Kia ora all you lovely bee supporters
Another season has been and gone, so I thought I would let you know how it all went.
According to the experienced beekeepers around the place this season was not good. And for once I agree! While you farmer types were having a fabulous time – raining every night, grass growing like billyo in the day – the days were I must admit just glorious, but just too much stop start stuff for our buzzers and the honey just did not flow.
We averaged about half the production honey wise as last year and for the first time ever I went to a site and there was not one drop of honey in the boxes. Now that was scary! Admittedly though this was at a manuka site and most of us this year did really poorly on these. Luck was on our side though as we went mad again and travelled up north – 8 long hours one way – and put our hives in the most stunning manuka site I have seen – manuka for ever, the sea just down the hill, beautiful blue skies, very very very hot, just heaven and we did really well.
Pollination ( of the kiwifruit orchards ) was fraught with anxiety as well. The poor orchardists over there didn’t know what to do – right on pollination time we were being rung saying “yes, we want your bees into the orchard tonight and then about 2 hours later just as we were walking out the door to load up we would get another call saying ‘hold off not sure we are going to do polli at all” We are contracted to a contractor. It was all pretty sad. The orchards our bees go into are all organic – which has proven very interesting as so far they haven’t got psa – but the orchards all around them have and the orchardists were madly spraying with antibiotics to stop the spread of the disease. What we were not told till the last minute was that antibiotics were being used. The beekeepers were horrified as the fear was that the antibiotics would get into the honey, so there were some pretty heated discussions before it all got sensible and we did in the end go over. Luckily the spraying had all finished by then ( we don’t pollinate the gold crop only green and they are the last crop)
We also got the highest score for the quality of our hives which on a personal level was pretty neat.
I have just come back from the NBA bee conference in Napier. It was pretty heartening to hear all the amazing work our scientists are doing to try to eradicate varroa and psa and there is a whole lot of work going into the genetics of bees. They are especially looking at drones and bee nutrition. It is as the saying goes “you are what you eat” and that goes for bees too.
I want to thank you all for the great work you are doing in growing food for our bees. Almost all of you have planted flaxes, tagaste, have heaps of chicory, dandelions, clover and hawthorns. And some of you have fabulous possies of gorse!!!
Flaxes have 32% pollen protein available to our bees, tagaste 35%, dandelions only 16% but are very fatty ( bees love fat! ) clover 24%, hawthorne 30%.
All this pollen goes into feeding the new bees so it is brilliant to have so many pollen sources so close to the hives. The American beekeepers are now thinking that the lack of bee food variety in the huge orchards they have over there could play a big part in the problems they are having with Colony Collapse Disorder. They are discovering their bees lack good nutrition. So thanks for keeping those little areas of blackberry, hawthorn, barberry and gorse – it’s all valuable tucker. I noted with amusement that the scientist did not say how much gorse has, but every beekeeper knows it is the star flower for babe bees!
Lastly thank you for all of you for just keeping an eye on our bees and letting me know if they have fallen over or the lids have fallen off. Thank you for sharing your farms with our bees, I am pretty sure the bees are doing your fields some good – they look pretty happy when I watch them on your dandelions and suchlike!
Lastly - the honey I have given you this year is beautiful rewarewa from off Maungatautari Mountain. It is. my all time favourite honey. It is smoother than manuka and has a maltier taste. The tree produces nectar spasmodically, some years very little other years a lot, so it is special Hope you enjoy it!!! And if you need more honey, just ring me – you are first in line!