Spring Is the Time For Bees

All winter long bees have been preparing to swarm. As a new queen develops in the hive the old queen prepares to move house and when ready, takes about half the bees with her. Full of honey for their journey they fly off in a large mass. They often rest on a tree or bush while looking for a suitable place to build their new hive. Sometimes they nest in tree hollows, competing very successfully with our small stingless native bees.

When swarming, bees are not particularly aggressive because their bellies are so full of honey they find it difficult to sting. Often they will go into a wall cavity, roof void or chimney, build a hive and begin producing honey. This is a real problem for the occupants of the house and it can be difficult for an apiarist (bee-keeper) to collect the hive. The longer bees stay in the building the more honey and waxy cells they produce, and the harder they are to control. We have seen hives so large they have caused the buildings internal linings to collapse.

Treatment of bees has obvious hazards, so we prefer to do it late in the afternoon when they are in the hive. It is best to use a slow acting dust that does not aggravate or flush the bees out, but it can take some time to get complete control. Checks are made to ensure control is gained, although once bees have been present other swarms are likely to find the same place in the future. Black ants can also become a problem after bees have been removed.

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