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Author Topic: Hello from Down Under  (Read 1747 times)
wayseer
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« on: May 02, 2008, 06:25:13 AM »

Hello All.  Seems you have a good thing going on here.

Live in Maryborough, Queensland, Australia (Yes, have noted the odd Aussie hereabouts on the boards).  Maryborough is some 300 kilometers north of Brisbane and I live on a property on the banks of the Mary River surrounded by forest.  While the property is essential utilised for cattle garazing I have embarked on a bit of an experiement with beekeeping.  I'm only the caretaker.

I kept bees some 30 odd years ago and ended up with 60 odd hives but because of circumstances I sold out.  I have now take a fresh interest given the location.  The Mary River joins what is know as the Great Sandy Straits, about 10 k downstream.  The GSS is a stretch water sheltered from the ocean by the world's largest sand island, Fraser Island.  The river area is therefore bordered by mangroves - mangroves for miles.  There is also large forest area - and all within flying distance from the apiary.

Included in the flora is eculapyts - blue gum, ironbark, bloodwood and swamp mahogony (gums) as well as paper bark. Along with two main mangrove species the area has abundant sources of pollen and nectar - given good seasons.  Of course we have really no such thing as winter in this part of paradice. 

Most of Australian beekeeping is migratory - following the flowering pattern of the natives trees.  What I am hoping for here is the ability to sit pat and let the flowering come to the bees.  Because fuel is now so high here, about A$1.50/litre - travelling is all but out of the question expect for the professionals.

I have to be carefully during the dearth periods as the flowering pattern covers about half the year.  Keeping the bees during those down times will be the challenge.

I have only five hives at the moment but have found a 'good deal' which I am inspecting tomorrow.   If all goes well I should have some equipment which will let me expand with the bees.

Apart from the geography the activity is the same.  Personally, I find bees relaxing.  The steady drone of the bees along with the sweet smell of honey and the smell of the smoker going all adds to a pleasant way of spending one's time.
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indypartridge
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« Reply #1 on: May 02, 2008, 06:44:40 AM »

Hello and Welcome!

Glad to have another Aussie! Since your seasons are opposite of ours, it's fun reading about your summer beekeeping activities during the winter when our hives are covered with snow. That reminds me: please update your profile with your location so that when you post we'll be reminded where you are. It'll reduce my confusion when you ask "summer questions" during the dead of winter!

You post strikes me funny because for the past week I have had "Waltzing Matilda" running thru my head non-stop! I watched an old movie - On the Beach - last Sunday evening. "Waltzing Matilda" is woven thru the entire soundtrack and I haven't been able to get that tune out of my head. I had to get online to find out what "billabong" and "jumbuck" and those other words meant! 

As you said, you've got some mates on this board. "mick" is the first that comes to mind. He's a patriot and keeps us informed of important events such as ANZAC Day.

Looking forward to reading about your bees!
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Cindi
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« Reply #2 on: May 02, 2008, 09:49:24 AM »

Waysee, welcome to our forums, and quite the nice introduction to yourself, nice.  You have some great experiences with the bees many years ago and you will have many more to come.  It is always interesting to hear of the experiences of the beekeepers that have the seasons that are opposite to ours.  Nice to have you here, have that beautiful and wonderfully awesome day, groove on our life.  Cindi
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Koala John
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« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2008, 12:53:42 AM »

Welcome aboard Wayseer, nice to have another Aussie kicking about!
I haven't been to the area you mention, though I have had many many trips to various parts of QLD over the years and love the place.
Are your hives like most of the ones we have down here in Victoria - an 8 frame deep box with migratory lid?
I hope your nectar flows haven't been so badly hit by the lack of rain around that area? It's been incredibly bad down here the last year or two with the drought, though the eucalypts are budding up nicely now and next season is looking more promising.
Welcome, and best regards,
John.
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wayseer
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« Reply #4 on: May 27, 2008, 08:39:41 PM »

Hi John - thanks for the response.
 
Certainly use migratory lids but I have stuck with 10F but I am actually thinking of changing - the back is not what it use to be. 

The flow has been good and the hives are building nicely.  Wish I could drop some photos in but don't seem to be able to do that at the moment.

I'm glad you've taken on the challenge.  Unfortunately too many hives just get left in the paddocks when someone looses interest.  Not in the best interests of the industry.

Just wondering - how far would you be from the Port of Melbourne - not that far if you are if you are a mile from CBD.  The reason I ask is the work being done with sentinel hives to try to locate the Asia bee if imported to Australia.  You might be aware of the nexus between the Asia bee and varroca.  As yet Australia is free of the disease and there are some 20 sentinel hives around Australia ports to try to detect an asia bee. 

The only asia bee found, thus far, has been in around the mangroves near Cairns and that was because an amateur beekeeper who worked for the port authority saw a hive in a mast of a disused yacht and reported it.  It was the Asia bee but without varroa - fortunately.  Traps were set and seven other Asia bee colonies were found.  

Good to see another Aussie on the forum.
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Koala John
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« Reply #5 on: May 27, 2008, 10:15:38 PM »

Hi Wayseer,
I'm pleased it's looking like a good season for you. I'm amazed at the difference between my two bee yards - the one that is an hour and a half North I have been feeding for the last 6 months. As soon as I took a few hives down here to Melbourne, they started booming. I chose the three weakest ones, so I'm not stacking on supers or anything, but they are certainly bringing in plenty of pollen and nectar.

I'm actually pretty close to Port Melbourne, I'm quite close to the beach and I see the container ships come through the bay on the way to the Port. It's probably a mile or so as the crow flies.  I am aware of the story about the bees nest in the yacht's mast.

My concern about the hives that are being used as sentinels down here is that I understand they are only being examined every three months. If that's true, it seems like there is a chance that the horse would have bolted by the time anything is detected (in my uneducated opinion).

I'd secretly love to play some part in detecting the arrival of any new bee pests via the Port of Melbourne. I am well placed geographically for that.  I look at the entrance to my hives every day, and will probably be in at least one or two of them every week or two. I was just thinking this morning that perhaps I should set up an empty hive/swarm trap primarily for that purpose.

All the hives I've seen here in Vic are 8 frame ones, I can't imagine how much heavier a 10 frame super would be. In my case I reckon it would be the straw that breaks the camel's back. I take my hat off to you!
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wayseer
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« Reply #6 on: May 28, 2008, 04:10:43 AM »

Here's my small apiary.

 

The stands are to keep the hives clear of the dreaded cane toad.
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Robo
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« Reply #7 on: May 28, 2008, 08:10:25 AM »

Excellent!   I see you have ImageShack figured out now too.   Welcome aboard.
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Cindi
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« Reply #8 on: May 28, 2008, 09:48:18 AM »

Wayseer, nice pics of your beeyard.  That must be a real bummer, that dreaded cane toad, I hear of people talk on our forum of the pests that bother the bees and toads befuddle me, they instill a mystery in my soul, I now need to read up on cane toads so I can understand your problem with them.  Eeeks, so many vermin that love to eat our bees!!!  Have that beautiful and most wonderful day, taking care of our beloved bees.  Cindi
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There are strange things done in the midnight sun by the men who moil for gold.  The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold.  The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see, what the night on the marge of Lake Lebarge, I cremated Sam McGee.  Robert Service
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« Reply #9 on: May 28, 2008, 12:31:31 PM »

Cindi, the cane toads are not only a menace to the bees, they are dangerous for most any animal as they secrete a bad poison.  Most animals don't die immediately either, they linger for awhile so there is suffering.  Cry  You won't like what you read!  But it is fascinating learning!  Jody
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Koala John
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« Reply #10 on: May 28, 2008, 08:50:21 PM »

Nice set up Wayseer. Good luck with getting the new equipment, I hope it works out well for you.
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wayseer
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« Reply #11 on: May 29, 2008, 01:26:12 AM »

Thank you for the responses.  Yes, worked out what was wrong - had to resize the image to make it more acceptable.  Would like to post larger prints so others can see the detail.

Cane toads were realeased in the northern part of Australia to contain the cane beetle which was devasting the sugar cane industry some time ago.  They worked too well and have been spreading across northern Australia ever since.  They have poision glands either side of the neck which means that small mammels and snakes die when they eat the toads which means that the toad has no natural predator that keeps the population in check.

They love bees and can desimate an apiary.  Even on stands I've seen toads jump on each others back until some five or six high and level with the hive entrance and another jumps up to bump the bottom board so the bees come out to investigate - gulp.  They are nocturnal so you don't them much during the day.  There has been some evidence recently that the native wildlife is building up a resistence to the poision.

The stands I built are capable of being folded down to aid transportantion but with the quantity of honey coming in I only just recently transferred them to a more stable and permanent structure.
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ericthebee
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« Reply #12 on: May 30, 2008, 02:24:27 AM »

Hi fellow  Ozzie's.  My hives are currently in Sydney  and I've been working on my farm to increase the range of pollen & nectar year round. Due to the drought all the gums have not really flowered for 3 years so as much as I'd like its just plain dumb to move my hives there .
I have planted lavender, Daisy's and other stuff the roo's & wallabies don't eat giving me a 12 month supply, balanced against the fruit trees , wattles  etc that still flower in the drought.  Finally it looks like the big set up this spring with a pile of Hygienic nuc's as I've had such bad SHB in Sydney, although seem to bee winning at present (shhhh they might be listening)
 I'm only a beekeeper for 4 years have taken on the roll on editor of our quarterly 8 page (a4) newsletter (let me know and I can email a copy gratis to Aussies) I have learned so much, it's amazing and I use beemaster to keep upto date with whats happen in the US plus various forums in the UK.
  Waysider look at planting to help get you thru the seasons. and the only way to make money here is to sell direct to the public, with our honey packers (the really big ones) paying less this year than last !

Keep buzzing
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wayseer
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« Reply #13 on: May 30, 2008, 08:53:30 PM »

Hi Eric - good to see another Aussie hereabouts.

Here on the Mary River I have excellent stands of ecualypts, about seven species, and mangroves which provides abundant sources throughout the year. And there is a lot of open forest and miles of river mangroves. There are down times and of course and if there is no rain things will be effected but I'm think the location is pretty good.  The wattle is out at the moment but attracts no attention from the bees as the tee tree is also out with the odd blue gum coming into flower.  The ironbark is in bud so it will follow the blue gum in flowering.  We just had a low pressure sytem pass us by whiich deliver 200 mls of rain which will give the forest trees and long drink.

Yes, I take your point about packer's prices - 20 years ago I was selling hoeny at $3.50 Kg, now it's $2.60. Someone is making a lot of money somewhere and as usual it's not the producer.  And honey is not being over produced.

Hope you guys get some much needed rain.
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