Mid North Coast newsletter - June 2017

THE BEE LINE          

Newsletter of the Mid North Coast Amateur Beekeeping Association

June 2017

Last Meeting

The last meeting was held on Sunday the 11th June at the Bonville Christian School. There was a good crowd considering there was the possibility of a flood event. The meeting was not held at the exact same location as last time, but was moved to an area of the school where a large covered area was available. The bee meeting signs were on the road, but apologies to anyone who could not find the meeting.

Thanks to Paul and the Bonville School for providing such a wonderful location for an indoor meeting. A Hive inspection was not possible due to the weather.

The business meeting was held first, as agreed upon at the last meeting. This appeared to work well, and we'll be sticking to this format for now.

With Peter unable to attend, Phil acted up as secretary and did a great job, making my reporting easy.

Some of the matters raised included:

  • Finding someone in the club to do a monthly floral report for the area. Stan was suggested, but he is not on the internet.
  • Anne Webster will do a series of reports from the DPI. The first of which is included in this newsletter.
  • Pallets for irradiation may be organised in the future by Glenn
  • Continue to source queens. John and Glenn may have some queens in spring
  • Felix suggested that members who wanted to could volunteer their services for a day or two to help with the hives of some of our larger beekeepers. A great way to learn and makes for less work for the beekeeper.
  • Since the meeting a TV/DVD with a 64Gb USB memory stick has been purchased with the assistance of the ABA technology grant. We bought virtuallythe largest TV with a built in DVD player (for us luddites who still might use DVD's), and also added an extra 4 year warranty..
  • Since the meeting James has provided a scrip for the epipen and some other medicine and it has been recently purchased.
  • Another table to be purchased
  • We could have a meeting where a qulaified First Aid instructer gave a talk
  • We will accept the ABA's offer of a new updated banner
  • A discussion was had on internal club communication. Facebook, website (anyone interested in managing it). There are websites where you can form a group and communicate with each other.

We had three speakers at the meeting.

1) Paul Campbell spoke about the CHCC school and their hives.

CHCCS's painted flow hives

CHCCS's painted flow hives

Students are educated in all years with all the aspects of beekeeping. The school has 1000 students and sells it's honey through the school network. The students become fully aware of the bees, what they produce, and then selling the end product. At the same time parents see results on what the school is achieving.

 Flow hives were painted by the students in the Arts class. A year 10 student designed the label.

Easter show – Best School Honey award

Easter show – Best School Honey award

Student groups get ownership of hives for a year, and then pass them onto the following class at end of year.

They have gone from Langstroth (traditional) hives to Flowhives.  Because it is a timing issue.  It is hard to fit in extraction, regular monitoring of hives and cleanup into the school time frame.  Flow Hives are a lot easier from this aspect. The Flow Hive people are very supportive of the school.

Their honey came 2nd last year in the schools division of the Royal Easter Show, and this year came first. They also came first at the Bellingen Show this year.

They will have a top bar hive in Spring. Thus three types, Top Bar, Flow Hive, and Langstroth.  They also have Native Bees in the Veggy garden.

2)      Faye and Frank gave a talk and demonstration about their swarm box.

Faye and Frank

Faye and Frank

The box is slightly deeper than normal, because you shake the bees in, and they all land on the bottom of the box. The extra distance between the bottom of the box and the frames allows plenty of room for this. The boxes are made out of lighter weight material because you undoubtedly have to carry it around to various places.

Do not put stickies in a swarm box. The swarm bees have gorged on honey and are full of it.  What they need is two frames of new foundation ( can use drawn comb, but is not as good). What they want to do is make wax.

They also demonstrated a technique to raise two queens,  in a box above a brood box.

Above the brood box, put the queen excluder. And probably a super of honey. Then put a purpose built screened board with two entrances on each side at the rear of this board, and put it on the super at the opposite end to the hive entrance. Above this, put a box with a divider in the middle, thus you have created two mini nucs. Then put your queen or queen cells in each. If using queen cells, put these facing the centre division board. Put frames of honey and pollen in each side. Put a flat lid (no bee space) on top.  This lid will seal against the frames and divider board.  A benefit of doing this technique is that the warm air flows into the box with the two mini nucs..

Not finished yet they also demonstrated a feeder system.   A board is put ontop of the hive with two holes in which two jars with sugar syrup are placed upside down.  The syrup is mixed 60% sugar 40% water.  When not feeding, the jars can be taken out, and plugged with round pegs with an overlapped piece of wood on top to stop any water getting in.

3)      John Carroll gave a talk on the wintering of bees and other things.

John Carroll

John Carroll

Tea tree is good for bees in winter. Although swamp mahogany is flowering, it is not good as it gives bees dysentery. You can see it fermenting under the wax cappings. Bees can’t handle wetness and dampness together.  If you check a hive during the day, you get condensation under the lid. A way to deal with this is to paint the lids a dark colour. It helps to heat the hive. Just use cheap fence paint. Then paint back to a light colour in summer.

In cold areas reduce entrances to between a third and a half of their normal width. Places sites in sunny areas protected from cold winds. Make sure they have sufficient honey.

Tip 1)- Get some form plastic from Bunnings. Put it just above the queen excluder with a little gap to the front of the hive. Put a box of stickies on top.Bees will clean up these stickies as they become active in spring.

Tip 2)- Banksia is about to flower now. It is high in protein, but crystalises quickly.

Tip 3)- He uses a Chinese grafting tool. If buying them cheap on the internet make sure you get a few, as they are not 100% built right. Of all the stainless steel and expensive ones he has used in the past the cheap Chinese are the best.  ( Glenn concurred with this).

Queen rearing is a combination of the drone, queen, and cell builder.

Small bee keepers want placid, non stinging bees with a small amount of honey. Larger bee keepers wantlots of honey.  If a bee has the time to sting you, then it should be out getting nectar. It is about breeding the right bee.

John prefers to get his queens from cells rather than from cages. He is against package bees.

Thanks to Phil for taking such good notes.

Here's a great link to a website called Valley Bees. A website with lots of info. Thanks Phil

Here's a link to the DPI's Apiculture Industry overview of 2015

Flowering Chart

Here's a flowering chart for this area based on Alan Clemson's “Honey and Pollen”

Thanks to Felix for preparing it

Flora Report - June

Stan says:

Baileys Stringybark is heavily budded.  The buds are held for about 15 months but it is due to flower in August.  There is usually a good harvest of dark honey.  This tree grows on the coast, not above 300 feet, from about Sawtell to the Queensland border.  Their bark is rough and fibrous and can be removed in long strips. It continues to the small branches.

Blackbutt also has lots of buds because of good rainfall.

Some Grey Ironbark trees on the coast have started to flower already but will not yield any nectar in the cooler weather.  Those that flower in September/October will produce a crop of honey.

Swamp Mahogany is the most reliable winter tree, flowering from May to July.  A good flow can be expected every 3 years.  Another Mahogany variety is also flowering now and producing nectar.  The bark of these trees is similar to Stringybark but with shorter strings.

Member's Stories

Here's a new feature where members get the chance to tell their interesting/comic/horror stories regarding their experiences with bees.

This one is by Felix:

On the 1stMarch, this year, I traveled down to Macksville to buy a hive from Ronda and Jye McCauliffe. They had a Langstroth hive full of bees for sale, and rather cheap. I arrived on dusk, and it was then that I realised we had no proper way of closing the hive entrance. No matter - we can just chuck the hive on the back of the Ute!

I asked if I should put on my veil and beekeeping overalls, the answer I received I shouldn't have listened to. "Just put on your gloves and this emergency veil, you'll be right!" said Jye, casually.

No sooner did Jye and I pick up the hive, the bees became cranky! Bang I had bees in my t-shirt, at least 5-6 stings up the arm and across the torso, and in a moment of panic I could feel them crawling up my pants!

After placing the hive on the back of the ute, I had no choice but to rip off my pants, despite the gaze of onlookers, in an attempt to get the bees out. It worked but I certainly felt a bit sheepish......

With the drizzle starting to come down, I carefully drove home, wearing my overalls and veil because there were bees in the car.

Once I arrived home, the noise coming from the hive was like a jet engine and there were bees covering the front of the hive like a carpet. With a bit of trepidation, I lifted the hive on my own and, stumbling a bit under the weight, I maneuvered it through gates towards its resting place. As I was stumbling along I could feel the hive beginning to slip in my grasp, and it fell onto the ground, bees first! By this point they were really angry, so I grabbed the hive by the strap, dumped it in it's place, and ran for it. Bees were attempting to sting me for the next 20-30 minutes and I was understandably a bit panicked, especially as a few bees had gotten into the veil while I was carrying the hive.

President Lou

President Lou

Everything has worked out fine and they're now pretty happy in their new home.

Thanks to Felix for the story and I hope other members come forward with their tales. I can keep it anonymous if requested.

President Lou


This is how I assemble a timber hive.  Many people have other methods.

Hive parts should be ordered from a reputable supplier.  My preference is for hoop pine or clinker pine but other timbers can be used.  The hive components usually come in a flat pack ready for assembly.  Joints may be dovetailed or rabbeted. 

I treat all components with copper naphthenate wood preservative before assembly.  They can be dipped or brushed. To make the hive body I use 2 ½ inch, flat head, galvanisednails.  The holes are predrilled for every nail.  I also use Bondcrete glue as it has flexibility.  Some people use screws but I disagree with this method.  Make sure the box is square by measuring from corner to corner. 

To assemble the bottom board, separate from the body, I nail the cleats underneath on both narrow ends using 1 ½ inch, flat head, galvanised nails plus glue – 4 nails per cleat. Risers should be attached on 3 sides of the upper surface of the board using ¾ inch galvanised nails and glue – 3 per riser.  The bottom board can be attached to the hive body or left loose.  I never use glue so it can be separated if needed. 

Now we come to the lid.  The rims now usually come without vent holes.  As I prefer to have them I drill 2 x 1 inch holes on each end before putting the rim together. They are covered in mesh wire or perforated metal (preferred).  Now put the 4 pieces of rim together using small galvanised nails and glue.  Make sure it is square.  The sheet of Masonite or other material is now nailed and glued to the top of the rim.  Before covering with the metal lid put a stack of newspaper (local paper size ) for insulation.  Punch 2 holes on each side of the metal cover.  Now place the metal over all pressing down and nailing to the rim.  Hammer the metal corners tight.

When the copper naphthenate has thoroughly dried all can be painted.


Biosecurity: a shared responsibility

How does the Biosecurity Act affect you?

Note: Not all the legislation has been finalised at the time of writing. I will complete an update should anything change.

The Biosecurity Act 2015 replaces the Apiaries Act 1985 and comes into effect on 1 July 2017. The Biosecurity Act and Biosecurity Regulations can be viewed here:


The desired objective of the legislation in relation to bees is to minimise the impact of pests and diseases on the NSW apiary industry, and minimise the impact of nuisance bees and threats to public safety in our community.

What will change?

Pretty much nothing!

You will still be required to:

  • Register as a beekeeper if you have one hive or more;
  • Identify the external side of the brood box of every hive with your registered number;
  • Notify the presence (or suspected presence) of specified endemic pests diseases such as American; foul brood, chalkbrood and small hive beetle within 1 working day of becoming aware of the presence or suspected presence;
  • Notify the presence or suspected presence of pests and diseases not present in NSW or Australia such as varroa mite, braula fly and Asian honey bee within 1 working day;
  • Not expose honey to robber bees;
  • Obtain health certificates to move bees, hives, honey and apiary products into and out of NSW;
  • Keep clear the access to all beehives;
  • Not feed bees apiary products from apiaries unless not exposed to AFB or irradiated and not exposed to AFB since irradiation;
  • Keep bees in a hive with moveable frames;
  • Keep records of hive movements, lost or stolen hives and the sale or disposal of hives.

What is new?

General Biosecurity Duty

The major added requirement of the Biosecurity Act is that if you deal with bees, beehives, hive material or apiary products and ought to know the biosecurity risk posed by these things, you have a duty to ensure that, so far as it is reasonably practical, the biosecurity risk is prevented, eliminated or minimised. This is your General Biosecurity Duty (GBD).

Failing to discharge your General Biosecurity Duty is an offence for which fines can be imposed for every day that you fail to discharge your biosecurity duty. The offence is more serious if the failure is intentional or reckless and caused, or was likely to cause a significant biosecurity impact.

A person has a few hives and is registered as a beekeeper. They then lose interest in the hives and don’t go near them for a couple of years. They fail to renew their registration.
Two of the hives become weak and die out.
An inspector happens upon the hives. The hives are inspected. One hive is slimed out. One hive has a rats nest and wax moth damage. The cause of the hive deaths cannot be determined visually. The live hive is healthy. Samples from the dead hives are negative for American Foul Brood (AFB) and European Foul (EFB).

Obviously the beekeeper has committed an offence by keeping bees while unregistered.

He has also failed to discharge his General Biosecurity Duty because he ought to have known that leaving weak and dead hives in an apiary exposes honey to robber bees which can transfer diseases to other hives.

He ought to have known this because he was previously registered as a beekeeper.

He also ought to have known it because of the presence of the Honey Bee Australia Biosecurity Code of Practice. The Honey Bee Australia Biosecurity Code of Practice stipulates that beekeepers must control or eradicate pests and diseases and must manage weak hives. The Code of Practice also states that every beekeeper must examine at least 3 frames of brood from each apiary under their control as often as necessary to minimise the spread of pests and diseases and at least twice per year. The beekeeper must record the dates and observations from these inspections.

If the samples from the dead out hives in this example are diagnosed by a laboratory as positive for AFB then the General Biosecurity Duty offence is more significant. The beekeeper has also committed the offence of failing to notify AFB. If there is evidence that honey was exposed to robber bees then that is a further offence.

By contrast, if a beekeeper complies with the requirements set out in the Code of Practice they will be deemed to be discharging their General Biosecurity Duty.

The Code of Practice has requirements for all beekeepers and extra requirements for those beekeepers with over 50 hives. It also has recommended practices. Copies are available from http://beeaware.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Australian-Honey-Bee-Industry-Biosecurity-Code-of-Practice.pdf

It is also possible that in the future complying with the Code of Practice will be a condition of registration. If so, then the requirements stated in the Code also become mandatory measures under the Act.


The other major change is that penalty notice offences are $1000 and $2000 (almost double what they were previously).

If a matter goes to court, the maximum penalty for a category 1 offence (ie intentional, reckless, and causing a biosecurity impact) is $1.1M for an individual.

If a court finds a person guilty of a category 2 offence, such as keeping bees while unregistered, the maximum penalty is $220 000 and, a further penalty of $275 000 for each day they fail to register.

The new legislation reflects the ethos that Biosecurity is a shared responsibility.

I will expand on some of these requirements in future articles.

Happy beekeeping!

Anne Webster – DPI Apairy Inspector    

Current stats as at 05 May 2017 

  • Total registered beekeepers in NSW = 5,600
  • Total commercial beekeepers = 780
  • Total registered hives = 317,000
Wax moth damage

Wax moth damage

Dead out hive

Dead out hive

Future Meetings

August – Frank's-  Coffs Harbour

September – Glenn's – Nana Glen

October -  Merridy's – Glennifer

November – AGM – Lou's – Bowraville

December – Xmas party – venue to be decided on.

Next Meeting

The next meeting will be held on Sunday, July 9th at Coffs harbour, at the home of Sharif and Yvette

Phone : Sharif Baytieh -  0405 490531

Address : 15 Toscan Lane (Behind Spotlight- Homebase), Coffs Harbour

Time:     10:00am for 10:30 start

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

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

Please bring a raffle prize

Also bring a chair and don't forget your nametags

Directions :

Please Note: Roadmaps and google maps do not clearly indicate the location of Sharif's home.

Drive towards the Homebase centre, go straight through the roundabout(right turn would take you up to Spotlight) and at the next road/driveway with a concrete pad turn right and follow up to the first lane on the left. This is behind the Spotlight building. Sharif and Yvette's house is at the end of the lane.

Parking will be on the right just past this lane.

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

Enquiries : 

Mal Banks - 6649 0990    or     Peter Dickson Smith – 6649-2009


The suggestion box was availaible at the last meeting, but was not used, so if anyone has feedback or suggestions please make use of it

“Don't Worry,Bee Happy” - Played in Bee flat on bee frames – by “Frankie and the Foragers.”

“Don't Worry,Bee Happy” - Played in Bee flat on bee frames – by “Frankie and the Foragers.”

Power blackout, no gas? -  no problems - cook some snags on the solar wax melter!

Power blackout, no gas? -  no problems - cook some snags on the solar wax melter!