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.