We were early for the Sat afternoon meeting. Brian Pilley who had invited us, described it as an old bowling green; and there was a cloud of bees flying in and out of the fenced apiary in the corner of the site. We were obviously in the right place.
Michael and I investigated the apiary, and we found a long box hive and several more conventional Langstroth hives. The long box hive was certainly intriguing with its 4 different entrances and its high profile.
Inside the Club rooms we met Brian Ellis, the President, and a little later Brian Pilley from Beeline Supplies arrived. The Dunedin folk have a different focus from us here in Christchurch. They talk about what’s going on in their beehives and what’s needing to happen in the next month, and they also have a host of great speakers.
During our visit David Milne from Blueskin Bay Honey spoke about his beekeeping experiences and his ongoing fascination with harvesting and developing products from the venom.
David brought along some bee venom products for people to try and also the some of the equipment that he uses. The venom is collected by gentle electrical stimulation. The electric stimulus is given using a wire grid and the venom is collected through a silk screen onto a glass plate. This process is gentle and the bees live on to sting another day.
Bee venom, I learnt, is not only an amazing product but also fascinating in the way it is collected and how it is managed afterwards to keep it’s quality and integrity.
David Milne is involved fully in the Waitate community in Blueskin Bay and I admire how he manages it all.
The Dunedin Beekeepers Club was very interested in learning more about how our Club operates and I invited them to visit us next Spring.
Michael and I felt very welcome and would encourage Christchurch folk to pop in and visit if you are in Dunedin on their Club day, the second Saturday of the month.
Up and out early to get the best of the day the small team of concreters, builders and gardeners were at the site before 8.00am. It was superb to have this tricky part of the shed build underway and ready for the shed itself. We called the working bee to suit the guys with the materials, concreter and gear, so regrets to anyone who had wanted to come, but was spending family time together, that’s so valuable you have to snatch time together when you can and we perfectly understand. It’s not usual for us to chose an inconvenient date and we try to give you as much notice as we can. But sometimes this isn’t easy.
For my part, not being a concreter myself, I couldn’t resist the garden centre sales during Easter and have added more plants for Irene and Dave to plant and to boost our flowering plants at the site for the bees. We’re always keen to have flowering nectar rich perennials to add to the garden if you’re clearing out your extras from your flower beds this autumn do think of donating a little something to the Club. Thanks again to the great team that came along on Friday, Murray, Dave, Irene, Trevor, Richard, Andrew, Gordon and Allan.
Perfect weather for our working bee on Saturday meant we were able to get a lot done and move ahead with our plans to upgrade the beehive areas in preparation for winter.
Knowing how cold and wet the site gets we have started to create a better site for the hives to reduce the impact of the winter weather. Each beehive will sit on a concrete pad and on top of a short platform to help keep them well ventilated and dry. Alongside each hive is a table to help us to inspect the hives. Thanks to Murray and Trevor the foundation framing and digging out for the pads was completed on Saturday as well as the foundation framing for the new bee gear shed.
Jeff Gibson organised the hiring of the chipper and had Richard, Peter, Dave and Allen as the team to get all the chipping done. Stunning work guys. We have two piles of chips now and all we need is the fish to go with it!
Dave Ress and John Cook replaced the rotten seats -which was no mean feat – they were designed to stay! Paul and helpers cleared the storm water grate, and Paul will paint the seats at a later date to give us a great finish.
Trimming the lavender and battling the weeds, was tackled by another team who did a fabulous job thanks Veronica, Annette, Irene and others.
Wind-break repair and replacement was also on the schedule and completed thanks, Andy and John.
This wasn’t all that got done, nor do I think I have named everyone-my apologies if I’ve missed your name but I wanted to share how much fun this was and how satisfying it is to see so much completed when the Club members are working together.
Thanks for all the brilliant help, we had a great time and achieved an awful lot.
Inventive, genius at it’s best! We had so much fun. Here’s a taster of some of the brilliant ideas that our creative members came up with and demonstrated at our ‘Gadget Day’
I will also share the three winners. Peter Heeringa came first, Andy second with the repurposed pet water bowl and Lee came third with the gauze bag to protect others from bees when they are close by, either gardening or allergic visitors.
top feeder- 4x 2 litres
easy wedge tool
protection for nucs etc while transporting in the car.
Repurposed pet water bowl for bees
small power tool run honey extractor
toothpick and hole idea in your varroa strips
stacking base for collecting honey supers
hive tool holder and hive porch roof
This was a day when we could all learn something new. Even those of us who get a little lost when the talk turns to different types of vices’s – and some of us only get as far as thinking -GIN?
We are all planning our new inventions for the next ‘Gadget Day’ and looking forward to similar events.
On Saturday, Jo Winter (your President), and her partner Michael, stopped off at Amberley Saturday Market on their way to Hanmer Springs. We were delighted to find Lindsay Moir, former Club Hivemaster, with his display hive, happily sharing his experience as Master Beekeeper with delighted members of the public – young and old.
Well done Lindsay – Great Work!! There were a couple of other folk who were featuring bee products. One stall was selling honey and other bee related items; At another, run by an environmental educationalist from Hurunui District Council, there was a demonstration of how to make beeswax food wraps to replace Gladwrap. Surprising how many people had not heard of these eco-friendly wraps!
I’d like to welcome all our members to the September Field Day, the second of our season. It will include a BBQ, gluten free sausages will be available. It would be great if you would bring along some other food to share as well.
The programme for the day is focusing on Varroa mite.
How do you detect evidence of an infestation in your hive before it’s too late?
There will be demonstrations and practical participation to help you learn the skills you need to stop varroa in its tracks.
varroa checks by sugar shakes, alcohol wash, sticky boards (and how to make them) and how to spot varroa on your bees or evidence that your hive has been infested.
treatment options will be discussed
we will be opening all the hives – weather permitting
we will also be checking for diseases
checking all frames for the season ahead and replacing frames to give the bees a clean foundation to build on and allow space for food and brood
we will have reminders of how to clean your tools and also how to light a smoker so it will stay working while you are in the hive.
It will be great to see old and new members down at the site on Saturday. Early birds (9.30) to help out onsite.
My three year term is now up as president of our club! A period playing Russian roulette: deciding if the field day should go ahead, has been really tricky with not just the weather but Covid too- a time filled by excitement and frustration in pretty equal measure!
I was voted in as vice president by the committee in absentia, and a year later was voted club president. Which was of course three years ago and one year before that I was a Newbee! Man, I sure have learnt a lot about nature’s little workers! Six hives in my apiary….who would have ever thought.
My mission was to bring our then very basic club grounds situation into the 20 th century, which would then enable a better teaching facility and possible cash flow. I was appalled to find that we still operated a long drop toilet complete with spiders and smell.
Also lacking was good weather cover for the members on field days and the lack of flowering plants: bee food! So a contingent of a few members got stuck in and started covering and building amenities preparing and planting flowers.
This was volunteering at its finest! These people begged, burrowed and ‘acquired’ building materials that produced the male and female toilets, the covering of the auditorium, the new large cover over the food area, the new tank and water systems, the installation of the sound system run buy solar power, the obtaining of the container which will soon become an excellent teaching facility, especially during wet spells which are increasing it seems.
By my calculations the club has basically had 40K donated by way of labour, materials and some donations by a few hardworking members without our banked funds being touched.
A new sound system was put in place running on solar power, it has performed flawlessly over the last three years! We also purchased a new ride on mower and what a difference!
Then we had the earthworks and a raised black top placed in front of the container valued at several thousand dollars donated by a member, and the new metalled entry to the grounds also donated by that member.
The container now has a new roof and side cladding, again donated, that just leaves the interior to be lined out and bi- fold doors in place of the two sliders: which greatly constrict any audience participation.
We have an OLED TV donated and the club has purchased the extra solar panels and an AC-DC convertor (similar to the sound system) so we can remain off the grid. These will be in place in a matter of weeks.
To finish the container with new bifolds doors, plastic clear curtains on the container forecourt (to give extra space in inclement weather), will allow the club to hold money generating beekeeping courses, and other public meetings such as school classes and of course club day meetings inside as needed.. $8,000.00 would finish this project! That the club may now spend up to ceiling of $8,000.00 To complete the container teaching facility. This would include: Bi Fold doors, clear plastic curtaining, lining of the inside of the container and general finishing. Any further monies needed can only proceed from donations or gifts.
You can read in the treasurer’s report how little we have spent of the club money, however the main problem when I joined the club was virtually no money except for the contingency sum the treasurer rightly guarded! We have never used that to this day!
Thanks to donations of labour and materials by members, the Lions Club, Bunnings (new BBQ) and a small grant from CCC. We have produced a pretty good club facility with a wee bit of more work to go!
On that note I believe that the $40.00 sub needs to go up $5.00. The trouble with not keeping abreast of inflation has been the clubs Achilles heel: don’t slip back is my advice! Do keep in mind the club is not insured as I write, for instance!
That the annual subscription be increased by $5.00. (i.e. $45.00 per year) For members. First year members (newbees) will pay $55.00 for the first year dropping back to the normal member rate thereafter. Prospective members will be allowed two field days free to assess their suitability and club acceptance.
I think it is reasonable for two members to get a stipend to look after the gardening and grounds generally. Our two almost permeant club member gardeners have done a huge amount of back breaking work getting the gardens up and running and being at the club several days a week, who are thankful to be augmented by some members on working bee days and the odd day someone has spare.
It is wonderful see the clubs progression, new first aid facility, the introduction of Work Safe requirements, and now, just completed a comprehensive Newbees introduction booklet: the printing yet again a member donation. This will be given to all new members and a one off $5.00 charge will be added to the first years newbee sub.
I wish to publically thank the following members for the huge, and often at their cost, the input they have given:
Treasurer (17 years)
David and Irene Siemonek
Building & Materials
Blacktop & Earthworks
Meeting Place & Food
Evan A Court
Building (toilets) & materials
Site input donations
Donated printing of the booklet
(email@example.com) Maintaining Web Site
(firstname.lastname@example.org) Bulk emails to Members
Kevin Gates & Margie Broughton
Produced the Booklet
To our hardworking committee for guidance, patience and expertise. The other success as I see it is, we have re-joined API and we had members volunteering at the big API Convention in our new Christchurch convention centre. These members sported our club name and a link has now been forged with the professional bee keepers, a step forward!
For me I see a great future for the club speaking to the public. For instance Gordon Nairn and myself spoken too several garden clubs on beekeeping this last two years and we intend to continue in this vein promoting not just bees but the values of the club.
Other members have been holding bee courses or talks to schools and other clubs. More such courses will be held once the container is up and running and this will contribute, albeit a small amount, to the running costs of the club.
I do wish to thank Kerry Kearney for a fantastic 17 years of free service as treasurer. Kerry has managed to keep a reasonable float and has fought to maintain the contingency balance through thick and thin. We now do need a new treasurer with Kerry’s retirement upon us. Would you please put up your hand at the AGM?
The name of the Christchurch Hobbyist Bee Club Inc., is changed To: The Christchurch Bee Club Inc.
Reason: The name does not do justice to the general bee keeping community. It is noticed most clubs have dropped the word “Hobbyist.” Today the hives and bees are professionally managed, members pay a considerable amount of money annually to API and to equipment maintenance. They are bound by a new raft of management fees and legal requirements with punishments from API. The club is teaching both private people and persons who go on to become a Beekeeping Business operator. Further, we are closing the gap between professional beekeepers and backyard keepers. Legal requirements are now the same for a one hive operator or a 1000 hive operator.
I thank all members for the support and kind wishes you have given me over the last three years. It has been difficult at times and rewarding at times but I do believe the Christchurch Bee Club Inc is now in fine fettle to go forward into the future with good reserves and a fine management committee. But we do need your support to finish the job!
Yours sincerely Paul O’Donnell L3907 President. Christchurch Bee Club Inc.