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Sunday, September 29, 2013

Bees and watering


Bee club meeting today. Very well attended with all seats taken and lots of newcomers. These meetings are always interesting. Fortunately they are well run and reasonably brief 1-2 hours before we descend on the apiary for hands on.

There is always lots of new and interesting information transacted during the meeting.
  • It appears we may be in for another bad season as nectar seems to be in short supply and everyone is experiencing a slow build up of honey.
  • There is a shortage of queens for sale making it difficult for the club to perform its annual queen replacement and also to prepare nucs to supply orders.
  • One of the members is preparing to do a PhD on Honeybees as bio indicators of environmental health and to track plant species through pollen.
  • The clubs training program has commenced with 18 participants.
  • There is a big demand for fully established hives by people wanting to get into bee keeping easily. I'm not sure this is the best idea. Sounds too much like instant bee keeping without the commitment to learn.
  • We had a guest speaker who as well as being a queen breeder sells apiary supplies. He is incredibly knowledgeable and never fails to entertain and inform on the subject of bees. All sorts of little titbits.
    • The proper ways to prepare bee boxes
    • Thermo Wood boxes are easier to prepare
    • Plastic queen excluders don't have crevices for the SHB to hide
    • When harvesting wax keep it in a molten state for 24 hours for impurities to settle out as well as the extended molten period killing any AFB (American Foul Brood) spores.
    • Old frames should be destroyed and are not suitable for wax harvest
    • AFB can survive in foundation wax for 30-40 years. Best not buy old hives without provenance.
    • A solid dissertation on identifying AFB including that it has a distinctive odour
    • AFB will effect almost everyone sooner or later as it is spread easily by robber bees from wild hives.
    • Some plant species will produce nectar which when converted to honey will crystalize extremely rapidly (almost before your eyes) e.g. Canola and if left on the frame too long will be near impossible to extract.
    • Organic honey is extremely difficult to produce with any certainty because of the distance bees travel to collect pollen and nectar. The hives would have to be located in sites surrounded by native bush in all directions for 5 kilometres.
After getting home it was time to attend to our own bees. They received a new super with 10 frames. Two frames of brood were lifted into the new super and fresh foundation frames replaced them in the bottom box. The hive looks very healthy and there is lots of activity.

Hose and spray mounted on a block of wood


Our inspection of the orchard today showed that the trees are starting to feel the hot dry weather. Flowering and fruit set is excellent but some drooping of foliage is starting. Out came the spray nozzles and hoses and we have commenced a watering program whereby each tree will receive two hours of fine spray at its base. We have a tick sheet to keep track of the trees completed. Rather than water sequentially we pick and choose depending on the state of the tree and its crop value.

We find this method very effective in slowly wetting the soil and penetrating into the ground without run off. In all about 12 -14 trees can be watered simultaneously.

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