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News from Martyn in NZ

posted 29 Jan 2013, 06:44 by EBKA Webmaster
         Mike's notes made very interesting reading as I sat under the shelter of a grove of manuka trees in a sweltering 32 oC here in Sth island of New Zealand.  Hives here are seen every few miles in small clearings along the roadside, perhaps 20 or so, often strapped to pallets, and all apparently Langstroths. All boxes  are of the same size, i.e. deep langstroth, and while most have four of these deep supers, we have seen some with six.  According to a bee farmer I met, each super should yield 35kg of honey. Incidentally he is a Romanian and is running 500 hives for a company that has 2000 hives.
Manuka grows like birch trees on an English heath along the coast and around lakes and seems to be an understorey tree in denser forest too. It is flowering now so that the whole tree is covered in small white blossom.
  Elsewhere on mountain slopes the Rata blossom is about to open. This is a large tree with crimson flowers with very prominent stamens (a bit like a bottle brush ). It is pollinated by a bird, the Tui,which bites open the flower buds causing a shower of pollen, and then feeds on the abundant nectar,  The bee farmers are hoping that the unusually warm weather may make this a year to remember. Certainly the bees are flying very strongly.
    Varroa is a worry here, but has not had much effect in this area. They are relying on Bayvarol and Apistan and don't yet think that there are any resistant mites!!!
  The scale of beekeeping is unlike anything I've seen before, and I hope to see some of the commercial honey processing later as well as meeting some local amateur beekeepers.
                                  All the best Martyn