Preventing Native Bee Swarms
A guide to keeping bees happy.
Guest post written by Dean Haley
Preventing native bee swarms…. My recent post on fighting swarms showed one of my boxes on my front patio. This box was attacked by hockingsi bees, I think from my neighbors place across the street.
In general though I don’t have fighting amongst my own bees and would like to share a few thoughts on keeping bees happy and fight free.
A quick google search of stingless bees in Africa, South America or Asia will show bee boxes lined up in very close proximity. There may only be a few centimetres between the boxes. In Australia though, we are advised to keep a 10 metre spacing between boxes or they might fight. I think that with proper care our bees can be kept in close proximity. I have done so for years.
Preventing Native Bee Swarms tips.
This picture shows some of my bee hives containing carbonaria bees. The bees are unrelated and have come from different places. Due to limited space when I was living in a unit complex, I kept 8 beehives on a rack of shelves with only a few centimetres space between them. These days I can pick up 2 of these boxes and swap their position in the shelves. Bees will return to the wrong box and still they don’t fight. So what’s going on?
I believe that having carbonaria boxes in very close proximity leads to all the boxes sharing each others smell. They are all soaking in the pheromone smell of all the queens. In effect they get used to each other and become friends.
When I introduce a new box to the group, I will close all the existing boxes entrances the night before with gauze or tissue paper. I then place my new box in the group and they have a nighttime to learn the new smell. The next morning the new bees will do their orientation flight. With the neighboring boxes shut, they don’t accidentally enter the wrong entrance and spark a defensive swarm. After 2 or 3 hours the new box will be functioning normally with no lost bees hanging around the neighbors doors. At this time I remove the gauze or tissue paper and don’t have fights.
This is great news for families wishing to keep more than one or two boxes in the back yard or patio. I personally think that a good number to keep is five to ten boxes. The bees do very well and never seem to run out of flowers. Having this many boxes is great fun, and you can get enough honey to really enjoy and some surplus to give away to friends.
Happy bee keeping!
Links about native bee swarms