Mid North Coast newsletter - February 2017

THE BEE LINE          

Newsletter of the Mid North Coast Amateur Beekeeping Association                                             

President :  Lou Schmidt 6564 7584                                           Secretary : Peter Dickson-Smith

Treasurer:  Mal Banks                                                                    Ph :   02 6649 2009

Ph:  026649 0990 , email-  mjbanks1@bigpond.com          pdsbml@bigpond.com   

Newsletter :  Mal Banks                                                                Public Officer : Marcus Lewis

                                                                                                            Ph : 02 6569 5561

Vice Presidents :  Allan Thomas, Marcus Lewis                        Librarian: Sue Moore Ph 6653 6775

Keith Harris                                                                                       Ass. Librarian : Diana Schmidt

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February 2017

Last Meeting

The last meeting was held on 19th February (delayed for 1 week due to 46 deg. Temperatures), at the Fuller Bros property at Clarenza. 30 people were in attendance, and everybody enjoyed the day and came away with a lot of knowledge.

Wayne and Steve began their careers in beekeeping in 1980 with 2 hives. They now have over two thousand hives and are the biggest honey producers on the East Coast. They are certified organic for honey, as their hives are kept on licensed sites in National Parks and State Forests. The honey is sold to Capilano and goes to the USA. They are about to branch out into pollination services, and these will be separate hives to the honey hives and not organic.

Wayne talking about beekeeping

Wayne talking about beekeeping

Wayne began the days talks and covered a wide range of beekeeping related subjects. His partner Janine also spoke, mainly relating to her interest in native bees.

Steve also spoke and many questions were answered.

After lunch we had a look at the extraction room which had pallets of honey supers ready for extraction. 20 odd tonne of honey.

Wayne and Steve in their extraction room

Wayne and Steve in their extraction room

In appreciation of Wayne, Steve and Janine's time and efforts, the club gave each brother a gift card and a box of chocolates.

Relaxing after lunch

Relaxing after lunch

Some of the beekeeping knowledge passed on included:

  • The horizontal extractor can process 1.26tonne of honey per hour.
  • They see a future in pollination, and plan to have 1500 pollination hives. Farmers can get a 20% improvement in yield by having hives on their land, rather than expanding land holding. This saves on capital investment, wages and equipment.
  • Our almond plantations require 355,000 hives per year for pollination.
  • When requeening they introduce a whole nuc into the hive rather than a queen in a cage.
  • SHB is one of the biggest problems at the moment and is exascerbated by stress in the hive
  • AFB is virtually out of control and becoming more widespread
  • They use AJ's beetle traps with diatomaceous earth. Oil is better but is not good if transporting hives
  • National Parks limit 1.6 km for beekeepers
  • In a given year only 80 % of hives are fully productive
  • “Fat Bee, Skinny Bee” by Doug Sommerville is a good book and is downloadable from the DPI website. It deals with pollen, nutrition and health of bees
  • They average 200kg honey per hive per year
  • Bees need 5 different types of pollen. It is about getting to know the land and what is flowering. Good rain is needed to get the gum trees flowering.
  • Altough their honey is good, it is hard to compete with local producers whose nectar and pollen sources may be much more varied. So don't undersell your honey. Labour and travel costs must be included. Sale price should be at least $8-10/kg.
  • If honey is heated above 60 deg., it is pasteurised. This is a requirement in WA.
  • Organic honey can't be heated over 38deg.
  • They go through 5000 frames per year
  • They have 13,000 supers, mainly hoop pine, but are looking at changing. Hoop pine dipped in Copper napthanate will last 20 years. Radiata pine similarly dipped will last 10 years. After dipping in Copper napthanate rinse off well.
  • Use food grade paint. Silver roof paint meets this requirement. Boxes are painted inside and out
  • Bees can identify colours. They paint entrances different colours, for the bees benefit. Bees don't like Black – belts, watch bands, socks, dark eyes, etc
  • The honey from native bee hives is called sugar bag honey. Honey's moisture content is 18%, sugar bag honey is around 25%.
  • Native bees forage for 500m, honey bees 5km
  • When pollinating blueberries you don't get honey. Macadamia is not much better.
  • To pollinate 8 acres of blueberries a hive will get $25 per day. For general pollination a hive should be able to get $100 per month. After pollination a hive needs 6 months to recover.
  • Bees need a good water source but don't put water near hive entrance as bees defecate when they leave the hive
  • Canola is the largest single source of honey in the world
  • America uses antibiotics to control AFB. This is not allowed in Australia, as it is difficult to get it right
  • Harvesting honey in State Forests is not as lucrative as it once was, as the tree diameters are getting smaller, due to logging and the trees are not allowed to grow to their full biomass.
  • Laying workers can be identified by only drone cells present. An infertile queen can also be identified by laying only drone eggs.

After all that, there was time to conduct a small business meeting discussing a few topics.

President Lou was unable to attend, due to mechanical problems and Secretary Pete had other commitments.

Thanks to all those who brought lunch and raffle items.

Some of the topics raised included.

  • Jye Mcauliffe has a top bar hive in excellent condition for sale. Approx. $100 if interested contact Jye or Rhonda at 6568 4669. They live at Macksville.
  • Treasury reports and bank statements were made available.
  • The ABA grant of $900 was received, in early February
  • The ABA is offering a grant to each club of $400 in 2017 for technical use. We need to apply for this before June 30
  • Al Thomas is running a refresher/more advanced, one day course in Armidale on the 18th March, if anyone is interested. $110
  • He is also be running a course for beginners in Tamworth 29th and 30th April.I can be contacted at:  beekeepingworkshops@gmail.com or 0428712587
  • If anyone has equipment for sterilisation at Steri tech let me know and we can think about putting a pallet together. The cost is $200-300 in total for the pallet, so individually it would not cost much, roughly $13 a box. Other equipment can also be sent

The Colonel Pulling competition and ABA AGM are rapidly approaching. The Competition will be held in Ballina at the Ballina RSL on Sunday 21st May. This year part of the Competition is a honeycake competition.

The rules are simple:

1. One cake per club; 2. The cake must contain honey; 3. A copy of the recipe must be provided.

What’s more, we only have to transport our entry to Ballina.

We plan to have a trial run (or two) beforehand. So if anyone has a great honey cake please bring it along to our next meetings and we can start the selection process. We know Brigitte has a good one.

Don't forget to start preparing your honey entries.

We need 2- 500g jars of light, medium and dark honey, as well as creamed honey.

Wax and a capped honey frame are also required

We will aim to judge our honey and wax at the April meeting.

We have had great success in this competition, so we should be very competitive this year, if we can field a team for the Quiz part of the competition.

Another part of the Colonel Pulling Competition this year is photography. This year's theme is “fun in the apiary.” I have a good idea but of course please mention your ideas at the next meeting.

18-19 May – NSW Apiarists’ Association Inc. Conference, Ballina . The 19th will be a field day which also will have bee equipment makers selling their wares.


If any one has problems with paying their 2017 ABA fees and insurance please contact me at 6649 0990.

Frank's Hive Hints – haved proved so popular they are now directly in the ABA newsletter

Hive Hint No 25

By now you should have extracted some delicious honey.  What are you going to do with it?  Keep enough for yourself and give some to family and friends.  Give a jar of honey to your neighbours to sweeten them up so they won’t complain about your bees.

Stored honey should be in tightly closed containers in a dry place.  Honey can absorb moisture from the air, if lids are not properly closed, it can become fermented and spoiled.  Some of your honey may candy with time but this is a normal process.  The sweeter the honey, the quicker it will candy.  Honey will also candy more quickly if refrigerated.

Now that hives are lighter is a good time to move them out of a shady corner.  You can even change the orientation of the entrance.  Move gradually ---about 300mm per day.  Hives left in deep shade over Winter may get a Nosema infection.  Spores get into the bee’s gut, shortening its life.  There are no visible symptoms except spotty soiling on the front of the hive.  The hive will not die but will not progress either.  The infection could persist up till next Summer.

Now you should be pleased what a good beekeeper you are.  You may make a few mistakes but that is a way to learn.  Next season you won’t make the same mistakes.

Hope to see you at the next bee meeting.  We always learn from each other.

LOVE THOSE BEES                                  

Some Sample Quiz questions

1.      How many bees approximately in 1kg?

2.      What is the name of a popular colour grading instrument?

3.      What instrument is used to determine moisture content in honey?

4.      What gives honey some of its anti-bacterial properties?

5.      What is this years colour coding for queens?

6.      What is the normal height of a worker bee's flight path?

7.      What is the required temperature in the brood area?

8.      When is the right time for the beekeeper to artificially swarm a colony?

9.      What is a bee-line?

10.  What is the shelf life for comb-honey?

Bees In the News

Here's some links to bee stories

1) Tiny drones to do the Work of Bees


2)      Crop Protecting Fungicides may be Hurting the Honey Bees


3)      Honey bees let out a 'whoop' when they bump into each other


4)      Bees give up searching for food when humans degrade their land



Answers to Questions

1)      On average about 8800 +/- 200

2)      Pfund grader

3)      A refractometer

4)      Osmotic pressure

5)      Yellow

6)      About 2.5 metres

7)      34.5+/- 0.5 deg

8)      When occupied queen cells are present

9)      The shortest distance from a food source to the hive

10)  2-3 months max, before it crystallises

Next Meeting

The next meeting of the MNCABA will be held at the home of Malcolm and Katrina Banks, on Sunday,  12th March 2017

Address:  “Anabriar” 2601 Orara Way Kremnos (3.6 kms north of Glenreagh on the left)

-          LOOK FOR THE BEE SIGNS   -

Time : 10 am for 10:30 start

Activity : There will be an hive activity

Please Bring Protective Clothing

AB-B-Q lunch will be at 12:30.

Please bring something for lunch, morning tea and the raffles.

Cost $5.00

At 1:30 pm a meeting will be held to discuss club business.

Enquiries :

Contact – Mal Banks-  6649 0990


        Peter Dickson-Smith – 6649 2009