Newsletter - September 2012

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 Meetings Johnsonville

Community Centre

Main Hall, Ground Floor,

Moorefield Road 

 1st Wednesday of the month

Main Meeting @ 7.30pm

Beginners Tuition @7.00pm



 President: Richard Braczek (04) 973 3028 ( )

 Treasurer: John Burnet (04) 232 7863 ( )

 Secretary: Jo Salisbury (04) 977 5250 ( )

 Newsletter Contributions: Sandie Matcham (04) 565 1083 ( )


 Newsletters are published in the last week of each month, except January.

 Members contributions to be with editor by 20thmonth.

 Please submit articles in Microsoft Word document format.

 If recommending articles from the web, please confirm whether these can be reproduced or have copyright.



3.              Useful Websites

3.              August 2012 General Meeting Minutes.

5.              September Meeting Details

6.              More bad news for Bees

7.              The Food Bill – Update August 2012

8.              Hive site available – Kaitoke

8.              The anti-intuitive visual system of the honey bee

9.              The Travelling Beehive

10.              Dancing In the Dark

11.              Federated Farmers BIG conference

11.              Mesh Bottom Boards

12.              Colony Collapse Disorder


Useful Websites

Club Website:                 From the Home page, create your own username and password

Club Library:                  Username:              wellingtonbeeclub





Present:              Richard Braczek (away), Andrew Beach presided 69 members attended.

Visitors:              Introduced themselves.

Matters Arising


General Business


Tony Coard talked about how he got into beekeeping. He decided to do so 25 years ago but procrastinated! He bought Andrew Matheson’s earlier book but was scared of varroa. Tony was at Kevin Kibby’s place with a lawyer friend and he brought Tony a smoker. Tony took about 3 months to find WBA about 3 years ago. At that stage it was a small gaggle of mostly guys in the end room of this community centre. We now have about 240 members. Tony keeps bees in Pelorus Sound and tries to use organic methods but had a bad experience with the green varroa treatment book’s Oxalic acid recipe, killed some of his and  friend’s hives because of a misprint. Typically he gets about 50 kg of honey off 3 hives. He is raising starter hives and learning about keeping bees in the bush.

Queen of the Sun

35 people turned up to the screening, two new people joined the Otaki group.

Otaki Group

This meets 3rd Wednesday of the month. Contact Andrew Beach for details.

Varroa Sensitive Hygiene Talk

Frank Lindsay videoed this talk. Tony Coard spoke about this, he will put a review of the video on the website. This month’s Beekeeper Magazine also has an article regarding it.

Hive Assembly Workshop

This will be held on 25 August at 1.30 at Wayne Wild’s place, 206 Coast Rd, Wainuiomata, bring a plate. Look for the ‘Honey for Sale’ sign. Bring the materials you need, nails, hammer, woodware, wire, wax sheets. There are 20/30 people who asked for hive equipment. If you are attending the workshop please go to John Burnet’s place first to pick up your hive-ware order. John will not be able to fit it all in the car to bring to Waynes’. If you label your box with names and ph number’s inside Wayne will have the wax dipper working on the day.


The first step to getting bees is to assemble your hive wood-ware. Your second step is to obtain a nuc (nucleus) of bees. We will be taking orders for these in about 1 month. They will cost about $140 and, weather depending, will be ready Nov/Dec.

Chartwell Club Hives

John Burnet spoke about this Club site. P.K and John and Pip helped move the hives around the corner to a more sheltered site, have fed them twice and will probably need to again.

Asure Quality Reimbursement

The club held a diseasathon with 3 teams, were given $1000 by AsureQuality for the inspections. After deducting expenses they donated $830 to the NBA toward varroa research and had a letter of thanks from the president of NBA

Bee Week

Bee week starts on Friday 17th August. NBA is encouraging the regional associations to be active raising awareness of bee issues during this week, there will be letters going to councils and local M.Ps. Eight schools have asked for a beekeeper to come along to speak, the club has packs to help with this. Can we have volunteers please, contact a member of the committee. P.K can provide observations hives to take if you wish (these cannot go overnight and the bees will need to be returned to their hives on the day).

Discount Bee Suits

John has some bee suits sourced from Pakistan, he brings them to the meeting as the sizes are different to NZ sourced bee suits. They are available in camouflage or white at $85 (vs Deanes ones for $160). Any colour is fine for a bee suit except for blue.

Thymol Varroa Treatment

An article gave a do-it-yourself method for making up a pad using thymol, teatree, other oils and wax. Andrew Beach will make these for sale, a show of hands showed good interest.

Topic – Spring Inspection

This should be mid-August or September, on a warm enough day that the bees are not still clustered and once the queen has started laying. You know it is too cold if you pull up your sleeve and get goose-bumps, minimum about 15 degrees, or higher if there is wind. Check food stores and do spring feeding of 1:1 sugar to water ratio.

Do an AFB inspection, unlikely as little brood although there may be unhatched cells left from last year.

Try to get rid of old comb, if you hold up to the sun and can’t see through then replace/rewax but ensure drawn frames are put in brood box, not just foundation. Put new frames on outside, don’t split the brood or the cluster may not be able to cover them all and you will lose some to chilling. Put back in the same order as took out including away from the cold side.

Take the floorboard away and put a spare one on or scrub and replace. Clean the boxes, transfer frame to a new one and clean and scrape the box away from the site or it could provoke robbing.

Check the brood pattern, don’t need to see the queen, if you have brood then you have a queen. Some missing cells are O.K but too many means a failing queen so you need to raise/order a new one.

Put boxes back on, reverse boxes as swarm protection although possibly not if you have a mesh bottom board as the bees often will not lay in the bottom box to avoid chilling the brood.

Do varroa check, try sugar roll method.

Questions and Answers

Q. I have taken the Bayvarrol varroa strips out of my hive after the recommended 6 weeks but still have a high varroa count. Do I put more strips in?

A. The strips should have done the job, they are not temperature sensitive like other pads. It could be varroa becoming immune to the chemical or not leaving them in long enough. Frank recommends 12 weeks rather than the 6-8 weeks on the packet. Another member confirmed that their greatest varroa drop didn’t peak until the 6 -8 week period and continued after that. You could put more strips in or try another type of varroa treatment.

Q. Is thymol from the thyme plant?

A. Thymol              (Added by Ed: from Wikipedia:  Thymol (also known as 2-isopropyl-5-methylphenol, IPMP) is a natural monoterpene phenol derivative of cymene, C10H14O, isomeric with carvacrol, found in oil of thyme, and extracted from Thymus vulgaris (common thyme) and various other kinds of plants as a white crystalline substance of a pleasant aromatic odour and strong antiseptic properties. Thymol also provides the distinctive, strong flavour of the culinary herb thyme, also produced from T. vulgaris.)

Q. What if I have no brood?

A. It may be too early in the season or sometimes with the mesh bottom boards in Wellington it is too cold in the bottom box. Alternatively the colony may be queenless. It is too early to get a new one now, you could unite with a queen-right colony, then split it later. When you unite colonies always put the queen-right one on top.

Q. How do you unite hives?

A. Put two pieces of newspaper between them, slash a couple of slits in them with the hive tool. Put on the queenright site.

Q. Do you need to provide water?

A. Yes, it is a good idea as in spring a hive needs up to a litre of water a day, to dilute honey for brood. Also it is very important for neighbourly relations, otherwise they will get it from neighbours washing and leave spots in return. If open water is provided then put floating things in for the bees to land on or they will drown.

Meeting finished with supper and social.


September meeting                            Wednesday 5thSeptember 2012

Beginners Session 7pm              -                            Swarm Prevention

Main Meeting 7:30pm              -                            Varroa Management


More bad news for Bees

Learning Impairment in Honey Bees Caused by Agricultural Spray Adjuvants

Published in PLoS ONE

Timothy J. Ciarlo, Christopher A. Mullin, James L. Frazier,Daniel R. Schmehl

Department of Entomology, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania, United States of America



Spray adjuvants are often applied to crops in conjunction with agricultural pesticides in order to boost the efficacy of the active ingredient(s). The adjuvants themselves are largely assumed to be biologically inert and are therefore subject to minimal scrutiny and toxicological testing by regulatory agencies. Honey bees are exposed to a wide array of pesticides as they conduct normal foraging operations, meaning that they are likely exposed to spray adjuvants as well. It was previously unknown whether these agrochemicals have any deleterious effects on honey bee behavior.

Methodology/Principal Findings

An improved, automated version of the proboscis extension reflex (PER) assay with a high degree of trial-to-trial reproducibility was used to measure the olfactory learning ability of honey bees treated orally with sublethal doses of the most widely used spray adjuvants on almonds in the Central Valley of California. Three different adjuvant classes (nonionic surfactants, crop oil concentrates, and organosilicone surfactants) were investigated in this study. Learning was impaired after ingestion of 20 µg organosilicone surfactant, indicating harmful effects on honey bees caused by agrochemicals previously believed to be innocuous. Organosilicones were more active than the nonionic adjuvants, while the crop oil concentrates were inactive. Ingestion was required for the tested adjuvant to have an effect on learning, as exposure via antennal contact only induced no [sic] level of impairment.


A decrease in percent conditioned response after ingestion of organosilicone surfactants has been demonstrated here for the first time. Olfactory learning is important for foraging honey bees because it allows them to exploit the most productive floral resources in an area at any given time. Impairment of this learning ability may have serious implications for foraging efficiency at the colony level, as well as potentially many social interactions. Organosilicone spray adjuvants may therefore contribute to the ongoing global decline in honey bee health.

Read the entire paper at


The Food Bill – Update August 2012


After the reply from Celia Cunningham at Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) regarding the inclusion of honey in the 'small trader' exemption from National Programme level 1, we requested clarification around the logic of the proposal as detailed in the July newsletter.


It is becoming clearer that the MPI has no intention of allowing small scale beekeepers to legally sell surplus honey within the new legislation.  Even though their logic can be questioned from many angles, they always have another excuse.  They are no longer quoting the Tutin risk, but now the emphasis has changed towards fairness to charities and businesses.


The following is the latest reply from Celia Cunningham.

I understand you are asking why the same food activity would be regulated differently under the Food Bill depending on whether the activity is for a charitable cause and whether it is for profit or to recoup costs.

Under the Bill, food businesses will be required to operate under different risk-based measures depending on the level of risk associated with different food activities. However, while the risk of a food activity is the basis for decision-making, there are also other factors that are considered.

Charitable food activities are an important part of New Zealand society. Many charitable food activities, such as sausage sizzles or once-off bake sales, operate on a very small scale and regulating these activities in the same way as a business could stop people raising money for charities. It is important that the Food Bill does not have this effect.

To ensure that small-scale charitable food activities can continue in the future, they will be able to operate under food handler guidance. People selling food for charities will still have to make sure the food they sell is safe and suitable. However, in some cases they will be regulated differently than other similar, but for-profit, activities under the Food Bill. Honey is one such example.

One of the key principles of the Bill is to minimise compliance costs for food businesses. As such, the requirements under National Programmes are designed to be less onerous than the current requirements in the Food Hygiene Regulations. The Bill will also put in place nationally consistent requirements that will see the whole country operating under one set of rules. The Bill provides an improved compliance and enforcement regime, setting out the verification requirements for food businesses operating under risk-based measures and a broader range of penalties and sanctions.


Celia Cunningham on behalf of the MPI Food Policy Team

To have any chance of changing these regulations, we need as many people as possible to put submissions in to MPI, giving the opinions of small scale beekeepers.  We will let you know details of the submission process and timetable as they become available.

 Pete Matcham


We have a 12 acre lifestyle block (includes 8 acres of bush) at Kaitoke, north of Upper Hutt.

We would like to offer some space for hives free to a friendly beekeeper, in exchange for some of the harvest!  We cannot commit to the time involved in bees ourselves.

We have a scrubby, easy-access, open paddock bordering a stream and the bush, where the hives could be situated about 100m from the house.

We also have flowering trees, herbs, flax, fruit and veges for bee food!

We would welcome anyone interested to contact us, and come view our place. There is almost always someone home.

Our phone number is 5262067,

We are at 1791 Main Road North, Kaitoke, Upper Hutt.

Many thanks, Michelle and Warren Butler.

Hive site available - Kaitoke


The anti-intuitive visual system of the honey bee

                                          A Horridge - Acta Biologica Hungarica, 2012



Because bees fly around, visit flowers and chase mates, we conclude intuitively that they see things as we do. But their vision is unexpectedly different, so we say it is anti-intuitive. Detailed tests have demonstrated separate detectors for modulation of blue and green receptors, edge orientation (green only), and areas of black. The edge detectors are about 3° across, independent, and not re-assembled to make lines, shapes or textures. Instead, the detectors of each type are summed quantitatively to form cues in each local region with an order of preference for learning the cues. Trained bees remember the positions of the total modulation (preferred), the average edge orientation, areas of black or colour, and positions of hubs of radial and circular edges in each local region, but not the original responses, so the pattern is lost. When presented with a yellow spot on a blue background with no UV reflected, the preferred cue is not the colour, but a measure of the modulation detected by the green and separately by the blue receptors.


contributed by Peter L Borst


The Travelling Beehive – Free illustrated e-book

              By Juan Hernaz – illustrator of The Travelling Beehive


I would like to present you a new publication, a high quality illustrated book and distributed for free in its digital versions.


The Travelling Beehive is a new free illustrated book that examines in depth the importance of pollination for our current lifestyle.


Halfway between literature and popular science, deeply documented, this book offers a didactic view of the activity of the domestic bee and other pollinators, for children and for adults, beekeepers, biologists and entomologists.

A Teacher's Guide has also been developed to help non-experts to understand in depth the details represented in each of the sheets.


In its printed edition (spanish language), will be distributed next September in schools and libraries of the North of Spain as an educational resource. The authors and the institutions behind this publication believe that its presence is important and necessary beyond the Spanish school: the children of today are the men of tomorrow.


You can read and download The Travelling Beehive for free (in PDF and also epub file for iPad and other tablets) directly from the following links:


1. EPUB files (for iPad and tablets):


- (teacher's guide)

2. PDF files:

- (teacher's guide)

3. View on-line book:

- (teacher's guide)

In the bilingual web sites and you will find, well as direct downloads in different file formats, more information about this book, characteristics of the printed edition and other data of interest.




Bees are remarkable among insects. They can count, remember human faces, and communicate through dance routines performed entirely in the dark. But are they intelligent? Even creative? Bee aficionado Stephen Humphrey, along with a hive of leading bee researchers and scientists, investigates the mental lives of bees.



Federated Farmers Bee Industry Group (BIG) conference

              Article from the Bay of Plenty Times, July 10th 2012


The need for more research funding and for beekeepers to unite to fight a number of industry threats topped the agenda at last month's Federated Farmers Bee Industry Group (BIG) conference.

Around 90 people attending the event in Twizel supported reunification of the bee industry under a new and robust entity to lead the apiculture industry forward.

At present the industry is roughly split between the North Island's National Beekeepers' Association of New Zealand and South Island's Federated Farmers affiliated BIG. In order to overcome the issues facing the industry, BIG chairman John Hartnell said the two groups need to lead by example and unify to resolve a myriad of challenges.

''We need a strong Research and Development programme, to deal swiftly with the science required to counter market protectionism, find innovative solutions for existing issues, such as Varroa, and to discover new uses for Bee Products, including research into health benefits and added value elements,'' Mr Hartnell said.

Recognising the importance of greater research funding, conference attendees supported a motion to implement a voluntary levy of $1 per hive to fund key research. Other beekeeping industry groups would be approached to support this initiative, with funds managed through the Bee Products Standards Council.

Projects underway, but needing more funding include:

     Research into pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PA) in Vipers Bugloss and issues around market access.

     The development of a new and improved method for testing of C4 sugars in honey to counter poor science internationally.

     A proposal is on the table from Standards New Zealand to formalise honey standards. Funding is required as this must proceed urgently.

     Developing a video educating beekeepers on the risks and requirements of Tutin management. With over 700 new beekeepers last year, this is a priority project.

Mesh Bottom Boards - Message from Andrew Beach


Will those people who wanted mesh bottom boards, please pick them up at the September meeting,

or:              e-mail me at

or:              phone 04 9041634                             so I know if I have to make up more.


Also I am selling dipped and made-up full depth and 3/4 boxes, and made-up wired and waxed frames for those who do not have the time.


Colony Collapse Disorder

East and West Differences, plus Virus and Disease Differences…CCD is not as simple as we hoped.

              Kim Kaplan, Chief, Special Projects Information Staff

              Agricultural Research Service U.S.D.A

Honey bees that succumb to Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) carry a colony-specific group of three or four pathogens that tend to be unique to different geographic regions, according to a new study by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists.

The paper, published this week in PLoSOne, is available online at:

The most distinct difference in the makeup of the pathogen clusters was found between CCD-struck colonies in the eastern and western United States. In samples from eastern apiaries, the grouping tended to be all viruses. In the west, it was a mix of viruses and Nosema species, which are gut parasites. Specifically, Nosema apis and acute bee paralysis virus (ABPV) were linked with CCD colonies from western states, while these species were extremely rare in eastern honey bee colonies regardless of the presence of CCD.

Interestingly, collapsing colonies also differed overall from each other in the predominant pathogens, suggesting that these pathogens were lucky hitchhikers on the path to colony ruin, without any single factor being a consistent cause of collapse.

The largest single class of pathogens found in hives with CCD was RNA viruses, which are very small viruses associated with the mitochondria of host cells. 

Each pathogen was present in some healthy colonies, but not at the levels found in CCD-struck colonies. The study confirmed an earlier finding, based on a small number of samples, that honey bee colonies showing CCD symptoms had significantly higher pathogen levels than colonies from apiaries that reported no CCD.

An association of RNA viruses and Nosema with CCD has been previously reported after studies of a small number of colonies, but this was the largest analysis of honey bee hives yet conducted.

The study describes genetic traits for several novel RNA viruses, and for other microbes associated with the hives that might have positive or negative effects on bee health.

More than 100 hives from nine states—California, Florida, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Nebraska, New York, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Washington—were sampled between 2004 and 2008 and then analyzed for this study.

The geographic differences also indicate that it is unlikely that any single recognized agent is responsible for CCD, making the search for unifying predictors more complicated, according to ARS entomologist Jay Evans at the agency’s Bee Research Laboratory in Beltsville, Md.  Evans co-led the study with ARS research associate Scott Cornman, and with help from colleagues Jeff Pettis and Judy Chen at the Beltsville lab. Researchers from the University of Maryland and North Carolina State University were also part of the team, which received support from ARS and the National Honey Board.

ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s chief intramural scientific research agency.