Mid North Coast newsletter - September 2017


Newsletter of the Mid North Coast Amateur Beekeeping Association 

September 2017

Last Meeting

Mt. Coramba Apiculture recently hosted the September 2017 meeting of the Mid North Coast Amateur Beekeepers Association.

The sunny, dry weather trend continued for the day and a good crowd of old and new members as well as visitors attended the Nana Glen meeting.

Glenn Locke & Anne Webster welcomed everyone to their new property which they purchased in December.

The days activities kicked off after morning tea and a short business meeting.

Anne, summarised the new Biosecurity Act., saying that what is in the current Act  has been present for some time in a lot of different Acts. They have just been bought together now into one.  Also, she reinforced that our trading partners require the new Biosecurity reporting.

  • AFB needs to be notified for each specific hive. Other diseases can be notified as an “ongoing issue” - eg SHB, Chalkbrood, EFB, Nosema

Glenn's hive activities were very interesting and informative. Several topics were covered.

Moving a Beehive

The methods of moving a beehive were discussed and demonstrated.

When moving hives short distances, across a suburban house yard for example, it is recommended to strap the hive together and move it a metre or so every day until the hive is in the desired location. Larger hives can be strapped to a removal trolley to make the process easier. There is no need to close the hive. A few puffs of smoke will ensure that the bees remain calm. Moving hives more than a metre a day can lead to some confusion when the bees are trying to reorient to the new location. The bees will still eventually find the new location however clouds of confused bees are best avoided in a suburban environment. Hive movements using this method can be carried out at any time of the day.

Bees can be moved long long distances as well however the hive must be closed after dark when all the bees are in the hive. Make sure that the hive is securely strapped together. Closing the entrance is recommended to stop bees escaping during the process. It is also important to ensure that the bees are well ventilated particularly if the weather is warm. Lift the hive onto the back of a ute or trailer, make sure it is tied down securely and move it to its new location. Don't forget to open the entrance again so that the bees can exit when the sun rises.

Uniting Beehive Colonies using the Paper Method

At times is is necessary to join bee colonies together and Glenn demonstrated a method that he commonly uses called a paper combine. Examples include combining a queenless hive with a healthy colony or joining two weak hives to make a stronger, more viable hive.

Where a queenless hive is combined with a queen right hive the hives should be moved so that they are close together. One of the methods described above can be used. The queenless colony should be placed on top of the queen right colony with at least two sheets of newspaper between them. The bees are encouraged to start chewing through the paper by placing a few small holes in the paper with your hive tool. Make sure that the bees in the top colony have a way out of the hive so that they can fly while they are combining. Over a period of a couple of days the bees will chew through the paper barrier and will gradually intermingle without the fighting that would occur if the colonies were just thrown together.

It is possible to join two queen right colonies together using the same method as the bees will sort out which queen they want to keep.

Disease Inspection of a Beehive

One of the most important activities for the beekeeper in spring is to thoroughly check hives for any signs of disease. American Foulbrood is fatal to bees and it must be identified early to prevent spread to other colonies. Glenn carried out a disease inspection of a healthy hive and answered questions about disease.

The brood box must be inspected at least two to three times per year. If you are not doing this you are not fulfilling your general biosecurity obligations as required by the biosecurity legislation in New South Wales.

Most importantly you must shake all the bees off every brood frame and carefully check every cell for any signs of disease.

Glenn inspecting the brood of a healthy colony for disease

Glenn inspecting the brood of a healthy colony for disease

Some of the indicators of disease include:

  • sunken, concave cells,

  • irregularly perforated cells,

  • brown discoloured larvae,

  • mouldy, grey, dried out larvae &

  • foul smell.

Information about pests diseases of honeybees can be found on numerous online sites.  Mt. Coramba Apiculture recommends:

Queen Bee Production using the Cloake Method

Mt. Coramba Apiculture specialises in supplying high quality nucleus hives and queen bees to amateur and small scale beekeepers in northern New South Wales and southern Queensland.

Glenn demonstrated the use of a cell starter using a variation of the Cloake method.

Glenn with a twin bar frame of queen cells

Glenn with a twin bar frame of queen cells

In general terms a healthy beehive is manipulated to the point that it is on the verge of swarming. Part of the hive is made queenless and 12 -24 hour old worker larvae are grafted into artificial queen cells and introduced into the queenless section of the hive. The bees recognise that they are queenless and utilise the grafted larvae to make queen cells.

Of the 30 grafts that Glenn introduced into the hive twenty four hours previously, twenty cells had been accepted and started which is a fair percentage considering the poor conditions being experienced.

The cells will ready to move into nucleus hives in 10 days from grafting and if all goes well a mated queen should be present in about 30 days.

Beehive Frame Building, Wiring and Waxing.

Glenn demonstrated how to construct beehive frames in a way that ensures they don't fall apart. Glueing and nailing of frames correctly helps with strength. Putting a nail horizontally through the sides of the end bars into the top bar prevents the top bar from pulling out when the frame is levered out of a heavily propylised  hive. Glenn uses an air gun that fires 25mm brads to speed the process up.

Wiring is carried out on a wiring board that holds the frame tightly while compressing one of the side bars. Glenn prefers to use staples next to the wiring holes rather than eyelets. The frame is wired and the ends of the wire are fixed in place with small tacks. Always break the wire ends off by wriggling the wire until it breaks. Sharp wire ends caused by cutting the wire with clippers can cause painful injuries to the beekeepers fingers.

Glenn uses a wire crimper to achieve an even wire tension on the frame.

Foundation in frames is optional however it does result in a good even honeycomb. Foundation is fitted into the groove under the top bar of the frame. The frame is laid over a board with the foundation between the board and the wire. A 12 volt embedding tool runs an electric current through the wire which heats it enough to melt into the wax. This is repeated on every wire which results in secure sheet of foundation ready to be turned into comb by the bees.

Thanks to Glenn and Ann for a great day and imparting so much knowledge to our members. And thanks to Glenn for the comprehensive notes.

Phil and I presented co-founding member and long-time secretary Peter Dickson-Smith an award for all his hard work done with the club and the ABA generally. Thanks Peter.

Peter and Barbara with the certificate of merit.

Peter and Barbara with the certificate of merit.

Bee Registration Changes

The DPI has released the new fee structure for beekeeper registration.

It is compulsory to register if you have beehives.

The new regulations can be accessed from the following website:


3 classes of Beekeeper registration

  • Business

  • recreational

  • concession

A new flat fee structure for the 3 classes – Business - $100, Recreational - $60, Concession -$40

A 10% discount for all those who pay online.

Concession is available – Recreational only, No ABN, not registered for GST, and must have a valid current pensioner concession card or senior's card

Fees are no longer payable based on the number of hives.

Your registration No. must be displayed on the brood box of each hive, either etched, painted or permanent marker.

If registered your renewal notice will be sent when payment is due.

If new and not registered go to –   www.licence.nsw.gov.au

If you do not have a computer, but still wish to take advantage of the discount you can pay at any Services NSW office.

October is AFB Awareness month

Now's the time to inspect your hives for American Foulbrood Disease. Beekeeping organisations are asking all beekeepers to check their brood boxes and report back on what they find. This is an important campaign that will help protect bees across NSW now and in the future. Please get involved.

All ABA members will receive free equipment during this campaign to make it easier to identify, confirm and treat this devastating bee disease. So whether you are a beginner beekeeper or an experienced apiarist, don't miss this opportunity to learn more about AFB, get practical help, and arm yourself with tools to stop the spread of AFB.

What's the aim of the month? 

AFB affects - and kills - bees across Australia. It is a notifiable disease. That means you MUST alert the DPI within 24 hours if you find evidence of AFB or think your apiary has been infected. Many beekeepers find AFB tricky to identify. That's why this campaign is important.

A kit has been supplied by the ABA for each member . Phil will have the kits at the next meeting

Each kit contains:

  1. Ziploc bag
  2. Field Guide documents
    1. Prime Fact 209 (AFB diagnosis)

    2. Prime Fact 895 (slide preparation)

    3. a simplified form for sending samples to the DPI lab – stapled

  3. Slide Carriers

  4. Microscope slides

Free Steritech bee cartons

Steritech have donated 300 re-usable cartons for irradiating bee hives and equipment. These are available to members on a first-come-first-served basis.
Members are required to pay the irradiation fee of $12.10 per carton.
Members can access these cartons as follows:

  1. take equipment for irradiation to Steritech at Wetherill Park

  2. quote code 'DPI007' to receive free cartons

  3. pack equipment in cartons

  4. once irradiated the cartons can be re-used up to 4 times

Once the free allocation has been used up, additional cartons will cost $3.85 each.

It is recommended all members go to the following page on the ABA website and look at the slide show which includes videos concerning AFB detection and testing and much more.


At the next meeting we will have a practical demonstration of how to prepare a slide for testing.


Thanks to Sue, who is doing a great job managing the library.

Recently the club purchased two new books which will be available for loan at the next meeting.

A Beekeepers Year – A practical guide to caring for bees and beehives. By Janet Luke. - 2017

This book follows the progress of 3 novice beekeepers with three different types of hive. The Flow Hive, the Warre hive and the top bar hive. The author is from New Zealand and the book is well written. A good guide for anyone interested in alternative hives. The author is definitely biased towards the Top Bar Hive, and allowing bees to produce their own wax. She has a section on pests and diseases, but no mention of SHB – is it not in NZ?

The Benevolent Bee. - Capture the beauty of the hive through Science, History, Home remedies and Craft – by Stephanie Bruneau – 2017

This book has chapters on all the products of the hive including honey, beeswax, propolis and more.

It includes recipes and techniques for health, welness, nutrition and craft.

Here's a recipe from this book:-

The Benevolent Bee's Bee Sting Cocktail

This is an immune system stimulant and nutritious to boot.


Ginger Honey simple syrup

  • 2 tbsns(16g) grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tspn grated organic orange zest
  • 1 cup of water
  • ½ cup honey


  • 2 ounces(60 ml) bourbon
  • 1 ounce(30 ml) ginger syrup(above)
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • ice
  • twist of orange or lemon rind for garnish


To make the syrup combine the ginger, orange zest, and water in a small saucepan

Simmer for 15 mins over medium to medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until the liquid is reduced by about half

Remove from the heat and let cool a bit before straining through a coffee filter into a glass jar

Stir in the honey to taste

Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

To make a cocktail, chill a cocktail glass in the refrigerator. In a shaker, combine the cocktail ingredients with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into your glass and garnish with an orange twist


Some quiz questions are also in the book, e.g.,

  1. Honeybees must consume how many ounces of honey in order to produce 1 ounce of wax?- a) 2, b) 4, c) 8
  2. How much honey does a bee make in her lifetime? - a) 20g, b) 40g, c) 7 g

Next Meeting

The next meeting will be held at the property of Merridy and Warren Huxley at Gleniffer, on Sunday, 8th October

Address: 503 Roses Rd, Gleniffer

Phone contact: Merridy - 0421 690 403 or Warren on 0413 497 356.

Time: 10:00 am for 10:30 start

Activity: There will be a hive activity

Please Bring Protective Clothing

Cost: $5 for members and associate members, includes lunch

What to Bring:

  • Chairs
  • Protective Clothing
  • Salad or luncheon item
  • Something for morning tea or dessert
  • A raffle prize


From Bellingen, turn right at Post Office & cross Lavenders Bridge to Nth Bellingen, & then left at the roundabout into Wheatley Street, which turns into Gleniffer Road. A few kms out of town the road bends right, if you go straight ahead that is Roses Road. Continue on for about 5 - 6kms & we are on the left, if you get to the turn off to John Locke Place you have missed our driveway. Our driveway is 800 metres long & should be driven slowly. Plenty of parking near the house or the veggie patch. Note that Roses Road is a loop so if you miss the first turn continue on to the top end of Roses Road.

Enquiries :

Contact – Mal Banks  -  6649 0990


      Phil Jury -  6568 5655


Answers to quiz -  1) c) ,  2) c)