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Take the sting out of the fear of bees

Beehives split to make new hives and it's these bees that are often seen clumping in trees.

The death of two dogs in Potchefstroom after being stung by a swarm of bees recently made news headlines.
December is when many people spend more time outdoors and could be stung at a swimming pool because water is critical to a beehive for ventilation.

To help prevent poolside stings, keep a bird/bee bath filled with water on your property. Bees love to soak up water in moss.
The inside temperature of a beehive is maintained at 34 degrees C all year round, even in the middle of a Parys winter. If the temperature drops too much, the brood (eggs and larvae) will perish, and the whole hive with them. I started my beekeeping career in March 2017, and each year since then has been a steep learning curve.

Remember that the peak of summer and plants flowering is also the peak of bee activity. The more honey a hive has to defend, the more aggressive it can be.

Valuable advice to take note of:
Removing Bees
Beehives split to make new hives and it’s these bees that are often seen clumping in trees. It is easy to catch them if you get there in time. They are often on their way to their new permanent home, so time is limited.

It is a simple process of literally knocking the clump of bees into a cardboard box (making sure the queen is included). Place the cardboard box next to a bee box and the bees will move into it. The box can be moved soon after.Once a swarm of bees has moved into its permanent home, they are often very difficult to move.

After a few days, when the queen starts laying eggs, the hive will only move if forced to do so. Bees will not relocate to an empty bee box without reason and that is where the expertise of a beekeeper is required. Each removal is different because bees move into so many different things.

Bees find permanent homes in canoes, kayaks, tractor or bus tyres, garage cupboards, chimneys, ceilings, under baths through the outlet pipe, lay water canals, tree trunks – particularly willows, owl boxes, holes in the ground etc. To prevent bees from moving in, stuff empty spaces (I buy used livestock feed bags). Please seal the gap between your bath outlet pipe and the wall, and seal cupboard doors in outside buildings.
Bees can fit through a hole smaller than 1cm and can eat/burrow through cement, expanding foam, chipboard, etc. to get back to their hive or to escape from being enclosed.

Bees find permanent homes in canoes, kayaks, tractor tyres, bus tyres, garage cupboards, chimneys, ceilings, under baths through the outlet pipe, lay water canals, tree trunks etc.

If the beekeeper can reach the hive, they can gently remove each piece of comb and place it in a frame, secured with an elastic band and placed in a bee box. It can be difficult to find the queen under these circumstances, but as many bees as possible are scooped into the box too. This is always very traumatic for the bees, and it is near impossible not to damage their hard work and offspring.

It is not always successful and the bees will sometimes not stay in the box they have been relocated to.

I always leave all the honey for the bees to give them the best chance of surviving. It is bad enough to eject them from their cosy home; it is worse if their food is taken too.

If the beekeeper cannot reach the hive (particularly chimneys, under baths through outlet pipes), it is always a nearly impossible, complicated challenge to force the bees to move out without killing them.

Over the past years, I’ve tried many different ways, with limited success.

Saving bees in the conservancy
Baboons recently destroyed several of my bee hives in the Koedoeslaagte area but, with the help of Christo Meyer and his team at Kopjeskraal Country Lodge, we installed my first cage to protect my bees from all vandals.
More cages are being made to protect all my bees in the entire area.

The first baboon cage being  installed at Frances Hutton’s bee hives after baboons recntly destroyed a number of her bee hives in the Koedoeslaagte area. 

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