Wet weather creates a springtime buzz

By Olivia Ireland
Bee Keeper Cormac Farrell manages the increased bee colonies. Picture: Keegan Carroll

Canberrans are likely to come across more swarms of bees this spring, but beekeepers warn that disturbing the colonies is not the answer.

Cormac Farrell is the head of Canberra Region Beekeepers, and has noticed a significant increase in swarms as wet weather improves the soil moisture.

"This season is a dramatically better spring for an increase in swarms of bees across the ACT region," Mr Farrell said.

"When bees are clustered they aren't dangerous. If they're happy it's easy for us to pick them up and put them in a box.

"My advice to anyone who comes across a swarm is to visit our website and select their suburb, they will find a keeper in the area to contact and we will safely remove them into a more appropriate home."

Swarming is typical behaviour of honey bees in spring, as half the colony moves with the queen to find a new location for a hive during the pollen heavy season.

"When bees are swarming, they are assessing if the location is a good home to set up permanently into a hive. What we don't want is that to happen before we get to the colony," Mr Farrell said.

"If people leave it too late, bees will turn attics, walls and garages into their own hive. There have been more than a few occasions when we've needed to break down walls to get them out."

While Canberra is notorious for high levels of pollen in spring, Professor Simon Haberle, a palaeoecologist from the Australian National University, says he's predicting a stronger allergy season compared to previous years.

"The increase in rain leads to more plant productivity and we have noticed a lot more pollen because of this," he said.

"The link to bees is there's more pollen for them to forage, which will likely increase the number of them around the ACT.

"The Canberra Pollen Monitoring Program is predicting this season will increase in intensity and will run from late winter to early autumn."

Mr Farrell sees this time of year to be an opportunity for all Canberrans to help the bees thrive.

"People really love bees, a way anyone can help them is to plant flowers so they can further pollenate during this particularly intense spring season."

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