Bega Valley newsletter - November 2017

Click to download a printable PDF

Click to download a printable PDF

Highlights of the November Club Meeting

Rod Bourke, Bee Biosecurity Officer with the Department of Primary (DPI) Industries gave an overview of the new Biosecurity Act 2015 and associated Biosecurity Regulation 2017.  This new legislation came into effect on 1 July 2017 and replaces all or parts of 14 Acts. 

It marks a major breakthrough in biosecurity, allowing better management of biosecurity risks that impact on Australia’s economy, the environment and community.

The DPI website provides all information beekeepers need to be aware of, however here are just a few key points to note. 

It is important that all members are aware of their duties and obligations under the new Act including, that all people who keep honey bees must:

Our November meeting

Our November meeting

  • be registered with the DPI;
  • be capable of managing biosecurity risks that they know about or should reasonably know about;
  • notify DPI within 1 working day of becoming aware of the presence or suspected presence of American foulbrood, European foulbrood, Nosemosis, Small hive beetle or Chalkbrood; and
  • ensure that access to hives is clear from obstruction that could prevent or impede any inspection of the hive.

Rod urged members to commit sufficient time to ensure inspections are regular and delve into all areas of their hives.  He also emphasised the importance of up-to-date records of inspections, acquisitions and hive movements.

He said there will never be sufficient government resources to have large numbers of compliance inspectors in the field, so it was up to all beekeepers to do the right thing by others, and keep their hives in good health at all times.

Club Apiary News

David Sheers setting up the top bar hive

David Sheers setting up the top bar hive

We now have bees in three hives at the apiary.

On 8 November Lyall picked up a nice big swam at Tamara’s place and with Dave Sheers help, installed it in the top bar hive donated to the club by Suellen.  Thanks Tamara, Dave and Suellen!

On 12 November, as part of the Maintaining your hives workshop, Rod Bourke split the club hive setting up a new colony with a new queen in the club’s Flow hive.  Graham has been managing the hive we had there to make it really strong, ready to split.

Monthly Club Meeting Learning Topics

December: Christmas party and club hive products and honey tasting competition.

January: Various methods for splitting hives by Fay.

February: Annual General Meeting.  This will be followed by a Question and Answer session on anything beekeeping.

March: Trap Outs and Cut Outs by Graham.

Annual Honey Products Competition


If you haven’t done that first harvest….then now’s the time to get cracking.

The competition this year will include categories for honey, honey comb, pollen, propolis, and wax. Details for each category follows.

  • Honey (entry to be presented in a 250g jar)
  • Liquid - Dark
  • Liquid - Medium
  • Liquid - Light
  • Creamed
  • Candied
  • Honeycomb
  • Cut honeycomb (1 single 9cm x 6cm section of capped honeycomb presented on a plate). 
  • Frame of capped honeycomb (frame size immaterial.
  • Chunk honey (capped honeycomb in a jar, filled with honey)
  • Please note chunk honey has been included in the comb section because, unlike other honey categories, it will be judged on presentation, as with comb entries, rather than flavour.
  • Pollen
  • Fresh pollen (30ml) presented in a small receptacle, for instance medicine cup or single portion sauce container.
  • Propolis
  • Clean raw propolis sample of around 30 ml, presented in a small receptacle.
  • Wax
  • Clean but unrefined (block around the size of a cake of soap).
  • Refined (block around the size of a cake of soap).

Certificates will be awarded for first, second and third places, based on the final total score given by members for each entry. So good luck to everyone!

2018 Agricultural Shows

Once again, the club will be having a display in the pavilion on the following dates:

Bega – 16, 17 and 18 February

Bombala - 17 March

We are now calling for volunteers so could you please let Suellen O’Brien, club secretary, know if you can help out for a half or full day at both or either events?

You don’t have to be an experienced beekeeper – just enthusiastic about keeping bees and prepared to provide general information about the club and its activities.

The Bega display will be set up on the afternoon of Thursday 15th and volunteer sessions will be Friday: 1 pm – 4 pm, 4 pm – 7 pm; Saturday and Sunday 9 am – 1 pm and 1 pm – 4 pm.

Bombala will be an early start on the day of the show – probably around 7.30 am with a morning and afternoon session as for the Bega show.

Spring Workshops

The next Beginning in Bees Workshop will be in March 2018 – stay tuned for details in the December issue of Members Update.

Graham Jones will lead the workshop. Topics to be covered include: lifecycle of a bee; components of a hive; opening a hive; safety; protective gear; essential equipment; and obtaining bees.


The cost is $40 for members and $60 for non-members. If you or anyone you know is interested please contact Treasurer, Sandy Farrell on 0407 959 312 or by email at

Biosecurity News

The Club has now commenced monitoring the two newly established sentinel hives at the Port of Eden for the Department of Primary Industries. Thanks to Rod Bourke for providing training to members on the detection of Varroa mites, using the ‘sugar shake’ technique when he was recently in Bega.

Inspections will be undertaken generally every quarter, and Graham Jones, Club Apiary Manager, will be preparing a roster. If you’d like to be involved, please let Graham know.

Members would be aware that October was American foul brood awareness month. All beekeepers throughout NSW were urged to thoroughly inspect their hives and to report their findings (positive and negative) to the ABA via their website.

There were several incidents of AFB reported in the Bega Valley and those affected destroyed their bees and either irradiated or destroyed their equipment.

If anyone is yet to undertake their AFB inspection and needs some help, please contact one of the club committee members for advice. You can also obtain a test kit at the next club meeting, or we’ll post one to you.  Please contact Suellen if this is you on

The ‘Bees Knees’ Retreat

How’s this for high class beehive accommodation?

versailles details.jpg

Appropriately named ‘Versailles’, Garry Mallard has sent in one of his many very creative beehive creations.

Notice of General Meeting

A General Meeting of the members of the association will be held at 7.15 pm on Tuesday 12 December 2017 immediately prior to our regular December meeting and Christmas celebration.

The purpose of the meeting is to consider two resolutions including a change to the name of the association and amendments to the constitution.  The proposed amendments relate to:

  • Membership categories being reduced from 8 to 2;
  • The maximum term for president increasing from 2 to 3 years;
  • Acknowledgement of affiliation with ABA;
  • Quorum for committee meetings being reduced to 3 members; and
  • Removal of ‘Amateur’ from the association’s registered name.

A full explanation of the changes proposed is outlined in the email sent by Lyall Zweck to all members on 22nd November 2017.

Tip for the month from John Fuary – ‘To use…or not use an escape board’

escape board.jpg

If you have an escape board - use it!!

I purchased one several years ago in a fit of enthusiasm, but had never used it. Thought it was a time waster. After all, if I want to rob the hive I want to do it NOW.

And, as it involved lifting the super to insert the escape board, why bother doing it twice? After all, most of the bees can be swept or shaken off and the few dozen remaining aren’t too much trouble. Though I must admit the process of shaking them off does tend to irritate them and they can sometimes be a bit of a menace.

Anyway, I decided to try the escape board recently, as I was feeling a tad guilty about having purchased something and then just using it as a decoration in the shed. I lifted the super and replaced it with another empty super, placed the escape board on top of that empty one, and then replaced the loaded super on the top.

This gave me a 3 box set up. Why the empty super you ask? The hive was chockers (scientific apiarists' term) with bees and I didn’t want any left out in the cold overnight if they all had to fit into the brood box.

The following morning, I lifted off the super. SURPRISE! There were only TWO bees in the whole box. So I had a very peaceful trip with the super up to where I was extracting. The extracted super was returned promptly to the hive and the empty super taken off (with only a small amount of wax deposited).

Good luck with your honey harvesting!

John F

If you have some useful tips to share in the next edition, please send to Fay at

Membership renewals

We should each receive an email early December inviting us to renew our membership for 2018.  Follow the link in the email to sign in to PaySubsOnline.  Check your contact details are correct, then pay your renewal.

Membership rates for 2018 are:

Ordinary Members

Club fee                                              $10

ABA fee                                               $50

Early bird discount if paid by 31/12    $10

Total                                                    $50

Associate Members (non-beekeepers)

Club fee                                              $10

When renewing your membership, you can also elect to purchase Personal Beekeepers Liability Insurance.  The price for up to 20 hives is only $44.  Cover also available for up to 50 and up to 100 hives.

Next Club Meeting

Honey Products Competition and Christmas Celebration

Tuesday 12 December 2017, 7 pm

at the Meals on Wheels Rooms Bega

Please note there will be a General Meeting of Members at 7.15 to consider two resolutions as outlined earlier in this edition of Members Update

This will be a great opportunity for everyone to get to know new members and share in some festive spirit. It will be a BYO drinks event, and could members please bring a snack/plate to share? Tea and coffee will be provided by the club.

Do you have anything of beekeeping interest to share with other members?

If yes, please send your contribution to Fay at

 Swarm Notification

Tim Crisp is the Club Swarm Coordinator, so if you become aware of a swarm that needs to be caught, please let Tim know asap on 0448 301 220.

 Club Equipment for Hire

Frame wiring jig eyelet tool, embedder and battery - $5 hire charge per session (Friday to Sunday night, and Monday to Thursday night).  Contact Lyall on 0418816904 or

Honey extractor - $15 hire charge and $20 deposit with the same hiring sessions as above. Contact Garry at

 Contact Bega Valley Beekeepers

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 Beekeeping Resources

The club library now contains a range of interesting resources.  These are available for borrowing at our monthly meetings for up to 4 weeks.