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Author Topic: 175th birthday of honey bees in New Zealand  (Read 867 times)

Offline edward

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175th birthday of honey bees in New Zealand
« on: March 21, 2014, 03:36:20 PM »
Today marks the 175th birthday of honey bees in New Zealand, described by Shakespeare as "singing masons building roofs of gold".

Two hives of honey bees were brought to New Zealand from Sydney in 1839 by Mary Bumby. Since then, beekeeping has evolved from being a home craft to a skilled art. Honey exports are now valued at around $81 million per year. Unfortunately, bees are under threat worldwide, which could be agriculturally and economically devastating for New Zealand.

To celebrate the arrival of the honey bee in New Zealand, we explore some amazing facts about bees.


mvh Edward  :P

Offline Michael Bush

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Re: 175th birthday of honey bees in New Zealand
« Reply #1 on: March 22, 2014, 11:24:50 AM »
I was going to add "Forty-two years of bee-keeping in New Zealand, 1874-1916; some reminiscences."  By Isaac Hopkins to my publication of "The Australasian Bee Manual".  Here is the quote of the incident you refer to:

"On March 13, 1839, the first hive-bees were landed at Mangunga, Hokianga.  They were brought from England in the sailing ship James by Miss Bumby, sister of the Rev.  J.  H.  Bumby, one of a party of missionaries.  There were two colonies, in straw skeps.  It may be of interest here to note that for over fifty years the late Rev.  W.  Cotton, chaplain to Bishop Selwyn, was credited with introducing, in 1842, the first bees into this country, and in the earlier editions of my "Bee Manual" I recorded this error.  I subsequently received proof of Miss Bumby's importation, and also that of Lady Hobson from New South Wales in 1840, which I duly noted in later editions."

And a bit more:

"Some few years ago I had access to some apiary notes made by a near relation of Miss Bumby, in 1843-5, which, in the light of modern beekeeping, seem rather quaint.  The following is a specimen of the notes:—


"From Miss Bumby's original stock.  The queen swarmed December 27, 1843.  New swarm October 3, 1844.

 "Date. 1844  Weight of Honey Taken. 

lb.  oz.     Swarm. 
March 18      3   4   Edward. 
July 13       28    0   Marianne. 
Sept.  24, 1844. 
October 2    4   8   4
December 23   10   8   October 10, 1844.
1845.              Henry. 
October 13, 1844. 
March      Died      Died off. 

"It would seem by the above that honey was taken both in summer and winter, and that the greatest take was in winter, the total returns from King Henry VIII.  for 12 months being 46¼ lbs.  of honey, and four swarms. 

"It may here be mentioned that the Rev. W. C. Cotton was the author of a very interesting bee manual, "My Bee Book," of some 368 pages.  He also published about the year 1844,

'(1) Be anxious to increase your stock at first rather than to take a large quantity of honey. 

'(2) Get well acquainted with your bees, and make them acquainted with you.  Handle them gently, and do not blow on them.  Leave them alone when they are cross. 

'(3) Always in swarming time have a spare hive at hand. 

'(4) If you have boxes to pile one on top of the other, never disturb the lower box, except when, after two or three years, the combs have grown old and want renewing; then, late in the autumn, when the breeding season is over, take the combs away from the lower box instead of the second. 


'(5) Take off the cover, blow some smoke into the upper box between the bars to drive the bees into the lower box.  Have a table ready, with a cloth upon it; lift the box on to this, and carefully cut out the outside combs, stopping directly you come to those which have brood in them.  Return the box with the brood-combs undisturbed.  This may be repeated as often as you see through the window (of the hive) that the honeycombs are sealed over. 

'(6) After the breeding season is over all the boxes except the lower one may be entirely emptied in situations where, as at Paihia, the bees work through the winter. 

'(7) Keep a stock book regularly, and write down immediately anything curious which is observed. 


"The above rules were no doubt the best that could be adopted by New Zealand beekeepers at that time, and the system advocated was at least a great advance on that of the sulphur pit method, though quite out of date now.  Rule 7, however, concerning an apiary register or note book, will always hold good."

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Offline Lone

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Re: 175th birthday of honey bees in New Zealand
« Reply #2 on: March 23, 2014, 08:48:59 AM »
Happy birthday Kiwibees!!!

How will you be celebrating? 

My goodness, Michael, I wish I'd read those points a couple of days ago, namely "Leave them alone when they are cross" and "always in swarming time have a spare hive at hand".  We ran out of gear and to save postage are waiting till a mate is going to Brisbane at the end of March.  All I had left to get a swarm at home (which, incidently, decided to check out accomodation with me in my house) was a double 4 frame nuc.  I battled with a cross hive looking for a frame of eggs to encourage them to stay, but found only queen cells (maybe their own hive) and then the offsider came home and refused to use the nuc boxes. But by the time we had knocked together a bottom board, the swarm had swarmed off.