The Importation of Honey Bees Into Newfoundland Should Not Be Allowed


Someone asked me what I think of a recent decision to allow the importation of honey bees from Western Australia into Newfoundland. I think it’s a bad idea and it should be stopped. Here’s my full response:

As for the importation of honey bees into Newfoundland from Western Australia, if I’d had a vote on the matter, I would have voted against it. I would have encouraged the gradual build up of colonies through the use of the disease-free honey bees already present on the island. But I suspect the opinions of people motivated by large-scale commercial interests will speak louder than my view on the matter.

Beekeeping in Newfoundland now has the appeal of an untapped resource for people with the means to exploit it. I don’t know if that’s a good thing.

Regardless of the supposed safeguards, now that importation is being allowed, it’s inevitable that some diseased bees will slip through and make it to Newfoundland. It only takes one egg-laying varroa destructor mite to destroy decades of beekeeping on the island. Safeguards are often overlooked when there’s quick money to be made.

I say don’t rush into it. Take it slow and build up Newfoundland honey bee colonies in a sustainable and guaranteed safe manner by using our local disease-free honey bees.
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Weighing Down Hives

I know some new beekeepers in eastern Newfoundland who read Mud Songs from time to time. If you’re reading this around 1pm on Friday, now would be a good time to weigh down your hives if you haven’t done so already.

According to the CBC, Hurricane Maria should smack into us right about now with winds around 120km/h (75mph), plus a whole lotta rain. My hives are well protected from the wind and have weathered through worse storms than this. But if your hives are out in the open, you might want to take some precautions.

No Sandal Zone

Today’s tip for backyard beekeepers: Don’t wear sandals.

The bees in our backyard fly around our raised beds to drink water from lettuce leaves and soak up moisture from the black composted soil. They also wander around the grass here and there, grass we don’t bother to mow, and so it’s easy for the bees to inadvertently crawl onto our feet while we’re standing there digging the weeds in the garden. And if I’m wearing sandals, it’s easy for a bee to get stuck under a strap, freak out and sting me. The pain from a honey bee sting isn’t too bad compared to most stinging insects. But when they first get you, it hurts. One of them got me about five minutes ago.

Honey Bees in Flight (Video)

Here’s some video I shot yesterday while taking photos of the bees flying around Hive #2. Not the most exciting video, perhaps, but it does demonstrate the difference between Hive #2 and Hive #1, which we thought was queenless (and who knows, still could be).


I just noticed two bees fighting it out (at the 1:16 mark) on the bottom board and then falling off the edge. September is fighting month for the honeybees.
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Prop Up a Weak Colony, Or Not?

We have two honey bee colonies in our backyard, both started from nuc boxes 35 days ago and housed in Langstroth hives. Hive #1 has been fed a water-sugar mixture just about every day (with some honey mixed in for the first three weeks). We added a second brood box a week ago because 9 of the 10 frames in the hive were partially or fully drawn out — the colony was ready to expand.

Hive #2 wasn’t fed until the second week, but for the past week has had two Boardman feeders installed. It doesn’t get as much late-afternoon sun as Hive #1, and the last time we checked a couple days ago, only seven, maybe eight frames had partially or fully drawn out comb on them. (We also pulled a huge ugly slug from the bottom of the hive the same day.)

Those are the differences between Hive #1 and Hive #2. Here’s a quick video I shot today that illustrates the differences:

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