Source of Bee picture:
If it’s safe to do so take a look at what you see flying in to your structure, tree, ground or other. Depending on the time of the year in Victoria you might not actually have bees.
European Honeybees in Victoria typically start their swarm season in Early Spring, occasionally during August however more commonly during September. In most years the swarm cycle finishes mid to late December yet as the climate changes we have seen seasons where swarming has continued in to early February although this is more of a rarity.
Bees will swarm for various reasons however the main reason during swarm season is they have run out of room in their current home and need to make space. As such over half the bees will depart the hive with the current queen and go look for a new home. The bees left behind in the hive will make a new queen and begin to build the original hive back up.
The swarming bees will usually take between one and seven days to find a new home and that can be in your home, a tree or occasionally in a cavity in the ground. If you’ve had a hive in your home previously and the comb wasn’t removed nor was the cavity filled then the bees will choose this location over any other as bees will always return to where bees have been before due to the pheromones left behind.
There are no hive forming native bees in Victoria. All of Victoria’s native bees are solitary. To find hive making native bees you need to head towards northern Australia. Typically north of Byron Bay in New South Wales and up in to Queensland.
Australia is the last country in the world with a healthy European Honeybee population due to us not having the Varroa Mite. Varroa is treated using harsh chemicals. These chemicals find their way in to the honey produced around the world yet because Varroa is not in Australia we don’t use these chemicals which makes our honey the cleanest in the world as long as people don’t add syrups and other sugars to Australia’s pure honey that is.
Because typical media portrays bees as being bright yellow and black many people confuse European Honeybees and European Wasps. European Honeybees are more typically a Brownie-Orange and Black colour whereas European Wasps are a Bright Yellow and Black.
(Images of both are above)
In Victoria people start noticing European Wasps from Mid February until the start of Winter. This is because by mid February the wasp nest has grown big enough where people will start to notice a constant stream of Wasps coming and going from the nest.
Just before winter the wasp nest will release over two hundred queens who will mate with male wasps and then hibernate over winter. When spring hits these mated queens will find a suitable location to start building a new nest, normally in the ground however commonly in homes as well. From here the queen starts building her nest and raising a workforce to help her in her task.
European Wasps are a pest in Australia and should be exterminated when their nest is found.
You can contact a pest exterminator if you know where the wasp nest is and have them destroy the nest. Alternatively if you don’t know where the nest is we have found the method in this You Tube video to be very effective. https://youtu.be/p3EYx1_E-8Y
If you have us come out and identify wasps then we charge our standard rates so we can pay our workers. You will still need to have an exterminator attend to deal with the wasps as we don’t handle the chemicals needed to kill wasp nests. We prefer you to identify wasps yourself if you can so you don’t have to pay us this call out fee for wasps.
Now that you’re sure you have European Honeybees it’s time to look at if they have actually built a hive in your structure or are the bees just scouting your structure along with many others as a potential new home.
When a beehive swarms during swarm season the big mass of bees will form a ball of bees on a tree, building or other.
When the bees form this swarm cluster they will send out scouts that will search the local area for a suitable home. A suitable home can be any cavity that’s big enough to house the bees and allow them to build their comb. If they find a location nearby that has had bees in it previously and the cavity wasn’t filled in when the previous hive was removed then they’ll more likely pick this spot as their new home over any other location.
Scout bees are bees from a swarm cluster that are out looking for a new home for the swarm.
During swarm season most people will notice scout bees before a hive moves in to their home. This is because a common trait of scout bees is that they physically enter the rooms in your home where as hive bees rarely enter the rooms in your home. Hive bees don’t need to enter the rooms in your home because they have already set up a home in your wall as such they now don’t need to explore inside your home. Hive bees main interest once they have started a hive is to go outside to collect pollen and nectar.
Scout bees on the other hand physically enter the rooms in your home because they’re scouting out every cavity they can find to see how big it is and where all the paths in the cavity lead to. Since homes are not air tight the scout bees will usually find their way in to your rooms and then fly to a light source, most commonly a window, where they die of stress due to not being able to get outside again.
Seeing scout bees can be a good sign because most of the time it means the swarm of bees haven’t moved in to your home yet. A simple solution which works most of the time to discourage scout bees without killing them is to spray Eucalyptus oil into and around any external areas where you see bees coming and going from. This will not work if the bees have set up a hive and have been there more than a couple of days.
Sometimes the swarm of bees is desperate for a new home as they have ran out of the resources they took with them before they left their original hive. In these instances the bees will move in regardless of spraying Eucalyptus oil.
This is why during the day you should take note of where you’re seeing scout bees entering your structure then an hour after dark you should listen at the internal walls for the hum of bees. If you hear a hum you’re too late and the bees have moved in and you’ll need us to relocate the new beehive. If you don’t hear a hum then go outside and block up the gaps where you saw bees scouting in your structure.
Eucalyptus oil and blocking access points are both preventatives. In most cases when used together they will prevent a beehive from moving in. However in some cases these preventatives won’t work and the bees will find a way in to your structure. Should this occur then you will need us to safely relocate the bees.
Scout bees will commonly scout for 24 to 72 hours before they have found a new home or they move on to a different location after finding nothing suitable in the current area.
If you see bees scouting a working chimney and the swarm hasn’t moved in or has been there less than three days then light a fire in your fire place/pit and keep it going during the daylight hours for three days. The smoke will deter the scout bees and force them to lose interest without harming them. If the bees have moved in yet have been there less than three days the smoke will push them out of the chimney, as long as they’re not in a side cavity, and force them to move to a different location. This different location might be in another part of your home however it will be a location that’s cheaper to relocate the beehive as chimneys are the most expensive type of beehive relocation.
If the bees have been in the chimney more than three days or have built a hive in a side cavity off the main flue area then smoke won’t work and you’ll need us to safely relocate the beehive for you.
Although the format of a beehive relocation follows a mostly standard set of procedures every beehive relocation is slightly different due to how the bees build the hive, the temperament of the bees and the structure we’re working with. It is for this reason that each relocation becomes a unique experience where methods change to match the different scenarios.
We find the best way to prevent the return of bees to a location is to expose the hive in its current location, catch the queen and frame up the bees comb in to a new hive box, then fill the cavity with old clothing once the bees have been relocated.
After the bees have been relocated we put them through the quarantine process to check them for diseases and pests. While in quarantine we feed the bees honey back to them however if there’s some excess during the relocation we are happy to give this to the landowner as honey from a relocation shouldn’t be sold due to the impurities from exposing the cavity, such as wood and mortar dust, getting in to the honey.
Should plaster be needing to be repaired or bricks put back in a wall we recommend you have a qualified trade restore the structure because their insurance will cover their work should something not be right with the repair, whereas our insurance covers us should something go wrong during the relocation.
While working and once we’ve relocated the beehive we recommend filling the cavity with old clothing to ensure you don’t get bees back in the location where they have been previously. We suggest old clothing, as we won’t handle fiberglass insulation batts, and old clothing is free if you get it from family, friends or work colleagues. Should you wish to use fiberglass insulation or such please ensure you do so yourself before you have the required repairs made or have the trades person doing the repairs install the insulation batts.
Suitable old clothing is smaller items that can be easily layered up a cavity without falling out due to being bulky. As such doonas, pillows, seat cushions and the like don’t generally work, except in floor cavities where we are lifting the floor from above.
Bigger things like sheets, adult jackets/coats, adult long pants and adult dresses will need to be cut smaller. Adult t-shirts and adult shorts don’t need to be cut up smaller. All children’s sizes don’t need to be cut smaller nor do adult/children’s socks, undies, and jocks.
For a typical beehive cavity you will need to get together three big black garbage bags worth of old clothing.
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