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South Gippsland Beekeepers

April 2019 Newsletter
edition #75

President's Report

iHi Everyone,
Well, Summer is well and truly done and Autumn is here with leaves changing and dropping, football commentators in my lounge room again, night air getting crisp and less bees flying around giving my dog 'fits of the vapours'. Poor Harry. His particular scent, aroma is musky and, let's call it, 'exotic' as it's like nothing else in my natural world. Apparently the bees agree. Perhaps his aroma is redolent of wild, angry, hungry, sweet-toothed bears, I'm sure he'd like to think so. Grrrr!

As Harry gets to relax for a while so do we. Our hives are undergoing the process of being closed down for winter. All surplus honey has been removed, not that it was a bumper haul but still plenty for our needs. The stickies will need to be popped back in for a week or so. The bees can clean them up, then we'll take those boxes home, freeze the frames and put them into lidded plastic tubs for the winter. 

On our final visit to the hives for the season we will check that the hives are all sound, gap free, clean and stocked with adequate tucker for the overwintering of the colonies. All hives will have SHB traps inserted. Entrances will be reduced and hives checked to make sure they are sloping towards the front for drainage. Any bushes or branches will be trimmed back so that the hives get maximum sunshine through the cooler months. The tricky bit is finding a convenient day which will be warm enough to open the hives for the last time. Fortunately the next few days look promising.

I would like to extend a huge thank you to Ben Moore from Ben's Bees for presenting an interesting and informative talk at the meeting last month. His experience for his tender years is quite amazing, his enthusiasm and passion, inspiring. 

This month Julian will be chatting to us about packing down. We will also have a panel of experienced beekeepers to answer any questions you may have about the process. There's no doubt that the whole concept of hive and frame manipulation can be quite daunting. Wish I was all over it, I'm not. For the most part that's my husband's domain, although I am permitted to make suggestions. Facts & trivia is my forte, which can be useful (and distracting) in my capacity as an educator. I can hear my students all vigorously nodding their heads.
Also this month Colin will be talking about the Brood Minder Hive Monitoring System. It sounds rather enigmatic but all the more reason to come along and hear of the wonders it can perform.

I'm hoping the new Polo Shirts, which were ordered at the last meeting, will be ready for distribution also. We will also have some club Hoodies available for sale. Prices below.

Looking forward to seeing as many of you as can make it to the meeting. 
To you all - happy beekeeping

Bron Barton

❝For so work the honey-bees, creatures that by a rule in nature teach the act of order to a peopled kingdom.❞
 ~ William Shakespeare

2019 Calendar
Club Meeting
This month Julian will be demonstrating and talking about winter packing-down. He will also be directing questions to a panel of beekeepers all bursting to share their experience and ideas. Come along & give them a run for their money with your trickiest questions! 
Club Meeting
Next month's meeting we will be having our honey & mead tasting & judging.  We are hoping to have Ian Cane participating also. Contest info will be sent out prior to the meeting.
Every Meeting
Beginner's Corner
Will continue before each monthly meeting from 7pm - 7.25 pm.
Bring all your questions, don't be shy! -Peter & Marg will be up front to help and guide you in any way they can.

Have you heard of small-cell foundation?

The theory behind small cell.

In a discussion with my new friend Kate Bee from AWIB page on FB, my interested was piqued by her reaction to the question of Varroa readiness (or not)  in Australian beekeeping circles. She told me that she has run all her hives with small cell foundation for number of years and that her bees have adapted well. Perhaps it was my open-mouthed vacant expression that tipped her off but she was soon explaining it all to me. 

In a nutshell this is the way it goes.
Bees naturally, in the wild, without any history of human intervention, create cells approximately 4.9mm in width. This does vary however as the cells at the top of the frame will be the biggest when required for greater pollen and nectar/honey storage and smaller cells at the bottom for worker brood. Drone brood cells, which are splattered all over the shop but generally at the bottom of frames, are bigger also.  
Sometime after the invention of the Langstroth hive and pressed wax foundation it was decided to change the cell size to 5.4mm. The reason was greater honey production. It follows that if the worker bees are bigger they can collect more nectar and pollen. Bees have adapted well to these changes and I must admit that I didn't even know that cell sizes varied. Clearly I'm not too observant even though I own a top-bar hive which has been colonised well long enough for the cells to have reverted back to the sizes nature intended. Next time I go in there I'm going to measure them!
Varroa mites lay their eggs in brood filled cells. The longer the brood are in there, the more eggs they lay. Smaller brood take less time to develop, by around 2 days. The theory is that this decreases the number of varroa emerging from brood cells from 4 or 5 to 1 or 2 which is significant. The decrease in numbers of varroa in the hive arguably becomes manageable by a strong, healthy, hygienic colony. My rapier sharp mind has immediately found a flaw in this cunning plan. If the bee brood is in the cell for a shorter time this surely means a faster 'turn-around' on the egg-laying, larvae and pupae development. Yeah? 
From what I could glean when 'googling' the subject, apparently the jury is still out on the efficacy of small cell foundation in the control of varroa mite.

If you're interesting in learning more you can google 'small cell foundation' or click on the links below. Bear in mind that not all of the entries that will appear on your search are substantiated by credible research. 

Read More
And some more research on small cell foundation

Club merchandise
SGB Club Polo Shirts:
These are the same as the ones ordered last time so if you have seen them on any of our members, that's the one!
The price has gone up to $35 which is understandable as it has been over 2 years since we last ordered any.
Sizes start at Small, although no small have been ordered so far. Medium seems to be the size chosen by smaller women. Large, XLarge and XXLarge.
There will be sizes at meetings to try on before ordering.

SGB Club Hoodies:
These are NEW.  I haven't sighted them yet so I cannot give you a description of the sizes and quality. 
These will be at the April meeting for you to try on and buy with extras in all sizes having been ordered.
The price is $40 
Sizes start at Small, which I suspect will fit the ladies who wear the medium sized polo shirts.  Medium Large and XLarge
There will be sizes at meetings to try on before buying or ordering if we run out of stock.

Pollen facts
Pollen is a plant fertilising secretion. It is also an essential, nutritious honey bee food gathered from flowers by foraging bees, and stored in comb adjacent to hives' brood nests. From there the nurse bees access the stored pollen for feeding to developing bee larvae. Nurse bees are defined as being four to five days old through to about thirteen days. The consumption of pollen stimulates their pharyngeal glands to process and secrete larval food which is fed to young larvae in the brood nests.

Pic: Right of frame is pollen stored in open cells in easy reach of nurse bees for the brood on the centre and left of frame
By now your hives should have enough pollen and honey to last them through the winter. If not then they will need to be given supplemental feeding. Granulated sugar is better honey substitute than syrup at this time of year as syrup may stimulate the queen to begin laying large numbers of eggs by fooling her into thinking that spring has sprung. Pollen substitutes can be purchased from bee suppliers or you can make your own. Goes without saying but just look on YouTube. 

Pic: A fascinating cross section of pollen stored in layers. They pop it in there, pack it down then go and get some more and do it all again. 

'The Best Lemon Drink Ever' 
All you need is plenty of lemons, mint, honey, a grain or two of sugar and lots of ice cubes.
I used Meyer lemons as they are very easy to juice and aren't quite as tart as Eurekas.
This is a drink for a hot summer's day when you aren't terribly concerned about your blood sugar. 

Wasps vs Bees 
a story in pictures

Peter Gatehouse

Honey, Beekeeping equipment, Wax dipping, Nucleus hives, Wax products

m:0423 244 107
902 Berry's Creek Road, Mirboo North 3871
Stan Glowacki

Beekeeping equipment for sale:  by appointment

Koala Drive Jeeralang Junction 3840

m: 0413 136 878
h: 5122 2641
Rob & Sharon Fisher

Beekeeping equipment - 
Intro to beekeeping workshops - Nucleus hives

m: 0437 501 133 Rob
M: 0418 502 396 Shazz
Dumbalk area
Copyright © 2019 South Gippsland Beekeepers Inc., All rights reserved.

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