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Author Topic: Things are bad  (Read 6949 times)
Lone
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« on: November 11, 2009, 10:22:19 AM »

The bloke who has hives here and I checked all our hives a couple of days ago. He'd lost quite a few and numbers in mine have drastically reduced in 2 weeks.  He reckons it's the worst year in 15 years.  Only one ironbark tree in the whole of north queensland it seems has come out in flower.  My horticulturalist mate said tonight that in a bad year trees conserve their energy and the buds won't erupt.  We were a couple of days short of a record dry spell. The bloke also made some claims about the current quality of queens.  And then we found ants in the honey pot.

Have any other aussies experienced a very bad year?

I got home and they sang to me "Things are bad but they could be worse, so we'll see how we go with it mate, yes we'll see how we go with it mate".

Lone
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ziffabeek
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« Reply #1 on: November 11, 2009, 11:16:47 AM »

Jeez, Lone, sorry to hear that Sad.  After 3 years of drought here in Georgia, we are having a really wet year and just got through a flood that they are saying is more of a variant than a so called 100 year flood.  Mother Nature, she'll get you every time.

Hang tough, things always change!  Hope you get some rain soon. 

love,
ziffa
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SlickMick
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« Reply #2 on: November 11, 2009, 03:36:17 PM »

Sounds like things are crook Lone.

You know that things are under control.. all ya gotta do is spin around 3 times with ya eyes closed whilst singing the 1960's Vegemite jingle.. works every time

Mick
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On the outer Barcoo where the churches are few,
   And men of religion are scanty,
On a road never cross'd 'cept by folk that are lost,
   One Michael Magee had a shanty.

Now this Mike was the dad of a ten-year-old lad,
   Plump, healthy, and stoutly conditioned;
He was strong as the best, but poor Mike had no rest
   For the youngster had never been christened,
A BUSH CHRISTENING - A.B. "Banjo" Paterson http://www.middlemiss.org/lit/authors/patersonab/poetry/christen.html
Meadlover
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« Reply #3 on: November 16, 2009, 09:04:22 PM »

sorry to hear it Lone.

I haven't checked mine for a few weeks, but need to go out there this weekend.
I have heard others around Brisbane saying that their hives filled 2 supers in a fortnight. It has taken my have several months and the 2 supers on my strong hive are probably around 50% now. Being my 1st year as a beek I don't know if that is fast or slow.

With such bad conditions up your way maybe it would be beneficial to supplement them with some feed???

Good luck in the coming weeks with them.

ML
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Lone
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« Reply #4 on: November 17, 2009, 08:55:31 AM »

Hello ML,

Are your hives in the bush or in populated area? I suppose they will be doing fairly well down there.  You will probably have them all filled up.  Maybe you will be extracting soon.  Or you can use the reserves to boost the other hives.  If they have fallen back too, all I can suggest is what I've had to do and give them the smallest possible space - take off supers or put into nuc boxes.

I dread the day I will have to feed.  I am trying to avoid it, mainly because I still haven't learnt how to make syrup.  I have a little bit of spare anty honey I can feed back, but this won't last long.  I also have to have surgery next week, so I don't want to start something now I can't finish.

The thing is, they are bringing in small amounts of honey, but probably not enough to stimulate the queen.  I still haven't seen a drone for a long time.

In short, We'll all be rooned, said Hanrahan, before the year is out..

Lone
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Lone
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« Reply #5 on: November 17, 2009, 09:03:51 AM »

All right, Ziffa, I hope this helps.

http://www.middlemiss.org/lit/authors/obrienj/poetry/hanrahan.html
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darren
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« Reply #6 on: November 17, 2009, 11:05:05 AM »

I FOUND THAT RESTING MY HIVE ON 4 PEBBLES (1 IN EACH CORNER BELOW THE FEET OF THE HIVE) COVERED IN GREASE IS AN EFFECTIVE WAY TO STOP ANTS FROM ACCESSING THE HIVE. THEY SIMPLY HAVE NO WAY TO BRIDGE THE 2CM GAP AND EVENTUALLY GIVE UP ALL TOGETHER. PERHAPS VASELINE WOULD BE A BETTER CHOICE.
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Meadlover
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« Reply #7 on: November 17, 2009, 04:39:06 PM »

Hello ML,

Are your hives in the bush or in populated area?

Lone

Kind of in between - they're on the outskirts of the city, most properties in the area are 5-10 acres, so they should have a fair bit of fodder in the area.

ML
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Lone
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« Reply #8 on: November 17, 2009, 09:11:07 PM »

Darren,  I meant that the ants got into the meagre extracted honey supplies, which are in one of those food quality plastic containers with the big black lid and a rubber seal underneath which you can't seem to tighten.  For now I've put coopex on the legs of the table it sits on.  Some of the ants were those acrid things which fill your whole airways with fumes for a while.  I bit on one on a mulberry the other day.  But they floated to the top in the container so I was able to scrape them off easily with about 500ml wastage and it seems the honey is tasty enough to cover over any ant taste. For the hives, we did try grease on some but it seems to melt away or disappear in a big wet.  All my hive stands have steel legs which sit in tins of oil.  Ants here will kill hives so that is a pretty safe precaution.  And we need height here with our hives because of cane toads.  They will knock on the door and when the bees come out to answer it will tuck in to the tasty insects.

ML, when I went to Brisbane I saw there are a lot of produce farms on the outskirts.  Let us know how they are doing.

Lone
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ziffabeek
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« Reply #9 on: November 20, 2009, 11:44:29 AM »

That was awesome, Lone!! thanks for the poem.  grin Definitely brought a giggle and is too true!  And for such a wry poem, it has great imagery!

Having my Krewe over for Thanksgiving next week, I'll get 'em to do a rain dance for you 'round the fire pit.  Maybe it'll help out! Smiley

love,
liz
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Meadlover
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« Reply #10 on: November 23, 2009, 04:24:25 PM »

Well not good news from my hives Lone, checked them out on Sunday and the nuc hive is lost. Completely empty with not a bee to be seen. I'm now down to 1 hive (from 3) again due to SHB, even with a SHB trap built into the base.

Still no calls from the swarm list, might need to add my name to a few other lists and call the local council I think.

ML  Cry
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Lone
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« Reply #11 on: November 25, 2009, 04:23:18 AM »

Hello Ziffa,

When is Thanksgiving...is it tomorrow or did I miss it??  Don't worry too much about the rain.  It always rains in season here, varying amounts..it's just that we usually have SOME winter rain, but none this year till the end of spring.

When I went to inspect a property to put a hive on last week, all the nay-sayers at home were telling me how floods there would wash hives away or it wasn't a good place for this or that reason, sprays would kill them if fertilizer didn't; they didn't say as much but I reckon they thought the hairy man of Towers Hill would whisk the bees away.  So as I left, I said, "We'll all be rooned, said Hanrahan..."



ML,

Don't worry.  The same thing happened to me in my first year, without knowing what the problem was.  All I can suggest is try not to expand too rapidly, and don't give the girls any spare room where they can't protect the frames from the SHB.  Seal up any hidey holes.  Ideally, if all the frames are covered with bees, they can fend off the blighters better. And reduce the entrances to the mimimum size.  Have you tried using permethrin on the ground?  I wonder how Sasmarine went with that.  Have you got a photo of the traps you are using?  So far the guilfoyles trap seems to catch the odd one here, but we generally have drier conditions.  The coming wet season should be a good test of the traps.

I haven't had any swarm calls, but the main beek in town works on the council so I'd have to wait till he went walkabout.  There is a cutout waiting to be done, but I just don't have enough spare brood or honey frames to give it.   Do you have grey box there or know when it flowers?  The property I left one hive on has some in bud. 

Where do you source your honey for mead from?  Do you have to buy it?  Anyhow, things are bad...but they could be worse.


Lone

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Meadlover
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« Reply #12 on: November 26, 2009, 04:57:11 PM »

Lone,

the 1st mead I ever brewed was last year. I got a 4kg tub of Tea Tree honey from the local market. The guy had a van with all his honey, but also had a few supers with fully capped frames of honey. He then proceeded to cut the pieces of comb out, put them in containers, then put them on his table for sale. It was great to see it all happening in front of me. This was probably the first thing that got me interested in getting bees. Anyhow I used his Tea Tree honey to brew a methaglin with cinnamon, cloves, ginger, vanilla, and orange peel. It was a bit heavy on the honey and spices but if drunk more like a desert wine it was really nice, but a little overpowering. I tried to find him again to get some more Tea Tree honey, but he hasn't been back since  huh

The next batch I did was with a very light honey. I bought 20kg from a mate (which is where my hive now is - on his 10 acre property) and tried again, this time it was a little weak, but too much ginger, making it more like a ginger mead. This gave me a chance to talk more about bee keeping, and I think this is when I decided I would become the primary producer for my own mead supplies!

3rd try the missus and I did a batch together and nailed it. Very nice blend and very well balanced. We have done a second batch with that recipe which is now clearing in the fridge before racking (hopefully in the next week) so hopefully we get some good consistency and can stick with that recipe.

As far as the honey goes I haven't brewed any mead with my own honey since I have only extracted once, but I sure do intend on doing it that way in the future. I recently bought 2kg each of 4 different honeys to try 4 different batches of the same mead to see how different they turn out, and see how each honey performs in a mead. I got Teat Tree, Red Gum, Iron Bark and Yellow Box. So far I have been doing 5L batches, but if this current recipe keeps turning out consistenly we'll scale it up to a 50L batch soon  cool

ML

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philinacoma
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« Reply #13 on: November 28, 2009, 08:58:32 AM »

Hi ML

Admittedly I haven't made any mead in about 30 years, but I was under the impression that mead needed a good couple of years to mature before it was at it's best to drink. What's your experience?

Phil

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Meadlover
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« Reply #14 on: November 28, 2009, 09:01:50 PM »

Phil,

I think if you use a champagne yeast or wine yeast it might take that long. Also if it is very high alcohol it may take that long to mature, however the mead I have brewed is ready in only a couple of months as I use an Ale yeast - US05 (formerly US56. It is a very neutral yeast when fermented at around 18-20C but gets very fruity once fermentation occurs at warmer temps above 20C. It is also relatively highly flocculant, meaning that the yeast drops out of suspension quite well to give a nice clear product.
Once I have consistant results I'll post my recipe and procedure so others can give it a go too.

ML
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philinacoma
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« Reply #15 on: December 03, 2009, 07:40:13 PM »

I look forward to the refined recipe. cool
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Lone
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« Reply #16 on: December 22, 2009, 12:20:46 AM »

All right, things got worse.  I took one slow hive to the river to see if they'd pick up.  One time I checked, and there was a queen cell and only a bit of scattered brood.  Next week I checked, and the queen cell had completely disappeared, but the old marked queen was still there.  So I brought them home the next day and started feeding syrup to see if that would stimulate laying.  Today I checked, and the queen has gone and there is one or more laying workers.  I can't get an emergency queen - the breeders I called say it is too hot.  I might have to combine - what do you think?

Lone

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philinacoma
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« Reply #17 on: December 22, 2009, 01:23:07 AM »

Are all of your breeders up north?

There are other breeders further south who could possibly help. (The only breeder I know is on Kangaroo Island)
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mick
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« Reply #18 on: December 22, 2009, 02:27:34 AM »

Lone its time to call for professional help. Ring the DERM and get a bee inspector to have a gander. Those blokes know everyone and everything.

Nice to have another Vic in here, a Melburnian as well!
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Lone
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« Reply #19 on: December 22, 2009, 08:12:49 AM »

Thanks for the replies. 

Phil, I was thinking it might be an emergency and would drive to get a queen, but it is too hot for all the queen breeders in far north queensland.  They won't have any until march.  When I get queens, I reckon it would be better to go for italians bred in hot climate, seeing as italy is hotter than russia  Smiley

Micko, who are DERM?  Are they the equivalent of the DPI here?  I think what I need is an Agitator who can get the council to change its laws that ban bees in town, probably because one whinger complained 50 years ago, and while we're at it, who can throw out that age-old government policy that won't let people have land unless they have a primary industry, mainly cattle production, which denudes virgin forests and encourages clearing. 

I went into town to check the hive there too, and the fellow minding it is giving it tlc..even added a frame of brood a couple of days ago.  I got that queen at the same time as the current problem one, and I'm really wondering if those queens are not liking the desert.  The other 2 queens are laying much better.
Anyway, the bloke said to leave it a few days, and that if I combined with a laying worker, there is a chance the true queen could be killed, which I don't want to risk.  He said I can reduce the entrance to the good hive and put the bees on the ground so the guards don't let a layer in.

But speaking with someone else, he suggested that maybe that queen cell did hatch and the old queen swarm (maybe taking 50 bees?).  There might actually be a young queen!  I did panic of course and assume that if I didn't see the old marked queen, it must be a worker.  All I saw were a few cells with 4 or 5 eggs in each cell.  I thought a queen wouldn't lay like this, but he assured me a young queen will, and they are small and hard to spot.

So of course I panicked still and tomorrow's job is building another nuc box for them.   tumbleweed 

Lone
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