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Newsletter of the Beekeepers Association of the Australian Capital

Newsletter of the Beekeepers Association of the Australian Capital Territory
Meetings of our Association are conducted on the 3rd Monday of every month (except December) at the
Weston Creek Uniting Church.
Contact: President – John Grubb Ph.: (02) 62571171
September 2014
Next meeting Monday 15 September 2014, 7.30pm
Next Meeting
October Meeting –
change of date
Vice-President’s Report
Spring Inspection Field
Tag-along eucalypt
Natural Beekeeping
Queen Bee Breeding Field
Spring Management
Beekeeper profile – your
Book Review
Screened Bottom Boards
Bees wanted for Bywong
Multiple egg laying
queen again
Bus Driver’s Mother in
Law’s Honey Almond Slice
After Beeginners’ Corner, Des Cannon is going to offer some advice about how to
identify a failing hive, diagnose the problem and take corrective action. This will
be timely advice indeed. Des is a local queen bee breeder and is editor of The
Australasian Beekeeper magazine
Early warning, the October meeting is on 13th October, 7.30pm
The October meeting will be held on the second Monday of the month rather
than the usual third as the church needs the hall. Dr Doug Somerville from NSW
DPI is our guest and he will run a general question and answer session about bees
and beekeeping. As Doug can field questions of any level, we'll dispense with
Beeginners’ corner for October only so start thinking about your questions now.
Vice-President’s Report
Dear members
It’s my pleasure to write to you in John's absence. John is enjoying a vacation and I
will be filling in here and at the upcoming meeting. Des Cannon, editor of the ABK,
will be giving us hints on how to recognise a failing hive, diagnose the problem and
take corrective action.
Have you started thinking about springs arrival and what you should be doing?
Here’s what I have on my mind. With the arrival of spring, I begin to think about
what has flowered, what is flowering, and the weather. The wattle and many
ornamental trees have flowered early. This, along with the warm, calm weather
bodes well for spring. Early flowering means our hives become active earlier than
other years. An early start to the pollen and nectar gathering gives bees more time
to recover from winter and long term could make hives stronger.
I’ve already started my spring inspections and perhaps you’re planning to do it
soon too. The first inspection in spring will provide the first reliable source of
information about how your bees have survived winter.
September 2014 Newsletter
Beekeepers Association of the ACT
Page 1
As I inspect the hive, I’m mindful of how heavy the boxes are and how much honey they have in them.
I’m also conscious of the total bee population in the hive. I prefer to see the middle ground – not too few
or too many. If you have a very small number of bees I strongly suggest you come along to this month’s
talk by Des Cannon. There are a lot of reasons why bee numbers could be low, and Des will be addressing
these issues. If you have a significantly strong hive, and the forecasted weather is pleasant, consider
under-supering. I wouldn’t expect to see any wax moth or hive beetle because they are both less active in
the cooler weather. As I inspect the brood, I’m alert for indications of disease and the amount of pollen
and nectar held by the hive.
In closing, we are entering one of our busiest and most interesting times of the beekeeping year. Our
spring management activities are significant in that they lay the foundation for our beekeeping year. The
only other factor is the weather, which we can only hope is kind to our bees.
I look forward to what should be an interesting talk by Des Cannon and a testing Beginners Corner!
Mitchell Pearce
Spring Inspection Field Day, Saturday 20 September, 12 noon - 2pm
We need to inspect the hives at the CIT to prepare them for the Backyard Beekeeping courses. Members
are invited to get some hints about inspection techniques, or you may want to offer some advice.
The field day will focus on what to look for in spring to give the best chance of a honey flow in summer.
Weather: Ideally we would like a still calm sunny day over 20 degrees in temperature. If the weather
looks bad, ring Dick Johnston on 6282 8112 to confirm arrangements.
What to bring: Wear thick socks, covered shoes and long pants. Bring your protective clothing if you have
it. Otherwise, just come along. We will have suits and jackets.
Where: Bee hives at the School of Horticulture, CIT, Bruce Campus. Drive through the wire fence gates in
Eade Street.
See map below. We'll have signs up.
September 2014 Newsletter
Beekeepers Association of the ACT
Page 2
Tag-along eucalypt identification, Sunday 28 September, 10 am - 12 noon
Peter Ormay has offered to lead a tag-along tour around Canberra to
identify local naturally occurring eucalypts like Yellow Box. Even in
Canberra, eucalypts are a major source of nectar and pollen for the bees
and Peter developed the original concept for the very valuable document,
'A guide to eucalypts in the ACT'. You can get a copy at:
The plan is be to meet in the car park on John Cardiff Close, Black Mountain
Peninsula. We'll have a few UHF radios to save piling out at every stop. If
you are interested in coming, please ring Dick on 6282 8112 or email with the number of people and whether
you happen to have a UHF radio.
Natural Beekeeping Course - Tim Malfroy, 7-8 February 2015
From Tuesday 16 September, registrations for the course
will be accepted from non-members. To reserve your
place, register now. Details at:
Spring Management
Key aspects to consider during this period are:
•disease inspection
•brood manipulation
•creating space for expansion within the hive
•swarm control
•removal of honey crop.
Read more here . Information about the aspect of swarm control follows.
Swarm control
Swarming is a natural phenomenon, and is the way the colony reproduces itself. This is done by the old
queen leaving the original hive with approximately half the number of workers to establish another hive
elsewhere. This is termed a prime swarm. A number of ripe queen cells are left behind. One hatches,
September 2014 Newsletter
Beekeepers Association of the ACT
Page 3
destroys the other hatching queens, mates and begins to lay. The whole process may occur within a
period of ten days . A variation of this is when, after the prime swarm has departed, a virgin may hatch
and leave the colony with a proportion of the worker bees that remained in the hive. This is termed a
secondary swarm or after-swarm. Either way, the colony’s ability to collect surplus quantities of honey
has been severely reduced. Swarming is counter- productive and undesirable. Not only does swarming
significantly reduce the honey crop collected by each hive, it also has social implications when it occurs in
urban areas. Swarming can be reduced by the following management strategies.
•Re-queen with a young queen. Older queens have a greater tendency to swarm and some strains of bees
are more inclined to swarm than others. It is important to re-queen before a colony shows signs of
swarming activity, not during swarming activity.
•Allow plenty of space in the brood nest for the queen to lay in, by brood manipulation. This is an
opportune time to draw comb foundation.
•Ensure that the colony has room to store and ripen honey during the peak honey-producing period.
•Remove part of the colony to form a new colony. This may not be desirable if maximum honey
production is desired, although this is a good strategy if more colonies are required. Part of the colony can
also be removed when swarming is at its peak and then united a monthor so later after the swarming
tendency has diminished. The practice of regularly destroying swarm cells is only marginally beneficial as
the colony may swarm anyway.
•Removing some or all of the honey crop may reduce the possibility of a colony swarming. This is
assuming that that the colony has plenty of empty combs to continue to fill.
Doug Somerville
Beekeeper profile – Mary-Louise Weight (your newsletter editor)
What got you started in beekeeping? I was teaching at Bendigo TAFE. We were lucky enough to have
Daniel Martin on staff and it was decided to run some hobby beekeeping courses down at Castlemaine,
one night a week for about 6 weeks. Daniel is now an apiary inspector with DEPI in Bendigo. The course
included a visit to Bob McDonald’s honey packing plant and a field trip in the forest examining what I
think were his hives, in the box ironbark
forest near Chewton. (Your editor is the
one in yellow with the camera).Bob is the
president of the VAA. R&E McDonald is a
family owned beekeeping business based
in Castlemaine, Central Victoria. Their
business provides honey and beeswax
production and sales, pollination services
and beekeeping equipment supplies. They
have been beekeeping for 4 generations
and operating as a full-time commercial
enterprise since 1949.The current
business comprises Bob, Eileen, Robert &
Peter McDonald as the principal owners,
running approximately 2,500 beehives
throughout Victoria, Southern NSW and
Eastern SA.
Did you have a mentor? I guess Daniel was my first mentor, also my neighbour Rob Gardiner, teacher,
social worker and beekeeper who lent me his extractor for my first harvest. When I left Mandurang for
life in Canberra, I gave my beehive to Rob and he still delivers a bucket of honey from the box trees at
Mandurang if he comes to Canberra. Rob is a regular participant at Bendigo’s annual pack down day and
gives a demonstration of uncapping frames and extracting for small scale bee keepers.
September 2014 Newsletter
Beekeepers Association of the ACT
Page 4
How did you get your first hive? Through the course I made contact with Bob McDonald, bought and built
all the components to make my frames and boxes( with gadget’s help- see below) and when I was ready, I
acquired a nucleus colony from a contact in Newstead; a highly exciting moment driving home with a box
of bees in the family station wagon!
Do you have an empty super story? Possibly my most recent extraction down at our farm at Boho South
in Victoria with a box of frames from the hive I look after in Canberra . It seemed that every bee in the NE
of Victoria was attracted to my activity in the garden shed. Needless to say a wire door is now on our to
do list. Bees everywhere, fortunately not unhappy!
What is a good tip for a novice beekeeper? Find a course to do, join your local beekeeping association,
attend the spring inspection field days and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Thank you to Dermot who has
been a Canberra mentor, helped me and taken me on a very exciting swarm gathering with vacuum
cleaner exercise.
Your most memorable beekeeping moment? Experiencing a really good honey flow. The grey box (E.
macrocarpa) trees in the One Tree Hill State Park, beside our 7 acres burst into flower and I came to
understand how you could know you had a particular type of honey; the super was filled in less than 3
weeks as I recall with the most superb grey box honey.
The most useful gadget you have? A very handy husband – good at repairing wiring on frames and so on!
Something you invented? Not really an invention. I created a really nice label for my Grey Box honey,
with primitive software. It’s all part of it – presenting your honey in a beautiful container, nicely packaged.
Your favourite aspect of beekeeping? I love to have the sun on my back, the smell of the smoker and
the bush, be safely kitted out and enjoy the thought that there might be a few frames of honey the bees
can spare.
A recommended plant for bees? They seem to love lavender and other flowering herbs.
Best honey you have ever tasted? Apart from the much mentioned Grey Box honey, and this year’s
Canberra garden honey from the hive I look after in Roy Bray’s garden in Flynn, I am seriously addicted to
Leatherwood honey. In New Zealand I enjoy the floral honeys, including Rata and Rewarewa. I eat honey
every day; a good dollop on my muesli and can panic slightly if there is none at hand. I often say if I should
live to be 100 that will be why.
Ed Note: If you would like to contribute your beekeeping profile for this newsletter, please do! Just
answer the above questions (and any others) and send to
'Beekeeping on Two Fronts 1914 -1918' – book review by Penny ForsythIn his
introduction to this volume Stuart Ching explains the “Two Fronts” of the title – the
battlefields of the conflict that came to be known as the Great War and the
desperate battle waged on the Home Front against the dreaded Isle of Wight
disease that wiped out thousands of honeybee colonies during this period. The
book relies on the narratives of three people as published in the British Bee Journals
of the time. Part one of the book gives us harrowing insights into the horrors and
privations of war but from a more unusual perspective - that of a beekeeper who
answered his country’s call to arms. Part Two comprises ‘Notes from Derbyshire’,
written for the Journal by Don Wilson of Belper and Tom Sleight of Clay Cross, and
gives a fascinating account of the beekeeping practice and lore, equipment and
innovations, bee breeding and disease management of the early 1900’s.
ISBN 978-1-908904-56-0 Obtainable from
September 2014 Newsletter
Beekeepers Association of the ACT
Page 5
Ed note - Isle of Wight Disease
"The colony losses on the Isle of Wight in 1906 were quickly attributed to “Isle of Wight Disease” – a new
and highly infectious disease - and before long all losses in the UK were attributed to it. Investigations into
the causes of the Isle of Wight colony losses were first undertaken by an entomologist, AD Imms, who was
unable to reach any conclusions. By 1912 Fantham and Porter identified Nosema apis, an intestinal
parasite of honeybees, as the most likely cause, but by 1919, following the discovery of the tracheal mite
Acarpapis woodi (then known as Tarsonemus woodi), Rennie and co-workers were convinced that this
was the cause of “Isle of Wight Disease”. Subsequent analysis of their data proved that this could not
have been the case and the most likely explanation is that the losses were caused by a combination of
factors including, chronic paralysis virus (unknown at the time), poor weather limiting foraging and
overstocking (keeping too many bees for the amount of forage available). In recent years, much media
attention has been focussed on Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) following colony losses in the USA. There
is a great deal in common between the effect of this attention and the “Isle of Wight Disease” experience
because world-wide media coverage of CDD has had the consequence of colony losses throughout the
world being attributed to CCD. However, there are many causes of colony losses, of which CCD is just one
and symptoms and causes of colony losses are likely to be different in different parts of the world".
Norman Carreck
Read more on this BBKA Forum
Screened Bottom Boards
The core purpose of this research was to test the productivity differences between a conventional bottom
board and a screened bottom board on a honey bee hive. The use of screened bottom boards may
provide some advantages in an integrated varroa mite pest control program. The perception that the use
of screened bottom boards affects productivity due to draft is a major impediment to beekeepers
considering their use and adoption.
Download the pdf here
Looking for bees to pollinate apple and other fruit trees on 2 acres hobbyfarm
I am looking for a local beekeeper, who is interested in putting a few bee hives onto my property on 824
Macs Reef Rd, Bywong (13 Min from Dickson). We have approximately 250 apple and some cherry, plum
and peach trees. There is also capeweed and lots of gum trees on our hobby farm, which is organic. Our
last beekeeper sold his hives, but was very happy with the honey production on our property.
Unfortunately I didn’t get the contact details of the person who bought his hives. If anyone is interested in
having their beehives on our property, please contact Angela Geiser- 02 6230 3688.
September 2014 Newsletter
Beekeepers Association of the ACT
Page 6
Multiple-egg laying queen again
Last year we found 2 hives with multiple-egg laying queens.
Within a couple of weeks the workers had removed the
multiples and left perfect capped brood. Over the weekend
we had our first spring inspection and in one hive we found
the queen and an example of multiple egg laying that hadn't
been fixed by the workers before reaching larval stage.
Sarah AsIs Sha'Non
The bus driver's mother-in-law's almond honey slice
One of the perks of taking a bus up the Hume Highway is a certain bus driver on the Euroa line and the
slices that her mother-in-law makes. This recipe, recently shared, has been making the rounds and it's a
cracker.The topping is more like a thick, nutty glaze than an icing - feel free to increase the quantity of
topping by, say, 25 per cent if you want an extra-generous covering on the
90g melted butter
1/2 cup (120g) firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup (145g) plain flour
1/2 cup (70g) packaged ground almonds
For the almond topping:
125g butter, chopped
1/4 cup (95g) honey
11/2 cups (200g) slivered almonds
Preheat oven to 170C. Combine base ingredients and mix well. If the base seems floury, add a little extra
melted butter. Press into a greased, 18cm x 32cm lamington or slice tray (if you do not have a tray this
size, use a smaller tray rather than a larger one. This is a fairly thin slice, and the mixture may not be
enough to cover a larger tray).Bake for 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven, but leave
the oven on while the slice is cooling and make the almond topping: Combine butter and honey in a small,
heavy-based saucepan and stir over heat until butter is melted. Simmer, uncovered, about 3 minutes or
until mixture is a light caramel colour. Stir in nuts. Spread base with hot topping and bake for about 15
minutes or until golden brown. Cool in the tray.
Published in Cravat-a –Licious by Matt Preston
September 2014 Newsletter
Beekeepers Association of the ACT
Photo: Marina Oliphant
Page 7
September 2014 Newsletter
Beekeepers Association of the ACT
Page 8
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