Vanquish the Varroa – KM121

This is Episode One Hundred and Twenty One of our beekeeping show.

We are Gary and Margaret, we love Honey bees, we are kiwimana and we are Beekeepers who live in the Waitakere Ranges, on the Wild West coast of Auckland, in New Zealand.

kiwimana is a place where the beekeeping community can share a conversation and connect and in this episode we talk about

  • Bumper Honey season in New Zealand
  • Lithium? Is this another option?
  • Prisoners find the Buzz

…we also – as if that wasn’t enough

Build and sell beekeeping supplies, we teach beginner Beekeepers and provide beekeeper services and advice. And we are the “beesknees” Club, Facebook group

Great to have you joining us, we know life is busy for you so we appreciate that you have taken the time to join us today – thanks so much for beeing part of the kiwimana buzz,

We also have been known to go off on tangents about other issues.

It’s just turned Autumn (Fall for y’all) here in NZed…but Summer started to fade as towards the end Autumn hinted with slight drops in morning temperatures !!! Had a few storms pass over the country, cyclone Gita left flooding, slips and heavy winds. But no8 wire dealt to that

Due to these weather changes it has seen the Bees feeding heavily with starvation a real risk if you have taken off too much honey…some losses reported ….geez and Winter still to come…!!!

Another interesting conversation with Gardeners, where they said that their fruit ripened very quickly then got rotten and died, due to the high humidity especially up in Auckland

What’s been happening at kiwimana?


  • My hours at work are changing, so it’s going to hard fitting everything into my days. Will I have time to do the podcast and work for a living! Will keep you posted.
  • Quarantine Apiary hives treated with OAV
  • Organic Weed Spraying around Kiwimana HQ and weed trimming

How to do a Sugar Shake Mite Count


  • Education apiary has only 4 capped honey frames from the older queen colony with the rest not yet capped, feeling frustrated …other colonies
  • New season ‘Orange Italian queen has done well with 8 x ¾ capped honey
  • Other new season ‘black’ Carniolan queen not as prolific with no capped honey but some nectar
  • Kiwimana HQ
  • Langstroth colony = 3 full depth boxes – only 1x capped honey frame the rest not capped – aiming for them to have 10 honey frames for Winter
  • From the “ garage roof top swarm “ – The 7 frame Hive Boxed colony = 4 full depth frames, still to fully check, nectar but not capped fully yet
  • Smaller nucleus colones not amazing
  • Other Swarm colony not amazing either
  • Not sure what I will do with the smaller colonies – to start I am rehousing them to share the LIFESTYLER long bench hive so each will have two colonies, we will run them over Autumn and Winter and see how they go

What should you be doing with your bees?

  • In New Zealand – treating and preparing for Population decline
  • In Uk – seeing lots of snow
  • In USA – seen some great footage of hives already out foraging despite the cold snaps

Blog Recap

Top three Blog Posts you choose Last Month

  1. Beekeeping Bonanza 2018
  2. I’m the Yappy BeeMan – Removing Bees in Alabama
  3. Beekeeping Bonanza 2018 – Bonus Show

What products have been used in our work?

Gary – I have been using the vaporized and treat my hives, photo of varroa mite was popular in Instagram. The photo is HERE

Margaret – My back, lifting and manipulating nectar to try and encourage the girls to cap!! But mainly frame holder and step ladder ! and storage container for putting my honey frames in.

Man poisoned after eating toxic berries while hunting in the South Island

Beekeeping News

This piece of news was brought to you thanks to Chris Brown
This podcast was made possible thanks to our Patrons, especially this month we would like to thank Christopher Brown

Christopher has been supporting the kiwimana buzz since October 2016

We hope all is well in Britmana for Laura, Jasper and of course Maggie.

Thanks for your support!!!

Good Honey Crop Expected in New Zealand after Dismal 2017

A story about the bumper honey season New Zealand has been having, let’s hope the northern Hemisphere has a similar season.

The $5 billion-a-year honey New Zealand industry is on its way to recovery after one of its poorest seasons in decades last year.

Talking Points:-

  1. $5 Billion dollar industry with 7836 Registered Beekeepers
  2. That means only 4% of registered beekeepers in New Zealand, listen to our show 🙁 What Can we Do?
  3. 2017 Bee Season was the worst in decades
  4. The New Testing regime and UK trade mark registration, have been major milestones says John Rawcliffe from UMF Honey

Good Honey Crop Expected in New Zealand after Dismal 2017

Have you lithium-chlorided your bees yet?

A paper has been published in Germany that hints to as a possible use of Lithium Chloride to treat bees. The study is in early days and we don’t recommend this.

Rather than fumigating an entire hive to kill varroa, bees uptake lithium salts. Later, when the mites suck honey bee haemolymph, they get poisoned.

Have you lithium-chlorided your bees yet?

Talking Points

  • Paper published in June 2017 from Germany
  • Full Paper is available on line HERE
  • Life Span of working bees is reduced to 19 days when effective dose is used to kill varroa mites !!!!
  • Over dosing would big a huge problem and would likely result in colony deaths
  • Similar to flea treatments on the market that you add poison to the animal blood stream
  • Both Ron and Rusty advise not too do any backyard experiments with this Lithium.
  • Still very much a work in progress says Rusty from Honey Bee Suite.

Your Feedback

Paulo Jmd Silva Why would someone use the latest poison on the bees without proper testing and risking killing bees and contaminate the honey is beyond my best comprehension.
Don MacLeod Gary Fawcett you should be very careful advocating an unregistered treatment such as LiCl. There is no evidence in the paper that residue studies have been conducted on the honey, wax or propolis in the treated hive. This lack of testing is noted in the paper. The high toxicity of Lithium is known, just find a report of children swallowing a Lithium battery. google ‘child swallows lithium battery’ and you will be surprised of the consequences…take care mate
Gary Fawcett Hey Don not recommending it at all, neither does Ron. Yes stick with what is legal and what works, shared this for people to start research.
Ron Miksha Don, if you have a chance, please read the story at the link and you will see that the answer to “Have you lithium-chlorided your bees yet?” is “I hope not!” In that piece, you’ll see some possible problems with the treatment. With testing on dosage and safety protocols, it may be a great treatment. But not yet.
Linus Merchant Do bees have bi-polar or anxiety?
Gary Fawcett I hope not but bees do get depressed
Stephen Stewart Lithium Carbonate from the research also works, and added bonus mood suppressant!

If it harms the life of a Bee, then it’s not a Treatment for me

Margaret Groot

Also this month:-

Treat Your Bees, but Hold the Lithium

Another great post from Rusty also about Lithium, she goes more into the scientific study and recommends caution.

People who never heard of a millimole are mixing this stuff up on their kitchen counters with measuring cups and teaspoons. This is insanity.

Treat Your Bees, but Hold the Lithium

Your Feedback

Lyle Cairns I’m so glad someone in a place that can be heard has said it and said it so eloquently.
Stephen Stewart Are they depressed, should be with Varroa I suppose?
Gary Fawcett I’m going to wait and see on this one, anyway Ox Acid is working for us at the moment
Allan Johnston It’s another string to our bow if this works

Prison beekeeping course helps inmates turn lives around

Brian Alexander a local Auckland man is teaching prisoners in Auckland Maximum security prison. Did we cover a story last year about his work in a women’s prison?

Auckland inmates have been learning how to become beekeepers, and while they’re surrounded by swarms of the flying insects, they’re not in the least bit fazed.

Prison beekeeping course helps inmates turn lives around

Your Feedback

Ryan Clark And this why we have a problem with hives getting stolen
Summer Sunshine I’m so sorry to stereotype, but that was my first thought as well.?
Sam Gray That’s not the only reason why hives get stolen. But each to their own.
Chris Mitchell hives were getting stolen in serious numbers long before any of these programmes started. If some of these people can get back into society and live positively, then we will all be better off. It is not junior, learner beekeepers who have been stealing entire apiaries…
Judy Knipmeijer Chris Mitchell I agree. It is the judgemental attitude of others that makes it hard for ex prisoners to find work, which then leads to desperation and re-offending. Of course there are the ones that never learn but there are plenty of prisoners who can turn their lives around if only they were given a chance.
Stephen Stewart Ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat, or in simple speke – innocent until proven guilty.
Mathew Jordan If someone wants to Steal hives they will. At least if they teach these people they can turn their life around again. Some of the stealing people who know what they doing if they keep doing it tho they’ll get caught up with eventually
Stephen Stewart The bee robber steals the life of a few and we condemn. Financial systems fail costing trillions through corruption and greed and we promote the perpetrators? It is an odd system.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Some men rob you with a six-gun – others rob you with a fountain pen…Woody Guthrie ” quote=”Some men rob you with a six-gun – others rob you with a fountain pen…Woody Guthrie “] Reg Dragan Seriously some of you are very naive.
Tom Le Fleming Very cheap to get started in beekeeping when out of prison.
Craig Grimshaw Now that’s what I like to see. Our trust want to expand this initiative further as well!
Reg Dragan Rocks in head
Chris Mitchell The weather is too hot for Tim Tam’s unless they’re in the fridge/freezer.
Judy Knipmeijer the good old Tim Tams…?
Margaret Groot Indeed
Dave Spart Brian is local to me. Legend.
Sara Grayson This is an excellent initiative that will open employment opportunities.
Paulo “Paul” Jmd Silva Beekeeping has the power to change lives and makes us more humble. Seeing such small insects doing incredible smart things is wonderful. I really hope that every prison gives the chance for inmates to try beekeeping at least once in their lives.
Rodderick Rouseabout I heard a funny story from an Auckland beekeeper at last years conference, the program was so successful one inmate following his release went from no hives to 30 hives in a week, turned out he was stealing them.
Robin Mcilraith Will it bee straight back to jail if caught stealing hives after doing the course,
Jennifer Finucane Except that some people having done this course now know how to steal hives and not lose the bees. Bees are soooo expensive in NZ and the gear to keep them
Maria Moselen Wow
April Lemon Awesome x

Jarrah and Marri honey: A liquid goldrush of medical benefits

What’s happening on a little island in Western Australia called “Rottnest” ?

Oh….and Just sayin’ …..Notice in this article that the tests were originally done in New Zealand…but let’s see what the Aussies are up to in this article.

Independent testing of jarrah and marri honey in New Zealand in 2016 found that it had stronger antimicrobial properties than the much prized manuka honey.

The ChemCentre’s principal food scientist Ken Dods, said some of the WA samples had 30 per cent higher activity than manuka.

“Jarrah and Marri honey, because of the nature of the activity that we have — which is a peroxide based activity — actually has quite a broad spectrum antimicrobial activity,” Mr Dods said.

Australia was one of the only places where the parasite had not taken hold and the CRC could use cutting edge proteomics to study varroa resistant bees discovered in Brazil and Africa.

Dr Barbour said researchers could investigate resistance without exposing any bees to the varroa mite.

“Normally if you want to breed up resistance in a population you have to expose it to that disease,” she said.

“The new way of doing that scientifically is actually to look at … the protein profile of a bee that is resistant, and instead of us actually exposing the bee to the disease we look for those protein profiles and then we start breeding bees up.

“And of course the big advantage is we have one of the oldest breeding programs here in Western Australia.”

Jarrah and marri honey: A liquid goldrush of medical benefits

Your Feedback

Peter Miller The only problem is that Jarrah is so unreliable for nectar flow. We have had 2 bad years in a row. Last season it flowered late and we didn’t get even a kilo off only just enough to keep the bees fed. Red gum (Marri) on the other hand is quite a good flow but usually flowers every second year.
Julie Stirling They had to beat us with something – given the opposition to the theft of the word Manuka 😀

Interesting that she talks about varroa as a disease…mmmm I wonder what her hypothesis will be ;). I, however so like the fact they are intending to address the risk factors – which leads me to wonder what the following folks in this article are doing regarding risks….

Otago Bees Ltd honey plant set to start production in Alexandra

This article does make me wonder about overpopulating areas with bee populations, risks of spreading disease ?!

Mr Greaves would not say how much the plant cost, but said he thought it would be the biggest in Central Otago. It would be capable of processing a tonne of honey an hour and at the peak of the season would hopefully process about 10 tonnes a day. It would process not only Otago Bees honey, but honey from other beekeeping firms.

Mr Greaves said another development for Otago Bees was the start of pollination services using some of its 3500 hives. Demand for pollination services was increasing because of increased orchard plantings in Central Otago and the demise of the wild bee population, he said.

Lindis Honey co-owner Tim Wood said demand for pollination services from his firm was also increasing, partly because of increased cherry plantings in Central Otago, but also because of increased carrot seed plantings by farmers in the Lindis region.

Otago Bees Ltd honey plant set to start production in Alexandra

Your Feedback

Margaret @ kiwimana – I think it’s naive to think spread of diseases such as risks of AFB and varroa spread should be considered as part of their ‘best practice’ plans.

What’s your Number One Beekeeping Problem?

When people join our newsletter we ask them what their number one Beekeeping problem is, we try and help them with problem.
Here is this month’s one:-

Number one problem is whether to dive in and do this. My husband tells me he is highly allergic to bee stings. But he loves honey. Not sure I want to go it alone

Denise Saunders

On your beekeeping adventures….having help when beekeeping will make your beekeeping more enjoyable and achievable – great conversation and so much interesting stuff to learn and discover

Maybe a ‘team decision’ is required?
What would bee the best approach for this potentially life threatening scenario ?
1. Assess the allergic response by going to a professional to run-skin tests and level of response to establish next step
2. Get full-bee-suits and proper leather gloves
3. Have an EpiPen, antihistamines and creams at the ready.
4. Locate nearest hospital and finally take an emergency response drivers course ; )

What’s your Biggest Beekeeping Problem? Tell us here:-

Or visit our speakpipe page HERE and leave a question

If you have a Urgent Question, please check out our Bee Knees Facebook group here:-

Feedback from you guys!!!


This month we have these great new supporters.

Gilbert Ko – Thanks Gilbert

What’s in the Bonus Show

In this week’s Bonus show we talk about 100 Hundred Hive vandalised in Prunedale and mass poisoning in Murchison. The bonus show is for our Patrons.
The Bonus show can be found HERE

The Next Show

Les Crowder Top Bar Beekeeper

Les Crowder is a Beekeeper from New Mexico, he had devoted his adult life to the study and care of honeybees. He is dedicated to finding organic and natural solutions for problems commonly treated with chemicals. He enjoys keeping bees in Top Bar Beehives is also the co-author of the book “Top-Bar Beekeeping: Organic Practices for Honeybee Health”


Show Times

  • What’s been happening at kiwimana? 00:02:48
  • What should you be doing with your bees? 00:09:45
  • Blog Recap 00:12:34
  • What products have been used in our work? 00:13:27
  • Good Honey Crop Expected in New Zealand after Dismal 2017 00:19:35
  • Have you lithium-chlorided your bees yet? 00:22:05
  • Prison beekeeping course helps inmates turn lives around 00:30:56
  • Jarrah and marri honey: A liquid goldrush of medical benefits 00:38:53
  • Otago Bees Ltd honey plant set to start production in Alexandra 00:44:00
  • What’s your Number One Beekeeping Problem? 00:46:45
  • What’s in the Bonus Show 00:52:19
  • The Next Show – Les Crowder 00:53:42

Media Credits

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