Skip to content Skip to main navigation

Hooray for Floriade, now respect the little guys that keep it happening – [Or, On bees]

By Skidbladnir - 14 October 2008 11

[First filed: October 13, 2008 @ 16:04]

In the thread about Johnboy’s question about bees t’other day, most people seemed to be unaware that swarming season is starting.

Bees swarm in Spring, when they realise they’ve become over-resourced, and feel the need to breed.

So they gorge themselves on honey, and go hunting for new places to start hives.

For this reason, most actual beekeepers would prefer to split up their own hives before this point of Spring, but if you’re one of those people who just has huge trees full of hollows around the place, you probably have a natural hive or two, and can expect something similar to this in the near future.

(Or those of you with large trees in your suburb might suddenly notice the air is thick with bees, and there are clumps of bees haning from them)

Hives will swarm once the old queen has produced enough bees and honey to sustain the current hive, and also fission the hive into a new colony.

(Slideshow and more below)

So the workers start grooming a new queen bee (or two, just to be safe), while the old queen takes her share of the hive, and they kind of just ‘fall out’ of the tree onto something nearby.

Like your washing line, a nearby shrub, or the back fence.

Then, that swarm send out some scouts, while the rest of the workers all play stacks-on with the Queen, to defend her if needed.

Thats what you see as the big piles of bees later on in the slideshow.

Occasionally a hive might send out two swarms, if its grown especially big over Winter and Spring.

And Floriade is essentially just one great big festival for bees, where they can make as much honey as they feel like.

If you see a beehive swarming

The good news is, if they’re swarming then you’re prettymuch safe from being stung.

Some of these photos are from as close as about 10cm away from the edge of the swarm.

The bees have other things to be interested instead of stinging you, like defending their queen, finding a new home, and are so full of honey that they don’t much care what you do to them.

(Think about how little you really care about on Christmas Day after a big feed, and you can see why the bees don’t want to do much except find a safe place to rest).

NOTE: This doesn’t mean you can kick a swarm, or stick your fist into it and pluck out their Queen, or anything. They’re just less aggressive than usual.

The bad news is that when they’re swarming and find a place to settle on a tree, thats only two thirds of the hive, the others are out scouting for safe places to set up.

This could include hollows in gum trees, or if you’re unlucky, a hole in your wall.

Once they find a good place, those scouts come back to the Queen and her swarm, and then they all up and fly away to their new home.

What to do if you don’t want it

If you find a swarm of bees in a place you don’t want, or just want to get rid of them before they set up home insde your walls, you should give these people a call.

We were in the process of calling the Beekeepers’ Society when the swarms all flew away across the suburb, so if they settled in your backyard or house, I’m sorry.

List of ACT Beekeepers’ Society Swarm Handlers:

http://www.actbeekeepers.asn.au/swarmcollectors/index.htm

For further information, ACT Beekeepers Society Homepage:

http://www.actbeekeepers.asn.au/common/home.htm

Note: The Beekeepers’ Society may charge a small fee for swarm removal, but they will remove the entire swarm intact, and its still cheaper than getting a pest controller in to poison and kill the swarm.
(Check with the swarm handler what their fee will be)

What’s Your opinion?


Post a comment
Please login to post your comments, or connect with
11 Responses to
Hooray for Floriade, now respect the little guys that keep it happening – [Or, On bees]
Nosey 3:24 pm 14 Oct 08

Thanks skid.

I must admit I’d had a few drinks when reading the original post.

Now I have read it in full we have had some luck.

A “Bee person” is coming to have a look.

Cheers

Pesty 3:23 pm 14 Oct 08

Nosey said :

Who can help me.

My sister in law has three young children who love the outdoors.

The man who owns (but does not live at) the house next door to her has two bee boxes.

Last summer and now starting again yesterday, the bees are swarming around her house and especially her front door as the bees are going under her house.

Surely there are some rules for bee keepers.

It is dangerous as the kids come close to being stung everyday.

Please enlighten me.

I love honey but I love my nieces and nephews more.

Nosey

If the bees are establishing themselves under the house, then they need to be dealt with. sadly, once they are within a structure there is no choice other than to destroy them. Bees are beneficial insects and should never be killed purely for profit, but sometimes needs must……

Skidbladnir 12:23 pm 14 Oct 08

Swarms at rest are easy to deal with, don’t make direct contact and they don’t much care.
The better photos in the (really slow to load) photo set are from centimeters away, and I had maybe two or three bees land on the camera as a warning.

Airborne swarms are also easy to deal with, you can walk right through them if you’re game.
Downside is that if they see you as a safe enough landing zone (or mistake you for a shrub), you’re then covered in several thousand bees, though.

crabb 12:17 pm 14 Oct 08

Topical post indeed – we had the same experience on Sunday. We’ve bought a place at Murrumbateman and were out there doing some fencing, when we became aware of a thrumming noise in the distance. At first we thought it might be distant machinery, but it gradually increased and the next thing we knew there were thousands of bees flying slowly by us. We were ready to bolt for the shed if necessary, but they remained high enough up (20 feet?)not to be a risk and were clearly not interested in us, they just meandered through on their way up the hill. I’ve never seen anything like it, and wondered whether it was a rural phenomenon but Vic’s post indicates suburbia. The sight and sound were awesome! We have heaps of Paterson’s curse in some nearby paddocks (unfortunately) but I’m sure the bees are very happy because of it!

Skidbladnir 11:10 am 14 Oct 08

And for any photography nuts, I can pull the shutter speed and other bits from the EXIF if you’re really keen.
Otherwise, my only field notes are: Close distance shots, full sunlight, amateur photographer with a digital camera, and relatively passive subject matter.

Skidbladnir 9:24 am 14 Oct 08

Nosey: the ACT Beekeepers (listed in the article under the heading “What to do if you don’t want it” with links for further information, as I am not a beekeeper) may be able to help you out on the cheap, or find a cheap pest controller if they’re in an awkward spot\threatening children.

There’s one guy (Pesty) who seems to occasionally reads the the RiotACT, but I can’t recommend one from experience.

magella 8:28 am 14 Oct 08

Read: “A World Without Bees”, by Alison Benjamin and Brian McCallum…

imarty 9:53 pm 13 Oct 08

zephyr9673 – “we could even smash the GDE and replace it with some rare and endangered plant and tree species.”
Aboretum anyone?

I love bees, leave them alone and they’ll leave you alone (unlike f#cking magpies this time of year!) and without bees the food industry would fall over. Even though they’re a feral species, this country’s agricultural industry is dependant upon them.

zephyr9673 7:51 pm 13 Oct 08

I would love to see Floriade do somthing a little more permanent, you know, the point of gardening is to make a garden, they should move it around Canberra, maybe plant some fruit trees and herbs in some of the parks, you know, leave a mark.

If the radicals of the left that should be running this town wanted, we could smash up a few roads, build some more parks, we could even smash the GDE and replace it with some rare and endangered plant and tree species.

But no. The same park get ripped apart, year after year, leaving no real improvement, but yes, if you love crowds, it is great.

Vic Bitterman 7:09 pm 13 Oct 08

What a topical post – on Saturday all of a sudden all these bees swamed through our yard – gave us quite a fright, but they were gone as soon as they arrived! Thanks skid!

Nosey 5:07 pm 13 Oct 08

Who can help me.

My sister in law has three young children who love the outdoors.

The man who owns (but does not live at) the house next door to her has two bee boxes.

Last summer and now starting again yesterday, the bees are swarming around her house and especially her front door as the bees are going under her house.

Surely there are some rules for bee keepers.

It is dangerous as the kids come close to being stung everyday.

Please enlighten me.

I love honey but I love my nieces and nephews more.

Related Articles

CBR Tweets

Sign up to our newsletter

Top
Copyright © 2017 Riot ACT Holdings Pty Ltd. All rights reserved.
www.the-riotact.com | www.b2bmagazine.com.au | www.thisiscanberra.com

Search across the site