Mid North Coast Newsletter - October 2015

             THE BEE LINE           

     Newsletter of The Mid North Coast Amateur Beekeeping Association           

                                                               October  2015

Last Meeting

The last meeting was held at the home of Lou and Diana Schmidt on Sunday, 11th October, at Bowraville.

NOTES FROM LOU’S APIARY.  Lou gave a good explanation about his hives and his activity.

There are 20 hives on the lower level and 17 further up the hill.  One hive had swarmed already and 2 queens had passed through the excluders into the supers and had been moved back down into the brood boxes.

Lou has full depth10 frame brood boxes with mostly Ideal and WSP supers. Some hives were more active than others.  Corflute plastic beetle traps with insecticide are used to control small hive beetles.  John Carroll explained that beetles can live for 90 days and the larvae can live in the ground for 90 days.

One hive was opened.  The queen had again passed through the excluder. As the queen could not be found combs with bees were shaken in front of a brood box with a new excluder on top and the supers were re- assembled.

A lively discussion followed with questions being answered by Stan, Frank, John and Ross.

Thanks to everybody for bringing luncheon items and raffle prizes.



The action at Lou’s apiary

Thanks to Fay for compiling a report on the day’s activity.

John Carroll presented his bottom ventilated hive as discussed at the last meeting.

The secretary and treasurer were absent from this meeting so there was only a short  business meeting. We all wish our Secretary, Peter a hasty recovery and hope that he’ll soon be back in action.

The next meeting will be held at the Coffs Harbour Christian Community School at Bonville on the 8th November. This meeting will include our AGM, with the election of office bearers.


In August, Ross Wood did a “Week of Taste” presentation at Nymboida Public School. Ross spent an hour with the class, talking about his story with bees and honey, and giving the children taste samples of various honeys. This was all part of a course to help children recognize, appreciate and articulate diverse tastes and flavours and thus be able to choose their food more wisely.

Ross also sent me the link to some information on Bee pheromones from Wikipedia.

Honey bee pheromones

The pheromones of the Honey bee are mixtures of chemical substances released by individual bees into the hive or environment that cause changes in the physiology and behaviour of other bees.

Honey bees (Apis mellifera) have one of the most complex pheromonal communication systems found in nature, possessing 15 known glands that produce an array of compounds. These chemical messengers secreted by a queen, drone, worker bee or laying worker bee to elicit a response in other bees. The chemical messages are received by the bee's antenna and other body parts. They are produced as a volatile or non-volatile liquid and transmitted by direct contact as a liquid or vapor.

Honey bee pheromones can be grouped into releaser pheromones which temporarily affect the recipient's behavior, and primer pheromones which have a long-term effect on the physiology of the recipient. Releaser pheromones trigger an almost immediate behavioral response from the receiving bee. Under certain conditions a pheromone can act as both a releaser and primer pheromone.

The pheromones may either be single chemicals or a complex mixture of numerous chemicals in different percentages.

Types of honey bee pheromones

Alarm pheromone

Two main alarm pheromones have been identified in honeybee workers. One is released by the Koschevnikov gland, near the sting shaft, and consists of more than 40 chemical compounds, including isopentyl acetate (IPA), butyl acetate, 1-hexanol, n-butanol, 1-octanol, hexyl acetate, octyl acetate, n-pentyl acetate and 2-nonanol. These chemical compounds have low molecular weights, are highly volatile, and appear to be the least specific of all pheromones. Alarm pheromones are released when a bee stings another animal, and attract other bees to the location and causes the other bees to behave defensively, i.e. sting or charge. The alarm pheromone emitted when a bee stings another animal smells like bananas. Smoke can mask the bees' alarm pheromone.

The other alarm pheromone is released by the mandibular glands and consists of 2-heptanone, which is also a highly volatile substance. This compound has a repellent effect and it was proposed that it is used to deter potential enemies and robber bees. Interestingly, the amounts of 2-heptanone increase with the age of bees and becomes higher in the case of foragers. It was therefore suggested that 2-heptanone is used by foragers to scent-mark recently visited and depleted foraging locations, which indeed are avoided by foraging bees. However, this has recently been proven false. In a new discovery, it was determined that bees actually use 2-heptanone as an anesthetic and to paralyze intruders. After the intruders are paralyzed, the bees remove them from the hive.[

Brood recognition pheromone

Another pheromone is responsible for preventing worker bees from bearing offspring in a colony that still has developing young. Both larvae and pupae emit a "brood recognition" pheromone. This inhibits ovarian development in worker bees and helps nurse bees distinguish worker larvae from drone larvae and pupae. This pheromone is a ten-component blend of fatty-acid esters, which also modulates adult caste ratios and foraging ontogeny dependent on its concentration. The components of brood pheromone have been shown to vary with the age of the developing bee.

Drone pheromone

Drones produce a pheromone that attracts other flying drones to promote drone aggregations at sites suitable for mating with virgin queens.

Dufour's gland pheromone

The Dufour's gland (named after the French naturalist Léon Jean Marie Dufour) opens into the dorsal vaginal wall. Dufour’s gland and its secretion have been somewhat of a mystery. The gland secretes its alkaline products into the vaginal cavity, and it has been assumed to be deposited on the eggs as they are laid. Indeed, Dufour’s secretions allow worker bees to distinguish between eggs laid by the queen, which are attractive, and those laid by workers. The complex of as many as 24 chemicals differs between workers in "queenright" colonies and workers of queenless colonies. In the latter, the workers’ Dufour secretions are similar to those of a healthy queen. The secretions of workers in queenright colonies are long-chain alkanes with odd numbers of carbon atoms, but those of egg-laying queens and egg-laying workers of queenless colonies also include long chain esters.[7]

Egg marking pheromone

This pheromone, similar to that described above, helps nurse bees distinguish between eggs laid by the queen bee and eggs laid by a laying worker.

Footprint pheromone

This pheromone is left by bees when they walk and is useful in enhancing Nasonov pheromones in searching for nectar.

In the queen, it is an oily secretion of the queen's tarsal glands that is deposited on the comb as she walks across it. This inhibits queen cell construction (thereby inhibiting swarming), and its production diminishes as the queen ages.

Forager pheromone

Ethyl oleate is released by older forager bees to slow the maturing of nurse bees. This primer pheromone acts as a distributed regulator to keep the ratio of nurse bees to forager bees in the balance that is most beneficial to the hive.

Nasonov pheromone

Nasonov pheromone is emitted by the worker bees and used for orientation.

Other pheromones

Other pheromones produced by most honey bees include rectal gland pheromone, tarsal pheromone, wax gland and comb pheromone, and tergite gland pheromone.

Types of queen honey bee pheromones

Queen mandibular pheromone

Queen mandibular pheromone (QMP), emitted by the queen, is one of the most important sets of pheromones in the bee hive. It affects social behavior, maintenance of the hive, swarming, mating behavior, and inhibition of ovary development in worker bees. The effects can be short and/or long term. Some of the chemicals found in QMP are carboxylic acids and aromatic compounds. The following compounds have been shown to be important in retinue attraction of workers to their queen and other effects.

(E)-9-Oxodec-2-enoic acid (9-ODA) – inhibits queen rearing as well as ovarian development in worker bees; strong sexual attractant for drones when on a nuptial flight; critical to worker recognition of the presence of a queen in the hive

(R,E)-(−)-9-Hydroxy-2-enoic acid (9-HDA) promotes stability of a swarm, or a "calming" influence

Queen retinue pheromone

The following compounds have also been identified, of which only coniferyl alcohol is found in the mandibular glands. The combination of the 5 QMP compounds and the 4 compounds below is called the queen retinue pheromone (QRP). These nine compounds are important for the retinue attraction of worker bees around their queen.

Methyl oleate, Coniferyl alcohol, Cetyl alcohol, α-Linolenic acid


The queen also contains an abundance of various methyl and ethyl fatty acid esters, very similar to the brood recognition pheromone described above. They are likely to have pheromonal functions like those found for the brood recognition pheromone.


GOLDEN BEES and queens are pretty to look at but that doesn’t mean they are the best.

WELL FERTILIZED QUEENSwill produce more bees for longer to replace old workers.  This will keep a hive strong.  Mating areas should be stocked with well bred drones.

QUIET BEESare easier to work with.  Beekeeping need not involve being chased and stung by angry bees.

WELL FED BEES live longer.  Good nutrition in early development is important.  Research shows that     

Larvaefedinadequate pollen results in workers that are poor foragers and waggle dancers.

PRODUCTIVE BEESare those that have received proper nutrition. They will live longer so will gather more nectar and pollen in their lifetime.  The beekeeper will harvest more honey.

HYGENIC BEESdetect and remove dead and diseased brood before it becomes infectious preventing the spread of disease in the hive.  It makes the colony more resistant to chalkbrood and AFB.

LONG TONGUED BEES , like the Caucasian race, can access nectar in some deep flowerswhere others cannot reach.

If your bees have most of these qualities you are a lucky beekeeper.  Enjoy your hobby!



Phil Jury sent some of his honey off for testing(for leptospermum content), and the results came back very favourable.

 The antimicrobial activity was determined by using the agar well diffusion assay against the bacterial pathogen Staphylococcus aureus, following the method that was developed by Allen, Molan, and Reid. Total activity (%phenol equivalent) – 16.1%.

Crikey – the Manuka honey jars I have here at home are only 10%+.(Ed)

An explanation of this test is below for your information.

Non-peroxide activity -   < 5%

 How to interpret the results:

< 5 % phenol equivalent = Insignificant therapeutic value

5 – 10 % phenol equivalent = Low activity

> 10 % phenol equivalent = Therapeutically beneficial

> 20 % phenol equivalent = Highly active

 IMPORTANT NOTE: These results are applicable ONLY to the samples tested. Other batches of honey from the same floral source will not necessarily have the same level of activity.

The antimicrobial activity of honey and how we measure it

We are providing this background information, which might be of interest to you.

The antimicrobial activity of honey is dependent on a number of factors.

§ High sugar content (about 80%)

o All of the sugar molecules in honey bind so tightly to any water molecules present that the water is not available for the microbes (germs) to use, so the honey is too “dry” for them to grow

§ Low pH

o Typical pH ranges from 3.2 to 4.5, which is too low for the growth of most microbes

§ Hydrogen peroxide

o When bees are making honey they add a variety of things to the nectar, and one of these is an enzyme called glucose oxidase

o When honey is mixed with water this enzyme produces hydrogen peroxide (like bleach), and this is toxic to microbes

§ Floral factors

o Medicinal properties vary, depending on which flowers are a source of nectar for the bees

o Some honeys have exceptional antimicrobial activity that is due to their floral source - the most famous example is certain Leptospermum honeys from New Zealand and Australia (colloquially known as manuka and jelly or goo bush, respectively)

§ This is often referred to as “non-peroxide” activity

The levels of this activity vary greatly from honey to honey, and can be affected by the processing and storage of the honey.

The unusual activity that we see in some Leptospermum honeys has been linked to their relatively high concentrations of methylglyoxal (MGO). The MGO originates from the naturally occurring compound dihydroxyacetone (DHA), which is present in the nectar of Leptospermum flowers to varying degrees. Some Leptospermum flowers have nectar with high levels of DHA and are therefore likely to result in honeys with high levels of this unusual type of activity, while others have very little.

There are a number of methods for testing antimicrobial activity of honey. In this research project we are looking at some of the chemical components of honey (such as DHA and MGO), as well as the bioactivity, using the test pathogen Staphylococcus aureus.

The test we use for measuring the bioactivity of honey is the same one that is used to determine the “UMF” of manuka honey in New Zealand. This method that was developed by Professor Peter Molan (from the Honey Research Unit at The University of Waikato, New Zealand), who is the pioneering researcher in this field and who discovered the special properties of manuka honey. Different methods will yield different results, so the results reported here cannot necessarily be directly compared with those from other testing institutions. Your honey sample was tested for antimicrobial activity using a method that compares honey to phenol, which is a potent antiseptic. This gives us a standard that enables us to compare different honeys to each other

Congratulations Phil!


In the News

Caffeinated plants give bees a buzz

A morning caffeine dose is something that so many of us find irresistible, and according to research, foraging bees seek a similar buzz.

Many plants produce caffeine, primarily as a naturally bitter deterrent against plant-devouring insects, like caterpillars.

But an experiment with caffeinated nectar has now shown bees are attracted to and even "drugged" by the compound.

Prof Francis Ratnieks from the University of Sussex, a senior member of the research team explained that previous research had shown that caffeine boosted bees' memories of the location of a flower.

"So people [already] thought it would affect their perception of nectar," he told BBC News.

To find out if this was the case, the research team set up two artificial flowers for bees to feed from - one containing sugary nectar without caffeine, and another with a concentration of the compound similar to that found in many plants.

So they could record each individual bee's behaviour, the team glued tiny identification numbers to the insects' backs. The bees would return to the caffeinated nectar more quickly - making slightly more foraging trips, but the most striking finding was that caffeine "made the bees dance" much more.

After a visit to the caffeinated nectar, honeybees were much more likely to perform their waggle dance - a series of movements that communicate the location of a nectar source to their nest-mates.

By dancing, explained Prof Ratnieks, "they're communicating - hey, I've found some good food".

"The vast majority of bees don't waggle dance - they only do it to communicate a particularly good location."

So the caffeine had an effect on the insects that was "akin to drugging" - causing them to behave as though the nectar source was of higher quality, and richer in sugar.

"And it's presumably cheaper for the plant to produce a small amount of caffeine than a large amount more sugar."

Dr Margaret Couvillon, who led the study, said the "post-exposure" effects on the bees were also very surprising.

"The bees that had been foraging on the caffeine kept revisiting the feeder [for many days] once it was empty," she told BBC News.

"So the effects of this one three hour experience (of caffeine) lasted for many days."


Many plants, including citrus tree blossoms have caffeine in their nectar

Dr Couvillon explained that, while the classic image of pollination was a "warm, mutualistic relationship," where the pollinator receives a reward from the plant, this showed a conflict.

She said: "We're showing a way that the plant gets the upper hand on the bee, through an action that's akin to drugging."

Source BBC News


Next Meeting

This will be held on Sunday, November 8th at Bonville Creek Farm, Bonville. These hives are managed by staff at the Bonville Christian Community School, for the benefit and education of the pupils.

Phone : Graham Worthy – 0403 097244

Address : Bonville Creek Farm, Bonville

Time:     10:00am for 10:30 start

Activity : There will be an hive activity so please bring protective clothing

Lunch: BBQ - $5.00 – at 12:30pm – please bring a luncheon item and something for morning tea/dessert.

Please bring a raffle prize and a chair.

Directions :

From the South : Turn off the highway at Archville Station Rd, then right at the roundabout onto Pine Creek Way. Take the second on the right(Bonville Station Rd) and follow it across the highway past the school, and near the end of the road turn into Bonville Creek Farm.

Follow the Bee Meeting signs and the yellow and black balloons.

From the North: Turn off the highway at the Lyons Rd turnoff(Bonville), then right at the roundabout, cross the highway, and left at the roundabout onto Pine Creek Way. Turn left at Bonville Station Rd and follow to the farm as above.

Please Note: This meeting will include our  AGM with election of Committee members etc.