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September 2018 Newsletter

Issue #70
I was most surprised to find bees on a pot full of Muscari (Grape Hyacinths) this week.
These dear little flowers are always such a bright start to spring with masses of deep blue/purple flowers. They are often grown as borders and once planted need little to no care and flower happily in sun or shade. The flowers are perfumed also and look delightful in a small vase with a sprig or two of jasmine.

Madam President's Chit-Chat 

"The flowers that bloom in the Spring - tra-la, bring promise of merry sunshine -" - etc etc.
(For the Gilbert & Sullivan fans of which I count myself one).

My mother would sing that little ditty from The Mikado as she pottered in her Spring garden. Turns out those flowers had "nothing to do with the case!" BUT, is there anything that brings such a warm, fuzzy feeling to the heart or a smile to the face as gardens adorned in all of the flowering glory of Spring? The only thing that tops it is the gentle humming of bees as they zip & dip from flower to flower with, as it were,  an embarrassment of riches presented to them.

This time of year does come with it's perils though for our little striped charges. Sun, abundant flowers and a seeming smorgasbord one day while the next five may be freezing, windy and wet. Frustration too for those of us with fruit blossom as we watch the rain and wind spoil the flowers for foraging bees. But the real danger is to the weeny bee brood. Food may be running low as colony numbers have grown so fast in the the last few weeks in anticipation of Spring. The cold and the wet compound the problem with adult bees having so much to do to maintain the hive temperature over a huge area of young brood. They also have to assure it's cleanliness, larder stores and low humidity plus there are the nursery duties and any foraging that may take place. During these times it is wise to check the weight of your hives. If they are light-on and you are concerned that there isn't enough food, pop a cup of granulated sugar on the hive mat. This involves very little interference with the hive or exposure of the bees to the cold. Check a couple of days later to see if it has been consumed. If it has then give them some more. It is unlikely that this small amount of sugar will affect the quality of honey later in the season; it is simply a means of ensuring that the bees have some fuel to get through a week or two until true Spring weather arrives.
Above all though, enjoy your Spring garden and your bees remembering what resilient little critters they are. 

"Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart" (Winnie the Pooh)

Bron Barton

President: SGB


SGB Meeting Nights:

Thursday September 13th 7.30pm

Hive Keepers App  & Spring Check reminders
1.Simon Mildren is coming to help us to understand and get the best use out of this new app which is specifically for detailed hive inspection recording. I have it and it looks terrific although haven't had a chance to use it yet. Come-on spring!

2.Time for a reminder talk about your first spring check and the importance and basics of swarm prevention - Q & A will be included in both subjects. If you can't make it, you will be able to view the video on our Youtube channel fairly soon.

Thursday October 11th 7.30pm

Special speaker - John Edmonds
1.John will be speaking on re-queening and a new supplement used in that process

2.Bring along any excess wax and you will be able to swap it weight for weight for foundation sheets from Stan Glowacki - Jeeralang Apiaries
Bendigo Branch Annual Field Day
Sunday October 14th. Details in flyer link above.
from VAA Bendigo Branch: A reminder that we are selling mated queen bees again this year. If wishing to order these please either phone Max on 5446 7911 or EMAIL your order.
September Newsletter Contents
* Mme President's Chit-Chat
* Calendar
* Swarm List Reminder
* New Books: Aust. Native Bees
* Q & A
* Late Winter Foraging
* Oh the Irony
* News
* Ads
* Checking the brood pattern
* SGB Committee

Will you be selling Nucs this spring?

Club members, new ones especially, want to know where to get bees from. 
If you are planning of doing some hive splits this spring, for the purpose of selling some, would you please let us know so that we can direct those in need of bees in your direction.
Please send details of how many nuc's you expect to be able to sell and the asking price so that I can include it in the next few newsletters. 
Email here, thanks. Bron


Swarm Season is almost upon us!
Are you on the 2018/19 club swarm list yet?
To be on the list to either get rid of a swarm or to collect one
to get off the list - please ring 
 Julian Walker on 0413 252 128
Swarms come in all sizes and forms. This tiny little swarm was one of 2 on the same bush at the same time! From the same hive do you think? They are both tiny so definitely secondary or tertiary etc. swarms - could have both gone with newly hatched queens from the same hive. 
This swarm was setting up house in a possum box 4 metres up a tree. Not the easiest extraction, with beekeeper teetering on the top of the ladder and his 'trusty assistant' taking pics instead of holding the ladder.

A good prime swarm will be about the size of an elongated football and weigh about 3kg.
Sometimes after-swarms issuing from different colonies at the same time will join together in the air and form even larger swarms.

New Books

from the CSIRO (I thought I would look up their cost. I have only included 2 options.)
Both books available from the CSIRO for $49.95 each plus shipping $9 each
or from Booktopia for $37.95 each plus shipping $6.95 each
Both links provided below.
A Guide to Native Bees of Australia 
provides a detailed introduction to the estimated 2000 species of Australian bees. Illustrated with stunning photographs, it describes the form and function of bees, their life-cycle stages, nest architecture, sociality and relationships with plants.

Discover the beauty and diversity of Australia's native bees. 

Bees are the darlings of the insect world. It is a joy to see these insects hard at work, peacefully buzzing from flower to flower. Many people recognise the worth of bees, as well as that they face multiple threats. But very few know about the diversity and importance of our native bee species. There are an estimated 2000 to 3000 bee species in Australia, yet we know very little about the vast majority of these and there are many that are yet to be described.

Q & A 

from the American Bee Journal
Q    Freezing Frames of Honey

What are your thoughts on freezing or refrigerating full honey frames in storage until the honey harvest is over?

Then I can process them all at once.

A     Freezing is better than refrigerating.
Honey is a supersaturated sugar solution with many different sugars in it from many different nectar sources. If these sugar ratios are off balance or skewed the honey will try to balance itself and will 'granulate, i.e. sugar crystals will form. this rebalancing happens best at refrigerator temperature. I would freeze them to retain the liquid honey that can then be extracted later.

Late winter foraging

This little lady is on one of the zillion or so tiny white flowers in our 'meadow'. After the mower has been over, it almost qualifies as a lawn but is only ever called the back grass. 
Another shot of a bee zizzing around the Muscari (Grape Hyachinths). I was pretty happy to catch her in flight using my phone's camera.

Oh the Irony

Last month Paul Goddard and I each gave a chat to the club members present at the August meeting about - 1.General beekeeping rules, regs, good beekeeping practices and 2. SHB respectively. It was a freezing cold night and was followed up by another couple of weeks of horribly inclement weather.
A couple of weeks later, all of a sudden, for three days it was warm. Oh Yay! This was particularly good news for me as I needed to get into a hive to take slide samples for AFB & EFB testing as part of my Bio-Security course assignments.
David and I got stuck into the task at hand. He was busy with the camera to record my mission and I was trying to look as though I knew what I was doing. Just as well the pics didn't capture any of my cursing as things were a little more awkward than I had anticipated. Nevertheless we got that done with the first hive. We then began checking the other two Langstroth hives nearby.
The first one was good, plenty of stores and babies and no nasties so we closed her up asap. I opened the second hive and removed the mat turning to put it on the ground as David gasped "Hive Beetles!" When closing the hive down in late April, an ideal box full of tucker had been left on top and this was the box we were looking at with about 12 hive beetles scurrying around it. We shook the bees off each frame and flicked off all the beetles we saw before placing the frames into an empty box. We followed the same procedure for the bottom box, although there weren't as many beetles in it and we didn't shake the frame with the queen on it. The hive has a Bluebees bottom board which was as clean as a whistle.
The concern was that I was pretty sure I could see beetle eggs on the brood comb. I was looking for them as I had seen pics when doing research for my talk. Herein lay the irony and what to do now? There was no mention anywhere of how to deal with this dilemma. Killing the eggs by freezing the frames would be a cinch but it would also kill the many many larvae from egg to capping stage which covered most of the frames. These were all of my Spring girls and I just couldn't do it. We decided to pop in a couple of beetle traps, close the hive and basically hope for the best. Either way, if the beetles came back and the eggs hatched, then the brood was done for. But I wasn't going to kill them when I wasn't convinced that there were viable SHB eggs in the hive.
I rang Denis Roberts that evening to ask his advice. He hadn't had much dealing with SHB but referred me on to a friend of his, Clive, who is based further north and has had some experience with SHB. Clive was quite certain that what I had seen WAS eggs but like myself not terribly sure that the eggs would come to anything due to our current cold weather. He suggested cutting out some of the comb with ?eggs, putting it into a jar and waiting to see what hatched, if anything. He also suggested placing beetle traps in the hive, which I had already done and moving the hive away from the others.
Unfortunately the weather has meant that we haven't been able to get back into the hive to 1. See what has happened, 2. Cut out some eggs or 3. Move the hive. We have to wait until next week when it may be warm enough to check it again. Although chilling the brood is yet another danger. Oh help!
Stay tuned for the next thrill packed episode ....
Bron Barton, clearly president is not synonymous with expert!
(ps. the slide results came back negative for AFB & EFB, phew!)


Bees besiege Times Square hot dog stand!
The swarm was vacuumed up by a police officer who is a beekeeper. 
from ABC Rural

Beekeeping for beginners: Tips, tricks and common mistakes.
This is a good article to send on to friends or family who may be interested in getting into  bees.
from ABC Rural

Checking the Brood Pattern

from The Beekeepers's Bible
available in our club library
The brood nest will be situated toward the centre of the brood box. You are more likely to find the queen here where she lays her eggs. A sphere of pollen stores surrounds the brood nest, so when you find a comb containing a large proportion of pollen you know you are close to it. The next frame should start to show what is known as the brood pattern.
A queen laying a normal brood pattern will work around the comb in every increasing circles. The first eggs will be laid in a patch in the middle and then she will work her way outwards, using the cells that have been cleaned and polished by the house bees.
As the eggs hatch and the larvae develop, you will be able to see rings of different ages,
culminating in a patch of sealed brood, the final stage of development, at the centre of the nest.
As the first adults emerge, the workers clean the empty cells ready for the queen to lay more eggs in them, thus starting the cycle again.
When the brood nest is expanding, as the active season progresses from spring into early summer, the first eggs have not completed their life cycle by the time the queen is ready to  lay in those cells again, so she will move onto a new comb, thus extending the brood nest outwards.

Make a note of the number of frames containing brood, however small the patch, so your records will tell you how the colony is progressing.


The Bunyip Beekeeper

Factory 4/18 Bormar Drive Pakenham Vic 3810
Winter Hours: from 8th June 2018 - 9am to 5:30pm - Wednesday to Friday
Closed Saturday


Jeeralang Apiary Supplies 

Stan Glowacki
60 Koala Drive
Jeeralang Junction

h: 51222641 & m: 0413136878

Hill Top Hives 

Please call for prices on services available eg
* Swarm/hive removals,
* Wax dipping
* Equipment costs.
m: 0423 244107 Peter Gatehouse

Fishers Beekeeping Supplies

* Beekeeping equipment
* Intro to beekeeping workshops
* Nucleus hives

m: 0437 501 133 Rob
m: 0418 502 396 Shazz

Situated in Dumbalk

Committee Members 2018/19

President: Bron Barton
Vice President: Graeme Beasley
Treasurer: Peter Galt
Secretary: Colin Goodwin
Member: Peter Gatehouse
Member: Julian Walker
Member: Rob Fransen
Member: Lorrae Hamilton
Member: Margaret Gatehouse

Other Positions:
Swarm Co-ordinator: Julian Walker - 0413 252128
Equipment Officer: David Barton - 0433 035144
Newsletter & Website Editor: Bron Barton - 0433 035143

Copyright © 2018 South Gippsland Beekeepers Inc., All rights reserved.

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