Do Native Stingless Bees Swarm?

Does the swarm season apply to all bees? Much like the European honey bees, native stingless bees swarm for a number of reasons. However, their reason to swarm is most likely different than what you are used to. Here are the top 4 reasons why native stingless bees swarm. 

Mating Swarm

This occurs when a hive is left queenless due to the death of the queen or splitting of a hive. Like the honey bees, only one queen can reign in the beehive. Usually, if a queen is still present in a hive, she will only allow one mated queen to be present in the hive. In saying that, all virgin queens that were birthed from the hive will have to mate. Therefore, a mating swarm occurs. These swarms would usually include 10 to a hundred bees and would last about 3 to 10 days. You’d see visible drones in the area poking their antennas out. You could also see a figure 8 pattern from the flight. 

Colonising Swarm

This type of swarm would usually involve hundreds to thousands of bees, on the flight to search for a new location to set up a hive. They can choose to colonise empty lots like a tree hollow, telstra pits, holes on the wall or even occupied boxes. If so, this can usually end up causing a fighting swarm to occur. 

Fighting Swarm

As mentioned above, a fighting swarm can occur when a colonising swarm attacks another hive. The main goal of the attack is to take over the hive. To do this, they first start ‘checking out the hive’, where a few hundred bees fly over the hive to observe. Days will go on and more clusters of coloniser bees fly to the hive and start to attack. The bees will fight each other to the ground, holding each other in a death grip where both do not survive. This is why when a fighting swarm occurs, you will see a lot of dead bees around your beehive. When the coloniser bees succeed, they will be able to kill the queen of the hive and replace her with their own. 

Defensive Swarm

This swarm occurs when your hive feels threatened. This could either be due to predators around such as wasps or even coloniser bees flying around observing the hive. This starts with a few hundred bees flying around the hive in a figure 8 pattern. As the days warm up, the number of bees on defense rises. This tends to be more of an open flight compared to fighting swarms. This will last until the hive feels secure. 

What to Do When Native Stingless Bees Swarms

In most cases, their swarms are usually harmless except for the fighting swarms. However, there is only little you can do to prevent this from occurring. These swarms are natural occurrences and will not leave a long lasting effect.

One thing you can do to help your hives’ defense is to capture the coloniser bees’ swarm. First, you can start off by relocating the hive at least 1km away and close it at night. Place a swarm trap where the colonisers are focusing. You can use weak or dead hives or a completely new hive box. Colonisers will usually proceed with the invasion when they have been in the fight for a while and lost some lives. The weak or dead hive will be an attractive trap hive due to the existing resources that they have. The coloniser swarm will be able to build up a strong hive. 

If you have a new box, you can prepare it by melting and pouring wax and propolis from another hive around the inside of the box. Make an entrance ring and install it into place. 

Interested in taking care of stingless bees? They are perfect if your have anyone around your home or your neighbourhood that are allergic to bee stings.

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