At the end of December, we continued to have lots of dull drizzly days, alternating with days of heavy rain. This had an appalling effect on maintaining nuc populations, and some outfits instituted syrup feeds to hives. For the first time ever in 20 years there have been zero syrup frames to recycle in the grafting yard, and light syrup feeds continue. My home garden is at least three weeks behind schedule. Polystyrene nucs have required three top ups with new bees. Thank goodness for three frame nucs. Over the New Year we have had several hot days.
There is a lot of white clover in seed production, plus on roadsides and lawns. The soil temperature is warm, but we need the rain to stop, increased air temperatures to continue, and the bees flying. If the clover yields, the season will be very short and intense; shame about the honey price. The latter will cause a huge amount of stress for some. Spots of canola are just starting to yield.
This is the second spring in a row with heavy rain forcing the closure of Coes Ford. It is difficult to know whether this is due to climate change, or post-earthquake changes in aquafers. In November, the Selwyn District Council installed closure gates on both sides of the Ford, and these gates have been operational more often, than not. This at times will be a nuisance for locals, but it was only a matter of time before a non-local not respecting nature was swept away. Those living in the vicinity were tired of rescuing people and cars. Coes Ford is an often-used route for beekeepers cutting through the back roads enroute to extraction plants or shifting hives.
In early December, when placing out blocked nucs, I noticed some very dull black honey bees. At first, I wasn’t sure whether they were bees or flies, but on picking them up and turning over to inspect the undersides, they had Italian honey bee colouring. These bees disappeared once nucs were unblocked. I have never sighted this before. I think I have spotted the offending unmarked apiary, less than a kilometre away, in weeds high
as hives with bees flying! Aargh! I have had to treat my nucs with miticide for the first time ever in December.
Recently in the Rolleston area, outside of the township on a farm, an outfit lost half a dozen hives with dead bees testing with a high carbaryl count. The farmer is not a carbaryl user. The question is, was this sabotage or someone using sugar or honey mixed with carbaryl as wasp bait?
Due to large amounts of rain washing down beech trees, dew production is nonexistent.
Extraction plants remain nonoperational.
As a regular Colonies Reporter it was a buzz to receive a Christmas card and a bright, high quality Kiwi bees tea towel from ApiNZ. These towels are available on the ApiNZ website.