now doubling every month and this rate is twice that of anywhere else in the world due to the lack of immunity in NZ bees. Current records show hives in NZ are usually dead by the fourth month after infestation.

Re-infection is a major problem and experience is showing many leave-it-alone beekeepers are giving up the hobby following the death of their hives.

Varroa Control Manual – Every registered beekeeper should have now received their copy from MAF. Ivan Pederson complemented MAF on its content but pointed out there were many issues and aspects omitted. It was generally agreed however that because the disease and control options were constantly evolving in NZ, it was impossible for the manual to remain completely up to date and publication/ distribution was necessary immediately. MAF’s Varroa Control Roadshow was expected to be held in Wellington in March and the hobbyist’s session was likely to take a half-day.

The use of formic acid to control varroa was discussed: This required the isolation of brood boxes before the addition of supers and after supers were removed - basic hive restricted to two full depth boxes. Use of a queen excluder was considered essential. Use inverted shallow tray to create 10cm space over top of formic acid impregnated material. Formic acid fumes will kill the grass in front of the hive and hives must be draught-free.

Icing sugar was considered an effective and economical option for hobbyists with few hives. A recent Bayvarol brochure indicated the price would be $8 plus GST per hive however an alternating product would also be required.

President outlined recent correspondence from Trevor Tong in the UK, which indicated that after eight years use mites were now showing resistance to Bayvarol & Apistan. A special field meeting with Trevor in Feb to discuss the impact of varroa in the UK was considered by many as well worthwhile.

Use of a cappings scratcher on drones at the pinkeye stage was demonstrated and the use of a single drone comb in a hive to prevent drone cells being formed on other frames was discussed.

GENERAL BUSINESS: President advised AFB had recently been discovered in Belmont, consequently it was logical to focus this season’s diseaseathon in the Western Hutt hills. President produced an AFB infected frame for inspection by members that had been taken from the Otaki area.

An Animal Research Day was to be held at MAF’s Wallaceville Research Centre on 17 & 18th October. President and Treasurer requested volunteers from the Club to assist with their proposed beekeeping stand.

President confirmed that the drought had broken and a honey flow was underway in many areas. Swarms had been reported since end of September and Vaughan Kearns reported collecting a swarm at Miramar which filled three and a half boxes and there were still about two litres of bees left over. President reminded members that the Swarm List needed volunteers in all areas and the use of swarms was a quick and easy way for beekeepers to significantly increase their hive colonies for the summer. Bait hives using spare supers and nucleus boxes should be put out now preferably near but not alongside existing hives and one to two metres off the ground.

Meeting closed at 9:30 with the usual supper enjoyed by all.

John Burnet