Newsletter - March 2017

James Scott's picture

Newsletter date: 


PDF file: 

December 2016 newsletter
1 | P a g e

Next meeting’s topics
Beginner’s session: 7:00pm,

Topic: AFB checks, final harvest and readying for winter
Main session: 7:30pm.

Speaker: David Cramp, author, science communicator
Meeting chaired by Sharon Mackie
1 Meeting's topics / Contents
2-3 Frank Lindsay – a note from the President
4 Club Profile – Sharon Mackie
5-6 Population Dynamics of Varroa in a Honey Bee Colony7
7-8 Book review – a Sting in the Tale by Dave Goulson /
9 Further reading
10 Apiculture Update
11 Beekeeping Quiz /Things to do this month
12 Honey Harvest Statistics 2016
13 Beekeeping Quiz answers
14-15 Last meeting’s minutes
16 Honey jar prices 17 Meeting location / Who can I speak to?
Next meeting | Wednesday 1st March 2017
Where | Main Hall, Johnsonville Community Centre, Moorefield Rd

March 2017 Newsletter
David Cramp - author, science communicator and beekeeper, is

our speaker at the March meeting.

From starting a beekeeping hobby with just two hives in England,

David Cramp progressed to full-time organic beekeeping in Spain and

then continued his interest in New Zealand.


December 2016 newsletter
2 | P a g e

Frank Lindsay – a note from the


Five days of good, calm weather have made a real

difference to some of my hives. In some they put on

four frames of honey in two days, mostly catsear and

clover. I just hope this continues for a little longer.

Other hives haven't changed much perhaps due to

overstocking of hives around my apiaries and very little

autumn sources. Most of my nucs needed feeding otherwise they will be dead

in a few weeks. Normally they would have at least stored a frame or two but

not this season.

When the last of the autumn sources finish, robbing season will start. Field

bees with nothing to do, will probe all hives in the area for weakness and steal

their honey if they can. Close down entrances so the bees can better protect

your hive. Don't leave hives open for very long. If everything goes mad and

robbing starts (bee flying around stinging), close the hive entrance with grass

and turn the garden sprinkler on the hive until the bees from other hives stop

Club field day 19 February - treating varroa

We had a good number of mostly new beekeepers attend, taking the hives

apart check for disease, check for varroa mites with a cappings fork, then we

did a mite wash and following this up with two different types of application

using 40 mls of formic acid as a flash treatment to reduce mite numbers until

we can take off the honey.

The last lot of strips were removed on the 19th December although we found a

couple of hives with strips still in. Most hives had between 1 and 2 mites per

300 bees so these hives were in very good condition. Because 80% of the mites

December 2016 newsletter
3 | P a g e

Frank Lindsay – a note from the President (cont.)

are in cells, 1 percent found on the nurse bees in an average hives of 25,000

bees means there are about 900 mites in the hives and this number

doubles every 18 days. We hope you all get your hives to this low level within

the next few weeks.

We had one surprise. One of the production hives that hadn't been split had 17

mites per 250 bees (about 40,000 bees) which took it to a 6% level of

infestation meaning that it had about 2,400 mites in the hive. The capping fork

test where about 20 drone brood were removed showed lots of mites in each


This hive is considered a "mite bomb". It would have died in two or three

months and then when it has been robbed out, the robbers would have spread

mites to all hives in the apiary.

This one at Chartwell means there could be other hives in the area (2.5 km)

which could be in a similar shape - test your hives or just treat. Varroa passes

on viruses to your bees and it's the viruses kill colonies. The more mites you

have in a hive, the quicker this happens.

It's very important to identify the heavily infested hives early and treat them so

mite levels stay low. I'm seeing one or two hives in my apiaries with mites

falling on to the bottom board slides where most have no mites falling. My

hives have low infestations because I have been treating hives each month

with formic acid.

So far the highest mite count is 3 mites per hundred in Johnsonville and 1 mite

per 200 in Ohariu Valley. What are the counts like in your area?

I'm really looking forward to this month's guest speaker. David has a long

history with bees and is a fountain of knowledge.

December 2016 newsletter
4 | P a g e

Club Profile – Sharon Mackie

Sharon Mackie

Beekeeping five

years in the

Wellington Region.

Beekeeping brings

together a lot of

threads. My

grandfather had

300 hives, BV -

before Varroa in

North Otago and I

have fond memories of ‘helping out’ in his cellar as a kid. I am fourth

generation beekeeper in our family and the hobby ties together my

love for the outdoors and feeling connected with nature.

It wasn’t the honey for me, it was an interest in the life cycle of the

honey bee and its protection. It’s really satisfying to do something

productive with your hands, if you are not making bee boxes, you are

spinning honey or making decisions about the welfare of your


I find each year you learn a bit more and realise just how much you

don’t know. There is a certain magic with bees, a science and

husbandry all rolled into one.

I enjoy the bee club’s old fashioned principles of sharing and

exchanging of ideas – it’s very different from any workplace! The

club brings people from all walks of life with a common interest and

there are many wonderful characters to get to know.

My top tip would be to learn as much as you can before getting your

first hive. There are many ways to learn beekeeping and get hands

on experience before going solo on your own hive. It’s much cheaper

to buy honey in the supermarket but not nearly as much fun!

December 2016 newsletter
5 | P a g e

Population dynamics of varroa in a

honeybee colony

Simplified bee and mite population growth curves for a temperate climate.
The mite growth curve lags behind the bee curve. Note how the number of
mites per hundred bees greatly increases in the fall months (USA). A
colony is unlikely to survive a fall infestation rate this high.

Let’s start by seeing just why it is typical for varroa to become a

problem in the fall.

Both the mite and bee population are at their lowest just before the

first brood emerges in spring. The bee population climbs at a quicker

rate than the mite population until midsummer, when the bees start

to ramp down. The mites get off to a slower start, and then hit their

stride during drone rearing season in spring and summer. Note how

the mite to bee infestation ratio climbs dramatically in early Autumn.

December 2016 newsletter
6 | P a g e

dynamics of varroa in a honeybee colony (cont.)

When that occurs, the bees really feel population the impact of

varroa—brood is stressed or dies, viruses run rampant, and the

generation of bees that will form the winter cluster is weakened and

vulnerable. For a review of the insults that varroa parasitism visits

upon a honeybee colony, see the excellent New Zealand guide cited

at the end of this article (Honey Bee Health Coalition).

A key point to remember is that the relative infestation (percent, or

mites per 100 bees) is more important than total mite population—a

large colony can handle more mites than a small one. At much above

a 2% infestation in spring, honey production drops off severely. At

much above 5% in fall, colony winter survival suffers (although the

fall “economic injury threshold” numbers by various authors range

from 1% to 11%) (Currie & Gatien 2006). We will return to percent

infestation, and economic injury levels in my next article.

Unchecked, varroa can really multiply! A 12-fold increase is typical in

a short season consisting of 128 days of brood rearing (Martin 1998).

However, its population can increase 100- to 300-fold if brood rearing

is continuous! (Martin and Kemp 1997).

Extracted from:
Beekeeping Through the Eyes of a Biologist

Further reading on Varroa destructor:

December 2016 newsletter
7 | P a g e

Book Review – A Sting in the Tale

by Dave Goulson

Reviewed by Frank Lindsay

Dave Goulson was the Professor of Biological

Science at the University of Sussex and is now at

the Sterling University in Scotland, studying and

directing graduates into further studies plus is

the founder of Bumblebee Conservation Trust


It’s a fascinating and interesting book for anybody interested in

bumblebees or honey bees with a bit of a sting in the tale for us here in

New Zealand.

Dave's prologue describes his early years living in Shropshire. He had

the normal pets then ventured into collecting more exotic things

storing them in boxes in his room. Doesn't every little boy collect road

kill to dissect? His fascination started with bumblebees when he tried to

warm up some chilled bees.

This book is 256 pages long and is written in an easy to read style full

of interesting information with a full index at the back. The 17 chapters

in the book basically follows his university career and his different

research projects. These include trips to Tasmania to assess the impact

the introduction of bumblebees has made since their

accidental/deliberate release. He has also visited New Zealand a

number of times to look at the distribution of the introduced

bumblebees and what they are feeding upon so he could mimic their

food requirements ready for their re-introduction back into Britain.

December 2016 newsletter
8 | P a g e

Book review – A Sting in the Tale (cont.)

He includes a lovely, brief description of each of his co-workers making

them people not just names.

He touches on the bumblebee pollination industry that operates in

Europe which distributes bumblebees into Europe and Asia, and the

dangers they can pose to native bumblebees. Did you know that you

can use nurse honey bees to support a queen bumblebee in

establishing a nest and that over 500 tonnes of bee collected pollen is

used to produce over a million nest per year under factory farming

techniques for glass house pollination.

Bumblebees are in decline everywhere, mostly due to a loss of habitat

cause by intensive farming. They have to feed every 40 minute

otherwise they die. Based in Britain, he mentions a lot of the English

plants that bumblebees visit. I needed to use my Readers Digest “Field

Guide to the Wild Flowers of Britain” to understand what he was

referring to and surprise, surprise most are established in New

Zealand's pasture and gardens. These probably came with the English

grass seed brought in by the early farmers to establish pastures here.

The same with the bumblebee species named in the book. Although

there is a complete list of the different species of

British bumblebees in the appendix, I had to refer to the internet to

identify our NZ bumblebees and their distribution.

This book gave me a greater understanding on the requirements of

bumblebees. We need to have something flowering all year round to

support their nests. To date, I have been planting dahlias and dead

heading them so they produce a continuous flowering through the

summer. Now I'll be planting a lot of different clovers for them and my

bees. Did you know it is now possible to identify how many bees have

visited a flower?

I highly recommend this book to any beekeeper or anybody who is

interested in finding out something about those fluffy bumbling bees.

December 2016 newsletter
9 | P a g e
Further reading from David Cramp:
Beekeeping A Beginners Guide: …

David Cramp (Paperback - Jun 27, 2012)
A Practical Manual of Beekeepin…

David Cramp (Paperback - Oct 31, 2008)
The Beekeeper's Field Guide: A …

David Cramp (Spiral-bound - Mar 25, 2…
The Complete Step-by-step Boo…

David Cramp (Hardcover - Oct 15, 2015)

December 2016 newsletter
10 | P a g e

Update - February 17
From the CE - Karin Kos

Today the ApiNZ Board and I met with the Minister for Food Safety,

the Hon David Bennett who came to our Board meeting, along with

MPI and ministerial officials, to discuss the mānuka science

definition. The Minister and officials were very engaged in what we

had to say and it was a productive meeting. They heard loud and

clear the concerns of our industry, including the impact of delays on

our industry members. The Minister has committed to keeping the

lines of communication open and he’ll be meeting with us again in

about three weeks’ time. While supportive of this more open

approach, the Board was very clear on its role in ensuring that MPI

meet their obligations to industry, particularly in the consultation,

implementation and roll-out of the definition.

This week I was interviewed by TV1 on the issue of beehive theft.

TV1 is doing a story on the issue, and is also interviewing some

beekeepers around the country who have been victims of this theft. I

talked about the work that Apiculture New Zealand has been doing

with Police to address the issue, and how devastating it was for

beekeepers targeted by thieves. I provided some perspective to the

scale of the issue, while it’s undoubtedly serious, (there were 84

reported incidents of beehive theft from July 2015 to June 2016), the

strong industry growth over the past few years has seen a significant

rise in registered beehive numbers. I will let you know when the

story goes to air.

We’ve been advised that the Christchurch Hobbyist Beekeepers' Club

hives are in the Port Hills and are likely to have been affected by the

fire as the site is behind the Police roadblock. Our thoughts go out to

all those people who have been affected by this dreadful event.

December 2016 newsletter
11 | P a g e

Beekeeping Quiz

Varroa destructor

1. What is the length of the mite’s life- cycle?

2. When did varroa first appear in NZ?

3. Why do varroa mites prefer to infest drone cells?

4. How does the varroa mite damage the bee?

5. How do varroa mites spread?

Answers on page 13

Things to do this month

March checklist

 Test for varroa mite levels and treat if necessary

 Extract honey

 Requeen hives

 Check for wasp damage

 Sell or store honey crop

 Store honey supers or return to hives
From this ….. to this

December 2016 newsletter
12 | P a g e

Honey harvest statistics 2016
These statistics have various sources

 Hive numbers are provided by AsureQuality from the NZ National

Apiary Register

 Honey Production figures are an estimate of production undertaken

by AsureQuality by area and multiplied by hive numbers from the

National Apiary Register and are New Zealand's official production

figures for international reporting purposes. Export statistics are the

official overseas trade data provided by Statistics New Zealand.

Year Hive Nos








Bee Queen Bee


(tonnes) (tonnes) (kilos) Exports

1997 287,458 8,537 1,688 61,368 45,865 1,300

1998 298,921 8,081 1,836 155,229 52,704 10,724

1999 302,998 9,069 2,030 73,156 15,908 10,965

2000 320,113 9,609 2,528 64,730 19,344 21,120

2001 308,940 9,144 3,391 67,192 19,193 4,929

2002 312,658 4,682 2,555 105,024 14,791 5,049

2003 300,729 12,252 3,190 149,987 17,969

2004 294,623 8,888 2,767 114,044 14,142

2005 292,928 9,689 3,631 171,289 16,908 1,395

2006 300,569 10,423 4,134 295,301 20,034 7,666

2007 313,339 9,666 4,871 102,967 14,309 4,286

2008 344,123 12,375 6,099 115,329 21,580 2,741

2009 362,540 12,565 8,209 140,356 30,577 2,319

2010 376,672 12,553 6,555 133,264 34,352 5,906

2011 391,765 9,447 7,166 175,591 34,133 9,931

2012 422,728 10,382 7,709 158,937 24,754 5,712

2013 452,018 17,823 8,757 181,977 32,464 2,429

2014 507,247 17,608 8,648 143,418 58,138 11,318

2015 575,872 19,710 9,446 53,615 34,210 4,328

2016 684,000 19,885 7,820 23,884 24,559 2,441

December 2016 newsletter
13 | P a g e

Beekeeping Quiz Answers

Varroa destructor
1 Mites reproduce on a 10-day cycle
2 In 2000
3 The drone takes longer to develop than a worker bee,

allowing the mite to reproduce one more time with the extra

three days it takes a drone to emerge.
4 The mites suck the "blood" (hemolymph) of adult honey bees

for sustenance, leaving open wounds and transmitting diseases

and viruses.
5 Robbing When a colony is severely affected it becomes a

target for robbers. Not only do they take any stores but also

pick up large numbers of mites.
Drifting Poor apiary design will allow young bees to ‘drift’

into neighbouring colonies. This is particularly important with

drones are they are accepted into any colony.
Migration Bees from collapsing colonies abscond from their

own hive with the robbers and increase the mite load in the

robbers’ hive.
Swarming A swarm from an infested colony will always carry

mites with it. It is essential to test any swarm for the mite and

treat it before introducing it to the apiary. Swarms from feral

colonies are no more likely to be free than those from managed

colonies but can spread the mite naturally by 3-5km per year.
Beekeepers manipulative management by the beekeeper

can transfer affected bees to other colonies in the apiary and to

other apiaries. Migratory beekeeping can cause a rapid spread

throughout a country.

December 2016 newsletter
14 | P a g e

Last Meeting’s Minutes
held at the Johnsonville Community Centre from 6.30pm
(main meeting at 7.30pm) Wednesday 1 February 2017

7.30-7.40 pm Main meeting starts


Sharon to chair

General welcome and cover off what is on the agenda.

Reminders - sign the book, return your name tag, pick up your

induction pack from John if you've recently joined up

New beekeepers – 7 new members

Guest Beekeepers – guest from Sheffield, UK

Supper Roster reminder - Elizabeth Grove

7.40-7.45 pm

December Minutes approval, matters arising, notices

Club field day in February, hive checks, AFB checks, etc

Queen rearing course this year – probably in March. A number of

members are interested

7.45-8.45 pm

What's happening in the hives - Frank to lead

1. AFB – Upper Hutt/Wainui inspections. Checking for AFB before

extraction. One infected cell is an infected hive and it must be


2. Honey production and extraction

3. Tutin testing. Club batch testing. Honey should be tested if

harvested after 1 January. Collect sample jar from John and bring

back to March meeting.

4. Swarming. Late summer swarming happens now, swarms unlikely

to survive the winter without feeding

5. preparing your hives to take them through the winter. Varroa

treatments. Important to check and treat. Test before treating.

Sugar shake, alcohol wash, etc. Everyone should treat at the

same time, around 18 February. Hive feeding will be required for


December 2016 newsletter
15 | P a g e

Last Meeting’s Minutes (cont.)
Q&A from the floor
Q: I have a hive with only drone brood – can I keep the pollen
to feed other hives?

A: yes, keep to feed next spring, but make sure there is no AFB.
Q: Can a drone-lying hive recover?

A: Not easily, bees may need to be sacrificed. Possibly add an old

queen who will lay some eggs and force the hive to supercedure. Not

a reliable method.
Q: Using the Chinese herb treatment for varroa and it seems
to be effective – is this true?

A: Only deals with the mites that have emerged, mites in the brood

will not be affected. Needs to be done often and for a long time.
Q: Making splits without a queen cell?

A: yes, make a walkaway split by letting bees create new queens

from cells.
Q: For tutin testing, does the honey need to be mixed?

A: Yes, unless you want to get batches done separately. $22.00 per


9.00-9.30 pm - Quiz and group meeting

Members broke into local area groups for a bee-knowledge quiz ad

general discussion.

9.30pm - Meeting closed

December 2016 newsletter
16 | P a g e

Honey Jars (prices incl. GST)

PET plastic jar Hex. shaped clear (incl tamper evident lid)
Capital Beekeeping Supplies
500ml (500gram) $1.30 each
750ml (1kg) $2.00 each
Storage Box (Wgton & L/Hutt)
500ml (500gram) $2.29 each
750ml (1kg) $3.69 each
Storage Box (square jar)
500ml (500gram) N/A
750ml (1kg) $3.69 each

Storage Box - bulk supply $1.50 (carton 200) $2.00 (carton 100)

*Stowers (Seaview) $1.32 $2.68

*Stowers (Seaview) $1.30 (square jar) N/A

*with WBA discount

Glass and plastic jars are also available in a variety of sizes and shapes from
Arthur Holmes Ltd., 10-30 Horner St., Newtown.

December 2016 newsletter
17 | P a g e

Meeting location

Johnsonville Community Centre, Moorefield Rd

Who can I speak to?

Frank Lindsay (04) 478 3367

John Burnet (04) 232 7863

Jane Harding (04) 499 4123
Newsletter editor

Eva Durrant (04) 470 7879 or (027) 3118700

Please submit contributions by the 20th of the month to: