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Christmas Time in the Bee Yard – KM131

This is Episode One hundred and thirty one of our beekeeping show.

We are Gary and Margaret, we love Honey bees, we are kiwimana and we are Beekeepers who live in the Waitakere Ranges, on the Wild West coast of Auckland, in New Zealand.

kiwimana is a place where the beekeeping community can share a conversation and connect and in this episode we are talking about Beekeeping in a Belfast prison, A famous Beekeeping Author has passed away, What kind of Sugar is good for bees and Roving Reporters from around the world.

..we also – as if that wasn’t enough – build and sell beekeeping supplies, we teach beginner Beekeepers and provide beekeeper services and advice. And we are the “beesknees” Club, Facebook group.

Great to have you joining us, we know life is busy for you so we appreciate that you have taken the time to join us today – thanks so much for being part of the kiwimana buzz.

We also have been known to go off on tangents about other issues.

It's Summer in New Zealand!!! What has been happening in the weather?..and this means the bees are dealing with…!!!

What’s been happening at kiwimana?


  • New Beekeeping Podcast “The Contrary Beekeepers Show”, check it out on our Podcast listings page HERE
  • End of the Year survey, we really need your help,
  • Nick Wallingford has agreed to let us release his 2006 show – The way we used to bee, a podcast series about the history of New Zealand beekeeping.
  • Merry Christmas – Thoughts for year?
    Well this year has had it challenges, but onwards and upwards…


  • Visitor from Poland helped me out – AFB check and visited local site “Pukematekeo”
  • Split results – 100% success with 3 new season queens so now we have six colonies
  • The two colonies which I have referred to as ‘weak’ are going well and building up significantly…extraordinary
  • Checking cells in the older queen colonies and have found some varroa in the drone cells so OAV Treatment cycle planned in-line with eggs ie: do my timing from eggs= treat 2x till capped then wait 2 weeks and treat 2x til hatched – this requires taking notes so you know when you have to treat.
  • Beginner Kits – built woodware, oiled and set-up in apiary – moved half into langstroth single full depth hive set-ups and also growing fast due to this extraordinary weather with what is resulting huge nectar collection and capping of honey – so it’s kiwimana crazy banaNas buzz !
  • Setting up my demonstration hives with all the gear I believe is needed to manage a hive well, monitor varroa and make a beekeeper confident when working a Beehive – Gary and I will be working on a video to show these methods and equipment we use for IPM
  • AFB – DECA work for customers finished with only 1 case of AFB identified so overall good result.
  • In my view – The biggest job for beginner beekeepers is managing nectar flow with the way the season is going colonies could abscond if there is not enough space for queen laying causes absconding which means you will see lots of activity in front of your hive then next day you go to have a look, then you find bees gone, only odd areas of capped left, no queen cells no eggs and only honey and nectar left
  • ….this is a big job for all of us this season with such a good flow on…some folks are already extracting…yeehaaaa….! Loving this season

Our Polish Visitor @Miod_Wasiaka

Follow Weronika’s Adventures HERE on Instagram.

New Zealand Beekeepers – toot toot

Local climates can vary so this risk can affect some areas more than others – what is this risk ?

  1. Tutu bush
  2. Tutin toxin
  3. Vine hopper (fluffy bum)
  4. Drought, dry hot weather

If these 4 things are going on in a season, the risk of Tutin poisoning is a high risk.

What is tutu bush ?

This is a native New Zealand plant.
Here is a LINK with information and photos about this plant

RULES : the risk posed is poisoning of humans causing death therefore

  • Take honey off before 31st December after this date means – If you sell honey or honey-comb – you must get your honey “Tutin tested”, Tutin toxin when present in honey is poisonous to humans not Bees – cut comb made from ross-rounds poses a higher risk.

Shout out to Gudny

We also want to do a shout out to Gudny Hunter – not only is she a supporter through Patreon, she supports us by purchasing our locally sourced / produced products, and volunteers help in the workshop and Apiary.

It's support from folks like Greg and Gudny that inspires us to keep up creating content, motivates us to produce our own products and promote locally made products and support and teach our local beginner beekeepers.

kiwimana Global Roving Reporters

Mandy from Pacific Northwest, Reporting in from

Check out Mandy’s fantastic beekeeping podcast “Beekeeper Confidential”.
You can help the people affected by the California fire here:- Butte County Recovers

Yolanda from Ontario, Canada

Yolanda lost her voice, but has sent in this report from the field.
Yolybear from Toronto Ontario Canada reported in despite losing her voice!!!!
Check Out YolyBears Website and Podcast HERE

Chris Brown – Britmana / UK

Chris Brown wears a snow man

Chris Brown Roving report from a pub in Britmana/Sheffield in the UK.

Do you want to bee a Roving Reporter?

It would be awesome if you can help create the buzz by beeing part of the show – reporting in from your location whilst in the field ; ) – we need more kiwi reporters…come on guys !

If so…Could you record a quick update of one to two minutes of your local weather conditions and what people should be doing with they bees in your area.

Join the mailing list to get more information a monthly reminder when we record the next shows HERE or here:-

Become a Roving Reporter

* indicates required

What should you be doing with your bees?

  • In New Zealand
    most swarms have settled into strong brood patterns, building up well with folks doing swarm catching, then on-selling our advice is to check before pick up and ensure there is healthy capped brood which has been AFB checked by a DECA certified beekeeper or a beekeeper who can give you a copy of the Annual certificate of inspection which has been signed-off by a DECA certified beekeeper – our top priority is managing space now that all our queens are all mated or what we call queen right. This includes keeping an eye on nectar levels and manipulating the frames for maximum drawing of comb. Advice is not to add too much space too quickly so it encourages capping of honey but this method requires regular monitoring so as not to risk your colony absconding.
  • In UK
    Chris Brown our UK roving reporter has updated for Sheffield .
  • In USA
    no news from Avari at Rascals Apiary we hope you guys are okay but we got a report From Mandy

Blog Recap

Top Content by your Vote Last Month

  1. Is Beekeeping the Antidote for the 21st Century, We Talk to Nigel Costley
  2. Is Roundup Safe Around Bees?
  3. 8 Spring Flowers That Attract Australian Native Bees
  4. Telling the Bees Bonus Buzz
  5. What products have been used in our work?

    Gary – getting the hand of the new recorder, we has no complaints so it must sound ok,
    Margaret – new boxes for our beginner kits, new baseboards, heaps of wooden frames with wax foundation, wire, other aquadhere glue, nails and staples. lawnmower

    Beekeeping News

    Belfast's Hydebank a hive of activity as behind-bars beekeeping creates a buzz

    Like lots of communities around the world, government agencies are hoping to help those who have crossed the line and been put in prison, by creating this new buzz, working on bees together is breaking down some barriers and offering new opportunities.

    There’s a buzz around Hydebank Wood Prison these days, with beekeeping now a popular pastime.
    A novel scheme, introduced to the Belfast jail in conjunction with the Ulster Beekeepers Association, started with a couple of hives and has proved a big hit with prisoners and staff.
    Hydebank is unique because no other detention centre in the UK or Ireland houses both adult women (there were 61 female residents on Tuesday) and young offenders, 99 of them, who have been sentenced or are on remand.

    [Belfast's Hydebank a hive of activity as behind-bars beekeeping creates a buzz]( ‘Belfast's Hydebank a hive of activity as behind-bars beekeeping creates a buzz')

    Sue Hubbell, Who Wrote of Bees and Self-Reliance, Dies at 83

    Sad to report that author and beekeeper “Sue Hubbell” has passed away at age 83 in Maine. One of her famous beekeeper Books was “A Book of Bees”.

    Sue Hubbell, who wrote quietly penetrating books and essays about her life as a beekeeper, a curious wanderer and a divorced woman navigating middle age, died on Oct. 13

    Talking Points

    • After divorce she was forced to take over the family Beekeeping Business
    • Started beekeeping in the Ozarks Mountains
    • She was very self reliant lady
    • She also did a book on finding the best piece of pie on highway 60.

    I love this quote from Sue:-

    I like pulling on a baggy bee suit, forgetting myself and getting as close to the bees' lives as they will let me, remembering in the process that there is more to life than the merely human.

    Sue Hubbell, A Book of Bees

    “Sue decided that she strongly wished not to descend into dementia under indefinite institutional care,” Brian Hubbell her son said. “So, on the morning of Sunday, Sept. 9, she ate her last grapefruit and informed her friends and doctor that she intended to stop eating and drinking. She stuck to her plan and died 34 days later, increasingly lucid through the last few days.”

    In her final conversations her son, he added, she said she considered the ending to her life that she had orchestrated “a triumph.”

    You can buy the Bee Book HERE

    Sue Hubbell, Who Wrote of Bees and Self-Reliance, Dies at 83

    Your Feedback

    Elizabeth McMonagle Wonderful woman

    What kind of sugar should I feed my bees?

    In Margaret’s view none.
    But it’s important to realise that there are many things that can impact why a beekeeper would ‘want’ or needs to feed Honey Bees sugar-syrup.
    ‘Want’ says to me – strictly in it for the honey, taking it all off ….or over breeding and the nucleus colonies are not getting real honey to feed from – disappointing
    Need says to me – climatic conditions, no nectar, short nectar flow, sudden dearth, weak colony so need energy for wax-production – understandable
    Desperate measures or lazy, greedy beekeeper ?
    With all this in mind a good article with great info…

    You have decided you need to feed your bees. Maybe you just installed a package in a new hive, and they have to build out all of the frames. Maybe you just moved a hive to a new location and you want to give them a boost. Maybe you caught a late season swarm and they need help to be ready for winter.
    Whether you are feeding dry sugar, candyboards, or syrup (with or without DIY Healthy Honeybee), it is important to choose the correct sugar. Choosing the wrong sugar can make your bees very sick and result in poisoning or nosema. So, which one should you use?

    Talking points

    • So many types of sugars – white sugar is the best, as closest to nectar
    • Different types can cause health issues for honey bees – diarrhoea
    • Costs money to buy and takes time to prepare
    • So….Why not just save honey for your girls?

    What kind of sugar should I feed my bees?

    Your Feedback

    Isaac Bennett Natural sugars… apple juice is a good start
    Carrie Jo Thomas NONE.

    A flower map to help NZ beekeepers

    A flower map of New Zealand, good idea? The Changing world podcast reported about it.

    As beehive numbers continue to skyrocket off the back of the mānuka honey boom, scientists, iwi and industry groups are coming together to study the honey-producing potential of New Zealand’s native vegetation.

    Talking Points

    • Mīere is the Maori word for honey
    • Should be completed in the next five years
    • Over 100,000 new hives have been registered in the last year
    • This will work great for commercial Beekeepers looking for new aprairy locations
    • The project will produce a map based on the nectar production of the area
    • New bylaws may be passed using this data to limit hive numbers

    We recommend you click on the link below and listen to the full show.
    A flower map to help NZ beekeepers

    What’s your Number One Beekeeping Problem?

    When people join our newsletter we ask them what their number one Beekeeping problem is, we try and help them with problem.
    Here is this month's one:-

    • I guess my biggest acute problem is learning how to deal with common parasites and varroa mites…Alan and Laura
    • Staying on top of Varroa…Colin Smith

    Articles that Margaret mentioned


    Remedial Action

    What’s your Biggest Beekeeping Problem? Tell us here:-

    Or visit our speakpipe page HERE and leave a question
    If you have a Urgent Question, please check out our Bee Knees Facebook group here:-

    Feedback from you guys!!!

    Voice Messages

    We heard from Marlon in sunny Jamaica.

    The Twiters

    YolyBear eat new podcast from Ontario Canada.

    Yolanda has a new podcast and wrote to us to say she loves our podcast and we give her the confidence to do her show, she has learnt lots for our show and our awesome guests, yay Bananas!!

    Check Out YolyBears Website and Podcast HERE

    The Bonus Show

    This week we are talking about Jars of Honey selling for $1800 and why Mad Honey isn’t a great Christmas Present. The bonus show is for our supporters.
    The Bonus show can be found HERE * Due out 19 Dec 2018

    Please Subscribe to the Show

    kiwimana_buzz_podcast_showNotesSo did you enjoy that show ?...did you find something useful you can use in your beekeeping work or help keep you company as you work your bees??? Yes?

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    Show Times

    • What's been happening at kiwimana? 00:02:37
    • New Zealand Beekeepers – toot toot 00:17:09
    • Shout out to Gudny 00:20:11
    • Global Roving Reporters 00:23:19
    • – Portland Oregon, USA 00:23:34
    • – Ontario, Canada 00:26:13
    • – Sheffield in the UK 00:28:23
    • What should you be doing with your bees? 00:32:46
    • Blog Recap 00:39:12
    • What products have been used in our work? 00:43:36
    • Beekeeping News 00:45:22
    • Belfast's Hydebank a hive of activity as behind-bars beekeeping creates a buzz 00:45:36
    • Sue Hubbell, Who Wrote of Bees and Self-Reliance, Dies at 83 00:48:31
    • What kind of sugar should I feed my bees? 00:51:19
    • A flower map to help NZ beekeepers 00:56:00
    • What's your Number One Beekeeping Problem? 01:00:17
    • Feedback from you guys!!! 01:05:59

    Media Credits

    Gary Fawcett

    Gary enjoys designing new kiwimana products which we sell through our on-line shop.He is passionate about saving the Bees and encouraging urban beekeeping.Gary loves to write about issues that affect the Bees and our environment.He is also into tramping/walking in the beautiful New Zealand bush.
    Liked it? Take a second to support kiwimana on Patreon!
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