Going into the winter season, one of the biggest concerns facing beekeepers nationwide is the health of their bees which essentially dictates the strength of the hive. Under the guidance of our newly appointed National Beekeeping Manager, Hein Watt, our beekeepers are using a ground-breaking bee nutrition formula which is effectively seeing our bees going into winter stronger and healthier than ever before.
“We’ve implemented a feeding programme where we are feeding the hives on a 3-4 week cycle depending on their accessibility,” explains Hein. “We have been trialling the Kōbee supplement and the bees are going absolutely crazy for it!”
“Our goal is to ensure our bees get all the amino acids, essential minerals and trace elements they need going into the winter season so that we have stronger and healthier hives going into spring which means we have happy, healthy bees.”
Hein has also been spearheading a national Hive Management Programme which will effectively ensure company-wide uniformity of all beekeeping activities on a seasonal basis. The focus of the programme is particularly around minimising Varroa but also ensuring all beekeepers know how to correctly identify American Foul Brood, and the steps to take if they do find it in their hives.
“We are putting all our beekeepers through a refresher course to ensure they comply with the Disease Elimination & Conformity Agreement (DECA),” continues Hein. “This includes a mini exam to verify that they are able to check for and identify American Foul Brood.”
Another important aspect of the Hive Management Programme is an annual planning meeting each winter for everyone to exchange ideas and their knowledge from the season just gone as well as agree to the activities in place to ensure stronger, healthier hives for the next season.
Hein is already enthusiastic about the results he is seeing and feeling positive about the health of their hives going into the winter season, “With the bee feeding we are doing and our Hive Management programme, our bees and hives are going into winter looking really good and very strong.”
Adjunct associate professor Dr Ralf Schlothauer will be responsible for developing our Research & Development plan as well as getting co-funded research initiatives off the ground.
Having trained as a process engineer in Hamburg, Germany, Ralf was awarded a PhD from the Technical University of Hamburg in Bioprocess Engineering in 1996. He subsequently joined Massey University in NZ as a lecturer before accepting a role at the NZDRI as a research engineer.
In 2001 he returned to Germany to work in the area of functional foods and probiotic bacteria with Danisco before accepting a role at Comvita in 2006 as Chief Technology Officer with overall strategic and functional responsibility for research and development. Ralf led Comvita’s innovation team (CIL) at the Institute for Innovation and Biotechnology (IIB) at The University of Auckland, where he works lectures for the course of master of bioscience enterprise. Ralf teaches at undergrad level on fermentation, probiotic cultures and functional foods.
Ralf’s special interest lies in evolving systems research, namely not only looking at isolated factors, but developing a holistic approach for a broader picture. The skill at looking for synergies and broader context was essential for the development of the open educational innovation model at CIL.