Bee swarms kept under control

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AS warmer weather hits the region, swarms of bees are being reported around the south.

Local beekeeper and Southland Bee Society member Geoff Scott is someone who can lend a hand when things get a bit buzzy.

While he demonstrated on Monday evening how to clear a swarm of bees from a fence, he said he had been called out several times already – spring and warm weather meant honey bees and their queens might search for a new place to form a colony.

However, issues may occur when they swarm in urban environments.

When they swarmed they were generally quite peaceful, Mr Scott said, and were surrounding and protecting the queen.

“Geoff the beeman” was in his seventh season of beekeeping, and said this particular swarm was relatively easy to collect.

“Sometimes they’ll be up the power pole or inside the eaves of the building, so this was a really easy one.”

Once the bees are poured into a vacant hive with empty frames – and a little pollen, honey and sugar syrup – after a while they settled and it became their new home.

“If the queen didn’t like it, she’d just fly back out again.”

Mr Scott transported the bees to a quarantine yard for 18 months, to make sure if the bees were diseased, it would not spread.

“Hopefully if it’s all good, they go into my production colonies.”

The swarm season would finish “as soon as the nectar flow starts, the bees will concentrate on nothing but bringing honey, or nectar, into the hive. As soon as that finishes then they will have another go for the end of the season”.

He said bee numbers in swarms could vary – “In a really big swarm there could be 60,000, but there would be tops 20,000 in this one.”

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