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Thousands of Bees Killed in Lyttelton – KM140

This is Episode One hundred and forty of our beekeeping show – Thousands of Bees Killed.

We are Gary and Margaret, We are kiwimana. Kiwimana are beekeepers from the hills of the Waitakere Ranges on the wild west coast of Auckland in the North Island of New Zealand.

We produce and sell beekeeping equipment, provide Beekeeper services and education.

In this episode we talk about the suspected pesticide killing of bees near Christchurch and the largest bee ever has been rediscovered in Indonesia. We also have roving reporters checking in from Canada.

Who helped us in bringing this show to you?

This show is made possible for you by our amazing supporters.

Every show we read out our top Supporters and on the first show of each month we read out all the supporters. Thanks to you all.

This week we would like to thank:-

Trish Stretton, Lisa Morrissey, Dan McGivern, Tony Lumb, Nathan Buzzinga Beekeeping, Malcolm Sanford, Tim Willcox, Daniel Bokros, Carolyn Sloane, Robin O’Connell, John Paff, Cameron Miskin, Chris Palgrave, Finn’s bees, Gudny Hunter, Buzzed Honeys – Humane Bee Relocation, Mandy Shaw, Barbara Weber, Christopher Brown, Greg Parr, Irene Townshend , Michelle Lassche and Karen Shields.

What does it mean to be an Organic or Natural Beekeeper?

Opportunities for creating your own genetic strain. Over the last couple of weeks we have seen that the…

What’s the weather like Margaret?

The first month of Autumn is now coming to an end but we are happily still enjoying these Summer-like temperatures around 26 to 28 degrees celsius…interestingly the ruckus of the cicadas has stopped and the days are filled with calm quiet sounds of our local tuis with the chirp of the crickets, which I love hearing

Has the weather affected the Bee Behaviour?

Bees are calm still enjoying hot days and the smell around the apiary is a honey lover’s delight.

Front entrance guarding is very strong due to the ever present wasps, there are heaps around but I think the bees are coping well.

What have you been doing?

Treated 12 hives with a double dose each of OAV. I have been a bit slack on getting robbing screens on the remaining 3 hives and the lawns have really grown after the rainfall we had last week …geez it never stops…

What has been the Results of treatments?

Checked the inspection boards and was shocked to see huge mite fall must’ve been over 100 on each one ! So those little beggars are really around…it’s crucial I get in there and treat again.

What we are working on…

Beekeeper Activities

We know that UK and USA folks are in Spring and your jobs will be making sure you have enough gear, for splitting, for population growth. You’ll be looking out for any signs of drone laying.

…Drone laying can mean if you have surviving Winter queens you could split….pre-emptively this means BEFORE you have queen cells. Spring is the breeding season after all. Gosh we would just love to encourage you to consider breeding from surviving queen colonies, this will add to strong honey bee development – they are ideal as they are use to your local environment rather than get queens in from somewhere else which may not be used to your climatic conditions. Plus it would be a great benefit to developing stronger genetic behaviours.

We do our split by keeping our older queens which once resources are split she is moved away she will carry on – as usual giving you extra resources if anything goes awry. The remaining colony is left to naturally raise a new-season queen, this is where the beekeeper uses the bees natural emergency response similar to if the queen dies.

Then once the new season queen colony is queen right you could re-split. If you have enough resources. We have a free split method available HERE

You will be checking honey stores but some of you may want or have to feed to encourage wax production for comb drawing.

Here at kiwimana, every change of season we check hive status, just at the end of that season.

So what we do in the end of Winter early Spring, we call them “assessment” inspections.

We look at type of brood being laid, hive health, cell health and inside cells to check for varroa presence. We’ll do some sticky board mite checks before treating to establish levels. Then treat and then after treatments complete wait a week and then do another count.

What are the Benefits of doing this?

Perhaps consider long term benefits for your apiary…local bees, surviving queens, stronger local genetics which will benefit your local area and perhaps the start of a breeding program?! How are we preparing for what’s coming up for the Bees ?

  • Month coming up expectations Temperatures may start to decrease…we’ll consider wintering-down only if temperatures at night drop to single digits
  • Bee Behaviour Not too much change expected
  • Beekeeper Activities Re-treating all hives with continual monitoring
  • Results Anticipated Hopefully Drop in mite numbers What are the benefits of running Honey Bee colonies organically / naturally ? We run our colonies with two brood boxes, this gives the girls space to grow, then same size supers so swapping frames is not a problem, easy for beginner beekeepers, make it simple guys.We don’t use queen excluders either …

Our mission is to Save Bees, one hive at a time, by helping you keep Honey Bees alive.

Articles Mentioned:-

Roving Reporters

Yolanda from Yolybear's Beekeeping Journal – Toronto Canada

Yolanda is from Toronto in Canada and keeps bees in very cold winters, check out her podcast HERE

Do you want to bee a Roving Reporter?

It would be awesome if you can help create the buzz by being part of the show –  reporting  in from your location while in the field

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

Please send us a sound file to gary@kiwimana.co.nz, titled Roving Reporter

Or send us a message on Speakpipe by clicking HERE

To Learn more check out our guide:- How to become a Roving Reporter

Beekeeping News

Thousands of bees mysteriously dying in Christchurch in the South Island, New Zealand

A terribly sad story from Christchurch about Hannah Ewings bees, who are dying in great numbers. Pesticides seem to be to blame for this incident. (It appears that this is not an isolated incident we heard from Amy who also lost her whole hive.)


Every day over the past week, Christchurch woman Hannah Ewing has collected an ice cream container full of dead bees from her three beehives.


Talking Points

  • Everyday she has collected an ice cream container full of dead bees everyday
  • She felt helpless
  • Her hives are located near a reserve in Lyttelton
  • Hannah thinks people are being socially irresponsible with regards to pollinator safety
  • Karen Kos from Apiculture NZ advised people to be careful that any bait placed for wasps isn’t attractive to Honey Bees.

What is fipronil? Here is an article from the National Pesticide Info Centre LINK

Report any suspected Pesticides incidents to the EPA in New Zealand


Your Feedback

Phil Yorke It’s all the pesticides farmers spray on their crops, plus councils spraying weed killer everywhere.
Newtan Judy Phil- it’s also people spraying for cockroaches and spiders in their gardens. 😞
Rana Mcneil Stop spraying Roundup councils
Robert McInnes Rana, I know that some spray round-up around hives with no issue. this is a bit more serious tho.
Rana Mcneil Pesticides herbicides & fertilisers major Killers of bees, there is always issues with sprays
Gina Webb I blame the government 🙂
Leigh Digs Sad Face 😡
Rachy Meikle Wow.. That’s really odd.. Bees sooooo essential!!
Colette Nicol l Rachy Meikle it’s because Christchurch is cursed I tell ya
Heathers Beau Colette Nicoll nope, no curse, just some dum nut using spray near beehive. (Gary what were your thoughts when you heard about these bee losses?)

Join the Discussion on the Facebooks

Thousands of bees mysteriously dying in Christchurch via @NZStuff #Bees #1

Posted by kiwimana on Wednesday, March 6, 2019

World’s largest bee not seen for 38 years rediscovered on remote Indonesian island

A bee that was thought to have been extinct has been found in Indonesia. Wow imagine taking a sting from one of these?


A group of scientists and insect enthusiasts has rediscovered the world's largest bee while on an expedition on a remote Indonesian island.



Regardless of its ecological niche, this bee needs protection from threats such as deforestation for palm oil, which is rife throughout Indonesia.

Talking Points

  • The bee was last recorded in 1981 and before that in 1859
  • It doesn’t die after stinging, has a 6cm wingspan and giant pincers on its head
  • The Bee is dubbed the “the flying bulldog”, Wallace’s giant bee (Megachile pluto) has a wingspan of a whopping six centimeters.
  • Historical value and environmental impacts concerning for our future

Your Feedback

Edgar Samuel Ross Good, now leave it alone 🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝
Hayley Sunderland Well leave it alone then. Might last another 38 years.
Paul Scholten Surprised Face 😮
Lisa Lyn Simonson And they collected this specimen and put it in a jar shaking my head

Join the Discussion on the Facebooks

World's largest bee not seen for 38 years rediscovered on remote Indonesian island via @abcnews #Bee #1

Posted by kiwimana on Friday, March 8, 2019

Feedback from You

We got a review on the Facebooks from Chris Palgrave

I love the Kiwimana Buzz podcast – Gary and Margaret are always fun, interesting and informative. The conversation is informed, honest, balanced and open-minded. Keep it up – you guys are awesome!
Chris Palgrave

End of the Show!!

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Show Times

  • Who helped us in bringing this show to you? 00:00:57
  • What does it mean to be an Organic or Natural Beekeeper? 00:02:10
  • Roving Reporters 00:19:33
  • – Toronto Canada 00:19:51
  • Do you want to bee a Roving Reporter? 00:23:55
  • Beekeeping News 00:24:39
  • Thousands of bees mysteriously dying in Christchurch 00:24:50
  • World's largest bee not seen for 38 years rediscovered 00:47:14
  • Feedback from You 00:52:07
  • End of the Show 00:52:46

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.
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