Newsletter March 2017                   Issue #54
“To be successful, one has to be one of three bees -
the queen bee, the hardest working bee, or the bee that does not fit in.” 
― Suzy Kassem
pic: I'm watching you!
One of our girls on the sedum flowers
club meetings
take place on the 2nd Thursday of each month 
starting at 7.30pm 
at  St Peters Anglican Church Hall,
Cnr McCartin & Bruce St's, Leongatha.
The meeting is followed by supper with tea, coffee and nibblies.
(please check your emails, the club website and this newsletter for occasional changes to the meeting dates)

president's report - march 2017

Autumn has arrived, after what I can describe as, a very patchy and some would say very forgettable season. Soon the focus will be on Autumn health inspections of our hives and ensuring that we leave adequate honey stores to see them through winter into early spring in preparation for hopefully a better season.

It was great to catch up with many club members at our first meeting for the year in February after our summer break. 

Russell Harbour gave a very timely and informative talk on how we can prepare our hive equipment to be irradiated at Steritech in Dandenong, Melbourne. As Russell explained, hopefully we will never require this service due to an outbreak of American Foul Brood (AFB), for example, in our hives or apiaries. However, it can also be a valuable service when we have bought or would like to sell second hand equipment, as its better to be safe than sorry when it comes to AFB. Thankyou Russell!.

Colin Goodwin then introduced our club Mentors Ron Irwin, Denis Roberts, and Rob Spratt to the club members to ensure that our members are aware of who they can contact within the club if they have a concern regarding their bees. We are very fortunate to have mentors within our club who have significant (decades) beekeeping experience, so please be mindful of the time of day in particular when you would like to speak to them, can it wait till the next morning? Stan Glowacki who lives in Jeeralang is another mentor but was unable to attend.

The night finished with a Honey and Mead judging session. Congratulations to those members who received an award for their honey/mead. Thankyou also to Steve Lovie for doing a fine job as MC, as always.

I would urge those club members that have any photos or stories of Howard Stevens that could be included in a book that can be presented to Lucy and his family as a lasting memory of his beekeeping passion, to approach Bronwyn Barton. This is a fabulous way that we, as a club can honor Howard in a lasting way.

Our club Marquee was present at the Foster show on the 25th February and from all reports was a successful day. Thank you to Denis Roberts who helped setup, Colin Mills who travelled from Garfield to attend with his arm in a sling, Kylie Pollard who was wearing sunglasses to cover up a sting from the day before, Leanne Harrison, who also helped pack up and Kate and Graham Senko who looked after the stand so the others could have lunch. David Smith also managed to pop over from his stand during the day also. As the saying goes “Many hands make light work”. As usual we received a good amount of enquiries during the day.

Please keep in mind the Southern Gippsland Sustainability Festival on the 9th April in Wonthaggi. It would be great to see some more new faces on our marquee representing our great club.

I look forward to seeing you all on Thursday 9th March at 7:30pm. It should be another great and informative night with our guest speaker Neil Barraclough from the GAA coming to talk to us about “Pollination”.

Happy beekeeping!

Peter Gatehouse

2017 club calendar
March 9th SGB Club Meeting 7:30pm
Neil Baraclough to speak on Pollination followed by Q&A - Whether it be pollination of native species, your own trees or pollination on a commercial scale then Neil has all the information you could need. 
April 13th SGB Club Meeting 7:30pm

Special speaker: TBA
Our marquee was again put up at the Foster Show with special thanks to Steve, Colin & Dennis plus all the other folks who pitched in to help throughout the day. As usual there was a lot of interest in beekeeping with potential beekeepers gleaning as much information as they could from our members. Thanks everyone!
👏Thanks to Russell Harbour for his talk last month on the preparation of equipment for presentation to Steritech for irradiation in the control of pests and diseases. He gave clear and concise instructions which made the job sound a lot less daunting than you would think. 

At the supper break we had honey and mead tasting with many delicious samples provided by club members. The results are below.
Congrats to the winners!

🐝honey & mead competition winners🐝
Thanks to everyone who brought along their honey for tasting and judging at the last meeting. Results by popular vote are as follows
1. Overall Honey 1st - Peter Galt - honey from Sunbury
2. Creamed Honey 1st - Dave & Bron Barton - honey from Loch
3. Mead 1st (from a very short field) - George Mildenhall

Congratulations to the winners who all received a magnificent round of 
applause and a beautifully crafted certificate to put in pride of place in their home - NO, NOT in the loo thanks! 
study of a bee's wings

Amber/gold coloured blood fills 
arteries and veins as it courses through the gossamer-like wings of a worker bee.

How apt that the metal we hold most beautiful & precious is the colour most dominant in a bees life. After all, the classically represented bee has golden stripes on her body as well as golden blood in her veins.
As she forages she collects 
golden pollen, sometimes just in her pollen sacs but also at times from head to toe on the fine golden hairs which cover her, and even on her eyes as seen below.

She makes wax, which is often golden, to built her golden house. And she fills her larder with golden honey to feed her family over winter.
The wings of the bee, left, are ragged, tattered and torn. Her many hours of flight and foraging plus the hours spent in the hive moving and manoeuvring around the many thousands of her sisters has taken its toll. Soon she will not be able to fly back to her hive and so will succumb to the inevitable, her life complete and fully accomplished. Well done little bee, well done. 
barrier management. how's your technique?

There are many definitions of barrier management but, in terms of beekeeping, it is a set of procedures designed to protect an apiary from the entry and spread of pests and diseases.
Disease management is made up of two key components: prevention and cure. The former (biosecurity) is always better than the latter. Beekeepers are generally pretty good at keeping their colonies healthy and preventing disease spreading throughout the entire set-up.
Lets go through how we can employ simple biosecurity and barrier management practices.
  • Simple prevention measure like scrubbing hive tools between colonies and apiary sites is a good start. e.g. use a Milton tablet in recommended dilution or a strong washing (Lectic) soda solution (1kg of soda to 5 lt of water)
  • Wear a clean bee suit which has been hot-washed so that it is not coated in honey or propolis. Sometimes, this doesn't seem practical, however its far easier than having to find time to clean equipment when infectious material spreads from your clothing to a colony. Wearing a clean bee suit is a basic way to help prevent spread of disease. A good dose of washing soda once again is recommended.
  • make sure you carry spare overalls in case disease is found.
  • Use disposable gloves for inspections and change them between colonies, or , at the very least, between apiaries. Alternatively use easy-to-clean washing-up gloves which you can wear over leather gloves if desired but not usually necessary.
  • Prevent robbing and drifting of bees by arranging hive entrances in different directions.
  • Make sure the hive boxes,ie, brood box, supers, roofs etc are in good condition and have no holes where robber bees can gain access
  • Replace a minimum of three frames of old comb in each hive each year with three clean frames of foundation. This helps reduce the reservoir of pathogens present.
  • Make sure your vehicle is clean and tidy and if necessary buy some lino to put on the boot floor so it can be easily cleaned. This will help to prevent cross-contamination when infected equipment is brought in for cleaning and clean equipment is transported back to the apiary.
Control measures to take if disease occurs:
Once disease is there, it's difficult to get rid of. In fact, you'll find it won't go away unless you practise a strict routine of good biosecurity measures as listed below.
  • Check brood regularly, if you don't look you won't find disease.
  • Change brood comb each year when disease is present. 
  • Use new frames and foundation
  • Quarantine and move infected colonies to an isolation apiary. Note this must be done with the approval of authorities if a notifiable disease is present as colonies will possibly be under a standstill order.
  • Melt out comb and sterilise supers and frames in the winter.
  • Close up and collect dead colonies from apiary sites as soon as they are found in order to prevent robbing. This is essential throughout the year.
  • Knowledge of and liaison with nearby beekeepers is important. So is surveillance for wild colonies of bees which may become a reservoir for disease within an area. Effective swarm control helps this.
You would agree that prevention is better than the cure
from the article: Be afraid ... Be Very Afraid! by Jason Learner
BeeCraft Magazine Feb 2017
sugar shake test for the detection of the Varroa mite

Just another quick reminder about the sugar shake test and program.
Even though the chances of finding varroa in South Gippsland at the moment are quite unlikely, learning how to do this screening procedure and practising it once a year is recommended. We know that one day varroa will come here so it's better to be prepared than caught wondering what to do.

For a full and detailed explanation of the procedure please see the AgNote AG1417
This AgNote gives you the equipment needed, the method employed plus steps if you find or suspect you may have varroa in your apiary. It also tells you how to notify the DEPI when you find a notifiable disease. Lastly it contains contact details for the apiary officers for further information.

plant of the month - eucalyptus melliodora (yellow box)

Below are pictured 4 trees, all of which are labelled Yellow Box. Well I don't know about you but the first 3 look like 3 different types of trees to me. Nevertheless I have included them just in case, as with some Euc's, there can be huge variations in appearance from tree to tree depending on the climate, soil and age of the trees. The trunk is brown to grey, rough and fibrous from the bottom up to the top branches which are white and smooth. 
Yellow box can be an excellent honey producer. The honey is amber in colour, smells wonderful and is smooth and buttery on the tongue. Fairly sweet, it is dense and slow to crystallise if monofloral.
Yellow box (
indigenous to Vic, NSW & Qld) flowers every 1-5 years from September-February but has very poor pollen production being insufficient for brood rearing. Supplementation of pollen will be necessary either by inter-planting pollen rich  species which flower concurrently with the Yellow Box or manual feeding
ps: melliodora means 'odour of honey' 
info from 'Bee Friendly' by Mark Leech for the RIRDC
(available online for download)
You can read HERE an article from 2013 regarding the major decrease in the habitat of the Yellow Box trees
'The yellow box gum tree is a beautiful Australian tree
famed for its delicious honey.
But with much of its habitat destroyed, the race is on to protect
and expand the last remaining stands.'
flower power - from bee-craft mag UK             Feb 2017 Vol 99 No 2

It has long been known that varroa can spread by riding on honey bees when they are robbing out weak colonies. But how do they spread among colonies which are not robbing? Until now, no one has demonstrated another method of transfer.
Research by David Peck, has captured on video how varroa mites can wait on a nectar-giving flowers to transfer to a foraging honey bee. Then they show smart footwork to avoid being groomed off.
Apart from showing another wonder of nature, the research raises concerns about shipping cut nectar-producing flowers, especially to areas like most of Australia where varroa is thought to be absent.
How the varroa mite takes up temporary residence on a flower in the first place is the next step of the research.

To see the nimble varroa mite mounting a honey bee on a flower see YouTube: HERE
bees are drawn like magnets to sedum flowers
our mentors are here for YOU!

Thanks to Ron, Rob and Dennis for giving us their time at the last meeting as they explained the club's mentoring program and answered questions from Colin and members present. It was most helpful in clarifying the role of our Mentors within the club.

our mentors are here for YOU!
These men have made themselves available to the club as voluntary advisors. Novice beekeepers especially will benefit from their knowledge, experience and wisdom; although even those who have had bees for a couple of years may come across things that they need help or clarification with and a chat with one of the mentors may provide exactly the answer  needed .
If you have a problem with your bees and need advice then choose one of the people on the list (preferably one close to you) and give him a call during the hours specified below.
Our mentors do their best to help with any questions, problems or issues of any kind that you may encounter with your new bees.
Most will be happy to let you come and join them as they inspect their bees to allow you to gain confidence with handling your hives.

Peter GATEHOUSE - - -Mirboo Nth 0423244107 -   Willing to help with on-site problems or guidance
Swarms - YES

Ron IRWIN  - - - - - - - - -Mirboo Nth:  6pm - 9pm - 56681323  -  Beekeeper -
Swarms - YES

Stan GLOWACKI - - - - -Jeeralang Junction: 9am- 6pm - 51222641,0413136878 , Beekeeper & Bee Equipment
Swarms - NO

Bill RINGIN  - - - - - - - - -Moe: Daytime/Evening up until 10pm: 56331326  -  Hobbyist BeekeepersSwarms
Swarms - YES

Dennis ROBERTS - - - - Foster: Mon- Fri 9am - 6pm 56822339  -  Professional Beekeepers
Swarms - YES

Robert SPRATT - - - - - -
Leongatha Sth: 8am - 9pm Any day 56642358  -  General Beekeeping 
Swarms - YES

who's a silly duffer then?  
I made a rather clumsy, careless and silly statement today. Peter and his delightful french visitor Giam came to visit and naturally David and I took them down the back of our block to see our hive set-up. As the men approached the three hives, two Langstroth and one Top-Bar, I uttered the fateful sentence. "You won't disturb them if you lift the Top-Bar lid."
I was standing on the slope above them about 6 metres away. As they peered into the top of the hive firstly Giam had a bee zipping around his hair but he managed to deflect it and it seemed to leave him. The next thing I knew I had a very aggressive bee attacking me. First she tried to hit my temple but as I moved my head she struck the side of my nose. I won't go into too much detail about that sting suffice to say it was extremely unpleasant. Was it not for my reputation as a 'lady' and the fact that we had 'company' I would have probably said a few words that would have shocked my mother, horrified my father,caused my children to disown me, and rendered my grandmother catatonic.
Notes to self:
1. Think before you speak.
2. Get yourself a small soft veil to throw over your hat whenever you're near the hives because they obviously HATE you.
3. Do not assume anything regarding bees.
ps: I've been having desensitising injections containing bee venom for about 9 months and although my body's reaction today to the whack of venom into my nose was pain in the extreme, the sting has done nothing visibly other than leave a small red mark on the sting site. Yay, at least something was going my way.
by Bron Barton Feb 27 2017

a visit from 97.9 hit Gippsland's breakfast hosts - Mandy & Elliot
It's probably because I'm an old fogey now that I wasn't acquainted with 97.9 hit Gippsland's radio station, let alone Mandy and Elliot's breakfast show; but today changed all that.

It all started last week when I had a call from Mandy asking me if I would help her to 'prank' her on-air partner Elliot. It was organised for them to come out today with Elliot oblivious to where he was going or why. 
They arrived just after lunch with Elliot wearing his gorilla mask so that he couldn't see a thing or get wind of the surprise/shock in store for him, well not until the last minute anyway.
Firstly we led him into a room where he was helped to change into his protective clothing. Mandy's phone was capturing the whole thing. When he was dressed and ready to go down to the hives his mask was removed, to make sure that his priceless facial expression was captured, as his mission was revealed. His face did not disappoint. What we got was a mixture of shock, horror, terror, bewilderment and a wee dram of despair. As I said, priceless, and exactly what Mandy had hoped for. (Apparently he had pulled a few doozies on her and she was revelling in getting him back)
We made our way down to the hive, David and Elliot prepared (sort-of) to take on the hive, Mandy, fully protected in my gear, was still filming everything and me kinda protected (I did have the soft veil by then) taking photos from a bit of a distance.
Elliot was completely horrified as David lifted one of the ideal frames out of the top box and handed it to him to hold. "Look at all those bees! OMG there's SO MANY BEES" He was referring to the, maybe, 100 bees that were on the frame 😂. Naturally enough E & M were very nervous and edgy and thought they were in danger of dying as the numbers of (beautifully behaved) Italian bees in the swirling cloud around them continued to grow. A couple of bees accidentally landed on Mandy's phone. This would have been noteworthy if it hadn't happened due purely to the large cloud of bees. The phenomenon caused her to release the 'f' bomb multiple times, I suspect this was quite involuntary and instinctive .. fair enough. I don't know that she had thought the whole thing through all that thoroughly as she ended up just as traumatised as Elliot did. Regardless of the necessity for some underwear to be burned at the conclusion of the prank, it was a resounding success. Mandy had her fabulous footage of Elliot crapping himself. They both learned a lot about bees and beekeeping. Our club will get some lovely free promotion on the radio and 2 happy campers wound up their terrifying afternoon (with the calmest bees you've ever seen) taking home a kilo each of delicious fresh honey.

Bottom line was that David and I had great fun. Does that make us mean and evil
Watch all the fun HERE
by Bron Barton March 1 2017


BeeHive stolen from Coburg backyard

Police say thieves who stole a beehive — and 50,000 bees — from a Melbourne backyard could now be suffering from a high number of stings.
Click HERE for more

Study suggests that bees aren't the bee-all and end-all of pollination

 Farmers who use pesticides that spare bees but kill other insects might be ignoring important sources of crop pollination, according to an Australian led international study. University of Old plant ecologist Mr Margie Mayfield said many crops - including mangoes, custard apples, kiwi fruit, coffee and canola - depended on non-bee insect pollinators such as flies, butterflies, moths, beetles, wasps, ants and thrips.
Click HERE for more

'Manuka province' potential in WA's south-west strengthens after strong lab results in honey trials 

A Western Australian company is hoping to harness strong global demand for Manuka honey by developing a so-called "Manuka province" in the state's south-west.The development would see Manuka honey production, as well as value-adding opportunities in packaging, research and tourism, to supply what is believed to be medical-grade Manuka honey to domestic and international markets. 
Click HERE for more

Fight against exotic bee pest heats up as scientists and beekeepers race to protect honey

A leading bee researcher says recent hot weather in Queensland and New South Wales could lead to more pest problems for beekeepers, as the honey industry races to find a scientific solution to the problem.
.....   .....   .....
Although SHB is found as far south as Victoria and South Australia, the baby beetles cannot survive the cooler temperatures and is therefore easier to control in those states.
Click HERE for more

Manuka honey industry in Queensland hamstrung by red tape, beekeepers say.

Red tape is holding Queensland back from developing a potential billion-dollar Manuka honey industry, which could supersede New Zealand's market, the state's beekeepers association has said.
Click HERE for more

blue tree honey farm - formerly known as, fisher's beekeeping supplies  
New farm gate sales store - Blue Tree Honey Farm NOW OPEN!!
for your Beekeeping supplies, Honey, Jams, Café & Devonshire Tea.

For opening hours/days check on  fb or
or phone 0418502396
Rob & Sharon Fisher (Dumbalk area) 

We are looking at running another
Beginners Beekeeping Workshop
Anyone interested to please email or call us or 0437 501133 Rob.

jeeralang apiary supplies
Stan Glowacki
60 Koala Drive
Jeeralang Junction
51222641 & 0413136878

the bunyip beekeeper
The Bunyip Beekeeper
6 Webb St Bunyip Vic 3815 - Ph: 0487 100 001 -
Facebook: thebunyipbeekeeper

newsletter advertising & content
Ads are available to club members only for bee related wares or services
Contact Bronwyn on 0433035143


Peter Gatehouse ...... ph:56681815 - 0423 244 107 - email:
Colin Goodwin ..... ph:0438 545 145 - email:
secretary: newsletter editor: website editor:             
Bronwyn Barton ....... ph:0433 035143 - email:
treasurer (M'ship):    
Peter Galt ....... ph 0409 953295 email:
All correspondence for the EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE can be sent to
equipment and property manager: David Barton



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South Gippsland Beekeepers Inc. · PO Box 817 · Leongatha, Vic 3953 · Australia

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