Is there a lot less bees around this year?

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alc

9
8
bream bay
Experience
Hobbyist
We moved to central whangarei mid winter. Our home has a whole lot of fruit trees - macadamia, citrus, avocado, many more all in full flower, I haven't seen a single honeybee!

I'm currently splitting my two hives in order to bring one up here. I wasn't going to as I'd figured there would be a lot of hives around already, but I feel there's a lot less bees around, at least here up north.

Has anyone compared the number of colonies registered this year to the previous data? It would be good if the stats in nzbeekeper mag indicated how numbers have changed...
 

Alastair

Founder Member
Platinum
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Auckland
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Semi Commercial
Anecdotally there have been large hive losses over this last season and in particularly the winter. Numbers are not officially counted until people do their colony returns next March, but it will be interesting to see once the numbers are published. Of course a lot of people will have made splits and increase by then.
 
8,886
5,313
maungaturoto
Experience
Commercial
in the last count nz is down 200,000 hives for the year.
if your central (with orchards trees??) you may be more effected by hobbyists. the last season was very wet and a lot of people have lost a lot of hives.
but also we are having a good spring, so there is other food for the bees.
if your more on the outskirts where the macadamia, citrus and avocado orchards are, you might get some bees from those when they get moved in.
 

alc

9
8
bream bay
Experience
Hobbyist
Thanks for that info Alastair and Tristan! We would definitely be in hobbyist country here. We have lots of fruit trees, but I wouldn't call our home an orchard. Lately on a still night I can smell nectar everywhere! No bees though. It will be interesting to see if anything gets pollinated. For me last season was terrible and pretty demoralizing, and I am down to two hives to build from, I had 6 :-(
So far so good this spring though!
 

Alastair

Founder Member
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Auckland
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I am down to two hives to build from, I had 6 :-(

You are not alone. I am hearing that and worse from nearly every hobbyist I speak to. Lot's of people have lost all their bees.
As to commercial beekeepers, they are suffering the double whammy of little or no income and therefore the means to keep their bees healthy, plus the increasing pressure from varroa mites which are getting more difficult to manage.
 

alc

9
8
bream bay
Experience
Hobbyist
Update, so after no bees, last week a swarm flew into the neighbours shed wall cavity. I tried to catch it but the queen was already inside, so yesterday had the job of getting it out of the wall and into a hive. Removing the wall panel there was old comb everywhere, in at least four seperate cavities so who knows how many colonies have lived there before!

Ive moved them to the end of my property (as far away as possible without driving) and put plenty of green matter in the entrance in the hope they wont all fly back to the shed.

Ive washed all my bee gear, torched hive tools as always, and will be quarantining this hive and all its gear like crazy as i'd imagine the chances of AFB in that shed wall would be very high! I only kept fresh comb from the cut out but I wouldnt think that would make a difference anyway.

The shed lining removed is nasty so I will burn that today, as well as the old comb I've removed. Neighbour plans to fill the cavities with expanding foam, hopefully before another swarm sniffs it out!
 
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39
18
Takapuna
Experience
Hobbyist
I was down at the home of a friend who has a huge pruri with a newly arrived swarm in it, they die out every year apparently..... but she likes them.
There are 2 entrances with fresh comb showing in the one I clambered up to look into. I imagine they die each season due to Varroa BUT WHAT IF there is an out break of AFB in the area? What would you all do about this?
 

alc

9
8
bream bay
Experience
Hobbyist
The bees would die each year from Varroa for sure (unless they are resistant, which they wont be). I guess every swarm that goes in has a chance of AFB, and my understanding is it will survive in the dead hive residue there long term. As the swarm dies from varroa each year, other hives will rob it. They will probably then spread varroa back to their hive, and possibly AFB too.

If there are any commercial beekeepers in the area perhaps they would want to do something with it to protect their operations and/or quarantine and be more wary of any hives within that area?

They wont want anyone to cut the tree of course.. Would options be at the end of this season to mesh off the entrance holes so a new swarm cannot go in? Or to fill the cavity with expanding foam? It'd then be a good spot to put a swarm trap close by next year?
 
39
18
Takapuna
Experience
Hobbyist
Thanks ALC good ideas and solutions... I will talk to her and see if I can block the entrances when they die out and place a swarm collection device over one of the holes.... that I can lower to the ground and let her watch the bees easily and get some honey as well. I have hives in the area that's why I am concerned, especially as I was notified AFB was present last year.
 


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