Don’t panic, call a beekeeper!

Spring is a busy time for beekeepers as this is the time of year when honeybees swarm.
Castlemaine beekeeper Daniel BeeShepherd from the Castlemaine Bee Sanctuary recommends that if people see a swarm of bees that they stay calm and contact a beekeeper.
“Seeing so many bees in once place can be very intimidating but this is as docile and gentle as honeybees ever get,” Daniel says.
“Honeybees are never aggressive, they are only ever defensive. Swarming bees have no home to defend and their only concern at that point is finding a new one.”
Swarming is the European honeybee’s natural method of reproduction on a colony level. They are the only species of bee that do this. In spring, the queen increases her egg laying and the colony population sharply increases. When the hive becomes overcrowded, about half to two-thirds of the bees leave with the queen to try to establish a new home somewhere else. A new queen takes over the bees in the colony that are left behind.
“As thousands of bees leave the hive, they form a huge cloud and then settle in a cluster, usually on a nearby branch. They can stay in that cluster for a few days while they send out scouts looking for a place to make their new home,” Daniel says.
“The ideal home for the bees is a hole in a tree but they aren’t fussy, just about any cavity will do. Research has shown that honeybees prefer a cavity of about 40 litres with a small defendable entrance 2-3 metres above the ground – so your chimney or wall or roof cavity is an appealing home for them!”
“We have been catching swarms in the Castlemaine area since 2013. We carefully remove the bees and re-home them in responsibly managed bee-friendly hives throughout the community and we never use poisons or pesticides.”
You can contact Castlemaine Bee Sanctuary on 03 5470 6216 or at www.beesanctaury.com.au
Swarm facts
When swarms happen: From the end of September and throughout October
Number of bees in a swarm: up to 15,000
Size of an average cluster: about the size of a football
What people should do if they see a swarm: Don’t panic and call a beekeeper.

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