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The Waggle
August 2020

In this months Newsletter

President's Report
We have changed survey
August thoughts - Biosecurity
Events and Popups
Public Address System
Aligning the club for the future (VRBA)
Club Survey Results
Area Groups
Local Notes
On the Fridge

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Dear beekeepers,

We have had a more conventional winter this year – at least with reference to the weather. My Ballarat hives have been quiet on the whole, though taking advantage of the few warm spells with some ‘clearing flights.’ Soon the weather will be warming, the days lengthening, and the bees stirring. Be prepared! We hope to schedule open hives in Spring, but last year many of these were postponed due to cold weekends.

Our July Zoom meeting featured an interview with commercial beekeeper, Naomi Forbes-Wilson from Billabong Honey. Naomi resides in the north of the state, running around 500 hives. She spoke about her passion for bees and her pathway to become a commercial beekeeper. The focus of the interview was on queens: the importance of having a quality queen and how Naomi breeds her own. Naomi also shared lots of tips about beekeeping, such as ‘don’t open your hive unless you know you will do more good than harm’ as well as how she manages records for each hive. The video is available on the BRB You Tube channel and thirty minutes of your time will be well-spent. The rest of the meeting, including ‘Ask a Beekeeper,’ is also available for your viewing pleasure. 

The committee continues to be very busy over winter working on a range of projects.including: 

  • producing films for our remote Zoom meetings (huge job), 

  • planning content for future meetings with themes of selling honey, hive splitting, swarm prevention and re-queening,

  • developing an area strategy to service our increase in membership,

  • putting the finishing touches on a Strategic Plan which will be released to members soon for comment,

  • developing a list of reputable beekeeping suppliers of goods and services to be published for members, 

  • upgrading the computer and purchasing a PA system,

  • purchasing a range of BRB-logoed items, and

  • beginning to prepare for the spring season of open hives, educational opportunities and gathering of swarms. 

Undertaking these projects, as well as monitoring our finances and membership, has resulted in a large monthly agenda. We trust, however, that these efforts will continue to improve the quality of beekeeping in the Ballarat region. 

As a response to the COVID pandemic, we have extended the membership period by six months to alleviate the financial burden you may be facing. We have also prepared a two-minute survey about our Zoom meetings – please take the time to respond and provide the committee with some feedback. 

Finally, Chris Browning has resigned from the committee due to changing circumstances. I would like to thank Chris for his significant input over the past year. Chris was instrumental in BRB adopting the Club2ic membership software, which has been a huge time saver. Chris also spent many hours last season as a swarm coordinator. Thanks for your services Chris. We will be looking for committee members to take up various roles soon – please consider nominating. Contact me for more details. 

Calvin Tromp
Ballarat Regional Beekeepers


Next Club Meeting

The next club meeting will be held at 7:30pm on 6th of August 2020 on Zoom. 

Club members will receive their invite to the email address they have placed in Club 2iC. If you haven't received it by the 4th of August, email and we will sort it out.

These meetings have been a great way of continuing some form of normality in these times, we have previously had Peter MacDonald from AHBIC, Naomi Forbes-Wilson from Billabong Beekeeping as guest speakers.  We have also had some great education sessions on native beehive boxes, Nuc making, wax melting and frame maintenance.

This month we have club members sharing what they are doing in the immediate lead in to spring, and how they are planning to deal with the busy months ahead.

Come along, it will be great.
Next Meeting August 6 on Zoom watch video for more detail

We have changed so much, how are we doing?

The committee has been working very hard during the COVID pandemic to provide online meetings via Zoom. We have had quite a few members participate in the meetings but we would also like to know if there are members who are either unaware or unable to access our meetings. 

Could you please take a couple of minutes to answer this survey to give the committee some feedback. 

Much appreciated, 

Calvin Tromp

Are you ready for spring?


Are we over winter yet?

Some of us are as busy as the proverbial at the moment. August is almond pollination month and we have been working our bees for months now getting them ready for this event. Believe me when I say "event" as there will be around 130,000 hives taken to North-West Victoria. That is BILLIONS of bees! It is such a fun thing to be involved with.

Most of the BRB beekeepers are waiting and monitoring our hives for when warmer conditions come. There is so much going on in your hives at the moment that you can’t see. The brood nest will be expanding in the promise of better conditions coming. All that honey you left with them is being mixed with the fresh pollen coming in for making bee bread and feeding lots of larvae who will grow into those strong wonder worker bees we all love. So don’t open those boxes yet: the cold air will chill the brood and you could lose your hive. 

This is the last chance we have to ensure we have everything ready for September. The swarming season is coming and we will all be flat-out during that peak period. 

It can place a lot of pressure on you when the phone rings and you are told of a swarm just waiting to be collected.  Sometimes, if you are not ready, decisions about what you put the bees into may not be the best. If you are prepared, it is much easier to make the right decisions. 

Using old boxes or NUCs is fine, as long as you know they are biologically clean. Picking up a box that was not made ready, but you need it now, can have detrimental effects on bees in the long run. Ensuring all our old material is clean and ready is vitally important, and a crucial part of biosecurity. There is still time to get this material radiated or wax dipped: ask around. Get frames ready with new, clean, wax foundation (undrawn), or have your plastics cleaned off and re-coated with fresh wax.

September is the first chance we will have to inspect hives for any disease. The main focus should be on AFB (American Foul Brood), and everyone should watch this great video from  Dr Doug Somerville on the disease.

American Foulbrood
Dr Doug Somerville 

There is also really good information on the Agriculture Victoria website that all beekeepers should read each season :

Other things to look at for in hives during this time of the year:

  • EFB (European Foul Brood)

  • The Lesser and/or the Greater Wax Moth,

  • Broodlessness, or not much brood, as hives should be building fast in September, and

  • Slugs and general dampness are also problems; we want the internals of the hive nice and dry.

What we as beekeepers do in winter is as important as what we do for the rest of the year. Good preparation for the season will make your swarming season enjoyable, and will see us on the right path for honey harvesting season as well. 

Now, come on Spring...

Scott Denno
BRB Biosecurity Officer



The Harcourt Field day has been cancelled due to COVID - 19.

It is the intention the Bendigo Branch V.A.A. to again conduct the field day next year in 2021.

Events, Requests, Offers & Pop-Ups

  • Monthly Meeting: August 6, 2020
    This 75 minute meeting will be held online via ZOOM, the link will be available on the BRB Members facebook Group, in the Members area of the Ballarat Regional Beekeepers Website and an email will be sent to members with the entry codes.

  • The club has had contact from Brydee Adams a Year 12 student at Aberfoyle Park High School conducting a Research Project for her studies. Her topic is about bees and their contribution to society and the environment; she is interested in collecting opinions and information from experts or apiarists about this topic.

    If you would like to participate in this short 10 minute survey, please follow the link below:
  • An offer has been made by a farmer half way between Ballarat and Geelong. 
    There are a lot of remnant tree lined creeks and new tree plantations with a large variety of flowering trees. They also have 70 acres of lucerne and clover based pastures. The farmers are interested in purchasing the honey from the beekeeper afterward. If any members are interested in putting hives on the farm please contact the Club secretary through and we will put you in touch.

Public Address System

Late last year we noted with some enthusiasm an increasing membership and attendance at our monthly general meetings.

This increased meeting size raises the issue of more bodies absorbing sound - making it somewhat difficult to hear our guest speakers. We borrowed a PA system for our February meeting prior to lock-down, and it really helped, at least until the batteries ran flat. This proof-of-concept led the committee to submit a grant application with the Ballarat City Council. A small grant of $2000 was provided to contribute toward the purchase of both a PA system and a replacement laptop.


The PA system can be used in and out-of-doors and runs on both 240v and battery power. It has the versatility to support our meetings and any community activities we may be involved in the future.

With its support of up-to-four microphones, we have purchased two wireless headset microphones, and one wireless hand-held microphone.

This means we can better support discussions, interviews, and Q and A with microphones available for questions from the floor.  

This is a great addition to our club and will help our members better participate in our meetings.

Club IT Officer

Recommended Vendor List

BRB passed a Vendor Policy in November last year. One of the items was to develop a list of quality vendors – suppliers of beekeeping goods and services – that you can use for purchasing your requirements. This list will be published on our website with a link provided in the newsletter.

Invitations to vendors have started to be emailed out. If you have a recommendation that should be included on the list, please email Calvin at Listing is free for BRB members and there is a small charge for non-members. Who is your favourite vendor?

Aligning the club for the future

One of the tasks of this committee has been to develop a strategic plan based on membership needs and wants. This deeper insight has informed the committees growing responses both to the COVID-19 situation and the future direction of the club.

Some of the key features that are wanted from the club are support, mentoring and education. 
Our Education Team is working on this, however broader deeper resources will assist us to provide better education experiences for club members.

An opportunity has arisen for the club to join the Victorian Recreational Beekeepers Association (
VRBA). Membership of this Association will provide a range of benefits for the club.
  • Enhanced Public Liability Cover for club members when conducting club business including the collection of swarms, open hives and educational events.
  • VRBA aims and objectives are closely aligned with those outlined in our strategic plan.
  • VRBA is working toward developing educational teaching material for use of member clubs
  • VRBA will be working to educate local government around state legislation and beekeeper related issues.
The committee will be putting to the membership at the AGM that BRB joins the VRBA as a member. This will change our insurance coverage and will include VRBA membership to BRB members.

We encourage you to have a look at their
website so you can make an informed decision when this comes to a vote.

Adrian Claridge
BRB Club Secretary.

Would you like to add to this newsletter?

Have you knowledge you would like to share?

Articles are welcome from members for this newsletter, email with your contribution


BRB Area Leaders

The Area Leaders met last week to look at all the ways we could support club members, especially new ones. Having a smaller support group to help each other when needed, or to meet together to talk over issues and source help is a great idea.

The Area Leaders will be emailing you to introduce themselves and will be accessible as a conduit for you, as your ‘go-to’ person if you need to find or want to offer help. For example, your bees have swarmed and you don’t know what to do, or you need to access a swarm or want to buy bees, they will be able to steer you in the right direction.
Because of this, please make sure your details are current on Club2IC - phone number, email address and home address. We found 10 members who had not listed their home address so we couldn’t allocate you to an area. If you feel you’re in the wrong area, please let them know. This month I’d like to introduce you to two of our Area Leaders:
Alice Plevier.jpgAaron Spong.jpg

 Alice Plevier, Central South                                                         Aaron Spong, West 

Perhaps you’ll meet them and some of the others on Zoom at our next club meeting at 7:30 on August 6th.

Our Leaders are:
North Peter Debicki
West Aaron Spong
East Malcolm Garth
South Stephen Jeffers
Central North Gloria Salt
Central South Alice Plevier
During winter, and due the the pandemic restrictions, we realise that there will be little that can happen with the groups. However coming into spring the opportunity to get together while opening hives will help all of us learn more from each other. Consider the usefulness of an extra set of eyes to help identify issues in the hives, or an extra set of hands to help lift the supers. Then return the favour with another beekeeper's hives. Each area also has experienced beekeepers who may be willing to duck over for a quick look or chat on a telephone call with some advice.
Send the leader for your area an email and let them know who you are. They will add you to their distribution list.

Jude Porteous, Vice-President.


Thank-you for the opportunity to provide an update on recent activities of the VRBA.

1. The VRBA are proud to announce it is partnering with the City of Greater Geelong to host the Victorian Recreational Beekeepers Conference in Geelong in May, 2021.

2. The VRBA are currently finalising their governance and reporting structures to optimise member engagement and best practice governance. 

3. The VRBA will shortly be announcing a free monthly webinar series (BeeXX) for 2020 covering high quality and innovative topics of interest to recreational beekeeper.

4. The VRBA have recently submitted an application through the Honey Bee Compensation and Industry Development Fund to provide free biosecurity training places and written resources to recreational beekeepers and secure the services of a high quality international expert on biosecurity to appear at the 2021 VRBA Geelong Conference.

Amanda Collins 
Vice President
AHBIC News updates
State governments will be assisting beekeepers in developing strategies to harmonize state border crossing and communications with border crossing personnel over the next couple of weeks.

Apiarists are reminded to have their COVID-19 Health and Safety Management Plans up-to-date and Orchardists are advised that COVID-19 Management Plans for beehive delivery may assist with providing assurance along the supply chain. All personnel should operate in a safe manner that minimizes the risk of further contamination and spread of COVID-19 within the beekeeping and almond communities.

For further information and updates please visit the AHBIC website.


Bio Security Quiz

Can you beat the President!

PLAY the online quiz to see how well you know the Beekeeping Code of Practice.

The Amateurs Beekeeping Association of NSW has put up a fun quiz to test you on how well you know the code. Take the 20 questions in the quiz and see if you can beat the BRB president's first score of 17100.

Simply go to (or download the app) and type in the PIN 09203516.

Local Notes

On The Fridge

It has been a very big season so far, here are some things our members have been up to.

Member photos have been extracted from our public Facebook page.

Malcolm has found a bee feeding in the middle of winter.

Peter has been checking his bees on some of the amazing blooms of native flowers in the Victorian deserts.

Malcolm has been drinking some of his mead

Amanda has found wild Turnip in the Mallee

Peter has been sharing tips for keeping our boxes sealed in the shed over winter.

What have you been doing this winter for your bees?
Royal Jelly

Q. Why was the Bee busting for a wee wee?

A. It was looking for a B P service station!!

Thank you Gary for your contribution
Friends of Ballarat Regional Beekeepers

Ballarat Permaculture Guild
Backyard Beekeeping Ballarat
Food is Free Inc.
City of Ballarat

Geelong Beekeepers Club
Ballarat Grammar
Useful Links

Australian Honey Bee Industry Council
Victorian Apiarists Association
Beekeepers Registration & Hive Disposal

Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning
Biosecurity in Victoria
Country Fire Authority
Federation University
Copyright © 2020 Ballarat Regional Beekeepers Inc., All rights reserved.

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