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September 2017 Newsletter

                                                                                                Issue  #60

Monthly Meetings

2nd Thursday of the month at St. Peters Anglican Church, Leongatha: 7:30pm
Everyone welcome.

Next meeting:
Thursday September 14th 7:30pm

Topic: Beekeeping in Slovenia with Amanda Diamond
October Meeting: 12th 7:30pm
Swarms & Requeening
November Meeting: 9th 7:30pm
Stan Gowacki - his trip to Apimondia conference in Turkey plus an historical beekeeping film

Further SGB Access

Watch video from our AGM on our YouTube channel
Checkout the ads at the bottom of the newsletter for equipment,
services and news of a new store opening

President's Report


Well Spring is finally here and I’m sure your all looking forward to a rewarding beekeeping season. My bees have certainly been taking advantage of the intermittent fine weather bringing in loads of pollen. I haven’t done full brood inspections yet, but have made sure they have sufficient nectar/honey to get them through this intermittent late winter/early spring weather.

It was great to have Lucy Stevens along at our last meeting to present the first “Howard Stevens most valuable member award” to Kate Senko. I think a lot of Howard’s beekeeping knowledge has rubbed off on Lucy as she was very attentive during the presentations and I could see her discussing points with other members. Wouldn’t it be great to have her as a member.

Last meeting I did a short presentation on the “Sugar shake test”. I hope anyone who was unfamiliar with the test gives it a go and adopts it into their biosecurity regime. We may not have Varroa destructor in Australia (that we know of yet) but we need to remember that in New Zealand it was a  recreational beekeeper that first detected varroa there. So we are very valuable to the beekeeping industry as a whole in helping to monitor for pests and diseases.

Thank you to Rob Fisher also, for giving us an over view and refresher on Spring inspections and what we should be looking for in our hives on our first inspection.

At our upcoming meeting on September 14th we will have one of our members, Amanda Diamond, speaking about her trip to Slovenia and how they do their beekeeping there. I love hearing about people’s travels and especially when there’s beekeeping involved as well! I hope to see you there too!

Just a reminder about the 38th Annual Beekeeping Field Day at Harcourt Leisure Centre, 63 Binghams Rd, Harcourt on the 8th October, 8.45 am till 3.00pm. I will have the information leaflet at the next meeting again.

Also on the 22nd October the East Gippsland Beecare and GAA have a field day at Bruthen Recreation Reserve from 10.00 till 3.00pm. They have 2 guest speakers: Mitch from Woolenook Nursery will give a presentation on native pollinators (in particular, the over 20 species he has in his native garden) and Dr Shona Blair from the University of Technology Sydney will present on some of her findings about honey as a healer. Her presentation is titled “Honey-could it be a sweet solution for superbugs?” Shona is reputed to be a fantastic presenter. We have also been invited to sell our bee booklets “Inside the Beehive” at this field day.

Until our meeting on the 14th September, happy beekeeping!

Peter Gatehouse (President)

Spring: Isn't it just wonderful to see the girls out and about again!

Beekeeping classes - beginner level

Spring classes for 2017 are being run by

The Bunyip Beekeeper - instructor Marty - at 'Vue' in Jindivick
Beginner beekeeping courses running every second Sunday from September until April 
Next course 8th October
for info 0487 100001 or our Facebook page (link above Pres. report)

Community College of Gippsland - CCG - Leongatha campus
with Dave and Bron Barton
September 21st & 28th 7:30pm - 9:30pm plus a 2-3 hour field day session
for further inquiries phone Susan Morgan ph:5662 6700  e:

Rob Fisher in Dumbalk
Workshops starting in September for info 0437 501133

Beekeeping field day - VAA bendigo branch

38th Annual Field Day, Hosted by Bendigo Branch V.A.A

Sunday, October 8th 2017 -  9:30am - 3:00pm
Harcourt Leisure Centre

Trade stalls welcome: Lg $40, Sm $20,
Indoor: Lg $60 Sm $30

Gate Entry Fee:  
Adults $10 Concession $7, Children free



Advice on purchasing and selling of used beehive components

This is important information if you are considering introducing used hive equipment to your apiary. It is quite brief and succinct and contains contact numbers and email addresses for further inquiries. 

Lets keep our bees safe

Treating weeds and bugs without using chemicals


Are any herbicide or insecticide chemicals safe? 

Not so many years back we were told that Glyphosate  (a herbicide known among other names as Roundup, used to spray weeds) was safe - 'Safe as houses mate. It's just salt!' - yeah, right. And, in Australia at least, the debate still rages. 
In several European countries, including Holland, Denmark and Sweden, local authorities have banned or restricted the use of glyphosate herbicides because of alleged links with a variety of health problems – not just cancer but ranging from birth defects and kidney failure to celiac disease, colitis and autism. Another study, in Argentina, suggests a correlation between glyphosate use and the decline in activity in honeybee colonies. And in New York, an environmental group is suing the Environmental Protection Agency for ignoring the dangers of glyphosate which, it claims, has resulted in the demise of the monarch butterfly population.
Then there's neoniconitoids.  (Acetamiprid is for use against sucking insects, such as aphids and whiteflies, on leafy vegetables, cole crops, citrus, cotton, ornamentals, and fruiting vegetables. Ready-to-use formulations are available in addition to wettable powders and water-dispersible granules)Although still used in agriculture what we now know about neoniconitoids would curl your hair (just prior to it all falling out!)
Remember DDT? - for so many years used freely in agriculture and home gardens
 - not questioned until farmers who used it started succumbing to multiple forms of cancer. Pre-term births were at epidemic proportions in the USA  where spraying of DDT was widespread and Peregrine Falcons started dropping off their perches. DDT containers carried images of the 'skull & crossbones' - didn't they? 
Digressing slightly; In the 1990's on a trip to visit my uncle who managed a property north of Balranald he announced that there was a supply of DDT in the shed if we wanted it. He said it was ideal for eradicating ants. We did not bring any home.
So many years after it was banned in the USA (1972) it was still being used in Australia by farmers and who, although they may not have been able to buy it anymore (after 1987) still had plenty available for their use after that. Let's hope this isn't the same for 'neonics'. The fact is though that seeds are still treated with it which is particularly dangerous for bees and us too.

So ... what to do about your weeds and bugs:

Lets start with bugs: 
Many people who 'grow their own' aren't nearly as concerned about the perfection of their fruit and veg as people who get them from the supermarket. There are times however when bugs and diseases threaten your entire crop but there are many things you can do to minimise the damaging effects wee beasties on your plants.
Be aware of what are good and what are bad bugs. Below is are pictures of some of the good guys.  

Companion planting:
This is an ancient and effective solution. Just a little research is necessary and easy to find to work out what to plant with what. Attracting bad guys to a planting of marigolds around the periphery of your veg garden works well and looks bright and cheerful when in flower. 

Also doing some research on what to plant when. For instance, it is crazy to grow broccoli or cauliflower in the summer as the cabbage white caterpillars will decimate them. They grow well in the winter so stick OR

Set up an insect net:
This is so easy, makes heaps of sense and eliminates the need for spraying any bugs at all. You will still get slaters though, especially if you use a light mulch like sugar cane as they live under it, but for the most part a fine net will keep everything else out. Yes, it will keep bees out too but for tomatoes and anything else you may want pollinated by your bees they can be planted in a separate smaller area which can be netted later to stop wasps, birds etc eating your produce.

These can be replaced with spraying organic milk, diluted 1:10 with water. It may smell a bit but it works very well for small plants such as Peas, Camellias, Pansies and Azaleas.You will need to reapply after rain. Other recipes HERE and for recipes for Apple Cider Vinegar, Garlic solution, Corn meal and Baking soda click HERE

Now to weeds: 
There are many 'hack' recipes here and there for spot spraying weeds to clean them up e.g. salt & vinegar - which definitely kills the weeds but is pretty lethal to most plants once it's in the soil and may spread much further afield to affect other plants that you don't want to kill. So have a think about what you are applying to your weeds and whether or not it may do more harm than good. Other alternatives are a flame weeder or boiling water. I don't know about you but having to boil the kettle over and over sounds a tad boring. I guess if you've got an urn you could plug it in outside, rev it up and just keep ladling weed murdering-sized portions out of it.

As for the flame weeder, here is a little feedback: 

However well it works, my butane flame weeder has some obvious downsides. It's fuelled by a non-renewable gas that produces greenhouse emissions when burnt (albeit small). More concerning for me, the butane comes in cylinders that require disposal when the gas has been consumed. I used two cylinders just doing the paths in my garden a single time, so when used regularly in a garden of any scale, butane powered flame weeders present a significant waste problem. Then there's the risk that flame weeders will light up mulch, leaves, any dry fuel in the vicinity of the weed. In dry weather, its use poses a potential fire hazard.
*One of my worst weeds is a tiny purple leaved spurge that self seeds very easily and loves the decomposed granite paths in my vegie garden. I'm happy to report that the flame weeder works brilliantly on it. Plants such as thistles, however, turn black after being scorched, but usually reshoot from the crown a couple of weeks later. The trick is to get them when they're tiny and vulnerable. Chickweed, for some reason, seems very resistant to the heat and the flame has to be held in the same spot for quite a long time to be effective. 

What I'd really love is a domestic scale, battery powered steam weeder that I could charge with solar energy and fill with rainwater. Commercial steamers have been around for years, but as far as I'm aware, there is nothing available in Australia for home gardeners beyond plug-in machines designed to mop the floor and clean bathroom tiles. I'm half tempted to try and invent something using an old espresso machine, but I simply don't have the time, or the mechanical nouse. So until some bright spark comes up with a really nifty little steam weeding unit, it's flame weeding in moderation, along with the use of old fashioned hand weeding. *from Organic Gardening magazine

So the challenge is out there. Anyone willing to give it a go?


Homemade Wasp Trap

I made a number of these last summer and they worked very well. The wasps fly in to get to whatever goodies you have put inside and then try to get out by climbing up the side of the bottle which gets them stuck. I didn't see any escape from whence they came (the neck of the bottle)

Simply put something that they love to eat or drink (I used canned cat food in the bottom of the bottle with about 10cm water) and voilà.

Good Bugs in the garden

no need to spray these little garden helpers

1st row left:  Hover fly                  
2nd row left: Mealybug ladybirds
3rd row left: Orchard swallowtail butterfly
4th row left: Lacewing 
5th row left: Ladybird

1st row right:  Praying mantis
2nd row right: Rove Beetles
3rd row right: Paper wasp
4th row right: Whitefly parasite
5th row right: Aphytis wasp

Top Tip

Keep records of all your colony inspections so that you can make an informed assessment at the end of the season and plan for the next.

Watering your bees

Hot days aren't too far away


Here are a couple of ideas to get ready for watering the bees who visit your garden this summer. 
Make sure that you put them in the shade so that the stones and water don't get too hot.

My bees come up to the garden but their water source is in the other direction. I will be placing some water bowls here and there around the garden so they don't waste energy having to fly down to the creek for a drink on hot days.


This automatic water feeder is a good idea.
Keep it out of the sun though.

When using stones you may need to give them a scrub with an old dish-brush now and then as they may get slimy

Flowers for Bees

with Spring just around the corner here is a little list of some things you may like to plant for your bees

All of these plants are recommended for Australian gardens, there being no noxious weeds among them.
Clicking on each for links will give you more information. Some didn't have much useful info so I have given Wikipedia link only. Sorry, I tried.
Anise hyssop (Agastache anisata) Description
Bergamot (Monarda) Known as bee balm
Broad beans (Vicia faba) Organic view
Borage (Borage officinalis) How to grow and use borage
Carrots Tips for growing carrots
Clover red & white (Trifolium)
Correa spp. Growing native plants
Candytuft (Iberis) Plant profile
Dog rose (Rosa canina)Wiki
Echium spp. Serious bee magnet
Felicia spp. How to grow info
Globe artichoke (Cynara scolymus) An interesting read with a bit of history
Glory Bush (Tibouchina spp.)Wiki
Goldenrod (Solidago) Wiki
Grevillea spp.Wiki
Heather (Erica) Wiki
Horehound (Marrubium vulgare) Medicinal herb information, how to grow, uses etc.

Top Tip

Most methods of swarm control involve using extra equipment, including frames with foundation or drawn comb, which need to be ready in advance.

Bee Sex! The Basics

written by John Everett: Master Beekeeper for BeeCraft Mag - Aug 2017



A mated queen can lay two sorts of egg. 
1. An egg with a sperm will be a female egg and can develop into a worker or a queen depending on the diet fed to the brood. Being bees, there is a rare exception (Google diploid drones to find out more.)
2. An egg without a sperm always develops into a drone.


When the queen emerges she must mate in the first few weeks of her life - about 42 days from her egg being laid.
She  mates 15 - 20 times and stores the sperm in a sac (the spermatheca) in her abdomen to be used throughout her egg-laying life. 
She mates on the wing so must have reasonable flying weather.
She cannot mate after she is 42 days old. If she has failed to mate or runs out of sperm she can only lay unfertilised, male eggs, and is knows as a drone-laying queen. 
Drones need to be about two weeks old before they can mate.

Laying Workers:
If a colony does not have a queen for about five or six weeks, workers will lay eggs but they are all drone eggs because workers cannot mate. The colony may have a number of laying workers - up to 50.

The Practical Bit:
When your bees swarm, the old already mated queen flies off with the first or prime swarm. She can start laying again almost immediately . This year, 2017, I saw eggs in one of my prime swarms after 22 hours. (Even master beekeepers have colonies that swarm!)
The original hive will usually have sealed queen cells that might not hatch for a week. The virgin queen may not mate for three or four weeks and you may not see eggs for five weeks. Of course, bees being bees, it may happen much quicker.
Any second swarm or cast must include a virgin queen and, again, casts might take four or five weeks before eggs are seen. 
Virgin queens are smaller and more flighty than mated egg-laying queens and are very difficult to see, especially if you inspect the colony on a nice warm afternoon when any self-respecting virgin is on her mating flight.
Just leave your virgin/young queen colony alone until there is plenty of pollen being taken in indicating she is laying. Bees need pollen (protein) for feeding larvae.

Test Frame:
If you are convinced that your colony is queen less, you can add a frame of eggs, or at least a few eggs, from a disease-free colony that has a mated queen. If your bees raise the hatched eggs as workers and do not built emergency queen cells, you must have a queen. 
If they raise queen cells from some of the eggs, you do not.

Top Tip

A colony can be regarded as having three parts: the queen, the brood and the flying bees. All swarm control methods separate one of these from the other two.

Membership Fees

This is a reminder that the membership fees were due in July. If you haven't paid yet would you please follow the links on the membership page of the website HERE.
Thanks everyone.

Inside the Beehive

I am so excited to tell you that we have almost sold out of our first run of 1000 booklets. That is such an amazing result from just a few emails sent to bee clubs around Victoria and sending the word out on Facebook. We are presently organising our second printing of another 1000!
If you go along to the field day at Harcourt in October you will see our books for sale there as the Bendigo Branch of the VAA purchased 200 booklets.

Thanks everyone for your fantastic support and for getting these booklets and their promotion of the fun, joy and accomplishment of good beekeeping out there. 
A re-editied reproduction of The Beehive booklet which was originally put out the the NSW Apiarists Association.

This lovely little (A5) 20 page booklet is a great starter for budding beekeepers whether they be of the smaller or grown up variety.

The booklets retail for $2.00 each. Yes, that's not a misprint. They are exceptionally good value and available for sale from the SGB. We have had 1000 printed so any number you would like we can most certainly provide.
Please contact Bron on or 0433 035 144 for more info. 

Below are some page samples from inside the booklet.
(Postage is extra)

The Bunyip Beekeeper

We're opening our NEW Beekeeping Supplies Store
from mid September - Saturdays & Sundays
2/2895 Princes Hwy
Garfield (behind Garfield Fresh Harvest)


6 Webb St Bunyip Vic 3815 -
Ph: 0487 100 001 -
fb: thebunyipbeekeeper

Hill Top Hives (Mirboo North)

5 Frame Nucleus
Italian Queen
Available for pickup (Mirboo torth) - Approx. 11/12 November
Numbers strictly limited
5 Frame Nucleus
installed in 8 frame Langstroth Hive, box joints, colorbond lid, all hive components hot wax dipped and painted for durability with emlock and entrance reducer - $440
Please call for prices on other equipment costs.
Contact: Peter Gatehouse 0423 244107 

FB: Hill Top Hives.

Blue Tree Honey Farm

Farm gate sales store for your beekeeping supplies, honey, jams, café & devonshire tea.

For opening hours/days check on 
m: 0418502396

Rob & Sharon Fisher (Dumbalk area) 


Jeeralang Apiary Supplies 

Stan Glowacki
60 Koala Drive
Jeeralang Junction
51222641 & 0413136878

2017/2018 SGB Club Committee


President: Peter Gatehouse
Vice President: Colin Goodwin
Vice President 2: Graeme Beasley
Treasurer: Peter Galt
Secretary: Margaret Gatehouse
Member: Julian Walker
Member: Kylie Pollard
Member: Rob Fransen

Other Positions:
Swarm Co-ordinator: Julian Walker - 0413 252128
Equipment Officer: David Barton - 0433 035144
Newsletter & Website Editor: Bron Barton - 0433 035143
Copyright © 2017 South Gippsland Beekeepers Inc., All rights reserved.

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