Get na­tive bees to ‘bee hive’ in new way

The trick is to make them visit the new abode


GYMPIE na­tive bee­keep­ers have been in­tro­duced to a new method of split­ting up hives.

The keep­ing of na­tive stin­g­less bees is be­com­ingly pop­u­lar in the re­gion.

While our na­tive bees pro­duce honey, it is nowhere near as much as can be ob­tained from hon­ey­bees.

Na­tive bee pop­u­lar­ity is due to a com­bi­na­tion of en­sur­ing the species sur­vive and also for the unique taste of the honey they pro­duce.

In the wild, na­tive bees nest in hol­lows that have a small en­trance that keeps preda­tors out.

Honey­bee hives can be split when con­di­tions re­quire, and this is a rel­a­tively easy and suc­cess­ful op­er­a­tion caus­ing min­i­mum harm to a hive or the bees.

John Kemp is a na­tive bee en­thu­si­ast and de­scribed a new and suc­cess­ful method of split­ting the much smaller and more com­pli­cated na­tive bee hive.

Mr Kemp said the na­tive bees do not be­have like hon­ey­bees in that when they swarm to a new site they leave the queen be­hind.

“The old hive then looks af­ter the new one un­til it is es­tab­lished and can get along by it­self,” he said. “In the wild a few scouts will fly from the old hive and take a vir­gin queen with them, but it takes time for the new hive to build num­bers.”

Mr Kemp said the new process called educ­tion is al­most an in­vented word.

“Ba­si­cally an old hive is con­nected to a nearby new hive by a plas­tic tube,” he said.

“This means that all ac­tiv­ity from the old hive has to go through the new one.”

Mr Kemp said when the num­bers re­main­ing in the new hive have built up and be­fore that queen can be elim­i­nated, the plas­tic pipe is blocked – pre­vent­ing the old hive bees from com­ing through.

“The new hive is work­ing well and can now sur­vive,” he said.

“The blocked pipe is opened on the old hive side of the block­age and they go on as be­fore.”

It is im­por­tant to be able to keep an eye on just what is hap­pen­ing, so an ob­ser­va­tion panel should be in­stalled be­cause weigh­ing the new hive only in­di­cates honey.

“Watch for pin­head-sized lumps which are used pupa cases,” Mr Kemp said.

“This in­di­cates good ac­tiv­ity and a grow­ing hive.”

The best time to check the hive is us­ing red light at night.

“The educ­tion process can eas­ily be used on hives in hol­lows or in na­tive bee hives,” Mr Kemp said.

Na­tive bee hives should be made of light con­crete that is easy to han­dle and keeps in­ter­nal tem­per­a­tures about 20C.

CHANG­ING PLACES: Gra­ham Smith and John Klump with some light­weight, well-in­su­lated na­tive bee hives.

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