Native bee swarms

Native bee swarms

Once you have your bees at home, you will start to notice some of the interesting behaviours of our Australian native bees.

 

Swarming

Honey bees swarm to establish a new nest.  The whole colony becomes mobile and seeks a new hive location.  Australian native bees do swarm, but for reasons a little different to honey bees. 

 

Fighting swarms

Native bees will fight with another hive, particularly if the hive being attacked is not strong.  Attackers and defenders will fight to the death and it can be pretty distressing to see thousands of bees locked in battle and dying.  However, while there's not much you can do about it, the hive is unlikely to die.  Either the defenders will successfully repel the attackers, or the attackers will win and move in.  Fighting swarms can be identified by:

a lot of bees swarming near the hive
many dead and fighting bees on the ground
 

Mating swarms

These swarms may take place if the queen has died or is starting to fail in the task of egg laying.  A large swarm amasses outside the hive as males prepare for a new virgin queen to take her mating flight.  Mating swarms may continue for a number of days.  Mating swarms can be identified by:

a lot of bees swarming near the hive
some casualties
male bees roosting nearby in the evening
 

Defensive swarms

If the hive feels threatened, it will perform a defensive swarm as a show of strength to deter attackers.  Defensive swarms can be identified by:

a lot of bees swarming near the hive
little or no casualties
 

Establishing a new hive

When Australian native bees ae ready to start a new hive, they will seek a suitable location and over some weeks begin construction.  Once the new hive is ready for a queen, a new virgin queen is flown to the  new location and mated.  The old hive is not abandoned and continues to function as normal.  Australian native bees will not usually abandon a hive.