Newsletter - December 2015

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Mead Competition and Christmas Social. Please bring some supper to share.



 (in upstairs Trust Room)

Beekeeping Rules and Regulations

Tony Eagle


December 2015

NEXT MEETING:  Wednesday 2nd December 2015

Main Hall, Johnsonville Community Centre, Moorefield Rd

Wellington Beekeepers Association


 Johnsonville Community Centre

Main Hall, Ground Floor,

Moorefield Road

1ST WEDNESDAY of the month

Main Meeting @ 7.30pm

Beginners Tuition @7.00pm



Richard Braczek (04) 973 3028


John Burnet (04) 232 7863


Jane Harding (04) 499 4123


Lynne Brunton (021) 881874

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

Member contributions to be with editor by 20th month.

Please submit articles in Microsoft Word document format.

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


3-5. November meeting minutes

5-7. Things to do this month

8-9. Using bumblebees to deliver pesticides to flowers

9-11. Gadgets and gizmos

12. Hive sites offered and other notices / Interesting web sites & article links

Minutes of the Wellington Beekeepers Association Meeting held at Johnsonville Community Centre

7 November 2015 at 7.30pm

Meeting started at 7.40. Visitors introduced themselves and gave the reason for coming to the meeting. There were 110 members and visitors present.

Current News

The President, Richard Braczek, talked about his visit to Stewart Island. There are only two beekeepers. Varroa has not yet reached the island. Main honey crops are Kamahi and Rata.

Luke said a beekeeper caused a bush fire in Wainuiomata with his smoker.

Wayne dipped a couple hundred boxes at the last session. Another wax dip will be held in three weeks – please drop boxes to Wayne in Wainuiomata for the last dipping of the year.

Minutes of Last Meeting

Correction of DECA item. Beekeepers should have 12 months experience before doing the AFB recognition course and taking the test. If they pass and receive a DECA certificate, then can check their own hives for AFB. You need to have two years’ experience and have sat a refresher course before you can get approval to check others’ hives.

AFB Management Agency Website has lots of good information about recognising and dealing with AFB.

AFB Checks

Helpers are wanted for AFB checks for new beekeepers. If you have a DECA and want to help, you can indicate this in your account details on the club’s website.

Nuc Orders

Jason Prior in the Manawatu is the queen breeder for the clubs’ ordered nucs. He has advised that the temperature needs to be at least 20 degrees for a virgin queen to travel to the mating area, so delivery is weather dependant. It could be at least three weeks before the nucs are ready.

Flow Hives

There was a discussion about Flow hives. One or two members have ordered one and are waiting for delivery. Members can visit for information.

Community Bee Hives

Several requests have been received for assistance to set up beehives - Newlands and Karori Community Gardens and the Bishop of the Anglican Church is keen to have hives on the cathedral rooftop in Hill Street. Anyone who is interested in helping a group, please contact John Burnet who can provide the Club’s protocol for assisting in the setup of community beehives.

Coming Events

John Randall will hold a bee day on Saturday afternoon at 1.00 pm. At the meeting, you will learn how to make hand creams, etc. John’s address is 216 South Karori Road.

Pro Bee Campaign. Stephan Browning from the Green Party is holding a photoshoot on Parliament lawn to promote his efforts to remove plant sprays containing Neonicotinoids off retailers’ shelves joining Placemakers and The Warehouse. The launch will be held at 1pm Monday 9 November. The photoshoot will be of a beekeeper in his/her bee-suit with some hive boxes and perhaps a smoker. If you are interested, please contact Richard.

Ohariu Valley Garden Tour. Viv Harris talked about a tour of seven country gardens on the 8th November. Tickets cost $30 and are available at Twiglands. The gardens are all bee friendly gardens. This is a fundraiser for the historic valley church and hall repairs. Both are over 100 years old.

Club Hives Visit. There will be a visit to the Chartwell Drive Club Apiary at 10am on Saturday 7th November. New members welcome. John Burnet will bring some spare bee-suits. Bring gumboots and gloves.

New Website

James Scott demonstrated the new WBA website. Many features enable members to pay their subs, purchase nucs, report swarms and collect swarms, join forums, etc. Richard thanked James on behalf of the Club for his time and expert efforts.

Gadgets for Beekeepers

* Frank demonstrated a Nuc box made from corflute for five full size frames. Good idea to make some and keep them handy for doing splits. Remember to provide honey frames along with the brood and eggs. To keep in the heat, glue bubble foam on the underside of the lid. Note: always tip bees in front of a hive to join them. Treat like swarm bees. Instructions for the boxes will be available in the next newsletter.

* Steve McKay is concerned about the rising hive theft and has branded his hives. Further details in newsletter too.

* Richard mentioned metal end brackets that can be screwed to repair damaged frame ends.

He demonstrated a Hive Defender hive stand, which can be used to protect the hive from wasps. It has a reduced front entrance that the bees can easily defend, so the wasps have to find another way in. This is provided in a way that the wasps gain entry under the mesh bottom board and can’t get out.

He also showed a one handed queen catcher that can facilitate putting a colour patch on the queen. International colour coding for Queen Bees:

2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 Red Green Blue White Yellow

* John Burnett showed a stencil for putting your hive number on your hives. $20 each.

* John Randall had some aluminium spacers for sale. These can be used instead of matchsticks to provide ventilation between hive boxes. John also demonstrated a tensioner for frame wiring. Eyelets for frame wiring are also available, as well as a timber hive base.

* Wolfgang talked about a top bar hive which he built from scratch. Recommends the book, ‘Top-Bar Beekeeping’, by Les Crowder and Heather Harrell from the library. It is also available as a kindle book.

* Aaron showed us how he makes his own foundation. Filled a large square plastic base with water, put a square dish and used this as a bain marie in the water to melt the wax. Arron made a stamp with a timber board. Put the stamper into the wax three times to get the density. Not embossed, just flat. See a U-tube video on how to dip the wax. Wax when it dries is brittle but when rolled with a rolling pin it becomes more flexible. $13 for a kilo of wax from Ecroteks. Put dirty wax into pantyhose and then melt it – impurities stay in the nylon. Also showed a stainless steel hanger for honey frames.

*An app for enabling your smart phone to be used as a magnifying glass for checking mite inspection trays was also mentioned.

Next meeting:  Mead Competition and Socialising.

Things to do this month


The nucleus’s that have been ordered via the club are starting to arrive. John will advise you when yours is ready for pick-up.

Hive Location

In preparation, you need to sort out where you’re going to put it. You need to consider:

  • The neighbours
  • The bees
  • Yourself

Nucs (cont.)

The neighbours

You want to aim for the bees to fly over the neighbour’s property above 2 metres. Add a screen if necessary to get them up to this height.

The bees

Aim for a warm sunny location although some shade is okay. Provide shelter from the wind if needed and point the hive entrance away from the prevailing wind.

Bees need a water source particularly when the weather gets warmer. Provide clean water with something for them to land on such as rocks or branches.


You may also need to provide screens to get the bees to fly above your head height as you walk around your property. Position them away from your clothesline (and the neighbour’s!).

You also need to have easy access to the hive and a flat surface for the hive to sit on and for you to work it (stack supers etc.)

Hive Components

To start a hive you want at least two brood boxes and three honey supers although not all may be required in the first season. You also need the frames to put in them (10 per box). And a bottom board, queen excluder, hive mat and hive cover. Plus bee suit, gloves, smoker and hive tool.

Transferring the Bees

When you get the nucleus, you’ll transfer the 5 frames into the bigger brood box. Suggest you also get a frame feeder for feeding them sugar syrup and have some made up frames to fill the box.


All hives must be registered with AsureQuality once positioned on their permanent site. Apiary Registration is available at

Catching a Swarm

If your bees swarm, you will want to get them back if you can. Often they will form the initial swarm near the original hive. Alternatively, you can put your name on the club swarm list to get an opportunity to collect a notified swarm.

Go to your account on our website and tick the appropriate box. Best to leave a daytime phone number so you can easily be contacted when a swarm is available. You are unlikely to be offered a swarm unless you are contactable during the day (it’s also useful to indicate where your apiary is located on the website. This enables nearby apiaries to be notified in the event of an AFB outbreak etc).

You need a box with one or two drawn frames if possible or you can just put in foundation (or you can use a box or plastic container). Create a gap in the middle by taking out some frames then shake or brush the bees into the box. Then replace the missing frames. Put on a lid and leave the box until nightfall to collect all the bees before moving it to its desired location.

Preventing a Swarm

Refer to the previous newsletter for some tips on this. You need to split the hive in some way when you notice any queen cells with larvae in them.

No Queen

If your hive has swarmed, you may think that you don’t have a queen as the new queen can be hard to spot. Remember that it can take a few weeks and the right conditions for the new queen to mate and start laying.

AFB Inspection Certificates

You will need to have had your hive inspected for AFB before the end of November and the certificates returned by the middle of December. If you still to get yours done, check out the list of members available to inspect others’ hives on the website. Alternatively get in touch with your support group mentor for a contact.

Using bumblebees to deliver pesticides to flowers

By Stewart Knowles

The investment company info:

Chemical pesticides are generally a bad thing for the environment and pollinators like bees that our agriculture relies on. Now a company out of Vancouver, Canada, called Bee Vectoring Technology (BVT) has brought the two together in a system that uses bees to deliver tiny amounts of natural pesticides and beneficial fungi while pollinating crops.

Both highly efficient and sustainable, the low-tech “inoculum dispenser system” as the company calls it, is incorporated into the lid of commercial bumblebee hives. So, when the bumblebees leave their hive, they first must walk across a tray dusted with organic pesticide powder that’s picked up by their fuzzy legs and bodies.

The unwitting bees then fly off to do their typical bee thing – pollinating the flowering buds of apple trees, strawberry plants, canola and other crops. As they pollinate, the bumblebees leave minute amounts of pesticide from their bodies at the exact point where they need delivering – inside the flower.

The powder the bees carry is made up of a recipe of organic compounds containing crop controls and other beneficial fungi or bacteria, including a strain of a naturally occurring fungus that is effective in controlling a variety of diseases caused by fungal pathogens. It works by outcompeting the bad fungi and is commonly found in the environment frequented by bees and plants, and is harmless to humans as well. The fungal strain increases a plant's nutritional uptake, helping it grow and produce more fruit, while increasing the shelf life of certain fruits, such as berries.

If you want to commercially grow crops that develop fruit from flowers, you need to effectively apply pesticides, ensure flowering buds are pollinated, and hopefully do it in a way that’s doesn’t hurt the environment or your bottom line. But pesticide application is a messy job and spraying plants and trees can be woefully inexact. Every bloom needs to be touched, but with leafy canopies, especially on apple trees, much of the pesticide is lost while missing its mark.

According to Michael Collinson, company president and CEO, only 1 percent of sprayed pesticide ends up where it’s supposed to, while the other 99 percent ends up on the ground or as runoff. Pesticide spray can drift with the breeze, while hundreds of gallons are used in the mixture, contributing to a less than sustainable process.

Besides the environmental issues involved with chemical pesticides, as many as half the flowers may open and die between sprayings and remain untreated. The bees deliver the pesticides every day to buds that are in flower, while the amount of pesticide used drops from kilograms to mere grams.

Bumblebees visit up to 10 flowers per minute, with commercial beehives containing around 200 to 300 bees. Bumblebees fly in relatively lower temperatures than honeybees and can carry 10 times as much pollen or inoculant.

BVT recently completed its first share offering, with proceeds to be used on further development of the company's new manufacturing plant in Mississauga, Ontario, obtaining EPA approvals and international patent registration of the BVT system.

Gadgets and gizmos

There were some interesting and useful gadgets and gizmos presented during the November WBA meeting. Here’s what we saw:

  • Steve has found a branding iron that he uses to stamp his registration number onto his beehives to help prevent them being stolen. Sue Cook from Brand It! says “… I’m in the process of getting thicker (5.00mm) Stainless Steel cut for the numbers and letters for the registration numbers. Using 5.00mm is more durable and resilient to a higher heat for repeated heating onto wood.” They currently cost $251 each:  
  • John Burnet's stencils were made by Palmerston North beekeeper Trevor Gilbanks. They’re available for $20 each. Please see John Burnet for contact details.  
  • Frank showed his plans for a nuc box construction:

Hive sites offered and other notices


To all members who have ordered nuc colonies this season:

We said in our original email that nuc deliveries were due by end of Nov. Unfortunately; we can’t meet this delivery date because of bad weather and the volume of requests (over 100 orders). The first batch will be delivered to us next week, but the remaining batches won’t be delivered until 2-3 weeks later, so we probably can’t meet all requests before Christmas. We’ll contact all buyers as they reach the top of the list and provide collection point and nuc care instructions (nuc orders are distributed in order of receipt of payment / we’ve contacted members due receiving a first batch nuc already). We’re trying to source Top Bar Hive nuc colonies locally as they’re difficult to find (they have temporary Trapezoid-shaped frames and comb so the colony has a better start than just a dump of bees into the TBH with a new queen). Please be patient if you’ve sent an order through the club. If you sent and paid for your order late (after the end of Oct), you should try other sources (we’ll refund your payment). For example, other beekeepers who can make or sell splits. You can replace the queen in these splits with a new queen in the autumn when they’re more likely to be available. We’ll list names of experienced beekeepers who are willing to sell splits on our website. For nucs or splits: see the club website (/forum) Forums > Trading Post > Nucs - Buy, sell, swap. Remember that nuc colonies may not collect plenty of nectar over the summer to survive next winter, and you should feed them sugar syrup to encourage them to draw out raw wax foundation.


A request from John in Mirimar: John Ramsey would like a beehive to be kept on his property in the Hobart Street retirement flats. Please contact him on 04-3881939 if you’re interested.


If anyone would like to make up some certificates on Word for our various club competitions, please get in touch with Richard.

Interesting web sites & article links


Regulations covering registering your apiary, Tutin testing, requirements around selling honey and AFB checks etc.


Bee Products Standards Council - Second Tutin newsletter:

Stuff - Annabel Langbein urges Kiwis to help save the bees: