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February 2018 Newsletter

                                                                                                Issue  #63

Monthly Meetings

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

One of our bees on a Euc. macrocarpa flower. These cups are designed to hold vast quantities of nectar for foraging birds and insects. A delicious 24/7 smorgasbord - a bit like a cruise on the Sea Princess but without the need for a bucket.
First Meeting for 2018
Thursday February 8th 7:30pm

The subject will be Alternative Hives to the Langstroth with a panel of alternate hive users who will share their experiences and hopefully answer your questions.
Thursday March 8th 7:30pm
Special speaker Rob Waddell is coming to speak and give an update on the findings re: activity in Australian Leptospermum

Feb Newsletter Contents

  • President's report
  • Bearding Bees
  • Keeping your bees cool
  • News from ABK magazine
  • Australian Manuka Honey Assoc.
  • Processing small amounts of honey
  • Condolences
  • Beekeeping Courses
  • VIDEO - Examining a Flow Hive top to bottom
  • Finding native bee honey
  • Installing a native bee hotel
  • VIDEO - Hygienic behaviour: Rapid testing method
  • Medical Use of Honey
  • Plant of the Month - Marionberries
  • Beekeeping Suppliers

Further SGB Access


2018 Calendar

Foster & District Agriculture Show
February 24th 

The SGB will, once again, be putting up the club marquee at this terrific event. 
Gate Entry Fees: Show-Day prices-
Family $20 = 2 adults + 2 children under 16 
Adult $10 
Concession $5 
Children u16 $1
Please come along and support our club if you can.

 2018 Southern Gippsland Sustainability Festival
Date: 8 April 2018
Time: 10.00am
Location: Wonthaggi State Coal Mine


President's Report - February 2018

Well, time seems to have passed by quickly since our last meeting in November, hopefully you have all had a good break and are ready for another club year. More to the point I hope your bees have been productive and built up valuable stores and a surplus to reward your efforts and compensate for any stings!. I have certainly heard of some good amounts of honey being extracted.

The Christmas breakup in Dumbalk park was very enjoyable and those that came enjoyed a pleasant afternoon over a bbq lunch. Rob Franssen brought the entertainment in the form of M-Locks and strapping to explore the various ways people threaded the strapping. It certainly provided for some amusement. Thanks Rob!

Since our final meeting one of our members, Norm Willoughby sadly passed away. Norm’s presence at our meetings will be missed. One of our members related to me that he was a “lovely man”, not surprising really, as good people and a love of beekeeping generally go hand in hand. Rest in peace Norm.

It was also very sad to hear of a tradgedy in Ron Irwin’s extended family in the latter part of last year. Our thoughts have certainly been with Ron and his family over a very difficult time and we send our condolences to them.

I’m looking forward to seeing you all back at our February meeting where Colin Goodwin and the Bartons will talk about alternative hives that they use and Lindsay Oates will be bringing along a Top Bar hive for people to have a closer look at. I’m sure it will prompt an interesting discussion on the different hives compared to the standard Langstroth and hopefully some good advice and suggestions will be tendered on how best to run them.

Happy Beekeeping !
Peter Gatehouse (President)

Don't forget to take a look at our website now and then for recent bee and beekeeping news stories.
The link is at the top of the newsletter

Facebook is also a really great resource for any questions or problems you need a quick answer or resolution for. People are generally very eager and happy to help.
Answers are often just a few minutes away.
There are a number of Beek Facebook Pages including: Gippsland Beekeepers - Australian Beekeepers

Bearding Bees

Almost all of the time this is totally normal, and even a healthy sign. You will see this in strong colonies as the population is at its height and as the bees are storing and ripening honey at a blinding pace. To keep the honey at correct temperature and allow for airflow the hive, a small to large number of adult bees will hang out the front, helping the internal temperature to stay cool. You might even see some fanning of their wings, moving air into the hive on the hottest days.

Should you worry about bearding?

The first thing you want to ask yourself when you see bearding is: do my bees have enough room? That is, depending on your hive type, do they have enough space to keep building and filling comb in the form of a honey super or box, or more empty bars to build comb upon. Likely you will know the answer already due to regular monitoring, but if you don't you will want to make sure your bees have room to expand and keep storing.

Another aspect to consider regarding space is: have your hives been swarming? If the answer is yes, they are likely out of room. Their productivity and ability to create enough stores for themselves is being thwarted by a lack of room for expansion. In both cases, give them more space.

In the case of a horizontal top bar hive, harvesting is often required to provide your colony more space. If the hive is filled from end to end with comb, harvesting is the only way (other than splitting) to give them room. Don't be afraid to do this.

Finally, bearding is totally normal behaviour for bees and even a good sign of a strong, healthy colony that is thriving. As long as you're giving them enough boxes/bars and the perception that there's more room to build, you've done your job. Some like to provide more ventilation in particularly hot locations, either by putting tiny holes in the handles of the boxes, putting a shim between the top box and the roof, or by adding a screened bottom board. Be careful not to give them too much ventilation however! Honey bees in the wild, when left to their own devices, prefer spaces with very little ventilation.
Above are a couple of our girls on a beautiful pink hebe
I have repeated the following 2 articles for those who may have missed them in November.
We still have a fair bit of hot weather ahead.

Keeping your bees cooler in summer

It may be beneficial to the bees in the hive to provide additional protection against bad weather. A piece of plywood or cement board can be placed above the lid together with some pine to keep the additional cover raised off the existing hive lid. In addition to the above, during the very hot days of summer, to allow greater air circulation through the hive, you can slightly open the existing hive lid, moving the top cover further over to cover the gap in case of rain. We have even resorted to popping a large garden or beach umbrella over the hives on days over 38º.
We all need to drink more on the hot days and bees are no different. Leave water near the hives with landing platforms and change the water regularly. Make sure the water is shaded from direct sun.

The use of a lid-spacer for extra ventilation:

You could construct a spacer to give another 5cm or so of space between the hive and the lid. The underside of this home-made spacer has some fly-wire tacked over it, acting like a ventilated hive mat, which the lid is then placed onto. This allows for even more airflow in the summer, prevents burr comb being built above the frames and allows people to look into the hive without having to open it.
With the fly-wire attached to the spacer it is easy to remove and replace with a normal hive mat when the weather begins to cool.

pic from:
The Australian Beekeeping Manual by Robert Owen

Australasian Beekeeper Magazine

We are fortunate - thanks to the kindness and generosity of Lucy Stevens, to have the latest editions of the Australasian Beekeeper available in our library.
You may browse through these at club nights or borrow them, but as they have seasonal information please return them to the following meeting.

November 2017 Edition: Includes

Queens for Pennies - Easy guide for raising about 10 queen bees by Randy Oliver 
Our beloved coffee may be saved by bees
Honey adulteration - Creates more problems than first apparent
Melting Wax - in a Microwave
Small Hive Beetle - Stopping beetles from breeding in hives

December 2017 Edition: Includes

Raising queens - using the Hopkins Method
The Honey Bee Queen - Part 1: Long live the queen
Why is Slovenia the Beekeeping Capital of the World?
Field Guide to Beekeeping - Ways of generating income with Honey Bees

January 2017 Edition: Includes

Q & A on AFB infection timeline
Bee feeding as the root cause for honey failing its adulteration testing

Nationwide survey finds unique strains of Chalk-Brood In Australia
Declines in Several Insect Taxa parallels loss of insect biomass
Apimondia Turkey 2017

More Articles of Interest

December 2017 Newsletter 


We have now formally created the Australian Manuka Honey Association (AMHA) establishing it as the

leading national body for the production and promotion of Manuka honey in Australia.

Our mission statement is simple:

To protect and promote the global appeal and awareness of Manuka honey produced in Australia.

AMHA objectives are to:

Foster the growth of our local Manuka honey industry and the sale of Australian Manuka honey


Provide authenticity to all Australian produced Manuka honey

Support scientific research of Australian Manuka honey and its uses

Increase the knowledge and understanding of the properties of Australian Manuka honey

Restrict international naming or market rights to Manuka honey

Protect and promote Australian Leptospermum species plant material

Represent Australian Manuka producers and packers through one common organisation

Advocate for the interests of our industry in administrative and legislative matters

The first and most important action we are taking as the AMHA is to defend the AUSTRALIAN RIGHT TO


At present we are engaged in defending an attempt by New Zealand which is trying to trademark the word

“Manuka” exclusively for themselves. See the attached letter as an example of the work currently being carried


Manuka (Leptospermum spp.) is a native Australian plant genus that evolved in Australia. Manuka is a

descriptive term for something that is found in both Australia and New Zealand.

The group has assembled a panel of industry authorities including leading scientific experts, the Honeybee Cooperative

Research Centre (CRC HBP), Australian Government Intellectual Property (IP) Officials, the

Australian Honey Bee Industry Council (AHBIC) and a legal team to lead the charge in protecting Australia’s

right to promote its native Manuka honey.

Our collective mission is to formally oppose any attempts to monopolise international naming or market rights,

support each other and promote the Australian Manuka industry.


Paul Callander

ChairmanAustralian Manuka Honey Association Ltd


Milkwood Permaculture Blog: Processing a box of honeycomb

This is a good little article on handling small quantities (a few frames) of honey (i.e. when it’s just not worth fetching, using, cleaning and returning a spinner).
It is written about Warre’s but just as relevant for other hives.
Thanks to Colin Goodwin for submitting both of the above articles.

To Ron & Netty Irwin and family we extend our deepest sympathies to you at this sad time upon the tragic loss of your brother-in-law and niece.. Our thoughts are with you all.

Recently the club lost Norm Willoughby, one of our older members. As a club we extend our deepest sympathies to Norm's family.
Vale Norm.

Beekeeping Courses

Beekeeping Courses are conducted in a number of centres within Victoria.
Beekeeping Courses in Victoria 2018 
This link will take you to a list of participating individuals and clubs. Some offer single day courses, hands-on courses, advanced courses. Have a browse through the list to find something that suits you. If you cannot find the course you are looking for, the Victorian Apiarists Association should be able to help you and are contactable through the link on the VAA Website.

Latest Beekeeping and Honey News

Examining a Flow Hive for brood, brood health and honey - 11m28s -
A must watch for Flow Hive beginners.
21 Jan 2018 ABC News
Indigenous bush tucker man Peter Parlow goes sugar bag hunting in remote outback Qld to find native Australian honey
16 Jan 2018 ABC News
Have you seen a native bee hotel? Installing one in your garden can encourage bees
Hygienic Behaviour Testing Methods - 4m10s
A best practice video with Lindsay Bourke from the Honey Bee and Pollination Program.

Medical Use of Honey - Dr Lamorna Osborne

Dr Osborne is President of the Illawarra Branch of the Amateur Beekeepers' Assoc of NSW (ABA) past president of the ABA, a former board member of the Apiarists' Association, and active beekeeper with 20 hives and a producer of honey for medicinal use.

Medical use of honey is mostly as topical treatment of skin conditions. It is valuable in the treatment of skin ulcers, bed sores, burns including radiation burns, and fungal infections. It is active against multi-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Vancomycin-resistant Staphylococcus which so far have not developed resistance to it.
An equal mixture of honey and Sorbolene cream is effective for fungal infections, It also reduces the smell associated with untreatable fungating skin cancers.
One of the most powerful actions of topical honey is to disrupt and destroy the alkaline biofilm in wounds which is impenetrable to antibiotics and restores the skin to is natural alkaline pH.
There is much need and demand for it in medical treatment. Pressure ulcers cost $286 million per year in Australia, 2% of the population have recurrent leg ulcers with 45% of these housebound, and 57% of referrals to home nursing are for wound care. For these conditions honey does not replace but complements other means of management such as compression stockings or bandaging. 
Orally, honey is an effective treatment for cough in children but does not replace asthma therapy.
Honey consists of 19% water, 81% sugar gel of which 38.5% is fructose (fruit sugar), 31.5% glucose, 7.2 - 11% maltose, and 5% sucrose (cane sugar), together with minerals, vitamins, pollen grains and peroxidases.
It's antibacterial effects are due to several different mechanisms. Due to its hypertonicity it osmotically drags fluid from organisms which "go from grapes to raisins" disrupting their function. Its peroxidase enzymes de-slough dead tissue. Its sugar content is metabolised by bacteria producing non-smelling carbon dioxide rather than nitrogen and its acidity inhibits bacterial growth by neutralising the alkalinity of wounds. There is also a unique factor of floral origin found most abundantly in Manuka and Leptospermum honey. This has been identified as methylgyoxal (MGO) which can be assayed to assess the antibacterial efficacy of the honey from a particular source. This is expressed as a comparison with the potent antiseptic phenol in the same was as antibiotics are tested against microbes.
Among the many advantages of topical honey are its prevention of smell, prevention of dressings sticking to the wound and its promotion of healing with minimum scarring.


Plant of the Month

Marionberries - Great for Bees and People

Introduced in 1956 and touted as 'The Queen of Blackberries', packed full of anti-oxidants the Marionberry is a medium sized fruit that ranges from a deep red to glistening black when ripe. A wonderful balance of sweet and tart makes the Marionberry a perfect addition to your pies, tarts and desserts when picked straight from your garden.

About 5 years ago I bought a jar of Marionberry Jam from a vendor at the Coal Creek Market. Now, you must understand, I come from a family long steeped in the tradition of raspberry jam. It was spread and slathered onto everything. We even had a special family desert called 'The Slosh' which was two sponge cakes made in the big baking dish and using at least 6 eggs each. This was sandwiched together with a mixture of Mum's fresh raspberries and her raspberry jam with thick unsweetened cream. It was topped with whipped cream and berries dribbling and drooling their blood red juice down the side of the cake. Oh YEAH!!! Have I got you yet?
Anyway when it came time for me to plant my own raspberries I made that fateful purchase of the Marionberry Jam. The Henshaw/Barton family will eat other berry jams, we aren't complete raspberry snobs. Blackberry was loved also but due to the general inaccessibility of the fruit for picking it wasn't something that we had very often. My mother once, on a blistering hot day, donned Dad's full old army kit of woollen pants, heavy leather boots, long sleeved heavy khaki shirt, (steel-tipped) rose pruning gloves and fought her way through a blackberry thicket to make us a few pounds of blackberry jam. (Incidentally, oh YUM!)
Marionberries can of course be eaten fresh or placed in single layers on trays then bagged when frozen for later use. If used for jam no pectin is needed but care needs to be taken not to overcook them. The jam is a beautiful blood red with a slightly tart delicious tang.
We have found, with our Marionberries, that picking time is best paired with either loud music or ear plugs so as not to be too shocked by the language which may issue from the pickers as, in particular, the ones not wearing gloves spill blood freely and the many, MANY, barbed thorns take advantage of an ill placed step or an excited lunge towards a particularly large bunch of berries, hanging like grapes, uttering a bewitching call not unlike the Lorelei. 

Care & Maintenance:
Marionberries are not considered a noxious weed in Australia even given their close relationship with blackberries.  We bought our original canes from The Diggers Club. They are deciduous and very susceptible to golden rust which will kill them if not controlled. This is done by pyisically removing affected leaves in the spring and early summer. These leaves MUST be burnt and not put into the compost. You can sprinkle the infected leaves liberally around any blackberry patches you have but don't hold your breath waiting for them to die. Golden rust was introduced into Australia to try to kill off blackberries. I don't know if you've noticed but  ... 'BABAAAM' ... epic fail! What it DID infect were the plants which are related to blackberries, not noxious and draining hours from our lives as we try to control the rust on them.
Marionberry canes grow very long over the summer, up to 3m. In late autumn all old fruiting canes should be removed and the new canes which have been allowed to grow along the ground are then arched and if you have 3 plants i.e. one at each end of the trellis or frame and one in the centre, they need to be tied over frames 10-15m long and 2m high with horizontal wires at 1m and 2m. As soon as fruit sets, these canes need to be protected from birds which will completely strip the whole lot in about 32 seconds! 
Bees LOVE LOVE LOVE Marionberries as does everyone who has every pulled a great big fat ripe one off the vine and consumed it. They are huge, sweet, superbly delicious and if maintained properly require only a few hours to keep the rust and birds at bay.

After tasting the Marionberry Jam I did some research. I thought it would just prove to be a silly name that someone had given to their blend of a number of different berries. But it was not. Marionberries are 'a thing'.
They grown prolifically in the state of Oregon, USA and are a cross between the '
Chehalem' and 'Olallie' blackberries. The marionberry is currently the most common blackberry cultivar accounting for over half of all blackberries produced in Oregon.

The Berry was released in 1956 under the name Marion, after the county where it was tested extensively. Oregon produces between 28 million and 33 million pounds annually, with Marion County and Willamette Valley collectively accounting for over 90% of current production.The berries ripen throughout the summer with a single acre producing up to six tons in a harvest.
Growing Info:
Height to 2m. Width to 3m. Full sun. Weather conditions in South Gippsland with ample Spring and some Summer rain seem to be quite suitable for their abundant growth, flowering and fruiting. I give mine extra water during dry Summers.


The Bunyip Beekeeper

Our Beekeeping Supplies Shop is open in Pakenham Victoria 7 days per week until Winter
Factory 4/18 Bormar Drive Pakenham Vic 3810
Open Hours: 9am to 5:30pm - 7 Days per week.

Ph: 0487 100 001 -

fb:  the bunyip beekeeper
The Bunyip Beekeeper

Hill Top Hives (Mirboo North)

Please call for prices on services available e.g. swarm/hive removals, wax dipping and  equipment costs.
Contact: Peter Gatehouse 0423 244107 

fb: hill top hives
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 

fb: blue tree honey farm
Blue Tree Honey Farm
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 © 2018 South Gippsland Beekeepers Inc., All rights reserved.

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