Hive bases for easy work and handling

The pictures  included – show the manner in which my hives are set up for ease of working.

Just at a good height for handling frames and when the lid is lifted off and placed upside down

to the right of the hive and slightly in front, the height of the hive is about correct for me to swing

supers off and placed on top of the lid – the hive mat can be placed over the supers to control bee

flight. The club apiary hives will be set in the same manner

The wooden structure was built by Peter and provides a sound platform at a good height for working

You will note in both cases that the HIve Doctor – 2nd generation base is being used – minor modifications

have been made to this 2nd generation base and have overcome a problem with the underlay apertures

in the first model.ImageImageImageImage

Dancing Bees

Each Tuesday during the school year my wife Robin and I spend the morning at Helensville Primary School, helping with the school remedial reading program. We have both been involved in this activity for a number of years and gain a great deal of pleasure in watching the children progress from almost no reading skills to capable young readers with a sound base upon which to develop their reading and enjoyment of good literature.

This last Tuesday morning 20 May 2014 a smiling young pupil arrived with a book which had a number of stories and her chosen story was called Dancing Bees. I was quite captivated by the story and in the light of the fact that the school is encouraging senior pupils to, in season, visit our hives and learning something about the inside workings of a hive, I felt it suitable and appropriate to set up a page about. Please enjoy and encourage your children to view the page.

Click on the pictures and it will go full screen!

EPSON scanner imageEPSON scanner image

EPSON scanner imageEPSON scanner image


First Club Hive

The sun’s arising in the east. Lo it brings light and the east perfume, and to the busy bee warmth and a new days work.

RBC have received its first club hive – courtesy of Joanna Exley. Joanna has a diploma in Horticulture and is off the Britain to take a up a position with Chelsea Gardens. Well done and good luck to Joanna. Saturday 3 May 2014 the work to move the hive was undertaken

I must add that Sue Beazley was kind enough to come and have a look at the hive and clear it for disease. Sue is Deca trained and has many years of Api-culture experience. Our thanks to Sue for her time.

The hive in question was long and rather higher than comfort dictates. 28 Langstroth frames with good honey supplies and 4 frames of brood. We found the queen and she looks good.  Peter McNab, Paul and Alison Evans and Claudebee opened the hive and moved all suitable frames into standard supers. A new experience for both Paul and Alison which they handled with great aplomb.

The hive had not been treated for varroa and the dreaded mite could be seen attached to a young bee and in drone cells attached to drone larva. Treatment should be paramount in our attention to the hive. The standard supers were placed in the position of the now defunct long hive and the bees soon found their way into their new home. A highly satisfactory operation well executed by  Peter and Paul. Alison keep herself busy taking photos whilst Claudebee smoked the bees as needed.

Later that same day ( about 2000hrs, ) the hive was moved with great effort from Peter and Bruce Burgess to the club apiary site at 1333 Old North Road. A few stings were had in the process but no one complained.  The hive will be moved onto the club bases later this week –  (Tuesday 6 May) – Jason our Apiary Master will need to inspect the hive and varroa treatment put in place quickly.

The hive has only a temporary lid so a new lid needs to be manufactured and set in place.

All in all a highly satisfactory operation and a splendid start for the club apiary.


Betta Bees

Betta Bees Research Ltd.

Betta Bees are running a Honey Bee livestock improvement program based around improving the Italian strain of Apis Mellifera. With the goal of producing the best commercial Italian Honeybee livestock.

Concerned about the deteriorating quality of their honeybee stock, Betta Bees was formed by fourteen Otago and Southland beekeepers who realized that collectively they would have better resources to establish and maintain a scientifically based, closed population honeybee-livestock improvement program. The company now has 25 beekeeper shareholders spread throughout New Zealand.

Each year the best 25 queens are selected as breeders, in accordance with strict selection criteria. From these breeders, 200 daughter queens are raised and instrumentally inseminated with pooled, homogenized semen from the drones of all 25 breeder queens.

The selection criteria follows traits which are measured to select the next breeder queens.
1. Honey Production
2. Brood viability
3. Temperament
4.  Hygienic behavior
5. Absence of brood disease
6. Over wintering ability
7. Spring build up
8. Varroa Sensitive Hygiene ( VSH ) has been introduced with the arrival of varroa
Further to this selection criteria Betta Bees use a recently developed molecular technique for screening   sex alleles to ensure that they do not lose any of these alleles from the population and thus avoid inbreeding.

Varroa Sensitive Hygiene ( VSH ) has been assisted with funding from the Honey Industry Trust. Betta Bees has set up a 3 year VSH trial to assist in this trial semen has been acquired from 3 colonies that showed a high level of the VSH trait, and used this semen to inseminate selected daughter queens from their breeding queen stock. The best 25 of these have been selected and are currently undergoing evaluation and selection with a view of using this stock to boost the VSH trait in their main breeding line and accelerate the development of this trait in the wider honeybee population.

Betta Bees has a close working relationship with the Otago University, specifically   with Associate Professor Peter Dearden, Director of Genetics Otago Department of Biochemistry. There is on going work  using the resources of Professor Deardon’s lab. Peter Deardon is an independant director of Betta Bees.

Funding is in part provide by the sale of breeder queens and honey , but the majority of income comes from yearly research contributions from shareholders.

The manager of the Breeding Program is Frans Laas who has a masters degree  in wildlife management.

David McMillan is the general Manager. David has a Bachelor of Science degree and has worked as an apiary adviser for MAF and AgriQuality Limited for 13 years.  He is an accomplished beekeeper and honey marketer.

You may contact David on: 03.489.8960 or E mail on .

Breeder queens are available should you wish to purchase.

Betta Bees Research Ltd.
P.O. Box 2291
South Dunedin
Dunedin 9044 – New Zealand
Web site:

Hive Doctor – Stu Ferguson

A picture of Stu known as the Hive Doctor working his bees. Note the use of his Base Board and the height of his hives. – RBC have recently purchased several of these bases for use on the club hives – without doubt the best hive base on the market. – We have a couple for sale at $25 – please enquire at the next club meeting –Image 9 April 2014 at the old Paraki Pub.