Mid North Coast Amateur Beekeepers

Mid North Coast Amateur Beekeepers

Mid North Coast Amateur Beekeepers meeting held at Mt. Coramba Apiculture.

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 day’s activities kicked off after morning tea and a short business meeting.

beehive inspection

Beehive inspection

Moving a Beehive

The methods of relocating 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 colony 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 site 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 distances as well however the hive must be closed after dark when all the bees are in the colony.  Make sure that the hive is securely strapped together.  Closing the entrance is recommended to stop bees from escaping during the process.  It is also essential to ensure that the bees are well ventilated mainly 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 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 queenright 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 queenright colony with at least two sheets of newspaper between them.  The bees are encouraged to start chewing through the paper by putting 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 queenright 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 critical activities for the beekeeper in spring is to check hives for any signs of disease thoroughly. 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 the 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.

Some of the indicators of the 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

New South Wales Department of Primary Industries – Honey Bees – Pests and Diseases

Plant Health Australia – Biosecurity Manual for Beekeepers 

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.

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 colony.  The bees recognise that they are queenless and utilise the grafted larvae to make queen cells.

cell starter

Cell Starter

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 proposed 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 sidebars. 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 wiggling the wire until it breaks.  Sharp wire ends caused by cutting the wire with clippers can cause painful injuries to the beekeeper’s 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 a secure sheet of foundation ready to be turned into comb by the bees.

Mid North Coast Amateur Beekeepers Association Meetings

The Mid North Coast Amateur Beekeepers Association meets on the second Sunday of every month.  Meetings are held at members properties which gives attendees a great chance to participate in different activities every month depending on the interests of the meeting hosts.

The Mid North Coast Amateur Beekeepers Association has a Facebook page which publicises upcoming meetings and other information relevant to the club.

New South Wales Amateur Beekeepers Association

The Mid North Coast Amateur Beekeepers Association is part of the New South Wales Amateur Beekeepers Association.  Membership has many advantages and information can be found on the NSW ABA website.

Mt. Coramba Apiculture, Glenn Locke & Anne Webster would like to thank the Mid North Coast Amateur Beekeepers Association for the opportunity to host the meeting.

For any further information about Mt. Coramba Apiculture or beekeeping, in general, contact us here.


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