February

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Dave Black

Gold
BOP Club
3,057
3,655
Bay of Plenty
Experience
Retired
A ‘level2’ Sunday brought us a clear afternoon, humid and warm. Around thirty-strong, all track & traced, we had a look at a group of long hives tucked away under trees along the edge of open pasture, whose most notable feature was the spectacular number of ants living under the long lids. I would describe the bees as ‘lively’. No doubt the weather, boredom, ants, several entrances, and a somewhat cursory smoking all contributed to that. I didn’t count the frames (full-depth), but there seemed to be capacity for about 25, under several cover boards so only a part of the colony need to be opened instead of exposing the whole hive at once.

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Varroa control was being maintained with oxalic strips hung in the brood nest which were due for renewal, there being very little left of them. A quick sugar shake didn’t pick up any mites, but deposited lots of ants that had covered the lid the bees had been shaken into. The initial promise and popularity of these home-made strips seems to have waned and there seems to be a bit of a consensus that oxalic will help maintain a low level of mites, but will not be effective controlling an infestation that has got out of hand. Another item in the tool box was a battery-powered oxalic vapouriser. Although this was really only used in winter our host fired it up to demonstrate how quick and easy he found using it. His experience had been vapourisation had not been successful in his wintering ‘town’ hives, where there was too much brood, but out in the ‘back-blocks’ it had been more useful.

We enjoyed tea outdoors on a large deck under a pergola laden with grapes, and bees pilfering sweet ooze from the vines and fallen fruit. Not a wasp in site, but several Passion Vine Hoppers. This provided a useful opening to talk about what happens in this part of the season; around here the flow has dried up and robbing (from bees and wasps) and tutin need to be front-of-mind. Of course there were other things to talk about to, several hives not doing what they were expected to do, queens ‘disappearing’, and so on. And knitting, and feeding the large eel in the stream we crossed going to the hives and…
 
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