Mid North Coast newsletter - October 2017


Newsletter of the Mid North Coast Amateur Beekeeping Association

October 2017

Last Meeting

The last meeting was held on 8th October and 42 people were in attendance. The weather was fine and the location great. It has been good to see some rain again, and hopefully that is a plus for the bees. October has had milder daytime temps than September. Being spring, many plants are flowering, or have recently finished their floral display, including:- macadamia, ironbark, grevilleas, silky oak, clover, lavender, citrus, and pecan, to name a few.

However, maybe due to the dry winter the nectar supply coming in is a bit patchy. Hopefully things will improve as we move into summer.

A brief business meeting was held, with Lou welcoming everybody and Phil and Mal giving their Secretary's and Treasurer's reports, respectively.

Members were reminded that October is AFB Awareness month, and the ABA is encouraging all members, that haven't already, to conduct a thorough inspection of their hives for AFB. Use the kit, that was distributed to those present, to take samples fom their brood and send them in for testing. After inspecting for AFB, please complete the ABA survey.

Go to beekeepers.asn.au/afb for help with AFB.

New Biosecurity measures were discussed

Biosecurity News from DPI

  • Look out for the NSW Bee Biosecurity News (BBN), a new quarterly newsletter for beekeepers registered in the state.
  • To get the BBN, you must provide your email to the DPI.
  • Go to https://tinyurl.com/y95jkher to update or lodge your details.
  • In addition the DPI is planning to email registered beekeepers with AFB alerts.
  • Beekeepers will be notified when AFB is found in their local govrernment area.
  • The Government fee for registering yourself as a beekeeper has been frozen for two years. Please remember it is a legal requirement to register as a beekeeper and the fines for not doing so are large.
  • The ABA has been instrumental in lobbying for no increases.

The ABA club membership and insurance fees will be due from November onwards, and all current members will be invited to renew via the online system.

Phil has mesh sheets for sale to members at $23 each. They can be cut into strips for 3 hives.Also available at the next meeting, as usual, I will have wax foundation and Apithor traps for sale.

Also at the next meeting Geoff from Berringa Honey will be attending and will be buying good clean wax from club members at $15 per Kilo.

Craig Davis will be giving a talk on Leptospermums. If anybody wants to bring samples of leptospermum trees for identification, Craig can identify them.

The next meeting at President Lou's will include our AGM and the election of Office bearers.

Hive Activity

Members at Merridy's apiary

Members at Merridy's apiary

John Carroll and Don Woods assisted Merridy with the hive inspection.

The aim was to replace the queens with new ones, supplied by John and in cages.

The first hive inspected was with rather poor brood and was suspected of having European Foul Brood. The queen was executed and the hive was rebuilt from scratch, meaning the new queen was facing an uphill battle to get the hive up to speed.

The second hive was found to be healthy and the queen was replaced.

Points that came out of the inspection as recorded by Phil:

Being queen is overrated
— Queen Rania of Jordan
being queen is overrated.jpg
  • Bees are more attracted to gloves than bare hands as the gloves may contain pheromones from previous inspections. If stung on hand, get sting out ASAP and rub with an apple or orange.
  • Bees don’t like shampoo, conditioner , deodorant, detergent ( and from my own observations they don’t like hospital sanitisation products nor human antibiotic. Phil)
  • Italian bees are generally a  quiet bee.
  • John, is very concerned about nosema disease, It is a big bug bear to him. Sugar syrup helps to clean it out of them.
John and Don working on Merridy's hives

John and Don working on Merridy's hives

  • Best to requeen your best hives first. They are already bringing in good honey.
  • John dosen’t like swarm cells, he squashes them. You are likely to get further swarm cells, and they are smaller.  He much prefers supercedure, less likely to swarm, and usually a bigger bee.
  • There could be two queens in one hive. The bees could be seeing if they are happy with the new queen,  and will keep them separated on different frames. Eventually though the old queen will be killed.
  • When requeening don’t use a lot of smoke. Don’t separate the lid from the top super. Take both off together, so you are not driving more bees into the brood box.
  • A few samples were taken of  suspect cells and placed onto a slide.   This should get tested, and Merridy  will notify DPI, because with the new Biosecurity rules, this is a notifiable disease. Hopefully at next meeting, Merridy can relay what happened.
  • Did a rope test, but there was no rope.  The spent match sticks were put in the spout of the smoker to destroy them. EFB usually has a smell, AFB usually dosen’t.
  • No AFB scale were evident  in the cells.  When the bees pull the dead bodies out, they leave a scale in the bottom corner of the cell.  This can be seen by looking in the cell from the top bar to the bottom bar.
  • EFB is more contagious than AFB. EFB can be treated with Oxytetracycline  and eventually gotten on top of, whereas AFB the hive has to be destroyed or irradtiated.  AFB is more serious. With EFB the cell gets capped after the lavea has died. With AFB the lavea dies after the cell is capped. Because of the contagiousness of EFB, don’t move an infected queen to another hive . Kill it. The antibiotics require a prescription either from a vet or from the Apiary Officer. Remember that prevention is better than the cure.
  • In the second hive, some foundation capping was cut and the queen cage was put straight into the squashed foundation. This gives better acceptance. Was put in with the entrance pointing up.
  • When finished, the hive tool is put into the smoker to burn off any contaminants, then pushed into the ground. This cools the tool, and rubs any contaminants off, and buries them in the ground

European Foulbrood

European foulbrood (EFB) is caused by the bacterium Melissococcus pluton, and has become one of the most serious bee diseases in NSW in terms of reduced productivity of affected hives. EFB can cause extensive losses in both amateur and commercial apiaries.

The disease remains in a vegetative cell state all the time and can remain viable for up to 3 years. Only when the disease is multiplying in the bee larvae is the bacterium susceptible to antibiotics. EFB is highly contagious with all stages of larvae development susceptible to infection. Incidences of the disease are strongly correlated with climatic and nutritional stress factors. Cooler wet weather and poor nutrition will promote the incidence of this disease.

Signs of the Disease

  • Brood affected with EFB may have a mottled, peppered appearance, with healthy brood cells intermingled with dead or dying ones.
  • Larvae are mostly affected in the unsealed, curled up stage, although in severe cases brood of all ages may be affected.
  • Diseased larvae collapse and become dislodged from their normal position in the cells. Their colour changes from pearly white to yellow and finally, yellowish brown. After two to four weeks, larvae dry up to form a brown scale which can easily be removed from the cell.
  • In some cases sealed brood is affected and the capped brood takes on a mottled appearance with scattered sunken and perforated cappings. Pupae may have a similar appearance to those affected by American foulbrood.
  • The odour of infected brood varies from odourless to sour or foul, depending on the secondary invading bacteria present.
  • Outer combs of the brood nest may show signs of the disease earlier and may have a heavier infection than inner combs in the same colony.
  • Dead brood probed with a matchstick usually has a watery consistency, although the sealed brown pupae may exhibit a slightly ropy consistency.
  • Worker bees may remove and discard diseased larvae as they die and thus a colony may show few signs of disease.
  • Please go to the DPI link below to read the entire factsheet on EFB, including Diagnosis and Treatment


Bee Science

Petals produce a 'blue halo' that helps bees find flowers

Latest research has found that several common flower species have nanoscale ridges on the surface of their petals that meddle with light when viewed from certain angles.

These nanostructures scatter light particles in the blue to ultraviolet colour spectrum, generating a subtle effect that scientists have christened the 'blue halo'

By manufacturing artificial surfaces that replicated 'blue halos', scientists were able to test the effect on pollinators, in this case foraging bumblebees. They found that bees can see the blue halo, and use it as a signal to locate flowers more efficiently

From The Science Daily – 18/10/2017

For the full article go to:-



Swarming bees are healthy bees. - It is a self-healing ability of the hive. Heavily infested hives with disease cannot build up the strength to swarm. Read the full story of Dr Ritter's work in the October issue of the Australian Beekeeper.

The editor of that magazine adds these comments

There are a number of reasons why swarming is not considered as 'good practice'. These include:

  1. Swarming results in a loss of colony strength

  2. After-swarms are likely to emerge, further reducing the colony strength

  3. Swarms can create a public nuisance, especially in urban environments

  4. Even if a swarm is collected, allowing the old queen to continue to head the colony increases the risk of it swarming next season

  5. The new queen that takes over to head the old colony has the same gene pool as the original queen that swarmed. This means you are increasing the chances that she will also head a colony that is likely to swarm next season.

Dr Ritter's work challenges our way of thinking. Although much of the article pertains to his ideas on Varroa control, it applies equally to the bee's ability to 'self-heal' a lot of colony diseases such as brood disease and chalkbrood.

Next Meeting

This will be held on Sunday, November 12th at the home of Lou and Diana’s at Bowraville.

Address : ‘ Lorrienne Lodge’, 681 South Arm Rd, Bowraville

Phone:     6564 7584

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 north take the Nambucca turn off from the highway and then turn right to Bowraville(17kms). Drive through the town with the RSL and Fire station on the left. At the bottom of the hill turn right at the T-intersection.

Go past a little school and a big church on the left, with the golf course, RSl/Bowling club on the right, then the Aboriginal mission on the left. Follow South Arm Rd alongside the golf course . Turn right continuing on South Arm Rd(where Williams Hill Rd goes straight ahead) follow signs  to Lorrienne Lodge and  681 South Arm Rd (6.81 kms from Bowraville).

Look out for bee signs and yellow balloons.

4 Wheel drive not required.

If coming from the South follow directions from Bowraville centre.

Please Note: This meeting will include the AGM with election of Office bearers.

Enquiries : 

Mal Banks - 6649 0990


Phil Jury -  6568 5655