The chilly tendrils of winter are now upon us and I'm pleased to say our bees are in very good shape having come off a great summer. Most of our hives have at least one good full box of honey stores and our varroa treatment has worked well. No sign of any nasty bee diseases which is also pleasing. The wasps have been epidemic at some of our sites, but don't appear to have done any significant damage to the bees. We put on entrance reducers early this year and what with the fine late summer and plentiful stores, bee populations have remained strong and kept the wasps out.
Our bees came out of Ohui with a manuka harvest in December 2013 and will return in September this year. This honey has turned out to be a real favourite at the Hamilton Farmer's markets and with a 10+ antibacterial activity is in demand for those winter colds.
We love Marokopa, what a fantastic part of NZ it is! Last spring we were treated to a Rewarewa honey crop after two years of no show! The cold and wet weather over December and January greatly reduced access of the bees to the flowering manuka and so a relatively small amount was collected. However the late summer resulted in a large harvest through to the end of February with prolific hill country flowers and native rata. We have never seen so many wasps as we did this year, they were everywhere in March, covering trees and anything that moved! Wasp traps were set with limited success and one large wasp nest was destroyed, but this year's forecast mild winter raises concerns as to how many wasps we might see next season.
The bees are settled in for winter and we will carry additional nucs (mini hives) over winter to help with increase of hives in spring. This spring we will be shifting our hives down to the newly created pond where we have been doing lots of planting - although plenty more is required! We had a good honey crop this year with lots of clover flowering.
Four Brothers Reserve
Unfortunately we had a poor season at Four Brothers Reserve this year. Our exposed site felt the full force of the wind and rain in December and the first part of January. The bees themselves have survived reasonably well but most hives will be moved back to Horsham Downs over winter to protect them. No Four Brothers Reserve honey this year!
We had a great crop of honey from the Hakarimata ranges. Our apiary site is beautifully protected from the elements and the bees prospered in the hot summer. We extracted honey in February on one of the hottest days of the year in a very still wind! It was pretty hard on the body but we did get a great result. The bees have subsequently refilled at least one box per hive and are well provisioned for winter. Once again we have had some very favourable comments about this honey from our regular customers at the Hamilton Farmers market.
We are now planning and preparing for spring and hope to take our hive numbers up to around 250 hives this year.