It was a hive of activity at Edgerton Nursery last week when a swarm of bees decided to pay a visit.

Bruce Fragar, the honey man from Narromine, was called to the rescue to remove the bees he estimated to be around the 20,000 mark.Image

“I often get calls to remove swarms of bees but not as many as I used to,” Mr Fragar said.

“I picked up 30 swarms one year in Narromine, but since we’ve had a lot of hive beetle come into Australia, they haven’t been very good for the industry as they’ve knocked the feral hives around so we don’t have as many swarm.”

For honey bees, swarming is part of the natural reproductive life cycle. The swarming season usually occurs through Spring, and on rare occasions they may swarm at other times.

“Bees can go miles and miles in a swarm,” Mr Fragar said.

“What they do is they send out scouts looking for hollow trees or cracks in the walls. They often go in under meter boxes as well.

“If you see half a dozen or a dozen bees looking around your windows, that means there is a swarm out and they’re scouting. They then go back to the swarm, say they’ve found a hollow tree or good crack in the wall, then others will go out to have a look at the possible home and they make their mind up on the best.”

So why do bees swarm? Well according to Mr Fragar, in the spring time they breed like mad and basically run out of room in their hive.

“The honey is coming in like mad, little bees hatch out, and there is no room left in the hive for more bees to be laid,” he said.

“The cells are then filled with honey to prevent the queen laying any more bees and she gets cranky and leaves the hive with half of the colony. The first female hatched in the old colony is the queen and she will then kill the rest off to ensure her position.”

Mr Fragar said he had always loved bees, ever since he was a child, but over the last 12 years he has become more hands-on in the industry.

“I have 80-odd hives that I move around the district, from Lithgow to the other side of Tottenham, up to Walgett, wherever the trees are flowering,” he said.

“This is a hobby for me that I really enjoy.”

Honey bees play an important role in the world with the pollination of many crops. Hive management can have a significant effect on pollination in crops such as cherries, apples, lucerne, canola and blueberries.


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