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NATIVE BEES - hive is dead, long live the new hive!

Above 18/07/11 - winter.

Recently bought my first native bee hive from Ingrid at City Chicks (ex Nambour Show) and am very excited to have them in the garden at last, as it's long been on my wish list.

Have yet to see the actual bees at work as I leave before they are warmed up enough to come out and I get home after dark.

My daughter Clare was home one day though and I asked her to check them out (starting to worry about their welfare) and she assures me they come out around 10am when the sun has warmed the hive and have been visiting my flowers (pawpaw, lettuce etc).

She has taken some footage which I am yet to see.


Previous discussion:


Info from Anne Gibson:

Novice Beekeeper

Native Bee tips

Videos Greenjourney website


If anyone has experience with native bees please feel free to add to the discussion.


A few days ago I noticed much less bees coming and going from the hive. Yesterday I buckled and cut it open to find maggots, running flys and very few bees. I cleaned out as much of the infested material as I could and put it back together, but my Australian Stingless Bees book suggested they were Phorid flys and there wasn't much I could do to save the hive.

Today I noticed ants coming and going from the entrance so opened it again. No bees at all and just a maggoty mess with these flies running around. Ingrid from City Chicks comiserated but didn't have any suggestions. I'm waiting on a response from Tim Heard.



Tony has replaced my hive :) with one that is thriving and active.

Such a pleasure to sit and watch them - the little gray "babies" guarding the entrances and the older ones coming and going with pollen sacs laden with pale, yellow or orange pollen.

They even seem to do a little dance at the entrance - I'm supposing this is like the honey bee dance to alert other bees to the direction and quantity of pollen available.


Bob Luttrall from Australian Native Bees has devised this external Phorid fly trap:

This is a different take on phorid fly control. The bait is a mixture of golden syrup, vinegar and a little sugar. The tube simly has a number of holes drilled into it, about 3mm, and the tube hung at the front of the box. In this case, the phorid flies were attracted to the top less used entrance, presumablly scents were emanating from that source. Some phorid eggs were actually laid on the entrance. it is unknown whether they can penetrate. Clearly the trap is very effective. The box was moved from its original home to a site remote from my colonies, hard to find, for treatment expecting dissection of brood. Highvale, Qld 25-10-2011 Highvale

Posted by Bob

To link to this picture quote

Below is my own version of the phorid fly trap (has a clump of cerumen on the lid) baited with vinegar and golden syrup. Anything sweet can be used apparently. When it finally dried out after a couple of weeks it had quite a lot of dead insect bodies at the bottom, mostly ant from what I could tell (tiny).

Some links for native bees:

The Aussie Bee site is the premier website in Australia (and the world!?) on native bees. It provides a lot of free native bee information in addition to the booklet series mentioned above (

Want to see native bees in a Bee Sanctuary close to Sydney?(

Russell and Janine Zabel’s website on Australian native bees provides a wealth of interesting information (

Mark and Kim Grosskopf were the first to provide a service a renting hives of stingless bees for pollination (

Chris Fuller rents hives of stingless bees for pollination ( /).

Steve Maginnity provides a number of educational resources for stingless bees,

Joe Tinson rescues bees in the Maryborough region( /).

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Comment by Lissa on February 1, 2012 at 5:33

Thank you Michael.

Are we talking native bee hive loss in these areas? or honey bee?

The guy who provided the original hive has replaced it (I bought it through an intermediary) and he has many strong hives on the go. He didn't mention any wide spread problem, but then I didn't ask that question either.

There is another online group that focuses just on native bee issues if you are interested:

Australian Native Bees.

Comment by Lissa on January 3, 2012 at 18:49

Thanks Florence. The cause may never be known, but looks like the hive didn't re-queen.

Comment by Florence on January 3, 2012 at 12:34

I'm sorry about your hive, hope you can get a new one and found out the cause and prevent it from happening again....

Comment by Lissa on December 31, 2011 at 4:46

Thank you Scarlett. Tim thinks the hive didn't "re-queen" for some reason. There was no brood mass inside at all.

Looks like it's covered by a 12mth warranty from the guy who originally put the bees in the hive, so hopefully I'm covered for new ones.

Comment by Scarlett on December 30, 2011 at 21:41

bad news about your bees Lissa

commiserations :(

Comment by Lissa on December 29, 2011 at 17:47

Thank you Elaine. It really is quite depressing, not only for the deaths but the waste.

So others are having problems with the Phorid (rhymes with horrid) fly too are they? I think Tim is going to help me with a replacement but it's early days.

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on December 27, 2011 at 20:54

Lissa, I'm so sorry your little friends have died. As usual with beings who get sick, it's from some kind of stress. I don't see how that helps, though. There's been plenty of talk on the ANBees list about Small Hive Beetle and Phorid Flies too and no one really seems to have an answer. There probably are many answers depending on the circumstances of the hive.

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on July 23, 2011 at 19:56
Cool! The pollen-carriers on the back legs of bees have been called 'pollen baskets' in honeybees. It's more of a collection of hairs they somehow stuff pollen into. The more expert end of the ANBees email list calls them by whatever their correct scientific name is, but pollen basket has a little romance to it.
Comment by Lissa on July 23, 2011 at 17:05

Managed to catch my little loves out and about today when I came back from Caboolture Seed Savers :D

Coming and going with little packets of pollen on their legs. Visiting the nasturtium flowers in droves and some lettuce going to seed.

Even saw one dropping out a discarded larvae case!

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on July 23, 2011 at 15:21

If by experience, an enthusiasm for Australian native bees will do ...


There is a Yahoo email group - ANBees - which is very worthwhile to connect with other beginners and a wide variety of experienced lay people and academics. Since most of the stingless bee species live around the warmer parts of Australia, there's people probably close by who have the same questions.


And a couple more links and this one with scads of info. And John Klumpp's books is good too. Available from several sources including Green Harvest and the publishers Earthling Enterprises.


Transferring Jessica's useful comments from the photo comments: "The little guys don't travel too far, if you worry about them not having enough food or not knowing where it is (not that I think you have a problem with either of these). It was suggested to me to get a milk bottle lid trim it down to half size an fill the outer rim with a mix of honey and water, just while they are getting adapted.  It is very cold at the moment and they don't tend to come out as much when it is cold."

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