Bee swarming season hits its peak in Lake Mac

Date posted: 2 October 2018

Bee swarming season has hit its peak in Lake Macquarie, with spring’s warmer weather prompting an increase in the number of swarms rolling through the suburbs.

Lake Macquarie City Council acting Manager Sustainability Chris Harle said bee swarms sometimes resembled an insect plague of Biblical proportions, with tens of thousands of the tiny insects taking flight at once.

“The sight and sound of thousands of bees flying in close formation is quite spectacular, and may be intimidating to some,” Ms Harle said.

“But swarming bees are actually relatively docile – they gorge on honey before taking flight and bees usually only become aggressive when defending their hive. A swarm of bees has no hive to defend.”

Bee swarms are a natural part of beekeeping. Various factors will trigger a swarm, including if a beehive becomes too crowded, but late September and October are generally the most common times for them to occur.

A swarm of bees will usually come to rest together in a cluster around their queen until scout bees find a place to establish a new hive.

“These clusters often contain thousands of bees,” Ms Harle said.

“Sometimes they will end up clinging to a tree branch or shrub, but in other cases they’ll end up on a back fence, a letterbox or even the awning of a house.

“The important thing is to remain calm if you see a swarm in flight or a swarm cluster, and never spray them with insecticide.”

The Hunter Valley Amateur Beekeepers Association maintains a database of beekeepers throughout the Lower Hunter willing to remove a swarm from private property.

“An email to the Association outlining the swarm location and any other details helps people with a swarm in their yard link up with someone willing and able to remove it,” Ms Harle said.

Beekeepers will usually transfer swarm clusters into a box and take them away later that evening once all bees have returned for the night.

People who spot a swarm cluster can email the Hunter Valley Amateur Beekeepers Association at huntervalleyaba@gmail.com.

Article by Lake Macquarie City Council

Page last updated: 2 October 2018