Mid North Coast newsletter - July 2017

THE BEE LINE          

Newsletter of the Mid North Coast Amateur Beekeeping Association

July 2017

Last Meeting

The hive on the hill

The hive on the hill

The last meeting was held on 9th July at Sharif and Yvette's home at Coffs Harbour. 51 members and visitors were in attendance, and the weather was absolutely perfect. It was more like the middle of Spring than Winter, and those from the ranges were gobsmacked. Sharif's hives were located at the top of a field of clover and billy goat weed, and doing very well.

Geoff Lord from Berringa Honey was present and was purchasing members wax for $15 kg. Quite a few members left with some nice cash in their pockets.

We maintained the new format for meetings and had the business meeting first up (after morning tea)

Business of the meeting

  • Members partners to have namebadges – to be done – checking with ABA
  • TV was purchased – it was used at Sharif's with a slideshow of all the club photos. The good, the bad and the ugly.
  • An Epipen was purchased by the club and this was displayed at the meeting. Thanks to Dr James for the practice epipens and these were demonstrated.
  • The treasurer's report was read.
  • Members are starting to use the suggestion box
  • Don't forget to sign the attendance book when attending meetings
  • More Apithor traps to be ordered for members to purchase.- Done

Hive Inspection

Sharif’s hives swarmed this time last year, so he was anxious to requeen now to reduce the risk this year. Don Wood and John Carroll assisted with the hive inspection.

It is a bit risky to requeen at this time of year, because of low food sources. But at Sharif’s, the bees were bringing in plenty of pollen, presumably from the clover in the grass, the Billygoat weed (purple flower), Fireweed (yellow flower), and  banana flowers in the background. The hives were in a nice sunny spot on top of a hill. There seemed to be no sign of winter.

Sharif's apiary

Sharif's apiary

When taking out the frames, start by pushing the frames  to one side, then separate the end one, from the second one, and the second one from the third one. Then very gently pull out the second frame. Taking care here, reduces the risk of rolling and injuring the queen.

There was plenty of brood with a nice white colour. If the brood is brown or the cappings are sunk, then it could be a sign of disease. Hold the frame up to the light to see the eggs and brood.

Two hives were split with the existing queen being relocated to the new hive and a replacement queen put in the existing hive. Apithor traps to  deal with Small Hive Beetles were put into the bottom of the hives.

The nucleus hives with the old queens were to be moved to another location 3kms away.

The nucs each contained two brood frames with bees and the queen, 1 honey frame and a frame of empty brood.

After 1 week the original hives with the new queens should be checked for eggs.

When moving hives load the hives onto the vehicle as gently as possible. Tie the hive down securely with strong straps. Cover with a bee net  and secure.

Drive immediately to the new site. When there light smoker, don protective clothing and unload the hives and place in position. Puff smoke and open the entrance closer. Move away quickly. Leave for at least one week before returning to apiary.

After the inspection there was a series of talks by various members.

Bridgette gave a talk on correct lifting techniques.

It is important not to twist your body. Lift, turn your left or right foot, and use your knees to squat down and release the super.

*To tone your muscles:

  • Interlock your hands and stretch up towards the sky a few times.
  • While standing vertically , bend your body to the left then the right

*To strengthen your ankles.

  • Stand with your foot out in front, and your heal on the ground, and toes pointing back to your nose.
  • Twist your foot to the  left then to the right a few times.  
  • Then swap feet.

Do these first  thing in the morning and last thing of a night. It stretches the vertabrae.  It teaches your body.

Preparing the nucs

Preparing the nucs

Don Wood demonstrated a scratching box.  

Basically a bee box that you can put beside a hive when you are working it, and allows you to scrape the burr comb and wax  off  the frames, top bars and excluder. There was a brace in the box that acts as a handle and  allows you to carry it to the next hive.  You will be surprised at how much wax you can collect this way.

Don uses flat lids. These reduce condensation. There is still a bee space between the top bar and the flat lid.

Regarding feeding and wintering:-

  • Bees don’t breed unless they have pollen
  • If a super only has a small amount of honey in it, or it feels cold, you are better to take it off, as it acts like an ice brick, and hampers the bees in trying to keep the hive at the right temp.
  • A hive only needs 3 or 4 frames over winter
  • You need to have enough bees to cover the brood.
  • To check if a hive is cold, put your hand on the top bars under the queen excluder. It should be warm.
  • If you need to heat a hive, put a plastic sheet under the excluder. Position to allow bees to move up and down around the edges.
  • To check if the bees are bringing in pollen, block the entrance with a stick for awhile. You will see bees queueing up to get in, and allows you to do a quick visual check to see how much pollen is in their sacks. Then open the entrance.
  • If not enough pollen coming in, can use a pollen cake.  Use it sparingly as small hive beetle like it. Put a little bit in the space between the top bars. It won’t build bees in winter, it will just maintain them.
  • Bees live longer in winter.
  • Coming into spring, they need room in the super
  • Don demonstrated how the emlock works.  Don’t  put on too tight, because when the supers expand under moist conditions, it will snap it.  When assembling the emlock, make sure the strap goes on the bottom end of the lever.
  • Don showed samples of Brush Box, Grey Ironbark, Forest Redgum ( an excellent honey which is starting to flow now).

Al Thomas gave a talk on feeding bees

Latest ABK magazine has an article on the 7 deadly sins for new beekeepers. A good one.

  • First two are: Not attending a course; Not feeding bees
  • Can move hives around to get native blossom
  • Bees need
    • Carbohydrate, they get from nectar (honey) and sugar
    • Protein-amino acids
      • Not all pollens have all the amino acids
      • As a ready reckoner there are three pollen colours, white, yellow and red. We saw all in the earlier hive inspection
    • minerals and fats and lipids- they get from flowers
    • water

If bees are deficient in the above, then you are setting yourself up for disease. They need to be well fed and well balanced.

If you have stored honey, that should be okay. If you need to feed ( nectar), you  can get a feeder for about $2, that you put a screw top drink bottle on. This fits into the entrance, and you can easily see how empty the bottle gets over time. This is good because you don’t need to lift the lid.  Another way is to use zip lock bags.  Fill with syrup , place on top of the hive mat, then put a few slits in it or puncture  a few times with  a nail.

Use a syrup:, 2 to 1, ie 2 sugar to 1 hot water. If you want to stimulate in spring use 1 to 1. The thinner it is, the more it stimulates.  

The hot mixture will also help to heat the hive

You can put straight sugar on the hive mat. ALWAYS USE WHITE SUGAR.  NOT ICING MIXTURE NOR BROWN SUGAR.

If nectar is short, bees will eat larvae and eggs.  If you observe bees head down  in a dry cell, then they are starving. Don’t get to that stage.

If not a steady store of pollen, then you need to feed a pollen substitute. Powder, sausage, cakes etc. usually soy based , as soybean is high in protein.

Take bees to where things are good.  More of an issue for the New England region rather than the coastal strip.

Cootamundra Wattle is flowering now, but it has next to no nectar and the pollen is low in protein. So you can see things are happening, but it isn’t sufficient.  As a bee keeper , be aware of what is going on, and floral sources. Instances arise going into spring, where the population builds up, but all of a sudden there is a cold spell and you are back into winter. The bees could eat out their stores in no time.

Best to feed before you need too.

John Carroll gave a talk on genetics and breeding.

Black bees in winter are better because more honey in the brood box

Workers hatch 21 days. Queens 16 days, drones 24 days

Queen genetics come 50% from drones

Low grade pollen , low grade bees

Drop hives in winter so they stay tight, and bees don’t work as much.

Bees sense when the winter solstice is over and the days are getting longer, so become more active.


These may be the last of Frank's Hive Hints, so I'd like to thank Faye and Frank, on behalf of all club members, for doing such a fine job with the hints over the last 3 years. They have been informative, interesting and quirky!


Do look carefully if searching for the queen.  If you can’t find her look for eggs, but if they are not sitting correctly, one in the bottom of each cell, there may be laying workers present, or they could be beetle eggs.

Do inspect your brood boxes at least twice a year to check for signs of disease.

Do make sure your smoker is well alight and producing a good volume of cool smoke before opening a hive.

Do put your hive tool in the hot smoker for a few seconds to sterilize it between hive inspections.  This may help in stopping disease from spreading from one colony to another.

Don’t ever feed bees with honey or pollen from a shop or if you don’t know the origin is safe. It could carry disease.

Don’t ever leave scattered burr comb around the apiary.  Bush bees or those from neighbouring hives will be attracted to it and could bring disease to your hives.  It can also attract robber bees.

Don’t leave a hive open too long when inspecting.  Try to be brief and gentle.

Don’t leave your apiary before checking that everything is in order.  Always have a last look.

Don’t put your smoker in the back of the ute until you are sure it is not burning.  Motorists following may think you are cooking breakfast.


Queen Rearing

If anyone is interested, Tocal College is holding a queen breeding course in Lismore on the 4-5th  December in Lismore. Places are limited so I would get in contact with them ASAP if anyone is interested. Cost is $480 for the weekend.

Here's a website about queen breeding, There are some good articles about queen breeding to be found here:

Bee stings- How to avoid or minimise sting risk

Bee stings can cause an allergic reaction, and this allergy may take time to develop. If this is the case beekeeping may not be for you. Find another hobby.

Experienced beekeepers anticipate when they are about to be stung and remove the sting very quickly so that only a minute amount of venom is injected into them

Scrape the sting off with a fingernail or a hive tool. Don't pull out the stinger as this will release more venom.

If bees start attacking you walk calmly away from the hive. You may need a distance of a few metres or a few hundred metres. If they are persistent get into a car or a building.

Walk into a shady area or in among a group of trees.

If there's a bee in your veil, get into a car, try and squash the bee with your fingers and then remove the veil.

Don't wear deodorant, perfume or after-shave when going to an apiary.

If stung, wash area, apply anti-itch cream and a cold compress.

A more docile strain of queen is desirable

Take care when working with strong hives

Avoid working early in the morning and late at night. In the middle of a fine day is best as the foragers are out

Avoid days that are cloudy, stormy, windy, rainy, too hot and too cold.

If the bees are flying in large numbers and there is a sweet fragrance of fresh nectar in the apiary, then you can expect to manipulate the hive with few problems

Make sure your smoker is well alight and producing large volumes of cool smoke

Avoid squashing bees when moving frames and boxes as they release a pheromone that stimulates defensive behaviour.

Rough handling such as  bumping and  quick movements result in stinging. Always move quietly, smoothly and gently.

Ed: Source – Bee AGSKILLS- NSW DPI

Here's an update on the beekeeping App, developed by Simon

Down here in the outskirts of Melbourne it is cold and windy. Despite this my bees are flying almost every day and I can't help but get excited for Spring.
It is important for me to mention that now is the best time to start familiarising yourself with the HiveKeepers App and affiliate program before we are all to busy with Spring. For those clubs that haven't taken advantage of the HiveKeepers Beekeeping Club program you are missing out of the following:

  • a free club apiary subscription to the HiveKeepers app
  • Minimum 15% discount for your members (special coupon code required)
  • $5 donation to your club for every paid subscription

You may be aware that we have changed the price of the app from $35 USD to $20 USD. We have had such a great response to the app but many people couldn't afford the full price. We had more people from developing countries show interest than anticipated and feel we needed to make this change in order to meet our company objectives to improve bee health.

Despite these changes your club will still get $5 per paid subscriber.

If you want to learn more drop me an email at simon@hivekeepers.com or call +61 417 543 311.
This is an Aussie made app put together in Melbourne by beekeepers.

Eucalyptus Expert

We are still looking for an expert to give the club a talk on local flora etc.

If anyone knows somebody let me know so we can organise a talk at an appropriate future meeting.


Roast Carrots with Honey, Bee Pollen and Saffron

Bee Pollen is available from select health food shops

Preheat oven to 200 C

Combine 3 bunches trimmed and scrubbed Dutch carrots or 4 coarsely chopped large carrots in a roasting pan  with 1 ½ tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp honey and the finely grated rind of 1 lemon.

Season to taste and roast until soft and caramelised (25-30 minutes for Dutch and carrots and 35-40 minutes for regular carrots).

Meanwhile whisk the juice of ½ lemon in a bowl with 50 ml olive oil, 1 tsp Dijon mustard and ¼ teaspoon saffron threads soaked in 2 tsp hot water, and season to taste.

Drizzle mixture over roasted carrots, scatter with loosely chopped mint, coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley and 1 tbsp bee pollen and serve warm.

Serves 4 as a side

Ed : July issue of Gourmet Traveller

Next Meeting

The next meeting will be held at the home of Fay and Frank Karabaic .

Date: Sunday 13th August  2017

Time: 10:00am for 10:30 start

Address: 27 Dyer Road, Coffs Harbour

Phone:  6652 1712

Activity: There will be a hive activity so please bring protective clothing.

There is always a lot going on at Frank’s fantastic apiary.  

Also bring a chair and  don't forget your nametags

Lunch: A BBQ lunch will be provided

Cost $5.00

Please bring a lunch item and something for morning tea or dessert, as well as a raffle prize.

Directions: Turn left into Dyer Road from Combine Street.

Parking: Please park cars in Combine Street adjacent to community garden.

Contact – Mal Banks  -  6649 0990

Please give comments, ask questions, make suggestions, or give feedback at the next meeting.

We have started a suggestion box.