African Bee Problem

Bee swarm


Bees are so important to the environment that we do all we can to protect them but sometimes there is a clash of interest, especially since the local bees mated with the more aggressive African bee. I am told that the local bees were once so docile their hives could be placed safely in gardens in built up areas but had to be removed once the new strain took over. The problem is apparently that the bees that guard the hive now patrol a wider area and attack anything they consider threatening.

Last year a swarm decided to nest under the north eaves of the house but remained only two weeks before abandoning the location, leaving behind half-finished honeycombs.

The craftsmanship that goes into the perfectly constructed cells was a marvel to see at close quarters. A comb consisted of two layers placed back to back in pairs with the centres offset so that the sidewalls of one layer of cells acted as bases for the cells in the other layer.

Burning drum

Hoisting drum

Swarms can consist of up to 50,000 bees. This year a large swarm decided to nest in the first floor beams on the south side of the house. We co-existed happily with them for a few weeks but they started to attack us when we began to re-varnish the veranda railings just above the nest entrance. Soon they were attacking us anywhere on the veranda and a good distance into the garden. They had to go.

Of course we were not about to poison them and tried the old country method of smoking them out.

The 10 gal drum in the photo has a few oily rags and coconut shells in the bottom. It was lit and hoisted up to the entrance to the bees nest. Within minutes the swarm left the nest and headed eastwards into the forest with an angry roar, leaving only a few stragglers behind.

— H.A.E.

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