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Bee swarms generally occur around the start of spring into early summer. A bee swarm is a round or oval mass of bees seeking a place to start a new colony under the direction of a queen. If you come across a bee swarm or a colony of bees, remain calm and stay out of the bees´ path. Do not spray the bees with any product, as this will irritate them and may cause them to sting.
Bees can cause problems:
- when they form a colony
- hive within a household
- in wall cavity
- around flowers
- around the blossoms at the tops of gum trees.
- nests inside straggly trees near isolated waterholes.
The 10 most common bees are:
- Stingless Bees
Australia’s own native honey bees are tiny (3 – 5 mm), black and stingless! Inside their resinous nest is a queen, drones, and hundreds or even thousands of worker bees. They usually nest inside hollow trees but in northern areas they also nest in urban situations such as inside wall cavities or underneath concrete footpaths.
- Yellow and Black Carpenter Bees
These 15 to 24 mm long bees are the largest native bees in Australia. The females have a glossy black abdomen and bright yellow fur on the thorax. Males are covered uniformly with yellowy brown or olive fur. They are called carpenter bees because they cut nest burrows in soft timber such as the dead limbs of mango trees.
Carpenter bees get their name from their habit of making holes in wood. There are several species of carpenter bees in the United States. One of the most common species is Xylocopa virginica (L). This is probably also the most destructive carpenter bee. Its range extends from Kansas to Texas and eastward to the Atlantic.
Carpenter bees are fairly large, 12.5 to 25 mm in length. They resemble bumblebees, except that their abdomen is smooth and mostly hairless. Male carpenter bees are very territorial, but they have no stinger. Females have a potent stinger, but seldom sting.
Female carpenter bees make holes in wood in order to deposit their eggs. They make their galleries in almost any wooden object they find. They attack decks, siding, landscape timbers and even lawn furniture. They seem to prefer unpainted and unstained wood, but they will also attack painted or stained wood.
The female carpenter bee makes a hole in the wood about the same size as her body. The female bores a hole to a depth of 25 mm, makes a right angle turn, and burrows along the grain of the wood. Galleries may extended 10 to 15 cm. Older galleries that have been reused may extend up to 3 meters long. The sawdust and wood shavings on the ground are often a clue that carpenter bees are active.
The female carpenter bee puts some pollen and other food in the gallery and then deposits an egg. She seals the compartment with chewed wood pulp and then repeats the process. When she has finished, the gallery will have several compartments with an egg in each one. Depending on the species and the climate, the eggs develop into adult bees in 36 to 99 days.
Carpenter bees are not social insects. Each female lays her own eggs. However, several females may attack the same piece of wood. In many cases, they even share a gallery. Over time, carpenter bees can cause significant damage.
- Green Carpenter Bees
These spectacular bees (up to 17 mm long) are glossy metallic green with tints of yellow or blue. They cut 7 to 10 mm wide nest burrows in the flower stalks of the grass tree (Xanthorrhoea) or in other soft pithy dead timber
- Reed Bees
Reed bees are slender black bees less than 8 mm long. Some species have a red abdomen. They nest inside dry pithy twigs in plants such as raspberries and blackberries or in the dead fronds of tree ferns. Today many nests can also be found in dead canes of the weed Lantana
- Blue Banded Bees
These bees (mostly 8-13 mm long), with glittering stripes of blue or whitish hair across their black abdomens, are often seen darting around the flowers of lavenders and abelias. The females build nests in shallow burrows in the ground but they may also nest in mudbrick houses or in soft mortar. Each female builds her own nest burrow but many bees often nest together in the one place.
- Teddy Bear Bees
Most species of these rotund furry brown bees are 7 to 15 mm long. They build shallow nest burrows in soft soil and sometimes nest underneath houses. Each female builds her own nest burrow but many bees may nest together in the one location
- Leafcutter Bees
Beewatchers often first discover these amazing 6 to 15 mm long bees when they notice rows of neat circular cuts on the edges of some leaves in their garden. Leafcutters use the disks of leaf as a nest building material. They particularly like the soft leaves of roses, Bauhinia and Buddleja
- Resin Bees
Resin bees come in many colours and sizes. For example there are large black 14 mm bees with white tufts of hair, and small 8 mm black bees with bright orange abdomens. They nest in pre-existing holes or gaps in timber or stonework. They are called resin bees because they collect resins and gums to build partitions between their brood cells and to seal their nest holes.
- Homalictus Bees
Although very small (most less than 8 mm long), the glittering Homalictus bees come in a dazzling array of colours. ‘Golden blue’, ‘coppery red’ and ‘green tinged with purple, red or gold’ are just a few of the colours listed by scientists.Homalictus bees dig intricate branching nests in the ground. Many females may live together in each nest, taking turns to guard the narrow nest entrance.
- Masked Bees
These slender black bees (most less than 10 mm long) are called ‘masked bees’ because they have pale markings on their faces. Many species also have a distinctive yellow spot on the thorax. Masked bees have very little hair and carry pollen to their nests by swallowing it. The nests are usually in pithy stems or pre existing holes in wood.
The life cycle
The life cycle begins when an established colony’s queen begins laying eggs within individual cells inside a honeycomb.
Queens store more than 5 million sperm cells inside their bodies, enabling them to lay eggs throughout their life after only one mating flight. When the eggs hatch, those that were fertilized become female worker bees, while the unfertilized eggs become male bees, or drones. It is the responsibility of the queen to lay enough fertilized eggs to produce a well-developed force of worker bees for the colony.
Bees pass through four stages: eggs, larvae, pupae and adults. Bee eggs measure approximately 1 mm long. Queen bees examine their eggs before placing them side by side at the center of the comb frame, with pollen surrounding them. Queens can lay up to 2,000 eggs each day throughout the spring. As queens age, the number of eggs they lays significantly diminishes. They may also no longer be able to place the eggs closely together, resulting in a patchy comb.
After three days, the eggs hatch into larvae, which have no eyes, wings, legs or antennae. Inside the hives, certain bees are responsible for feeding the larvae with a combination of pollen and honey. Around six days after hatching as larvae, they reach the third stage, spin cocoons and eventually hatch into adult bees after another seven to 10 days. Like ants, newly hatched bees have different designated responsibilities until they grow old.
- The QUEEN can live from 2-5 yrs
The lifecycle of the queen’s is 16 days (from egg (baby) – adult)
- the DRONE lives 40-50 days (male bees)
The lifecycle of the drone is 24 days (from egg (baby) – adult)
- most of the bees are WORKERS (female bees) , they make honey and sting to protect the colony live from 1-4 months
Life Cycle of the Worker bee
Egg (3 days)
Larva (6 days)
Pupa (12 days)
total of 21 days from egg (baby) to adult worker.
Found globally, bees are winged insects of the order Hymenoptera, super-family Apoidea. There are more than 20,000 recorded bee species.Megachile pluto, the largest of these creatures, is reported to be 3.9 cm long, while Perdita minima, the most diminutive of bees, are shorter than 2 mm long. Bees can be black or brown with red, yellow or lustrous blue stripes.
Behavior, Diet & Habits
While some bees are solitary, species such as honey bees and bumble bees are tremendously social. Bee colonies are comprised of three castes: the queen bee, infertile female worker bees and male drones. The queen mates and lays eggs for the span of her life. Honey bee queens can live up to five years, though most average a lifespan of two to three years. Male drones exist solely to fertilize the queen and die soon after having fulfilled their task. Female worker bees perform a multitude of tasks necessary to the survival of the hive. As a result of their constant laboring, their average life span is usually a mere six weeks.
All bees are hairy, a crucial trait for pollen collection. Flowers and flourishing vegetation often attract bees, and there is no insect as important as the bee when it comes to pollination. Many female bee species have rows of bristles on their hind legs which form a hollow basket. When the bee lands on a flower, pollen grains are combed into the hollow basket and bristles. Cross-pollination occurs when the displaced grains of pollen are distributed to the fertile pistils of other flowers as the bee alights upon them. Although only females are able to transfer pollen, all bees are able to sip the nectar from flowers using a tonguelike organ. This nectar is their primary source of energy. Pollen is sustenance for both adult and larval bees, as it contains protein and other nutrients necessary to their survival. Bees possess an organ that converts nectar into honey, which is collected, depending on the species, inside the hive or bee colony.
Honey bees can produce substantial amounts of honey, as can several other bee species. As pollinators, honey bees are critical to the environment and the food supply. Unfortunately, they also can become a medical and structural threat if they nest near people and buildings. Bees and other pollinators are protected in many states, so if an infestation should occur in or near a dwelling, consumers should consider contacting a local beekeeper to relocate the nest. A beekeeper can assess the situation and determine if it is feasible to remove the nest. This can be an intensive process, especially if the nest is large. For more information on honey bee nest relocation,, contact a Local Beekeeper.
When is it BEE season??
Bee season depends largely on temperature and the seasonal patterns of flowers. After hibernating over the winter, bees awaken in time to collect pollen and nectar from their preferred plants; flowering plants also bloom in correspondence with the arrival of their most effective pollinators. Certain bee species are active pollinators during certain seasons, as native flowering plants and bees have established a relationship throughout their lengthy evolution. Some bees have no seasonal preferences and feed off a variety of flowering plants.
Three of the most commonly encountered bees by homeowners are honey bees, carpenter bees and bumble bees. These bees usually become active in the spring with the warm weather and flowering of plants. They remain active throughout the summer and into the fall. Cooling temperatures in the fall prompt them to prepare to overwinter. During the winter months their activity decreases to the point where they are not seen unless on a warm winter day.
Understanding bee seasons and the flower preferences of certain bee species could facilitate pollination and assist in both commercial and personal gardening.
Females, also known as worker bees, build nests and hives without the help of the males, or drones. Each nest contains cells where the queen places eggs that develop into adult bees. Bee nest identification can be difficult because the structural design of each nest varies by species.
When bees nest in the ground, they build shallow and simple holes in the soil. Some bees use a single type of branch, while others expand their nests by creating underground mazes using a variety of branches. Leafcutter bee nests are comprised of a line of several cells, which contain dozens of leaves and twigs.
Other bees that are closely related to leafcutter bees create their nests beneath rocks, while bumblebees often convert a bird or mouse’s nest into their wax-based nest. Some aggressive bee species will steal another colony’s nest and capture the workers as their slaves, though these bees may appear more similar to wasps than other bees.
It is important to identify the type of bee nest when planning to remove a colony from an area near your home. Certain species relocate throughout the year, but unless you are certain that a nest has been abandoned, you should not take action. Africanized honey bees, also known as “killer bees,” are extremely aggressive and defensive of their hives, so it is always best to consult a pest control professional about removal and treatment of your infestation.
BEE prevention and Control:
While bees can benefit the environment in many ways, it is inconvenient and possibly dangerous to let a bee hive thrive near your home.
It is important to properly identify the particular species living near your home, as bees are often mistaken for wasps due to their similar physical characteristics. There are different elimination processes for wasps and bees, so effective treatment relies upon proper identification. When using any method of bee control, it is also necessary to know effective application strategies, as well as the limitations and dangers associated with each method. In many regions, special licenses are required to treat infestations.
The only way to rid your home of bees is to remove the hive entirely. This precarious task requires the correct tools and strategy. For safety and efficiency purposes, a pest control expert should be consulted before any bee control technique is attempted.