Newsletter - April 2016

James Scott's picture

Newsletter date: 


PDF file: 

Next meeting | Wednesday 6th April
Where | Main Hall, Johnsonville Community Centre, Moorefield Rd



The summer ends…

We’ve seen a very warm autumn so far and the bees have been loving it. Whether you’re a commercial apiarist or small urban beekeeper, it’s been a great summer for all.

Now comes the preparation for winter and making sure your hives are healthy, have been inspected for disease and treated for varroa. To help you, our beginners talk this month is about checking for disease including AFB. Our main talk will be the wonderful Wellington Zoo staff speaking about their onsite beehives.


April 2016 newsletter

Next meeting’s topics

 Beginner’s session:

      Stewart Turner – Disease


      (upstairs Trust Room, 7pm

       please be on time)

 Main meeting session:

The Zoo Beekeeping Team - The Bees at Wellington Zoo

(downstairs Main Hall, 7.30pm)



1        Next meeting's topics / Contents /

         American Foulbrood
2        Eager Berhampore school students

          meet the bees
3        Things to do this month

        New biosecurity video for international

          visitors launched
5-6     MPI Manuka Honey Science Programme
7        Save the dates: Apiculture New Zealand

          Conference 2016
8        Interesting websites & articles

          Hive sites & notices

9-10   Last meeting’s minutes
11      Newsletter administration



Apiculture NZ, National Conference 2016

American Foulbrood (AFB)

American foulbrood (AFB) is a destructive and widespread honeybee brood disease caused by larvae called Paenibacillus.

It’s easy to miss AFB. Beekeepers must be vigilant in checking for AFB. It’s best done in spring and autumn.

This bacteria forms resistant, long-lived spores that are difficult to destroy. The infection is spread by the bees, using equipment on different hives, and by robbing.

Check for AFB by placing a toothpick or twig into a dead larva cell. If it’s sticky and ‘ropey’, send a sample to a lab for a definitive diagnosis. Foulbrood has a particular odour, and experienced beekeepers can often detect the disease when they open a hive.

The American Foulbrood National Pest Management Plan (AFNPMP) aims to eliminate AFB from New Zealand completely.

If your hive contracts AFB, you must destroy the entire colony within seven days of finding the disease. Usually by burning the hive.



Eager Berhampore school students meet the bees

With the help of local bee enthusiast Tony Eagle, some students from Berhampore school got a first-hand experience working with the bees and seeing how they organise their society.



Tony and the students used their new bee suits sponsored by Cool Moves - a local moving company owned by Rod and Wendy, parents from the junior school.

We are very grateful for their fantastic donation of 10 child-sized and two adult sized bee suits for the school.


Eager Berhampore school students meet the bees (cont.)


Room One was buzzing with excitement to try out the new suits and get up close and personal with the VIPs (very important pollinators).

The kids are keen to get back down there and introduce the other classes in the school to these wonderful creatures.


Things to do this month

Honey competition

Our annual honey competition is taking place at our next meeting. Please bring your delicious entries along.

Tutin Testing

Bring along a small sample (around 50ml) of your honey to the next meeting for tutin testing. The cost is around $20 depending on number of samples in composite. You’ll need to provide your hive registration number as well.

Varroa treatment

Continue treatment. Hives not treated by now will be on the point of collapse. Use a monitoring method such as a sugar shake/alcohol wash to get an accurate picture of what’s happening in your hives. They may look all right but be full of mites. If you see many bees with deformed wings crawling around your hives, it’s a bad sign. Read the green varroa book.

Honey Extraction

Continue extracting any capped frames. Enter a jar in the honey competition. Put back wet frames and cappings back on the hives for the bees to clean up. Don’t put them outside the hives as this will encourage robbing.


Reduced entrances also make it easier for the bees to keep wasps out. Set wasp traps and try to locate those within a 300-metre radius. See the minutes for advice (pages 9 and 10).

Things to do this month (cont.)

AFB Inspections

We all need to do regular checks of our hives – at least twice a year. Not sure what to look for? Get informed. Do a course. has many good tips. Unfortunately, AFB is common in our area. We all need to play a part in spotting and dealing to it.


As the honey flow dries up lots of bees with nothing better to do will go and flog their neighbours’ supplies if they can. Weak, varroa infected hives make easy targets and can be robbed out in a short time. Reduce all entrances down. Make the entrances of weak hives really small so they can be defended. Throw clumps of grass over entrances to deter robber bees if you see them hovering about. Avoid leaving the hives opened up for too long when checking them at this time of the year.


Have your camera/phone handy and take shots/videos of anything interesting that’s happening in your hives. Share at club meetings. Enter good shots in the photo competition.


Enjoy your bees and your honey and mead. It makes all your hard work (and theirs) worthwhile.

New biosecurity video for international visitors launched

24 February 2016

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has launched a new in-flight biosecurity video aimed at arriving international passengers.

Launched at a gathering of airline representatives in Auckland today, the Ministry for Primary Industries-produced video aims to get passengers to declare or dispose items that pose a biosecurity risk to New Zealand.

“It’s very important to educate travellers from overseas on how important biosecurity is to New Zealand, and the importance of declaring risk items,” says Mr Guy.

“The video uses an animated beagle called ‘Officer Goodboy’ to grab people’s attention and deliver a serious message at the same time, often at the end of a long, tiring flight.”



New Zealand comedian Te Radar has provided Officer Goodboy’s voice for the video, which has been translated into seven different languages, including a dubbed-over Chinese version.

New biosecurity video for international visitors launched (cont.)

“The video is part of a wider MPI marketing programme to encourage arriving passengers to declare or dispose risk items.

“It includes new advertising aimed at getting Chinese people living in New Zealand to encourage friends and family to follow our biosecurity rules.

“We need passengers to understand what they need to do to keep New Zealand safe. That’s why MPI works hard to promote border biosecurity messages.




“The reality is New Zealand is never going to achieve its ambitious economic goals without protecting ourselves from unwanted pests and diseases. This is why biosecurity has been my number one priority since becoming Minister.

“In last year’s Budget we allocated an extra $27 million to strengthen our biosecurity system. As a result MPI has employed 90 new front line biosecurity staff and introduced 24 new biosecurity detector dog teams.”


The Officer Goodboy inflight video is available to all international airlines arriving in New Zealand. It can be viewed on YouTube -



MPI Manuka Honey Science Programme


MPI Manuka Honey Science Programme (cont.)



Save the dates: Apiculture New Zealand Conference 2016

 19-21st June (AGM 22nd June)


The 2016 National Conference is set to deliver an outstanding programme of International and Domestic speakers, with key seminar topics and workshops covering Industry Science, Bee Health, and Trade and Market related issues.

Supporting this will be the largest Trade Exhibition ever assembled in our industry’s history. It will be a great opportunity to network with buyers, sellers, industry partners, and key industry organisations. You will be able to view new technology and discuss how these could offer benefits to your business.



This 3 day integrated programme commences at 8.30am on Sunday the 19th June and will be of strong interest to commercial and hobbyist/non-commercial beekeepers, packers and exporters, landowners, industry suppliers and the scientific community.

Apiculture New Zealand Conference 2016 (cont.)

Attendance is highly recommended. Please register early and take advantage of the extremely good accommodation rates on offer.

Apiculture NZ will also lead the industry's negotiations with government on the Government-Industry biosecurity agreements, which we know is important for all beekeepers.












For more information and website registration:

Interesting websites & articles



Parasites, pathogens, and pesticides: making sense of multiple stressors. This interactive site shows the EU's integrated approach to bee management


Cell phone radiation disturbs honey bees


Hospitality Business: Save the bees, save the world, stay humble


Science Daily: Bee flower choices altered by exposure to pesticides


ABC Rural: Perth company grows one million trees with hopes of establishing lucrative Manuka honey industry


Dominion Post: Wholesale Boot Company (WBC) serves homemade honey from own hives Backyard beekeeping is the latest urban craze


Interesting websites & articles (cont.)

Wax Moths

Bush Bees

Big Bear homestead

NZ Beekeepers Forum

Agriculture Victoria


Disease prevention in beekeeping

Department of Agriculture and Food


Food and agriculture Organisation of the United Nations


Bee Source


Hive sites & notices

Wanted to Buy

Ivan in Upper Hutt wants to buy wooden honey frames for extracting (no plastic). He’ll buy your un-extracted honey on the frame and return the frame with new foundation. Price is negotiable.

Please contact Ivan Pedersen on 04 5269180.




Last meeting’s minutes

2 March 2016 at the Johnsonville Community Centre

Meeting began 7.35pm, 115 in attendance

  • 4 visitors/new members introduced themselves.
  • Richard welcomed all present and talked briefly about the year ahead.

No report from the beginners’ session.

Activity in the hive


Tutin risk at this time of year. Honey must be tested and verified as tutin-free if you going to sell or give away.

Mixed season, good for some people and not others. Poor pohutukawa flowering has meant a poor season in some areas.

AFB checks are important. Looking for sunken cells, slimy cells. Do the ropiness test. AFB has been prevalent in Hutt Valley and is now in Naenae. Be careful of spreading spores from hive to hive on hive tools, gloves, etc. Everyone needs to be vigilant and do regular checks. Good information on:

Event reports

Camp Rangi – at Pohangina Camp 26-28 February. About 100 beekeepers, including 20 from Wellington cub. Very educational and great fun. Learnt a lot and lots of good networking.

Te Aro School hive. Trish viewed today, not very good brood pattern, but enough honey to keep the hive going. 6 to 9-year-olds very interested and observing lots around the hives.

Berhampore School now have 10 kids bee suits, sponsored by Cool Moves removal firm. Club to send thank you letter.


Last meeting minutes (cont.)

Club extraction at Onslow College. 85 kg from 6 boxes of honey. Dark and very nice. Available for sale at $15 per jar. John thinks it is Rewarewa honey.

Upcoming events

Varroa workshop – 13th March at Johnsonville Community Centre. 1.30pm. Different stations to demonstrate different treatments.

Honey Extraction on 6 March at Home of Compassion. 10% of honey to the nuns. Also a commercial kitchen in Lyall Bay available – see Jane.

Honey competition next month. Clear and creamed categories. Rules are on the website.



Berhampore Nursery Open Day – WCC would like a beekeepers stand. Saturday 9 April, 10-2pm

Hutt Horticultural Society wants a speaker for 22 May – see Richard.



Last meeting minutes (cont.)

AFB recognition course – 19th March at JCC. Details on Refresher course on 12th March in Levin.

Photo competition is coming up. Next month’s speaker is a photography expert who will give advice on taking good photos.

Apiculture NZ Conference in Rotorua in July.

General Business


  • Nucs for Top bars. John Randall has been making top bar nucs. More difficult to do than Langstroth hives. Audrey Shearer also doing top bar splits.
  • Tutin Testing. Stewart Turner has quotes from testing labs and will organise collection and dispatch for testing. James to put registration form on the website and to put tutin video link on website.
  • Website. Working on distribution lists/group setups. Forums are being used.
  • Photos. Remember the photo competition in June. Start taking photos now. Need more entries this year.
  • Hive photos from Bhutan. Tony has been trekking in Bhutan. Showed his photos of open comb and hives. All photos taken above 3500m.




Last meeting minutes (cont.)

  • Vespex overview. Jim Smith has been researching Vespex, a wasp bait manufactured by Merchento. This is a new product which DOC have been trialling with a view to use in badly infested areas such as Nelson Lakes. DOC trials in 2015 aiming for a 90% reduction. Results showed a 98.5% reduction. WWF have agreed to support. Active ingredient is Fiprinol, commonly used in many pesticides, flea powders, etc. Need to be a licensed user and pass an online test. Advantages are that it is a protein-based bait that is not attractive to other animals and has specific bait stations that prevent loss into the environment. A good product if you have a serious wasp problem, but disadvantages of the active ingredient (very lethal) mean existing methods may be preferable on a small scale.

Meeting Talk/Topic


Paul Chapman (professional exterminator) and Davide Santoro (Victoria University) talked about wasps and wasp biology

  • Davide has tracked wasps with radio transmitters and has studied their foraging behaviour. Wasps in NZ are introduced. NZ has the highest densities of wasps in the world.
  • Paul recommends a pyrethrum dust blown in with an air blower to kill local wasp nests. Difficult to follow a wasp to its nest, though more successful at the end of the day when wasps fly direct back to the nests. Wasps don’t forage very far, perhaps only 300m. Wasp nests often only found at the end of summer when they are large.
  • Paul also relocates bumblebee nests and is experimenting with different bumblebee nest boxes.


Meeting ended at 9.10 pm with supper.



Meeting location



Johnsonville Community Centre, Moorefield Road


Who can I speak to?


Richard Braczek (04) 973 3028


John Burnet (04) 232 7863


Jane Harding (04) 499 4123

Newsletter contributions

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


 When recommending website articles, please confirm

     whether they are under copyright.