Every year we plant flowers we know local bees love. We plant them next to and amongst our veggies – come for the flowers, stay for the veg. Eurpoean honeybees love particularly small white flowers, and our Australian species love blue and purple the most, so we use cornflowers, poppies, Alyssium, and all manner of herbs that flower in white or blue – coriander, parsley, caraway, rocket, basil, borage and nigella. They get the flowers, we get the pollination and yummy herbs and seeds. It is a lovely partnership.
We have bowls of water out with a rock or brick in each, for insects and birds to land on so they can drink and escape easily.
It’s a bee paradise, no question. At first it was like a soap-opera with Bluebandeds grumpy at sharing their blue blossoms but after a few years they have all settled. European, indigenous species and hoverflies all co-existing beautifully. A few flightless bright metallic Bluebottle Wasps have found their way to us as well; there is enough for everyone.
They know a good thing… sometimes too good. This year a swarm of honeybees decided why fly the distance when they can just move in! Their choice of hotels was a bit average – one under our shipping container and they grew the hive and split again, settling inside an old Cypress out back. That too isn’t great with curious doggies spending lots of time under its shade. So, it is time to call in a removalist and relocate them. We could have them taken away altogether, but in this case, agisting them in a box that the apiarist will maintain and take away in winter is a win:win.
The removal strategy for our Cypress is to attach a one way funnel so they can come out but not go back in. A box is placed next to it with a comb inside ready to fill and a lure to attract them. A week or so and hopefully the queen realises her workforce is moving, then she will relocate to the box too and Bingo – moved hive. The one at the shipping container is similar, but with the box placed directly in the flight path and spaces either side blocked so the workers have to go back and forth past comb and lure inside the box. Idea is that they don’t bother going further to original comb and eventually the queen gets the idea and moves into the white box as well.
Thank you to James and David who came out to do the mini-critter relocation. It seemed a good idea to wait around for a bit to see if the bees were happy with the boxes, and we all ended up talking for two hours about all things garden and bees. A entirely pleasant afternoon.
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