Sunday, 17 August 2014

Why aren't all my native bees going into the hive at night...?

We have four hives of native bees in our back yard. They make the greatest pets and ensure you always win that icebreaker question at workshops when they ask you to "share how many legs at your place" (you know, two for each person, two for the budgie, none for the goldfish and four each for the cat and dog). With four hives with 2000 bees in each with six legs each - I don't know the exact figure but no one ever comes close!!

In the last couple of weeks we have noticed a small colony of bees forming beside the nest. They didn't go back in at night and didn't fly off. You can see them on the mirror and up in the corner.

We made them a "bridge so they could walk back to the hive and they simply wouldn't.

We took the mirror away as we thought that might be confusing them but it didn't change anything...

In the end we contacted  bee guru, Russel Zabel and

Here's what he told us...

The hive has produced to many drones. Drones are the boy bees and are raised to become suitors for the queen on her mating flight. She only mates once and then retires to the hive to have babies for the rest of her life. Once she is pregnant (so to speak) that makes the drones fairly useless... If the queen is happy healthy and making lots of babies, the drones become just like young men living at home with no job. And these ones get kicked out!

So, our little colony of boy bees that has appeared a few meters from the main hive is really just a bachelor party! According to Russel, there isn't a lot you can do for them. They aren't welcome back home, they have nothing to do and no where to go. They will just feed themselves and hang out together until their life cycle is complete. That's about six weeks for an average native bee!

It seems that bees are a bit like roosters. You only need one to get the babies...

Russel reckons our other hives probably have these same bachelors hanging out close to the hives but since they are in the garden in amongst the greenery, we haven't spotted them yet. Because these ones are near the house and easy to spot against the cream coloured bricks - we have noticed it.  Its all part of the natural cycle and the bees know what they are doing.

If you are interested in Native bees - have a look at these sites!

Splitting Native Bees for the first time
Covering up Native Bees for the Winter
Aussie bee
Native bees
Australian Native bees

Score card:
Green-ness: 5/5 for having native bees in your yard! 
Frugal-ness: 3/5 Setting up Native bees is not cheap - but still cheaper than buying the honey at $65 a kilo!
Time cost: Many, many hours watching the comings and goings! 
Skill level: Just a belief that they wont sting - and they don't!
Fun -ness: Awesome fun!


Marigold Jam said...

That's interesting! At least they are not wearing hoodies and holding cans of lager! I am not sure I'd want them in the house myself although I love to have them in the garden.

Practical Frog said...

Its the same image that I had when we got off the phone from the bee man! The numbers are dropping off each day - its sad but not a lot we can do as they don't work in the hive, don't collect pollen and since the queen is happy - they are surplus to requirements! They are great fun to have in the garden - you gotta get some!- K x

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