Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Stunning Bee Photography

Coming up soon at Two Rooms Art Gallery is this stunning series of photographs of bees by Anne Noble. Its part of the Auckland Festival of Photography. Her exhibition is entitled No Vertical Song.

 "No Vertical Song is the latest installment, showcasing 15 photographic portraits of dead bees, called the Dead Bee Portraits. These works are installed as if populating an imaginary museum of the bee, for a time when the bee no longer exists. The artist’s concern with the worldwide decline of the honeybee results in an exhibition that is a haunting and elegiac reminder of the importance of our relationship to the natural world."

These stunning photographs were made with a scanning electron microscope. And plenty of magic.

Friday, 25 March 2016

New Season Honey


Here it is! One of our first off the production line - a lovely pot of new honey. Most of our honey goes off to the wholesaler for sale by others. But we've kept some back to put in these lovely pots as part payment to our excellent farm hosts. So the crew have their work cut out to produce a few hundred of these. 

I wrote a couple of blog posts ago about my brother's honey, and the rata v kamahi, which got me to thinking...how do you tell? I think it must be one of those things like wine tasting or cheese experts, an acquired taste developed over decades, which would apply for my brother. But not me, so I can't tell what is in this honey, but anyone who receives one, feedback welcome!

It needs fresh homemade sourdough bread to go with it of course, see this blog post or you could use it to sweeten sugar free muesli, see this blog post

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

NZ Native Trees For Bees

I've been experimenting with native trees that have flowers that the bees will like. I've written before about manukas, but there are others that will round out the season. So these are the ones that I have planted so far. 

Towai, weinmannia silvicola - will grow into a biggish tree. Flowers in spring.

Rewarewa, knightia excelsia, a forest giant, flowers in spring.


A Pittosporum Tenuifolium, that ubiquitous hedge plant from a while back, a medium sized tree, flowers from October - November. Makes a good wind break too.

  And a Five finger, pseudopanax arboreus,  has big leaves with 5 leaf bits per stem (surprise!), also a wind break type. Flowers June to August, so only for those hardy bees still out in the north.

A different type of pittosporum - tawhirikaro, quite small. 

And this, which is hard to see because it has tiny leaves, but it is a Putaputaweta, carpodetus serratus, also a medium sized tree, flowers spring to summer.

Ngaio, Myoporum laetum, 5m high.

Lacebark, Hoheria populnea, 5m high, flowers in autumn.

Lemonwood, Tarata, pittosporum eugenioides, flowers in spring, grows tall. There are several types of trees called Lemonwood, so check for the right one.

Kowhai, sophora tetraptera, spring flowering.

Pohutukawa, the bees were all over this, flowers bang on Christmas (well, my one does).

I've also planted a whole lot of hebes, because I like them. Different types flower at different times, which is a bonus. Small and shrubby.

All these trees have flowers that the birds and bees enjoy. And they all grow quickly, or quickly-ish, for trees. I also had a native fuscia, but it died (not enough watering), but I think would do well too. I can't report back on whether they work yet though, they aren't big enough to flower.

If you want to see how they looked a year ago when I planted them, check out my blog here and here.

For more information sign up to collect your free downloadable Pictorial Step-by-Step Guide to Growing Manuka Trees from Seeds. Free! And there is lots more information on Business of Bees including a Manuka Farm Consulting Service which also covers other trees (if you live in NZ)

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Oxfam - Walk or Volunteer for Honey

Coming up on April 1-3, the weekend after Easter, is the Oxfam Trailwalker. It's in Whakatane this year, rather than Taupo. And if walking all that way is not your cup of tea, how about volunteering to help behind the scenes as an Oxfam volunteer? You get to stay with others who are helping and the jobs are not nearly as hard work as all that walking - I'm vacuuming and keeping the volunteer lounge stocked with food and driving volunteers around I think, sounds fun!

And on top of all that, the funds raised go to good causes in the islands, like this one:

'By volunteering in Oxfam Trailwalker, you’ll be helping people in poverty throughout the Pacific and Southeast Asia find new opportunities to make a decent and sustainable income, to feed their families, pay for school fees, and much more.

In the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea, producing and selling honey is proving to bee one sweet solution to the sticky problem of increasing family incomes in the region.
Oxfam and our partner the Henagaru Village Development Cooperative in Okapa District of the Eastern Highlands Province are hosting bee keeping training.'

Check out the whole story about honey here.

And, if all that is not enough, studies show that people who volunteer live longer!

Friday, 11 March 2016

Extracting Honey

These are the Karamea hives of my brother.

And here is the honey being extracted and dripping into the sieve and into a bucket. A lovely harvest this year, although he reports that the rata honey is in short supply, probably because of the rata flowering profusely last year, and not much this year. The kamahi is good though. Different areas produce different honey types.

And, a jar of fresh honey. What could be better? (I know the answer to this: homemade sourdough and honey!)

Friday, 4 March 2016

Control of Varroa in beehives

To have healthy strong hives, the varroa mite needs to be treated. This is usually in spring before the honey flow, and again in autumn after the honey flow. We are getting ready to put varroa strips in our hives now that the honey harvest is nearly finished.

There are different types of varroa treatments, with different chemicals, and a few non-chemical methods too. Some varroa build up resistance to some chemicals, so each hive needs to be treated in a variety of ways over the course of a year.