South Gippsland Beekeepers Inc. Newsletter
May 2015 Issue #36

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From our President



Not a lot has happened to report this past month, we have been a little lucky with our weather this last week, which has enabled me and hopefully some of you as well to pack down our hives for Winter. My dear wife has made comment on how full our freezer has become all of a sudden as I have filled it with frames to destroy any Wax Month.  She does grant me some leniency this time of the year.


I passed on the clubs thanks for the very informative talk John Edmunds gave at our last meeting.  From all reports he really enjoyed his time back in the district and has contributed an article to our newsletter and has offered to return again in November.  We are very lucky to have such a vast variety of knowledge from people who are more than happy to share their information with us.  He is also giving a talk at the upcoming VAA conference. 


Unfortunately due to work commitments, Stan is unable to be guest speaker at our May meeting, so we have decided to swap our pizza night from June to May. Our plan is to have a look at the two stories that were on Landline about the Flow Hive and Manuka honey. This will depend on me doing an advance course on how to take it from the recorder onto a memory stick. I do appear to be making progress. After we have watched these stories we will have a feast on pizzas and have a good mingle amongst ourselves and gather information from fellow members. We may even be able to try Treasurer Peter’s honey Meade if he has any available. It is a very smooth drop.


Eric from Better Bees has contacted us in regard to speaking about his plastic hives and other products of interest.  We plan to slot this in at our June meeting.


Hope to see you at our meetings.


Happy Beekeeping,

Steve Lovie

Note from the Editor
Hi Everyone,
Last month I wrote a small piece about The Australian Honey Bee Industry Biosecurity Code of Practice. I did not mention that, at the moment, it is just a draft and only the first draft to go public. As yet it is not known whether or not this draft will be the final Code of Practice. Sorry for any confusion. 



Our FB page is called South Gippsland Beekeepers
Other FB pages of interest are
Wannabee? Linking Gippsland farmers and beekeepers
Gippsland Beekeepers


May Club Meeting
Pizza Night! Plus Flowhive & Manuka News from Landline ABC TV and some Q & A
June Club Meeting
We have an opportunity to hear from Eric (Better Bee Hives) who will give us a chat about his Plastic Hives as advertised in the Bee Mags

July is the AGM
AGM - Black and Yellow theme - Prizes for best costume! Come-on peoples! Set your creative juices loose to ooze some truly amazing costumes this year. As they say "Let the juice loose aboot the hoose." 

May Club Meeting Thurs 14th 7.30pm-9pm

June Club Meeting Thurs 11th
7.30pm - 9pm


July AGM
Thurs 9th
7.30pm - 9pm

Club Meetings:
2nd Thursday of each month starting at 7.30pm at  St Peters Anglican Church Hall, Crn McCartin & Bruce St's, Leongatha. The meeting is followed by supper with tea, coffee and nibblies.
Any donations to the supper table are gratefully accepted.
Bee Foraging Plant of the Month
Corymbia maculata -
(syn. Eucalyptus maculata),
commonly know as
Spotted Gum.
This beautiful tree can grow up to 45 metres of more. It has smooth powdery bark which is white, grey or pink; often with characteristic patches or spots.
It has bunches of small, white flowers can occur from March to August in gippsland. Ours is flowering now and is humming with bees (there are many wasps also)
It has an excellent pollen quality of 33% protein in large amounts every 4 years or so.
The honey is light amber with a medium to strong flavour. Spotted gum can yield 34kg of honey per hive every 2-4 years
It is often used as a street tree as seen throughout Leongatha especially the strip of the Strzelecki Hwy, intermittently, from the railway crossing to the hospital.
Although considered to be a tree native to the Eastern Coast north of Bega there is a pure stand in the Snowy Mountains NP of eastern Victoria. 
They grow readily in South Gippsland with growth rates of 3-4 metres (or more) each year. Flowering commences in the 3rd to 4th years and is immediately sought out by all bees far and wide.

Left: Looking up into the canopy of a 5 year old Spotted Gum.
It flowered for the first time last summer, then again in Spring and is flowering again now!
Below: A bee foraging for nectar. The tree does produce  pollen but no bees were seen with pollen on their legs.
More April/May Flowers
Mentor's List


Keith GRAY







Mirboo Nth:  6pm - 9pm - 56681323
Beekeeper - Swarm collection - YES

Jeeralang Junction: 9am- 6pm - 51222641,0413136878 

Beekeeper & Bee Equipment - Swarms - NO

Berry Creek: Most days - 56688250, 0427688250 Beekeeper, Interested in Top Bar Hives Swarms - NO

Moe: Daytime/Evening up until 10pm: 56331326
Hobbyist Beekeepers - Swarms - YES

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

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

Leongatha: 7.30am - 9.30pm Mon-Fri 56622280
General Beekeeping - Swarms - NO

Moyarra: 4pm - 7pm Mon-Fri 56573322 0421323707
Hobbyist Beekeeper & Orchardist - Swarms - NO

Inverloch: Up to 10pm Any day 56743605, 0418523931
Hobbyist Beekeeper, Flora Sth Gippsland - Swarms - YES

New Members:
John DuMont       Lorrae Hamilton
Leanne Harrison   Greg Herriman

It's so good to welcome you all
to our great little club



Curse of the Voodoo’s

Beekeeping is a wonderful hobby, always something new to learn, adrenaline pumping in beat with the strongest defensive hive. Some breath taking moments usually end with sweet rewards and new experiences being an apiarist.
My exciting new adventure into collecting bee pollen had begun with ever helpful mate Barry from Guilfoyle’s Beekeeping making me two modern state of the art pollen traps. The first trap went straight into my home hive in a few minutes. The other, well why not put that into the Voodoo hive in the hills at Mahogany Creek? We call it the ‘Voodoo hive’ as thousands of bees, in this very strong 4 decker, cover the entire front of two honey supers rocking back and forth in unison all day and into the night. You can almost hear their chant rocking back and forth, ‘Kill Gary, Kill Gary, Kill Gary’. Not that I’m superstitious in any way, but the other four hives on the same row behave very normally compared to the Voodoo’s at the end of the line, near the dead sheep skull.

A 10pm visit; all is quiet in four hives. End of the line are the Voodoo’s in the moonlight, rocking back and forth still, “Kill Gary, Kill Gary’ Not one to be intimidated, that is the hive getting the new pollen trap at 7 in the morning. A simple plan: lid off, empty top box off, stickies loaded, in, second box of capped frame out, brood box off, bottom board out. replaced by pollen tray and reassemble. You must plan and have everything ready so it runs smoothly, right! If there was any hesitation it would be wearing these gloves with grey gauntlet material from wrists to elbows that all the hives seemed to have a dislike for. As i f they had invisible targets, to attract angry bees. 7am and well into the operation, WOW, so many bees I can’t even see any timber on the frames or even the bottom board, must be excess of 80,000 bees here.It was picking up the brood box to place on top of the new bottom board, now being the pollen trap that the ‘Voodoo curse’ broke into full force. Thousand of bees ‘encrusted’ the grey gauntlets of both arms driving their abdomens deep in through both layers of protective clothing and then other parts of my body in a full-on attack from the ankles up. Adrenaline is a wonderful survival drug for split second decision making to fight or flight. The more adrenaline the calmer you think and act. Even with hundreds of bees stinging me, logic tells me to re-assemble the hive (quickly) then retreat, as coming back later to re-assemble would be disaster in waiting. Boxes of capped honey frames into the Prado, smoker dropped in a bucket of water and around the back of the house away from this lot of little B*&#@&*.
Within 15 minutes the 200+ stings that got through were overloading my body functions causing vomiting, diarrhoea, excessive sweating, heart and breathing abnormalities, As a medic I knew the symptoms would only become much worse and I was heading for the deck. I had the Ambo’s collect me 120m up the road so they would not be subjected to the Voodoo’s. 
Embarrassing as the swelling is painful, lucky nobody will ever find out about this, not even that wonderful nurse in charge of this ward that looks like ……NANCYE FROM OUR APIARIST SOCIETY!

6pm that day I needed to be discharged to collect my unlocked vehicle near the hives. The keys were still in the ignition, wallet on the seat and it's getting dark with boxes of frames needing to be extracted. I’m so swollen I can barely walk let along hold the steering wheel. Ok, I’ll be a wimp and have the night off.
Now we all have someone special to look after us in times like these, so ‘Queen Bee’ decided she would wash my venom injected suit, gloves and socks with some ‘Softly’ in the final rinse to cover and remove all the nasty attack pheromones and hundreds of stings still embedded. Then I could seek revenge on the Voodoo’s with a dawn attack!
Next morning, ‘Mere Male’ (me) knew something was not right as I have washed these gloves many times in cold water and they dry overnight fitting perfectly next day. Something was not right with the drying process. ‘Queen Bee’ was adamant she ONLY used cold water machine wash and hung them in the shade to dry. She wasn’t very convincing. These once favourite leather gloves now resembled something from the ancient tomb of King Tut, or beef jerky. Perhaps that’s the connection as King Tut also had a curse on him. More likely, it has something more to do with the lid still off the new Webber BBQ.

Would anyone like some ‘Voodoo’ pollen? or how about some beef jerky?

Thanks to Rob Spratt for sending me this story.

John Edmonds - April Guest Speaker
At April's club meeting we were lucky enough to have John Edmonds (from Geelong Honey) and his father Murray come to visit.
John gave a very informative and interesting talk on his local history, his father being a teacher at Ruby School. He then spoke of his experiences as a commercial beekeeper and also demonstrated some of his deeper supers and frames. Let's hope John becomes a regular speaker it would be great to have him back again.
Thanks to John for the following article on 'Overwintering Bees'

Over wintering Bees by John Edmonds

Over winter it is important for honey bees to be placed in a warm, sheltered from cold winds, dry position, no stress and preferably with entrance facing downhill. Although European honeybees have evolved to hibernate through winters with snow they do much better and eat far less honey stores if given the above conditions.

Consideration must be given to the many variables your bees can encounter. For example a hive in a township backyard may gather nectar and pollen on the sunny days during the winter and may even gain honey. Bees located in rural areas may not be able to find flowering plants so will need more honey stores and best left as doubles.

Around the world beekeepers generally shift their hives to the coast for winter as the sea keeps the environment warmer than the frosty inland areas. In Victoria the coast has Silver Banksia, Coastal Bearded Heath, wildflowers, wattles and Tea trees.  

It is important that bees are reduced down in hive size until when the lid is lifted the frames are covered with bees. Empty spaces attract moisture which makes the combs mouldy and makes the colony cold. Bees often winter best when reduced to a full depth single hive, but some areas need more stores so a double of honey may be required. Many commercial beekeepers winter as full doubles so the bees have enough food for Almond pollination. As soon as the bees start gathering Canola honey they are supered up and the top box extracted.

The race of bee also influences your decision as Italian bees will keep breeding while they can gather nectar, whereas the Black bee races of Carniolan and Caucasian will over winter with smaller clusters of bees and usually stop breeding late April / May.  

It is wise to not have vents in the lids as the cluster of bees generate heat through the winter to keep the brood at 37 degrees and a hive without brood will need to be in the high 20’s. Beekeepers in Canada find a sheet of heavy plastic placed over the frames and under the lid will be sealed by the hive and this helps the bees conserve their warmth. Some beekeepers wrap the hives with black plastic or insulation but I find it is not necessary in Victoria.

Most import is to leave the bees alone from May to August, every time you fiddle with them and upset the cluster this stresses the bees and Nosema spores build up in the bees gut. This invisible disease causes many weak colonies in the spring or death to over wintering bees. Signs of this problem are when the bees defecate up the fronts of the hives, and sometimes inside the hive. Badly affected bees will have their live spans drastically reduced, so in spring the first foraging bees only make a few trips and die, therefore the hive becomes weak and a new queen is required to break the cycle. It is like dysentery in Humans. 

Reduce the hive entrance to a small hole as European Wasps and mice and rats can kill hives with constant harassment. 

If bees are hungry and short of stores they can be fed sugar syrup. Thin syrup stimulates the bees to breed whereas thick fully saturated sugar syrup is better for the bees and ready stored. Use only white sugar, do not use raw or brown sugar as these cause the bees problems with their bowels. 

Make sure the bees are not under the shade of trees and in cold damp locations. It is best not to work your bees for honey after Anzac Day as they often do not winter well after working thin sloppy nectar. Uncapped nectar is best removed from the hive as this can ferment and drunken bees die. It is best to reduce your hive so they can fill up tight before the last of the nice autumn days.

John Edmonds, Mount Duneed 15th April 2015

Salvia Splitters
I was watching the bees in the tall red salvia today and noticed that they were doing a very clever thing.
Amongst the cluster of long trumpet flowers at the flower spike terminals, each individual salvia flower is long and very thin. This shape makes it impossible for the bees to enter the flower to extract the nectar which is at the base of the flowers.These clever little girls have devised a way of getting to it. A bee settles onto a flower and seems to be fussy about which ones are suitable, as is usually the way with bees of course. Once apparently happy with her chances of extracting nectar from the flower she sets about making a slit down the length of the flower to give her access to it. She uses her proboscis to saw or cut into the soft flesh of the petals and then slides it down like a hot knife opening a slit in the side of the flower. If the stamens are in the way she uses her head and pushes underneath them moving them to one side to give her better access. She then takes all the nectar she needs. I also noticed that other bees would use flowers which had already been split and would collect more nectar for themselves. There were some bees who were much more adept at flower splitting than others who would fumble away and sometimes give up if they couldn't manage it.

The picture on the bottom right shows the bee cutting open the side of the flower.

Did you Know?

Raw honey is defined as honey that has been processed with as little heat as possible. For example, substituting a non-heated fork to uncap the ripened honey, instead of the practice of using a heating knife, will maintain the best flavour and nutritional components of raw honey. It is normal to warm the extracted honey to allow wax and other particles to rise to the surface for skimming before packaging or filtering honey.
Heating to below 49c is considered still in the raw honey range. Raw honey tends to granulate on its own in a short period of time. Standard practice for store bought honey is to heat the honey much higher for two purposes.
1.Heating to about 77c will change the nature of the sugars and delay granulation for several months. Of course this process removes some of the natural, delicious flavour expected in raw honey and compromise it's full nutritional value.
2. Honey is heated to 77c is to destroy any yeast spores that may cause fermentation in the honey.
Overheating will darken the honey and will seriously damage the flavour.
77c is hot, it's VERY hot. Our hot water services are usually set to a maximum of 65c which is too hot for people to be able to leave their hands in it. 
Water at 65c produces a full thickness burn in less than a second of exposure, at 60c it takes 5 seconds, at 55c around 30 seconds and at 50c five minutes exposure would be required to produce full thickness burns. So, as I said 77c is very, very hot. It's no wonder that this excessive temperature does so much damage to delicate raw honey.
Are your hives hygienic?
Hygienic Queens and Hives is a topic of great importance at the moment with infestations of varroa, hive beetle, wax moth and chalkbrood all being controlled, to a certain extent, by these attributes.
So how do you know if your queen/s are hygienic?
For a start just looking through your hives will tell you, to a degree, just by common sense. If the hives are messy with dead bees or dirty or untidy cells then the queen is not as hygienic as she should be. Also if you have had chalk brood and the bees either take forever or don't finish removing the mummies then you can safely say that queen is not hygienic.
Apart from that you can do a simple test by isolating an area of sealed brood comb and using liquid nitrogen to freeze the section thus killing all the brood. A normal size food can with it's rim cut off is used (cat food or baked beans size). There are about 160 cells in a 8cm/3" diameter. No more than 10-12 cells should be empty so choose your brood area carefully. The frame is cleared of bees, bumping and brushing them off over the hive is the best method. The frame is played flat and the cut edge of the can is then pushed halfway into the comb until it reaches the sheet of wax in the middle. Liquid Nitrogen is poured in to almost fill the can. When it has evaporated and the can has thawed is carefully removed. After 24 hours you observe the clearance rate of the dead brood by counting the cells which have been cleaned out. 90% -100% clearance rate shows that your queen/hive is hygienic.
Small amounts of liquid nitrogen may be purchased from industrial gas suppliers, and GP's rooms where they use it to freeze off skin lesions. It can be transported in a metal tanked Thermos flask.
There are a number of YouTube videos on this subject and they show in detail how it is done.

The Apiarist's Hygiene Responsibilities:
Equipment such as hive tools, uncapping tools etc can be effectively cleaned in a solution of washing soda (Lectic Soda in the laundry aisle of the supermarket) dissolved at the ratio of 1kg of washing soda to 5 litres of water. Avoid splashing this solution on hands or into eyes as it is an irritant.
Hive tools can either be soaked in the washing soda solution or can be cleaned using a scouring pad or stainless steel scourer.
Smokers should be regularly cleaned paying particular attention to the bellows. Any accumulation of wax or propolis should be scraped off and then the residue cleaned using the washing soda solution and a scourer. Black sticky creosote on the inside of the smoker can be removed by spraying with simple kitchen bench spray e.g Spray & Wipe and wiping/washing off with a sponge and hot water.
Brood boxes can be cleaned by scraping away any accumulations of wax and propolis and then 'flaming' them with a gas torch to minimise the risk of bacteria persisting. This is particularly necessary after a diagnosis of foul brood disease. 
This is by no means all you can do but it is, at least. a start in adopting hygienic hive practices.
Click HERE for info regarding Barrier Systems for the prevention of transmission of apiary pests & diseases. 

Membership Reminder

Don't forget Membership renewals are due at the AGM in July.
The contact details are:
Peter Galt - Ph: 0409953295.
Cheques: Made payable to:
South Gippsland Beekeepers
C/O P. Galt 31 Fairview Ave Yarram 3971
12 Month Single membership - $62
12 Month Family membership - $46

Equipment Hire

2 day rentals:
Package: Decapping knife, plastic tubs, extractor & strainer $30
Decapping knife and tubs $20
Extractor alone $15
Contact David on 0433 035144 12pm-7pm
Pick-up and drop off from Korumburra or Club meeting

Swarm List

Please contact Sharon Fisher on 5644323 if you wish to be put on the swarm-list. Make sure you are prepared, in case you have to collect the swarm yourself. Let Sharon know if you need help to collect the swarm. 
If you are on the list but no longer want to collect swarms please let Sharon know so that she can remove your name and give the swarm to the next person on the list. Thankyou

Our Library

Why not take a look at the books that are available for loan at the next meeting. There is a range of books covering many topics.
Just sign the book you take, out of the loans book, and sign it back in again when it is returned.
Borrowing is on a monthly basis so please don't forget to bring your borrowed books back to the next meeting. If it is not wanted by another club member you are welcome to borrow it again for another month. Thanks

Newsletter Submissions

Any stories, book-reviews, articles, pictures etc will be gratefully received and put into the newsletter subject to approval by the editor.

Q&A: We are always eager to be of assistance to beekeepers old and new so if you have any questions please send them to me and I will do my very best to find an answer for you and will publish the answers.

If you have any questions, suggestions or complaints about the newsletter please contact Bronwyn on 0433035143 or email:
General Club Inquires for new members etc. can be addressed to
Please send newsletter submissions to or if using snail mail, please send to
SGB Newsletter
c/o B Barton
52 Elmores Rd
Korumburra 3950

General Club Inquiries for new members etc. can be addressed to


Fishers Beekeeping Supplies
Rob & Sharon Fisher (Dumbalk area)
56644323 & 0437501133

Jeeralang Apiary Supplies
60 Koala Drive
Jeeralang Junction
51222641 & 0413136878
Open by appointment
D & M Photography
Photographs in our newsletters, plus many more, are available for purchase.
A donation of $5 from the sale of each photo goes to the SGB.
To view photos
Contact: David Barton: 0433035144


Basic Minimal ads containing a business description and contact details are available to club members
only for Bee-Keeping related wares.
Contact Bronwyn on the link provided or on the phone numbers above
Executive Committee
Steve Lovie ....... ph: 0488 622890 - 56642277 - email:
Peter Gatehouse ...... ph: 56681815 - 0437 627443 - email:
Bronwyn Barton ....... ph: 56551936 - 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 0433035144
Newsletter: Bronwyn Barton ....... ph: 56551936 - email:
Swarm Coordinator: Sharon Fisher ....... ph: 56644323 - email:
Copyright © 2015 SGB, All rights reserved.

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