Honey bees are on the wing

As the days lengthen and weather warms, honey bees (Apis mellifera) start preparing for the season ahead.

Part of that preparation involves ensuring the colony has plenty of space inside its hive, so it can build up numbers and stash plenty of food - honey and pollen.

“It’s the natural way honey bee colonies reproduce,” said Amateur Beekeepers Association NSW president Bruce White.

“It also means some spectacular sights of bees on the wing, and clustering in mass numbers as scout bees go looking for a suitable new home.”

Mr White said that often means half the colony will decide, along with its queen, to find a new home and leave the old home so the remaining bees can thrive.

“That mass of relocating bees is a swarm,” he said.

“This spring, if you are concerned about a bee swarm near your property, local volunteers are on call to catch and remove bee swarms that have settled in awkward places.

“Many of the volunteers have years of experience, catching and rehousing swarms each season.”

Mr White said it is now quick and easy for the public to locate a beekeeper who catches swarms.

A new online Swarm Directory has been launched at the Amateur Beekeepers Association website, beekeepers.asn.au/swarms.

You simply type in the postcode where the swarm of bees has been discovered. The directory gives the contact details of beekeepers in the area who will collect swarms - either for free or for a small charge.

“But if the bees settle somewhere that alarms the people nearby - maybe on a backyard post, or a roadside tree - you may want help to move then along?” Mr White said.  

“By far the best option, is to call in a beekeeper who can remove the bees safely.

“A beekeeper can usually do that without harming the bees. Bees provide essential pollination services for our food supply, flowers and local plants. So we really need to treat them with respect.”

The ABA advises members of the public not to try to dislodge a swarm themselves nor spray it with anything - swarming bees are normally docile but will sting if upset.

The ABA has 20 affiliated clubs across the state, representing more than 1450 amateur beekeepers.

Meanwhile local beekeeper Jane Suttle reminded people that the Goulburn District

“The club aims to support all beekeepers in the area and to improve the skills and knowledge of all its members irrespective of their level of expertise,” she said.

Beekeeper’s Club meets every third Wednesday at the Goulburn Workers Club at 7.30pm

For more information visit their website at www.beekeepers.asn.au/goulburn/