hTBH PROS Less invasive Free to wander New comb each season No Supers Inexpensive Less hardware to store Extract smaller batches Kill less bees Easier for bee-ginners CONS More frequent inspections No standardisation Less honey
A permaculture beehive design Ethics – What is important? Principles & patterns – What principles & patterns in nature inform our design? Strategies &Techniques – What are appropriate responses to the above?
Permaculture Pyramid c ETHICS PRINCIPLES & PATTERNS TECHNIQUES REGENERATION NATURAL SELECTION MINIMAL INTERFERENCE Minimising treatment Ecological interconnectedness/ co-evolution FAIR SHARE OBSERVATION: bees in nature & TRUST ‘GREAT MYSTERY’ Mesh bottom- boards Trapezoid cavity Natural comb building Small apiaries, but enough for genetic diversity Diversity is health (genetic, environmental) Let bees requeen themselves
Principles… Mites need brood to reproduce, and they mostly live in brood. Show 8x preference toward drone brood than worker brood (capped longer + more space?) Mite pop. growth is exponential
Short-term ‘solutions’ Apistan, Bayvarol, Apivar ‘These pesticides should be considered hazardous.’ Disposed of as ‘toxic waste.’ Often left in the hive too long Users are encouraged to ‘alternate control methods to avoid immunity-building in the parasite’ Users advised to not use fluvalinates before harvesting honey lest it contaminate product.
Organic chemicals Essential oils and organic acids Essential oils – plants’ natural protection Kills less varroa, can also be toxic to bees Taste residues THYMOL (66-98% mite kill). Vaporizer – air temp must be 12C+. Does not penetrate capped brood. (Apiguard or Apilife VAR) Organic acids formic, oxalic, lactic. Occur naturally in honey (trace quantities) Formic acid – labour intensive, hazardous to use (burns skin + eyes, fatal if swallowed, fumes can ignite), affects drone eggs – and we don’t know how it actually works! Oxalic acid – kills 98% mites. But corrosive… Lactic acid caused up to 60% of bee eggs to be removed… advice is to ‘only apply to brood-less colonies.’
Supermites – a silent spring “Varroa is likely to build up resistance to all pesticides (chemical and organic) given enough time and misuse of products.”
‘Biotechnical’ control 1. Brood removal (esp. drone brood ‘trapping’ in a brood-less colony) – ‘5 week Hive-splitting varroa control’ (Vietnam method) – Isolating queen on one comb for drone trapping 2. Mesh bottom boards – 20% natural mite fall from bee-grooming – Sticky boards / open bottoms prevent mites from climbing back up into hive – Not a stand-alone control but good for monitoring 3. Heat treatment? – Why? Adult female mites more sensitive to temps above normal brood temp than brood themselves. How? Isolate brood, 44C for 4 hours kills 100% mites and 5% brood (+ potential deformities later). 4. Pollen traps? Nah. 5. Smaller-cell foundation? Nah.
‘Varroa tolerance’ = ability to co-exist Remember A. cerana? – Removes mites from infested cells and re-caps – Has a short yearly drone production period, and capped stage for worker brood too short for mites to reproduce in them – ‘Entombs’ mites in drone cells – Grooms – Significant absconding + swarming, leaving infested brood behind Apis cerana, the Asian honeybee: co- evolved with varroa
Which traits are worth selecting for? – Hygenic behaviour (not really significant) – Duration of capped stage (difficult, time- consuming) – Suppression of mite reproduction (very worthwhile exploring!) – Brood ‘unattractiveness’ to mites (needs more research) – Grooming (not significant)
Brood-unattractive Russians ‘Live and let die’ Selecting queens and breeder drones with a shorter capped period Selecting for low- infestation (combination of mite- resistant traits)
Brood diseases (AFB, chalk) ‘Chalkbrood’ often caused by fungicides in pollen – prevents natural fungi from preserving bee food, which rots. ‘American Foulbrood’ = VERY NASTY. Bacterium Paenibacillus larvae larvae in two forms: spore + vegetative. AFB spores fed to bee larva by nurse bees – spores germinate in gut. Vegetative form is rods that penetrate larval gut wall, multiply, consume tissue – larva dies in pre-pupal stage. It’s kind of like Alien. THEN vegetative rods turn back into new spores (1 diseased larva contains 2.5 billion spores) – house bees spread spores by trying to clean out diseased larva – VICIOUS CYCLE.
Wax moth Better thought of as symbiotic organisms in the hive Cannot digest new comb, only old fouled comb Best to freeze honey after harvesting to kill WM larva, lest they hatch and eat it all.
Laws affecting beekeepers in NZ Councils often have by-laws affecting beekeeping – check them out You must register your apiary because hives must be annually inspected for AFB by an ‘approved beekeeper.’ Do an Annual Disease Return. Destroy any AFB hive. www.biosecurity.govt.nz – what you can and cannot import bee-wise www.biosecurity.govt.nz Toxic honey management (tutin from tutu plant, produced as honeydew by passion vine hopper – no taste or smell, can be deadly) Pesticide management