Stories and Tales-Approved Ramblings

 

RAMBLINGS OF AN "APPROVED PERSON"
By Andrew Beech
As many of you know, I have been carrying out surveillance work on behalf of Agriqual to find out how far the varroa mite has spread in the Haywards Hill area. I have also done some work in the Wainuiomata, Tawa and Paraparaumu areas. The weather at first was shocking, but I picked what I thought would be two good days – one for putting in strips and the second to take them and the sticky boards out.

RAMBLINGS OF AN "APPROVED PERSON"

By Andrew Beech

As many of you know, I have been carrying out surveillance work on behalf of Agriqual to find out how far the varroa mite has spread in the Haywards Hill area. I have also done some work in the Wainuiomata, Tawa and Paraparaumu areas. The weather at first was shocking, but I picked what I thought would be two good days – one for putting in strips and the second to take them and the sticky boards out.

The first site was about 13km out of Wainuiomata. It was drizzling hard and on finding the owner and enquiring where the bees were, I was told "You see that hill up there? You go up there and after the third gate, you follow the fence line. It’s a good job you have a 4 wheel drive." Well, I found the bees all right, but what they didn’t tell me was that there were two bulls in the paddock. And I got soaked before I got back to my vehicle.

The instructions for the next site said ‘hives are 30 metres after the turnoff.’ Well, the actual hives were 30 metres down the turnoff. I could not go backwards to the turnoff so I had to go to the end of the section, turn round, go back 2 kms and come to the turnoff, as it was a dual carriageway road. Most of the other sites were easy to find or else I knew where they were. I must say that this is the first time I have opened a railways gate and driven over the main Wellington to Auckland line to a site.

The next day I proceeded to the same sites to remove strips and sticky boards, and although the weather was good at Paraparaumu, it was raining again over the hill. I thought I would be smart this time and wear an oilskin. This kept me dry, but the weight of the hood pushed the veil against my head and the bees found they could sting me – you just can’t win! This would be my second wet day, but the weather did improve.

Well, from this survey, varroa was found in 3 hives in one site, and so Agriqual sent me Bayvarol strips to put in the hives. This would be one site where some of the hives were 8 boxes high, and the strips had to be put in where the bees are – the 2nd or 3rd box! When there are 30 or so hives to treat, this takes quite some time. Many bees were using an entrance to the 2nd or 3rd box, so one didn’t have to go down quite so far.

The second time I went out on surveillance work was the 5km radius from the sawmill, but as I had visited many of these sites before, I knew where to go. Bill Allan was helping me this time, but one site in the bush we got stuck going up a track. After 30 minutes of putting brushwood under the wheels, we got another 20 metres up the track, and decided to walk the rest. On returning the next day, I was on my own to just remove the sticky boards and just drove to the bottom of the first hill. I drove back up the hill only to start skidding. The vehicle came to a stop with the wheels skidding and, to my dismay, the front wheels started to slide over the bank. I quickly went into reverse and luckily the downhill slope was enough to pull the front wheels back onto the track. The farmer had arrived by now and, by pushing, managed to get me up the hill. I had telephone all beekeepers and landowners in advance, so he wasn’t too concerned. However, it certainly put the s---s up me!

All the hives have the miticide strips left in them to act as treatment and only the sticky boards were removed. From this survey, mites were found in a further two sites so it appears that the varroa is here to stay.

The final lot of strips and sticky boards to be inserted were apiaries within a 5km radius of the second infection site at the top of Haywards Hill. John Burnet was helping me this time and once again we had fun locating some apiaries. Luckily we had the club’s GPS which helped enormously. However, two sites in Belmont National Park were 2km up a very steep track, and although we had a key to the locked gate, someone else had put their padlock on the chain so as to exclude our padlock. We decided to walk it. What a view from the top when we got there. The second site took a little more finding. We knew we were in the correct area by the number of bees that were flying and the GPS location. We finally pushed our way through what looked like a path and there were the bees. After returning to our vehicle a ranger arrived on a quad bike on possum control, and he managed to sort out the padlock so that next day we were able to drive up to the site.

On the Monday I was asked if I minded being filmed by TV3 inserting strips into hives for a programme called "No 8 Wired". Well, we were just on our way to the last hive in Kelson on Thursday when we had a call from the cameraman. So up to Kelson to await his arrival. I only had an old spare veil with me, and he was not too fond of bees, but he kept his distance and coped quite well. We put in strips, we took out strips and sticky boards, and then repeated it all over again two or three times in close-up. I just hope that they get the sequence correct. The bees coped with this well and no one got stung.

Then off to the Post Office to send away 16kgs of sticky boards for examination. By the time you read this the results should be known. The weather for these last 4 days work couldn’t have been better, unlike the previous occasions. We saw some wonderful scenery, learnt a lot, and didn’t get stung too badly. The only adverse thing is that we will probably find that the varroa mite has spread.

Andrew Beech