When you hear of bees ‘swarming’ you might immediately think of a dangerous attack. In fact the term refers to behaviour, usually in early Spring, when a group of bees split off from their current hive to create a new colony. Typically this happens when a queen bee is getting older and a new queen is chosen. The older queen bee sets off with about half the worker bees and as much honey as the bees can carry. The swarm lands on a structure near their original hive, while scout bees are sent out to search for a suitable new hive. It is at this stage that the swarms can be captured and used to populate an empty hive.
Local bees are stronger
Bee swarms that are collected in this way are much stronger than if bees had to be purchased. In South Africa, there are two types of honeybees and those found in the north of the country do not fare well in the southern coastal regions. Care has to be taken to ensure that local bees are colonising the hives – not only to provide quality honey and a strong population, but also to ensure that pollination is occurring in the local crops.
How to find bees
Local beekeepers – and craft beekeepers – often find swarms by putting the word out in their local community. People would rather save bees than kill them – so if a swarm is seen, you can be called on to safely remove. Bees are at their most docile when they are between hives because they do not have a hive to protect. They are also likely full of honey, making stinging anyone just that little bit harder.
Our partner, Menno’s Apiaries in Port Elizabeth, specialises not only in providing pollination services for local farmers and producing delicious honey, they also offer this bee removal service to the local community in order to ensure the bees are taken care of. Their policy is to avoid bee extermination at all costs.
They know first and foremost how to protect themselves – and the public – from being stung using protective clothing and leaning on years of experience.
Those in the area interested in learning more about bees can contact Mennos and they offer tours to local school children too.
Here are some interesting facts they have shared:
- The honey bee species is 30 million years old
- It’s the only insect that produces food eaten by man
- Honey bees are vital crop pollinators.
- A honey bee can fly for up to 9,6 kms and at 24 kms per hour
- A honey bee must fly 144,000 kms to make 1,6 kgs of honey
- The average honey bee makes only one twelfth of a teaspoon of honey in its lifetime
- It takes 556 workers to gather 1,6 kgs of honey from about 2 million flowers
- During winter, honey bees feed on the honey they collected during the warmer months
- The queen bee lives for about 2-3 years. She is busiest in summer and lays 2500 eggs per day
- Honey bees communicate with one another by “dancing”
You can own a hive with Menno
We are proud to have partnered with Menno’s Apiaries and you can own a hive managed by the company – and professionally swarmed on your behalf.