Our Bees in Japan - Part 2

During Spring 1998, we met a truly Japanese gentleman. Dr. Kazuhiro Amano is the Chief Entomologist of Beekeeping for the Japanese Government. He was in Australia to do research on Australian Stingless Native Bees. It was through an introduction from Dr. Tim Heard, that our involvement with Kazuhiro developed. Tim asked us to meet Kazuhiro and show him around. We readily agreed.

Kazuhiro phoned us and politely arranged to visit us at Gatton. We told him that we would do all that we could do to help his research. He arrived promptly as arranged and after getting over the formalities,  he kindly offered us gifts from Japan.

Over a cuppa, we exchanged ideas and opinions. We toured our backyard (should be called a bee yard) and examined every nest of our three species we had. We offered to take him to some wild nest sited which he promptly agreed to. Armed with his camera and expensive video camera, we examined a number of nests of Trigona carbonaria including one new find during the morning. How exciting for him!!

On our return to our home, he asked in his best Japanese English, "Would you please sell  a nest of carbonaria?" We readily agreed. After selecting a suitable nest, he pulled a huge wad of Australian dollars from his pocket. On receiving some of the money, we said, "Do you need a receipt?" He said, "No, No, everything OK!"

As he was staying in Brisbane for a little longer, he said that this nest would be used for experimentation. Upon leaving, he asked if he could purchase two more nests just prior to departure from Australia. Same again, more new Australian dollars! Kazuhiro flew back to Japan with his new acquisitions. He e-mailed us to say all was well.

You may ask; "Why Australian Stingless Native Bees?" Consider the fact that there is a large population on a small area of land with Apis mellifera flying around. Honeybees are too dangerous! With much small cropping, Trigona carbonaria is the way to go! As T. carbonaria occurs naturally as far south as Bega in NSW, its adaptation to the climate in Japan would be simple. Our T. carbonaria is one of the best species to handle extremes in temperature.

In Japan, the nests of T. carbonaria were housed in a big environmentally controlled glass house during Winter. In Summer, the nest were kept at various locations. During the Japanese Summer, Kazuhiro split all three nests of T. carbonaria and united the nests with his empty Japanese boxes. (Click here to see pictures). I believe that the splits were successful.

He e-mailed us to say that all was well and that he would like to send us some Japanese T. carbonaria boxes for our opinions. See pictures of some of the styles. Can you imagine what the postage cost? We had to deal with the Customs Department, because these beautifully made boxes appeared to be very expensive. Anything over A$150 attracts an importers tax.

During our Winter 1999, Kazuhiro ordered 6 more nests of T. carbonaria. He said to send ASAP. How do we export? This was all new to us. After much ringing around, we discovered that a permit was required from "Environment Australia" to export Australian wildlife. This we did obtain for scientific purposes only. Then to Customs and Quarantine! Then to a Freight Forwarder who organized the plane flight via Japan Airlines. Away they went on the 8/11/1999. About a 10 hours flight! The bees were well cared for in a pressurized freight compartment during their flight.

Kazuhiro has been experimenting with heating units for the bees. by using an inner and outer box, a heating pad and thermostat were installed inside the outer box. See photo of inner and outer boxes. From examination of the graphs, it is obvious that heating is very successful. At a setting of 18 degrees Celsius, an internal temperature was relatively constant. Cold temperatures are a big problem in Gatton. so this may be the solution. (Any bright sparks out there?)

During Summer, 2000, Kazuhiro ordered a further 6 nests of T. carbonaria. This time, sent his inner boxes to Australia so that we could install nests directly into his boxes. What a professionally made box design! There was the main brood compartment and a separate upper food storage area. It all clipped and locked together so well! After settling in and cleaning up, the bees were sent to Japan on the 9/6/2000. All went well!

What of the Future? Well, it is early days! Just think about it! Over 100 million people, a lot of small cropping, much pollination and dangerous honeybees. Huge potential?? Then consider nest registrations, control over collection from the bush and strict exportation controls.

We have been honoured to have been involved in this International project. We will be keeping you all up to date via this Web Site and also in Aussie Bee
 

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