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Beez pleezz

Discussion in 'Gardening With Animals' started by Trish Stretton, May 7, 2019.

  1. May 7, 2019
    Trish Stretton

    Trish Stretton Deeply Rooted

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    I bought myself a new years present in 2017- my very own bees to go in my very own hive.
    At first, I thought I might be lucky enough to catch a swarm and waited...almost too long before I realised that it wasnt going to happen so I had better hurry up and buy some.

    Its been an interesting couple of years managing to keep them alive sometime by the skin of our teeth due to lack of experience.

    January is mid summer here and I have since been told that it is not a good time to get bees...no wonder I thought I had bought a lemon/dog. But, still they did survive and still are.

    My end goal was to be a treatment free beek.
    I have come to the conclusion that in order to do this successfully, you really do need to be an experienced beekeeper. I'm not there yet, so that goal is still way over there on the horizon....but I do have a master plan to get there. so far, in spite of hiccups, I think we are a couple of steps further along.

    I imported some plastic small cell frames from Mann Lake ltd and started them on the road to getting down to small cell.
    In autumn/winter I messed up and almost lost them. Thankfully the man who does my legal AFB check realised that I was making the same mistake he had in his second year and helped me turn things around, saving us to go on for another year.

    So, While I have not been able to get them to the point I wanted to get them to, that being on all small cell frames that had the width of the frames shaved down from 34/5 mm to 32mm; I still have live bees going into another winter.



    And they still had enough spare honey comb this year so I could have some too.
    Blessed, both by them and this amazing learning curve.
     
    thejenx, ducks4you, Carol Dee and 6 others like this.
  2. May 7, 2019
    flowerbug

    flowerbug Garden Addicted

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    they're facinating creatures. :) i'm glad you're learning and having fun and also being challenged.
     
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  3. May 17, 2019
    Trish Stretton

    Trish Stretton Deeply Rooted

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    Just as every year is different, so too is the way the hive responds.
    I had to start a diary this year just on the bees. The main concern has been with the mite counts and when to apply a treatment. I have a mesh screen under the hive with a sliding tray that I oil to catch the mites. Oiling the tray also stops the ants from removing them as well as trapping wax moths.

    I use this tray to give me an idea of what the mite load is and when it gets a bit too hard to see them amongst the fallen debris, I wipe it clear and re oil it.
    Because the colony was so small this year, with so little brood, it seems like they have not had much problems with this pest this year. My mentor couldnt understand why the mite count remained so low all summer And into fall and didnt know if this did have anything to do with the fact that I had the on small cell frames. His hives are allowed to build whatever sized comb they like, which is what I had done in the first year as my stage one part of my long term plan.

    When I first got the hive I was using food grade mineral oil which was 'fogged' into the hive from below. It appeared to work but in the next spring, they were in trouble, so I tried the next softest treatment- Apilife-var and the mites fell like rain.

    This spring I had to put in a strong chem treatment to turn things around- I had messed up my late summer early fall treatment and needed a more drastic measure.
    I was pretty sure that the mite count had been so low this summer because of this chem treatment as well as the fact that unlike most beekeepers, I only have one hive, not the minimum of two.
    To be honest, I did wonder why I was bothering trying to go treatment free if these worked so well....then I remembered people like Michael Bush saying they used these and were still losing their bees.

    There is something not right with the fact that any lifeform should have to be chemically treated JUST to stay alive. I feel that something is just not right with this, so I will keep on trying. Others have got their bees to the point where they do not have to treat with anything, I think that is a pretty good goal to aim for.

    This summer just gone, I have returned to a softer treatment, even though it does mean doing more often and have been using Oxalic acid which is vapourized using a nifty gadget attached to a small battery and left on for two minutes. In some countries, this is not yet legal, but fortunately, here in New Zealand it is....just.

    There have been a few things that I have noticed just from watching the hive and/or the bees in my yard.
    Its said that bees do not forage within 50 meters of the hive. While most of them do fly off the property there are still a number that do make use of the flowers here. I think it has a lot to do with what type of plant it is- the quality of the plant type and what I call the 'critical mass'. Is there enough of a plant type to make it of interest to them.
    For example.
    The 2 foot high Rosemary hedge is only 4 meters long and was right behind the hive. A week or so after it started flowering, it was smothered in bees that I watched fly out of the hive and straight to the hedge. There Were others that flew in from elsewhere to this little hedge. As far as I could work out, they went off in at least 6 different directions, meaning there were at least 6 other hives somewhere within flight range of this hedge.

    The other thing I really like about this hive, is the window that I can look through to see what is going on. this has a door clipped up when I am not being nosy so they dont have to put up with sunlight in the hive. I now have this on the sun side over winter so I can keep a better eye on what is going on with them over winter.
    It is fascinating to watch them go about their daily business. I have had to wean myself off doing this too often even though I have learnt so much from watching.

    My winter bee project is to make up another long hive. I'm not going to build it from scratch, I am using pre-made Jumbo deep boxes and bolting three together to make a long hive from them. I will need to make a roof for it, but that shouldnt be too hard.
     
  4. May 17, 2019
    Carol Dee

    Carol Dee Garden Master

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    DH took up bee keeping about 5 years ago. WOW. Some learning curve! Last winter was bad. He lost ALL 14 hives. :( So, yes still learning. He also is teaching the youngest grandson. Here are a few pics from last summer. T is 9 yr. old.
    042.jpg 059.jpg
    071.jpg 088.jpg
     
  5. May 17, 2019
    thistlebloom

    thistlebloom Garden Master

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    Trish, thanks for sharing your observations and thoughts, it's very interesting.
     
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  6. May 17, 2019
    flowerbug

    flowerbug Garden Addicted

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    i also agree that there is something wrong if you have to use poisons to keep something else alive. most animals tolerate their parasites because if they didn't the parasites would vanish too. the problems of diseases and variations is that of course this can become a human disease issue, but in the longer run it makes sense to learn how to live with nature instead of erroneously breeding even more resistant creatures.

    diversity in creatures and learning how to increase diversity will likely go a lot further than trying to keep a lot of any one species going by selecting for even more resistant bugs.

    i don't think many people are breeding for resistance and with all the requirements for treating in many places you are likely not going to be able to avoid treating mites yourself.

    which to me looks like just feeding the chemical companies extra money so they can keep coming up with even more poisons - which to me is the definition of insanity and the sickness of too many in this world.

    i'm not sure what you have there for native bees or how they are doing? is there some way to encourage those instead?

    i've not seen many native bees here this season. just a few of the large bumblebees and a few of the smaller mason bees. once we have the cucumbers and squash planted i will have a better sense of things.

    also, it looks like the bee keeper is not going to put his hives here this year. no sign of anyone back there all spring and by now they'd be up. perhaps he just lost so many hives last year that he didn't need to put them here.

    we do have honey bees around as i have seen them on the flowers so far this spring but i don't know if they are ones that are being kept or if they are escapees that have gone feral. i always try to leave some dead trees standing for the woodpeckers and other animals including the bees no matter what else is going on.

    i guess the other thing i would look into is trying to find people who are able to somehow work on raising resistant bees that you can use and continue your experiments to see what happens. :)
     
    Trish Stretton and ninnymary like this.
  7. May 17, 2019
    ducks4you

    ducks4you Garden Master

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    COngratulations! Hope all goes well. Remember, your bees are a European species, like we use in the USA, but there are other native pollinators all over the world, and I know that you have them, too.
    Telling you this bc Sometimes bees do great, and sometimes they don't, and it wouldn't be your fault.
    NOT trying to sound like a negative Nancy!!!! :hide
    DD's had a bee hive in their house. It was there when they moved in 4 years ago, and they had it removed by a local beekeeper. The hive started at the ceiling and had made it's way to the floor in an upstairs closet. When the beekeeper (& fellow beekeeper) removed the hive, they said that a few of the bees would be trying to get back in. It was a Swarm that was trying to get back in. I think the hive was readying itself to split. They swept up the swarm of stragglers, too, and the local guy took them bc he had lost one of his hives over the past winter. They were VERY HEALTHY.
    BUT, there are diseases that European bees are susceptable to. You might want to do some research.
     
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  8. May 18, 2019
    Trish Stretton

    Trish Stretton Deeply Rooted

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    I spent three years reading everything I could lay my hands on, including lurking on three different beek forums to find out what they were doing and how it was going until I suddenly realized that if I didnt get some bees, I was in danger of becoming just another armchair expert.

    I appreciate the concerns you all have though. thank you.

    @Carol Dee , I am very thankful to not have lost my hive, I cant imagine what it would be like to lose all 14.
    I have been telling people that I want my bees to get locally adapted and back in tune with the environment that they now live it. The person I bought them off actually started out with bees from my home town, not only that but he got them from the man who now does my legally required AFB checks every year....so these bees have started from here, moved a bit south for a few years and now come back. I really like that.
    I also realised that not only do my bees need to become adapted to the environment, I do too. I think they have a better grasp on how to do this than I do, but this is something I have been seriously contemplating....how do you become in tune with your local environment?

    @flowerbug , we have, I believe, at least 28 species of native bees as well as 13 introduced species of which I think I have at least one- the wool carder bee....very territorial it is too.
    The native species are individualist...a bit like me and do not form hives like honey bees. they are more like the bumblebees and live in nests in the ground like they do. so they are at risk from, for example, the local council and TransitNZ-railway co. who have no worries about spraying their property with herbicides.
    I have a railway line across the road from my house and have seen that it is usually sprayed dead, and with such a lovely bank that would make a lovely home for these other types of bees.

    My main pollinator in the vegie garden is still the good old Bumblebee. The honey bees did do a fantastic job with the fruit trees, so much so that I had to remove most of the fruit this year to keep the trees healthy, they just had way too many fruit setting on such young trees.

    I have had two native species in the yard but havent seen one for a number of years not seen the other this year, which has been disappointing.
    One species only feeds from the native hebe- Koromiko, I have a number of them in the yard, two different types and have a few more plants to put out that were cuttings taken from my mothers place as well as those from a University campsus that a friend studied at last year. I have two different types to plant out from them.

    @ducks4you , I think its sad that people have to remove bees from their homes, they are obviously just what they wanted in a home too, but do understand that they cause problems for homeowners too.
    My house probably will never be considered by them, because it is an old concrete block house with no wall cavities. I would love it if a colony didnt make itself at home. I would hide it and not tell anyone it was there!!!
    I did have a crazy notion to create a space inside the walls of my garage...havent had the courage to be so naughty.
     
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  9. May 18, 2019
    PhilaGardener

    PhilaGardener Garden Addicted

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  10. May 18, 2019
    Carol Dee

    Carol Dee Garden Master

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    Thanks @PhilaGardener He has 10 started, hopes to be able to divide them at some point and to catch a few swarms. Yep Grandson will be kept busy. (His older brother stays clear, would rather help Papa in the garage or wood shop)
     

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