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PLAN BEE: MANAGING A PROBLEM COLONY

Wendell Arnett, Business Development Manager for Bayer, outlines some of the potential treatment options for problem bee colonies.

 

Of the 20,000 or so different bee species in the world, most of them are wild and vary greatly in appearance and size. Bees play an important role in the environment, contributing to plant pollination and providing a food source to wildlife in their local ecosystems. If wild bees have a suitable habitat on a farm, they will freely pollinate local crops; however most farmers find that wild bees do not provide the level of pollination they require for a successful harvest. Most pollen-dependent crops are pollinated by ‘managed bees’, i.e. bees cared for by humans.

Farmers often hire commercial beekeepers to bring bees, most commonly honey bees (Apis mellifera), to the farm for crops like almonds and blueberries to facilitate plant pollination and produce a successful crop. Of course, the bees also produce honey too! Unfortunately, sometimes honey bees leave commercial hives and settle in and around houses. When a bee colony is established inside a wall cavity it presents a problem. If the services of an apiarist are available and the colony can be easily accessed, then it can be removed and relocated, meaning the unpleasant task of killing the colony can be avoided.

Another method that can be utilised when the use of chemicals is a concern involves the fastening of a plastic or cardboard cone over the hive entrance point on the wall. By placing the broad end of the cone against the wall over the nest entry area, with the small end of the cone facing outward, the bees can leave and resettle elsewhere but they will not be able to re-enter the small aperture of the cone, meaning the hive will gradually empty out. The only drawback of using the cone method is that it may take a few days to a week to see any results, depending on the size of the colony.

When there is no other option and the hive must be exterminated, particularly in situations where people are at risk of being stung or of having an allergic reaction to bee stings, the nest must be treated directly. The use of an insecticidal product such as Coopex Insecticidal Dusting Powder will bring the problem under control quickly.

Kadir Nedjat from Muscle Bug Pest Control in Sydney (main picture, above) finds dusting a successful method. “I recently got a call from one of my regular customers who was frantic about a swarm of bees flying throughout her house,” he said. “After arriving at the property, I did some investigating and I noticed the bees were entering the house through a small hole in the exterior brick wall adjacent to the bathroom area. The nest was in a very difficult spot.

“I suggested we cut out a small portion of the inside gyprock to remove the nest with the help of an apiarist. However, the client did not want me to cut any holes in her walls, so the only other choice I had was to conduct a cavity treatment. I relied on the only thing I know that works – Coopex Dust! It never lets me down and always gives us great results every time.

“I did a follow up inspection a few days later to see how things were. My client told me that within a couple of hours after the treatment all the bee activity had stopped. She said she felt very safe knowing the problem was resolved once and for all.”

Treating honey bee nests in wall cavities should ideally be done in the evening or at night whenever possible, to ensure all the bees are back in the nest and reduce the chances of being stung. However, bees can become aggressive if their nest is disturbed, so it is essential to take appropriate safety precautions.

However, with bees being such beneficial insects, taking a non-chemical approach should always be the first port of call for any professional pest manager.

 

Wendell Arnett, Business Development Manager NSW/ACT (PPM), Bayer