Honey bees expected to swarm as weather warms up

Honey bees may be seen swarming as the weather heats up and a new online service will help Bega Valley residents find a beekeeper to collect the swarm.
Honey bees may be seen swarming as the weather heats up and a new online service will help Bega Valley residents find a beekeeper to collect the swarm.

This Spring, Bega Valley beekeepers are on call to provide a community service - catching and removing bee swarms that have settled in awkward places.

Many of the volunteers have years of experience, catching and rehousing swarms and now it is easy for the public to locate a beekeeper who catches them.

More than 225 beekeepers across the state, including beekeepers in the Bega Valley, are listed on a free online swarm directory at the Amateur Beekeepers Association NSW website

Type the postcode where the swarm of bees has been discovered and you will find contact details of beekeepers in the area who will collect them.

As the days lengthen and weather warms, honey bees start preparing for the season ahead by freeing up space inside the hive to build up numbers and stash plenty of food - honey and pollen.

Often that means half of 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 and it is the natural way honey bee colonies reproduce, as well as provides an opportunity for aspiring recreational beekeepers to establish their first hive.

“We’re hopeful of reports of swarms over the coming months, of which one or two can be relocated to the Bega High School apiary,” Bega Valley Beekeepers Club biosecurity officer Fay Steward said.

“The apiary is currently being established, thanks to a successful application for $1500 from the Bega Valley Shire Club Grants Program by Bega Rotary towards a project called Beekeeping for Life.

“This follows The Art of Beekeeping course held in collaboration with the school, Bega Rotary and Bega Valley Beekeepers in Term 3, 2017, where around 10 students learnt basic beekeeping husbandry including how to handle bees calmly and safely, and woodworking skills through bee box construction, not to mention painting an outstanding mural on a wall at the school.”  

Ms Steward said catching a swarm will be a great way to get the apiary up and running.

When bees swarm many take to the sky and then cluster in mass numbers while looking for a suitable new home, but if the bees settle temporarily somewhere that alarms people nearby - maybe on a veranda post or a roadside – they may need to be removed. 

“We strongly urge 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 club’s swarm coordinator Lyall Zweck said. 

The club urges people wishing to get started in beekeeping to complete basic training which is provided by the club at one-day workshops in Spring and late Summer each year.

The first of these will be held on September 22 and 23 from 9am at the historic Old Bega Hospital at the southern end of Newtown Rd, Bega.

For further information or to register click here or contact club treasurer Sandy Farrell on 0407 959 312.