Be calmand collected - like the bees
It’s bee swarm season so be aware and be at the ready.
The natural phenomenon where honey bees move from their hives and look for a new home can result in up to 30,000 of them descending on trees and buildings in suburban back yards.
As frightening as this might seem, the word from the experts remains the same: stay calm, leave them alone and call a local beekeeper to have them removed.
From spring, colonies of honey bees, old queen bee and all, will be on the move and looking for a new home.
‘‘Through to December, with the warmer weather is when they swarm,’’ veteran Upper Hutt beekeeper Ivan Pedersen said. ‘‘It is their way of of surviving, dividing the colony.’’
His advice for anyone discovering a swarm is simple. ‘‘Don’t panic, leave them alone. If they are just hanging from a tree, they are resting. They are not going to stay, they are intent on finding a new home.’’
The swarm will be following a queen bee to set up a new hive several kilometres from their previous home. They often settle in a relatively open location for a rest, mostly overnight, before carrying on.
‘‘They are highly organised, like a military operation,’’ Pedersen said.
They are collectively calm when travelling as they do not have a hive to protect.
‘‘I can collect them without a bee suit, without gloves even.’’
For years Pedersen has collected swarms. For him they are a resource and anything but a pest.
In an average season he would expect to remove 25 swarms from the wider Upper Hutt area, taking them to his prepared hives.
‘‘I get calls from the council, Citizens Advice and the odd one from the police, plus there’s always word-of-mouth,’’ the 84-year-old said.
‘‘But that has gone down in the last few years because of the varroa mite.’’ The parasite attacks honey bees and their brood, weakening the bees and shortening their life.
Pedersen has 60 hives in several locations but has had up to 200 in previous seasons. While local authorities will organise the removal of swarms in public areas, on private property removal is the owner’s responsibility.
Raised in Denmark on a
Stay calm, leave the the swarm alone and call a beekeeper to have them removed.
Local authoritieswill have contact numbers for local beekeepers who will collect the bees at no cost.
Never try to destroy a swarmor a hive.
Do not throwsticks, rocks or other items at the swarm.
Spraying with awater hose is ineffective while fly spray will make bees angry and aggressive.
Never use inflammables, of any kind, on a swarmor hive. subsistence farm where his father kept bees, Pedersen’s interest was formed as a youngster.
He has worked with the insects for decades and set up his Kaitoke Apiaries business which produces liquid honey.
Each winter Pedersen travels back to Denmark and Iceland for a couple of months. He works with local beekeeper organisations and escapes the worse of the Kiwi winter.
‘‘It works well, a no-winters system,’’ the self-trained beekeeper said.
Bee worries? City councils will supply contact numbers for beekeepers who will remove swarms for free or call Ivan Pedersen on 526 9180
Long time Upper Hutt beekeeper Ivan Pedersen is often called out to rehome swarms.