Sunday, December 7, 2008

bees at work ..

The beginning of December brings sunshine and flowers and many busy bees in my back garden. My girls have had flowering Manuka and Pittosporum eugenoides, Lemonwood, to choose from plus a wonderful big garden across the road that is full of flowering summer plants.
I have noticed that Miro, the taller hive is quite abit stronger then Rimu, hopefully this 2nd hive will catch up with her sister bees in time.
My 3rd hive, Matai, is at my friend`s place in the city and doing really well. I hope to take some honey off at the end of the month all going well.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Using Organic Treatment

Acouple of weeks ago I opened my hive, Matai, at my friend`s place, it had been a swarm I had collected a week before and I wanted to put a wafer of ApiLife Var, the organic varroa mite treatment on the top of the brood box.
Look at the pretty comb my girls have been making, I always feel bad when I have to scrap it off .. The organic wafer is put into the hive and because it evaporates, you can leave it there and not have to worry about taking it out later - it is very strong smelling, lasts forever on your hands if you do what I did and forget to wear gloves. I had meant to bring some thin surgeons gloves as I don`t wear any at all when I work with the bees, the leather ones I find far to cumbersum and end up squashing bees .. Apart from afew stings I have not had a problem having bare hands, the bees feel warm and velvety.
It will be very interesting to watch how this treatments works after using Apistan strips before, it just feels so much better to me NOT putting any sort of chemical into my hives - we will see . .

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Spring and the bees are buzzing ...

My hive at home is waiting for a swarm, hopefully soon, as I can`t wait to have bees right at my back door ! There is a high fence for them to fly up and over before hitting the neighbours place and is sheltered from the cold southerly winds by the fence and an orange tree - also, it can not be seen from the road. I am also looking forward to showing my Grandaughter Lia the bees on a closer level, she is keen so I want to encourage her. I had better warn the lawn mower man ...

The Kowhai, (Sophora tetraptera) are in bloom - one of the first signs of spring in Aotearoa. The Waikato river that flows through Hamilton where I live, was once lined with this smallish feathery-leafed tree - old Maori memories say that the river water tasted of Kowhai ..

The nectar eating birds like Tui, Waxeyes and Korimako enjoy the sweet delight hidden well down in these bright yellow flowers - the leaves come out after flowering and it is semi-deciduous here in the Waikato.

We don`t have many brightly coloured native flowers here in NZ, so the Kowhai is extra special .

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A stroll in the Gardens this morning ...

A red flowering native Manuka, Leptospermum scoparium, covered in flowers most of the year - bees love it ! This is a garden variety of Manuka, the original having soft pinkish white flowers and is the sp that provides the medicinal honey that is so popular now - it usually grows wild. This red sp is popular in gardens here as it offers colour during the colder months and is very hardy.

Viburnam tinus `Eve Price` flowering profusely all round the Gardens at the moment - fabulous purple berries follow the softly scented, delicate flowers - one of my favourites ! Viburnums are interesting shubs, I especially like the sp that flowers on bare wood before the leaves appear, they are usually stronly scented also, but don`t last very long when picked. Who in NZ didn`t grow up with a Snowball tree in the backyard - another Viburnum . .

Spring blossom from the Chinese garden, one of the themed gardens here that are based on original landscapes - check out the website below.I pressed this small branchlet, I think they are the most delicate of flowers .. I love botanical art and my favourite job in the world would be to work in a Herbarium, pressing and mounting dried samples of plants from around the world !

I don`t mind grey skies ... the tracery of the trees shows up clearer - this little sparrow was busy waiting for crumbs, he didn`t mind either .. I can`t explain the `buzz` I get from strolling in these gardens - they are the jewel in the city of Hamilton`s crown I believe - no matter what time of the year there is always plants and trees flowering - to think the area was originally a Maori Pa site, then amongst other things, a race track, dog dosing strip and finaly the city rubbish dump, miracles have been worked - it is my `soul` place . . .

Saturday, August 2, 2008

ApiLifeVar - organics all the way !!

Last week at the monthly meeting of my local Bee Club ,we had a very inspirational speaker - Reuban Stanley is his name and his passion is ApiLifeVar, an organic treatment for varroa mites.

Reuban and his lovely Swiss wife Anne drove over from Rotorua about an hour away, and kept us all entertained for nearly 2 hours. First we had a great power-point display of the photos they had taken on his beekeeping adventures around the world, starting with keeping 80 hives in Switzerland and continuing into Asia with the promotion and selling of ApiLifeVar.

ApiLifeVar, to quote the pamphlet, is based on essential oils - Thymol,Eucalyptus,Menthol and Camphor, absorbed on an inert medium, is the organic solution for the treatment of varroasis in bees and against tracheal mite. After listening to Reuban`s very informative and interesting talk, I for one will be using this treatment in my hives this coming spring - surely it is so much better for my bees not to put any sort of chemicals that are going to have bad affects on them eventually, into their living space ??

Reuban is the NZ rep for this product, which is manufactured in Italy and exported to many other countries. It was so refreshing to listen to another point of view, even the critics had to admit that they were interested !

The meeting concluded with refreshments and a delicious honey and lemon cake made by Sandy - a pleasent end to a very good night ..

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Winter flowers ...

Mahonia is one of my favourite winter flowering shrubs, the flowers are very scented, the bees, when they ventue out, love it and the berries which follow the flowers are a stunning purple. I also love the prickly, sculptured leaves !
The gorgeous witch hazel flower and it smells wonderful ! There are 2 of these lovely small trees growing in the American Modernist Garden here in the Hamilton Gardens, both are flowering now. The red flowered one above doesn`t smell very nice but it certainly beautiful, the yellow below still has last years leaves on.

Winter gardens are beautiful, magnolias, michelia, daphane, winter sweet, hellebore and a wealth of other sweet smelling trees and plants are flowering here in the Waikato at the moment, not to forget the bright, sunny Aussie, aka Mimosa or Wattle, plus the Banksias which the tiny wax eye flock to and so much more ... The native Kowhai is even starting to flower in some areas, always the first sign of spring.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

I am honoured ...

It is autumn here in NZ, the days are cool and the light mellow ... Our bees are all tucked up in warm hives ( hopefully) and it is time to tidy up the woodwork, read lots of books and generally rest - yeah right, not this gal - I was nominated President of my local Bee Club along with librarian and news letter person - ahhhh

I have been doing the news letter for a year or so now and really enjoy it, the President role will be somewhat different - I have lots of ideas, but will take it slowly as not to upset the older gentlemen to much.

I am also really keen to have a Top Bar Hive this year, not much is known about them here and if I mention it to established beekeepers that tend to scoff at the idea, but I am determined to succeed !!

I will try and add more posts regularly ..

Monday, March 3, 2008

late summer bee flowers ...

What bee could resist this sight ?? Rudbeckia `Herbstonne` flowering away in the English Garden`s long border, seed heads are starting to appear now, the gardeners leave them for the birds most years. This tall, slightly straggly plant is flowering amoungst the brilliant blue salvia patens - quite a striking sight.

Monarda didyma or Bee Balm, wonderful scent and a real bee attractant - this plant is flowering in the Herb Garden here in the Hamilton Gardens where I spend most of the week - well, someone has to do it !! I spent the morning walking around the different areas of the Gardens photographing the plants the tutors will use in their classes this week. I put the pics onto disk and the photos are then used on a power point lesson, along with a real sample of each plant.

Late summer is upon us here in the South Pacific, it is still warm but the nights are drawing in and it seems cooler. Day light saving ends next week, thank goodness. I believe it goes on far to long now, I look forward to autumn and the changes that this mellow season brings.

Above is the pink sedum ( ignore the name plate next to it ) flowering in the Gardens at the moment. It had many bees on it`s honey scented flowers this morning. My bees are still out and about most days, we have finaly had some rain, not enough to break the drought but hopefully the nectar flow may start again, especially here in the city where there is always something flowering.
Roll on autumn days, my favourite time of the year, I think we humans need this time to wind down ready for winter. Of course it doesn`t happen like that anymore, we are still as busy as ever through the colder months.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Summer Honey ..

A small selection of the honey I collected last week from one half-depth super - it is very sweet and incredibly tasty, I use honey now for any sweetner - wonderful in stirfries, baking, over ice cream - anything really.

It has been a fantastic year for honey, every plant seemed to flower early and strong, my bees are out every day with the hot summer weather - just hope it rains soon ..
Here is a picture of all the jars full of Ora honey, ( Ora being Maori for `pure`) , my small collection of honey pots, all except one, have been given to me !
I have 2 supers to extract in the coming days, they are very full and heavy !! Once I have my label printed I will take some of the jars to the local market. I give jars away to family and friends but will still have far to much to keep in the cupboard.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Summer Days ...

Phormium tenax or Flax, full of nectar for the birds, much loved by the Tui and Bellbird who come away from these plants with a dusting of yellow or orange pollen on their heads. Maori believe that if the Harakeke (flax) flower early we are in for a long, hot summer and it sure looks that way this year with the tall spires of flax flowers swaying in the breeze, at times covered with nectar seeking creatures, especially the tiny wax-eyes

A glimpse through the Golden Elms with their beautiful crisp yellow/green foliage, through to the Roses here at the Hamilton Gardens, the Horse Chestnuts are flowering in the background. It is just starting to get hot here now, up to 25 degrees some days.

My little families precious Christmas gift, Elliott Thomas, with his Mum, Pip - he is truely a darling - Nana will be buying him his first bee t-shirt soon ..

The Pohutukawa flower which always means Christmas and long hot summer days here in New Zealand, is flowering now along the coastline - a truely iconic kiwi symbol and the bees love it !
I don`t think there would be a New Zealander alive that doesnt think of this tree and long,hot days - blue, clear skies, the ocean, golden sandy beaches,( or if you live on the west coast), black sandy beaches and endless summers. No where in NZ is that far from the sea, lakes or a river.