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Hive Maintenance and Splitting

Although stingless bees are mostly autonomous, its good to place them in a location where they will be viewed at least every few days to ensure they are coming and going freely from the hive. Hives need to be kept free from spiders webs and it is best to paint them every year depending on the condition of the box. This can be done in the evening when all the bees are inside the hive.

Hives can be split usually each year depending on the weather conditions. If there is extreme weather related events, for example drought, regular high winds or excess rain, hives may need more time between splits to recover. In the more colder areas splitting is less frequently advised. You do not have to split hives. They will self regulate their numbers and can build their own nests without our assistance.

 Other hive maintenance can be harvesting honey. This can be done on 3 level hives that have a dedicated honey super. You can adapt most 2 level hives to house a honey super. The bees can produce up to 1kg per year in ideal conditions. Mark can assist in honey harvesting or sales of the tools needed to successfully harvest. 
 It is best not to open your hive unless necessary. Every time you open the hive you are increasing the risk of pests invading. Pests are usually after the honey or pollen that is stored in the hives. For this reason, manually splitting is a more risky than the eduction method (sometimes referred to as ’soft split’). 
Native Bee Hive inspection

Methods of Propagation

Australian Native Bee Hive Split
Native Bee Hives can be propagated using a number of different methods. 
First way that I recommend people do at home is ‘Eduction’. This method involves using a bit of tubing (I like to use clear, but coloured) to join the existing hive to a new empty box. The empty is placed where the existing hive was and the existing hive is moved backwards. This way the bees use the new empty box to come and go. Eventually they build a new colony with a queen in the empty box. This can take varying amounts of time from a month up to a year or two. This method is safe and less intrusive for the bees, educational and easy for the amateur beekeeper to complete themselves. 
The second way is splitting manually. This involves separating the hive at the middle joint and carefully splitting the contents in half. There are many variables to this method and its best to undertake with an experienced native beekeeper as you never know what might happen when you open the hive. 
The third way of propagating is through catching swarms. This is for those of you who have a hive that is being attacked by a swarm of bees. These bees can be directed into an empty box with a few little tricks. 
If your box or log is compromised, damaged or beyond repair, the brood can be transferred into a new empty box. This is a big task and best done with a bee keeper with the appropriate skills and tools for the job. 
Mark can assist with any method of propagation. He has had years of experience using all different methods.