Bees are swarming as warm and wet weather descends on Queensland

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Swarms of European honeybees have taken over trees, outdoor patios, children’s play equipment and mailboxes as they migrate for spring.

Toowoomba father of three Garth Hamilton discovered a swarm under his children’s trampoline.

“As I kept walking closer and closer to the trampoline, it got thicker and thicker,” said Mr Hamilton, a member of Groom.

“It was really lucky, because a few minutes earlier I had sent the kids out to burn off some energy on the trampoline. Fortunately, they didn’t.”

Sir. Hamilton asked on social media what to do with the bees, where he was inundated with responses.

“It’s not as hard to move them as you might think,” he said.

swarm of bees under the trampoline
A professional beekeeper helped Garth Hamilton remove the bees from under the trampoline.(Provided by: Garth Hamilton )

“They were hanging upside down on the trampoline and a beekeeper came around, gave it a little push and they all fell straight into a box.

“We checked that the queen was in the box, so that was it.”

Many southern Queenslanders have experienced something similar.

Southern Beekeepers Association president Glen Tucker said European honey bees were migrating this spring.

“The swarms vary from staying half an hour to a day or two,” Mr Tucker said.

bee swarm in flower tree
Toowoomba local Liz Lebsanft discovered this swarm in a flowering backyard tree. (Delivered: Liz Lebsanft)

“Over the course of months, they will then form a large hive.”

Sir. Tucker advised anyone who sees a swarm to ask a professional beekeeper nearby before trying to move them.

However, he said swarms were usually docile when they migrated.

“There’s not a big danger when they swarm, it’s when they have a bigger hive, when they become more aggressive.”

Bee boom in wet and hot weather

Queensland Beekeepers Association secretary Jo Martin said warmer weather and erratic rain had led to a boom in European honey bees.

“They are coming off a period of a long, cold and very wet winter,” she said.

swarm of bees on wood
Phil Nemeth walked past a moving swarm of Chinchilla.(Provided by: Phil Nemeth)

“We have seen some increases in rainfall and the environment is responding.

“As soon as trees start blooming, it signals that those worker bees and the queen are starting to build those population numbers.”

Many smaller swarms are bees that have broken from their original hive due to overcrowding.

“We are definitely experiencing a large number of phone calls from the public reporting hot springs,” she said.

Ms Martin said a recent increase in the number of amateur beekeepers across Queensland could also be another reason so many swarms were migrating.

Although the Varroa mite has never reached Queensland, she said beekeepers were entering a worrying time of year.

close-up of a swarm of bees
Bees have attached themselves to a young tree before finding a permanent home. (Provided by: Phil Nemeth)

“It’s a very difficult balance between managing the conditions this year. Varroa mite remains our core concern, but also the La Niña summer,” she said.

“Rain events are certainly welcome after so many years of drought and bushfires, but intense rain has been known to wash out food sources for bees.

“Over the last 12 weeks we have also developed a better understanding of where the Varroa mite is and contained it.”

Ms Martin said the best beekeepers could do was to continue their pest control and monitoring.

She said it was important to report the results to the Ministry of Agriculture, even if there was a negative result.

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