Bees all abuzz for spring

Soren Otto Houlberg with some of his bee-keeping gear. Picture: Elle Borgward d405347
Soren Otto Houlberg with some of his bee-keeping gear. Picture: Elle Borgward d405347

Mr Houlberg, a well-respected author on bees, honey seller and a WA Apiarist’s Society honorary apiary inspector, has asked people who see a swarm of bees to call him rather than try to deal with the problem themselves.

‘When it hits 25C and sunshine, that is when bees swarm,’ he said.

‘Domestic bees swarm if they haven’t been looked after properly, or in nature when the hive is full of combs and the queen has no space to lay eggs, they will move on.’

Mr Houlberg said bees were so important that without them the local economy would lose $400 million a year and if all the bees in the world died, only one quarter of the world’s population would be able to survive.

He said WA’s population was among the healthiest in the world, but the march of disease and the impact of pesticides and herbicides, as well as people calling pest controllers to destroy swarms, was having a detrimental impact.

‘Swarms normally sit in a tree or on a car, all the bees fly out from the hive and meet at a certain place,’ Mr Houlberg said.

‘If it’s convenient they’ll stay there, if not they’ll send out scouts that will come back after four or five days and point them towards a new site.

‘Some people hose them down and a bee drowns very easily. But if you target a swarm you’re playing with danger. A lot of people don’t know the difference between a wasp and a bee either.’ Mr Houlberg urged any homeowner or business troubled by a swarm to call him so he could collect it.

‘First I like to check they’re not spreading any diseases around,’ he said. ‘We want to save them so they can be domesticated properly. I have four or five customers are waiting for a swarm to add to a hive.

‘We don’t want them to go out into nature again because they are an introduced species and there are problems with swarms going in and occupying hollows needed by native animals or making a home near a farm trough and stinging cattle.’

Mr Houlberg is also calling on amateur apiarists to ensure they register with the WAAS.

If you find a nuisance swarm call 0432 265 922.