Find out some interesting bee facts….
We’ve answered our top FAQs below – if your enquiry isn’t listed there we will get back to you as soon as we can.
How do I become a member?
Woohoo we’d love to have you join us. The Gold Coast Amateur Beekeeper’s Society inc. celebrated its 40th year in 2019 and has been a wonderful club to help support and educate hobby beekeepers in the Gold Coast and Northern NSW regions whilst making new friends.
Please complete the membership form: Click Here
Annual membership fee includes our monthly Buzz magazine and monthly invitations to events and training meetings.
When is your next beekeeping workshop?
We love that you’re excited about our beekeeping workshops! We try to run our workshops at a minimum of 3 times a year. All our current events are listed on our Facebook page, listed on the Events menu on this website and advertised in our monthly Members newsletter the Buzz – if it’s not listed there, then we don’t have a date to announce. To hear the news first, please
email Kathy Knox at GoldCoast.Education@beekeepers.asn.au to be put on our waiting list and you’ll be the first to know.
When and where are the Monthly MEMBER Meeting?
The Gold Coast Amateur Beekeeper’s Society inc. holds free monthly member meetings on the third Sunday of each month. It is a friendly and informative meeting held at different apiary sites around the Gold Coast region. Meet new people, have morning tea, share tips and strategies to manage your hives and be part of the community. Details are advertised each month in the monthly newsletter, listed on the Events menu on this website and on our Facebook page.
Can you help me hire or find a Beekeeping mentor?
It’s great that you’re looking for mentor to help support your journey into beekeeping. Mentors can be a great source of questions and troubleshooting. The best way to find a mentor is to join our club and attend our monthly meetings to meet our beekeepers. Members can also advertise mentoring requests on our members only Facebook group or there are heaps of free Facebook Australian members groups too to post photos and ask questions. We are a wonderful community!
Where do I buy bees?
You have all the equipment, read some blogs or books and done a course and ready to go. Whoppee. Now to buy some bees. Bees are usually sold as a nucleus hive consisting of four full depth Langstroth frames of brood, honey and pollen with a locally raised mated queen. Unfortuantely we do not sell nucs to the public but some of our members do. Nucs are advertised on our Members group or there are some commercial suppliers online you can enquire with.
Help! I have a swarm!
Public health and safety issues
Swarming can be alarming to the general public in residential areas.
Thousands of bees are on the loose and flying in a mass before they cluster on a shrub or enter the cavity of a house. It is common for people to become anxious about the possibility of bee stings. A swarm of bees is usually docile and will not sting passers by.
DO NOT SPRAY THE BEES WITH ANYTHING : fly spray, chemicals or water will harm the bees.
Why do honey bees swarm?
Bees usually swarm in spring or early summer. Swarming is the way bees reproduce and make more colonies.
- In nature, swarming is a response to the impulse to reproduce and, unless managed, is the natural way that your honey bee colonies will reproduce.
- The queen will leave the hive with about half the worker bees to establish a new colony elsewhere.
- Swarming usually occurs in early spring through to summer. A thin nectar flow and plenty of pollen to promote brood rearing are the ideal floral conditions that lead to swarming.
What you need to tell the beekeeper
- How accessible is the swarm?
- How high is it?
- Is it in a tree, on a post, or in/on a building.
- How long has the swarm been there?
- The location (address) of the swarm?
- Are the bees getting into the house yet?
- Please note there may be over 40,000 bees in a large colony.
- Some beekeepers may charge for this service but most will accept a small donation towards their club.
Types of swarm
- When the old queen leaves the colony with half the workers – this is known as the prime swarm.
- The parent colony is left with a number of ripe queen cells to produce a replacement queen for the original colony.
- At times, another swarm will leave the original colony with a virgin queen hatched from these queen cells. This swarm is much smaller and is called a secondary or after swarm.
- In other cases, the whole colony, headed by the original queen of that colony, absconds the hive. This is often a very small swarm and is called an absconding swarm. An absconding swarm can be triggered by starvation, invasion of pests or disease.
What do honey bees do after swarming?
- On leaving the original colony, the swarm will cluster as a group on a shrub , a tree branch or a fence.
- Prime and absconding swarms headed by an old queen will usually cluster within ten metres of the hive they swarmed from. This is the ideal time to catch them.
- Swarms headed by virgin queens fly a longer distance and often cluster higher.
- Then, bees from the cluster will seek out a suitable cavity in which to set up their new colony. They can find a suitable location within a few hours. The cluster leaves their temporary resting place with the queen and goes to the new location to set up their new hive.
If you see a swarm of bees you can contact a member of the Gold Coast Amateur Beekeepers Society for advice.
For bees living inside a house wall or living inside a tree cavity please contact:
Are there any City of Gold Coast requirements to keep bees?
If you own one or more honey bee hives, you must be a registered beekeeper with the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) under the Apiaries Act 1982. You must also be a member of a recognised beekeeper’s association that has an approved code of practice for the keeping of bees.
You do not need to register native bee hives.
One of the primary limitations to the keeping of bees is the real or perceived interaction between the bee and people who live in or use the surrounding area.
Bee hives must be set up and managed so they do not interfere with the community.
see also: City of Gold Coast | Bees
Subordinate Local Law No. 12 (Animal Management) 2013, Part 20, section 55 Minimum standards for the keeping of bees – Local law s14(1)
How do I register as a beekeeper with the department of Agriculture and fisheries?
BIOSECURITY ONLINE TRAINING (BOLT) MODULE
The Biosecurity for Beekeepers online training is now free for all Australian beekeepers.
The honey bee biosecurity training module contains information that is present in the biosecurity manual in an online format and questionnaire. Its aim is to maximise the early detection of exotic bee pests (specifically Varroa mites), and minimise the spread of potential pest incursions though improved understanding of the importance of biosecurity, best management practices and basic awareness of key
Is beekeeping for me?
Beekeeping can be an immensely rewarding hobby.
People start keeping bees for many different reasons. Some simply enjoy honey and want to produce enough for their own needs. For others, a general interest in the honey bee prompts them to acquire hives. Others have economic reasons, and are attracted by the ideas of free honey or pollination.
BEFORE YOU START
Here are a few considerations you should think about before deciding whether to become involved in beekeeping.
It is impossible to keep bees without being stung. Even if you always wear a complete set of protective clothing, you will get stung from time to time. Being stung is always painful and localised swelling and itching is common. Most people do become accustomed to frequent stings, and eventually experience only minor swelling and itching. A few people, don’t adjust in this way, and their reaction to stings may become increasingly sever. If you have these allergic reactions, or have never been stung before, consult a doctor before deciding to take up beekeeping.
Beekeeping is heavy work and requires good physical fitness. Boxes of honey may weigh up to 40 kg when full. When lifing them you will be wearing cumbersome protective clothing, often lifting boxes using your fingertips in relatively small handholds. The heaviest lifting is also done at the hottest time of the year.
You must visit your hives regularly if they are to stay healthy and productive. Certain critical beekeeping tasks must be carried out when colony conditions dictate, not at the beekeeper’s convenience.
Good eyesight is needed for finding Queens, looking for eggs and diagnosing brood diseases. If you need glasses to to see things close up or in fine detail, be sure to wear them.
Beekeeping equipment can be expensive, and keeping just a few hives can be a costly.
There are some restrictions on keeping bees and selling bee products, but generally beekeeping is hassle free provided you are not creating a nuisance to others.
How to get started
The best way to test your liking for beekeeping is to gain practical experience before you get any hives of your own – either with an individual beekeeper or by joining a local beekeeping club.
If you are not prepared to look after hives properly, don’t get any. Neglected hives are a nuisance to the public and a potential source of bee diseases.
A well sited apiary is one that suits the bees and the beekeeper, and doesn’t inconvenience neighbours or passer-by.
In some built up areas beekeeping is subject to council by-laws. If you intend to keep bees in an urban area, first find out if your local council imposes any restrictions.
Choosing where to site an apiary is one of the beekeeper’s most important tasks.
Protection from prevailing winds. Hives should be located in the protected side of patches of bush.
Apiaries should receive as much sunlight as possible, especially in the morning. Hive entrances usually face north-east.
A common mistake among beekeepers is to locate hives without giving thought to access.
Bees should also have access to a reliable source of water.
My honey has crystallised, how do I make it runny again?
Crystallisation is a completely natural characteristic of honey – it’s perfectly safe and normal. To make your honey runny again, simply place your B honey product in a bowl of warm water, which will melt the crystals.
Why must I also join the ABA?
In 2019, The Gold Coast Amateur Beekeeper’s Society inc. affiliated with the Amateur Beekeeper’s Association of NSW (ABA).
Some of the services the ABA provides to us are:
a centralised membership register
an IT platform to streamline admin tasks
collecting club membership fees on our behalf
educational and support services
distribution of ‘The Buzz’ newsletter to members
Some of the services the ABA provides to you, as members are:
membership cards and log books
listing on the ABA Swarm Collector database
optional public and product liability insurance tailored to the needs of beekeepers
bi-monthly newsletter “The Amateur Beekeeper”
website with education resources
lobbying of relevant authorities over matters important to beekeepers
The ABA mebership fee is listed separately to The Gold Coast Amateur Beekeeper’s Society inc membership fee, in case you would like to join more that one beekeeping club within the ABA network.
Can I join more than one Club?
Of course you can. To join another club within the ABA network, email email@example.com with the details of the second ABA club you would like to join. You will need to pay the new club fee. unexpired club memberships are not refundable.
How do I renew or update my membership details?
The Membership year is from 1 July to 30 June.
If you are already a member of the ABA, you can log in below to:
renew your membership
update your contact details
purchase personal beekeeping insurance
If you are logging in for the first time, make sure you choose first time logging in? to setup your password.
What number do I put on my hives to identify I own them?
Once you’re registered as a biosecurity entity, you’ll receive a unique Hive Identification Number (HIN) to brand your hives.
The HIN is not transferrable to other beekeepers. The HIN consists of: the first letter of your surname – followed by three or four numbers.
You must mark or brand the HIN on the broodbox of each hive at least 25mm high. Permanent marker or paint is fine, though some beekeepers prefer to use a branding iron for security as a seared mark is more difficult to disguise or remove.
The first HIN on a hive must be placed in the centre of the front of the hive (position 1). If a hive is already marked or branded, you must place any subsequent marks or brands of the HIN in the corners of the front of the hive in a clockwise sequence, starting from the top left hand corner (position 2).
The truth about bees
All of our ideas about bees are based on one species, the European honeybee. Most of the others are nothing like it
Honey bees are insects and have five characteristics that are common to most insects.
- They have a hard outer shell called an exoskeleton.
- They have three main body parts: head, thorax, abdomen.
- They have a pair of antennae that are attached to their head.
- They have three pairs of legs used for walking.
- They have two pairs of wings.
You can use the illustrations below to explore the anatomy of the honey bee both what you can see from the outside and also the parts of the honey bee located inside.
Looking at the Outside of a Honey Bee
|Head||Location of the eyes, brain, where the antennae attach.|
|Mandibles||Strong outer mouthparts that help protect the proboscis.|
|Proboscis||(Not shown) Tube-like mouth part used to suck up fluids.|
|Ocelli||One of two types of insect eyes used to detect motion.|
|Eye (Compound)||The second type of eyes made of many light detectors called ommatidia.|
|Antenna||Movable segmented feelers that detect airborne scents and currents.|
|Thorax||Midsection where the (6) legs and wings attach.|
|Abdomen||Hind part of the bee and where the stinger is located.|
|Stinger||Or sting, is a sharp organ at the end of the bee’s abdomen used to inject venom.|
|Forewings||Wings closest to the head.|
|Hind Wings||Wings farthest from the head.|
|Forelegs||Legs closest to the head.|
|Antennae Cleaners||Notches filled with stiff hairs that help bees clean their antennae. There is one on each foreleg.|
|Middle Legs||Leg located between the foreleg and hind leg.|
|Hind Legs||Legs farthest from the head. In workers, these legs have a unique set of tools used to collect and carry pollen called the press, brush, and auricle.|
|Coxa||First segment of an insect leg.|
|Trochanter||Second segment of an insect leg.|
|Femur||Third segment of an insect leg.|
|Tibia||Fourth segment of an insect leg; the tibia of the hind leg holds the pollen basket, where pollen is carried.|
|Metatarsus||Fifth segment of an insect leg; the metatarsus of the hind leg holds special pollen collecting tools.|
|Tarsus||The last segment of the leg and what touches the walking surface.|
|Tarsus Claw||Claw found on the last segment of the leg.|
|Compound Eye||A type of eyes of insect eye that is made of many light detectors called ommatidia.|
|Ocellus||A type of insect eye used to detect motion. (Plural: ocelli)|
|Antenna||A movable segmented feeler that detects airborne scents and currents.|
|Labrum||Mouthpart that can help handle food and that forms the top of the feeding tube.|
|Mandible||Strong outer mouthpart that helps protect the proboscis.|
|Maxilla||Mouthpart beneath the mandible that can handle food items.|
|Labial Palp||Mouthpart used to feel and taste during feeding.|
|Proboscis||Tube-like mouth part used to suck up fluids.|
|Glossa||An insect’s hairy tongue that can stick to nectar to pull it in toward the mouth.|
Labeled illustration showing the internal anatomy of a honey bee. Illustration by Walké via Wikimedia Commons.
Looking Inside a Honey Bee
|1||–||Proboscis||Straw-like mouthparts of a bee used to drink fluids.|
|2||–||Maxillae||The outer sheath of the proboscis which surrounds the labium.|
|3||–||Mandible||A pair of jaws used to chew pollen and work wax for comb building. They also help with anything that the bee needs to manipulate.|
|4||–||Labrum||A movable flap on the head that covers the opening of the food canal and proboscis|
|5||–||Food Canal||Like our mouths, this is the opening by which the bee will take in food. Bees’ food is almost always liquid in the form of nectar or honey.|
|6||–||Pharynx||Muscles used to move the labium and suck up nectar from flowers.|
|7||–||Esophagus||The hollow tube through which ingested fluids pass to the honey stomach and later the midgut.|
|8||–||Hypopharyngeal gland||Gland that produces some of the compounds necessary for making royal jelly, used to feed the larvae.|
|9||–||Brain||Honey bees have excellent learning and memory processing abilities. Their brain processes information used in navigation and communication as well as memory. The brain also controls many of the basic bee body functions.|
|10||–||Salivary Gland||The salivary glands have a number of functions. Like the hypopharyngeal gland, the salivary glands produce some compounds necessary for producing royal jelly. The salivary glands produce liquid used to dissolve sugar, and also produce compounds used to clean the body and contribute to the colony’s chemical identity.|
|11||–||Flight Muscles||The thorax muscles, which power the bee’s wings for flying and movement. These muscles work very hard and can help the bee to beat its wings up to 230 times per second.|
|12||–||Heart||Unlike in mammals, honey bees and insects have an open circulatory system, meaning their blood is not contained within tubes like veins or arteries. The blood, or hemolymph, in insects is free-flowing throughout the body cavity and is pumped via the heart. The heart is the structure in red, and acts like a pumping leaky tube to help move the hemolymph throughout the body|
|13||–||Opening of Spiracle||The respiratory system in insects is a series of hollow tubes connected to air sacs in the body. The openings of these hollow tubes are called spiracles. The tubes are called trachea which then provide oxygen and gas exchange to all tissues in the body.|
|14||–||Air sac||Air filled sacs used as reservoirs of air in the insect body.|
|15||–||Midgut||Contains the proventriculus, ventriculus, and small intestine. This is where most of the digestion and nutrient absorption occurs in the insect body|
|16||–||Heart Openings||Openings in the heart tube which take in and pump out hemolymph.|
|17||–||Ileum||A short tube connecting the midgut to the hindgut. The Ileum also often houses microbes, which aid in digestion.|
|18||–||Malpighian Tubules||A set of small tubes that are used to absorb water, waste, and salts and other solutes from body fluid, and remove them from the body.|
|19||–||Rectum||The rectum acts like our large intestine and is the bees primary location of water absorption for the gut after digestion and nutrient absorption.|
|20||–||Anus||The exit of the digestive system, used to excrete food waste (poop) while in flight.|
|21||–||Stinger||Also called “sting” is used to puncture the skin and pump venom into the wound. In worker bees the stinger has a barbed end. Once pushed into the skin the stinger remains in the victim. The venom sac will remain with the stinger. If left in the body the stinger will continue to pump venom from the venom sac into the victim. Queen bees have a longer and un-barbed stinger. Drones (males) do not have a stinger.|
|22||–||Stinger Sheath||The hardened tube, from which the stinger can slide in and out.|
|23||–||Sting Canal||The sting is hollow, allowing venom to pass through the stinger. This is also the canal via which an egg is passed, when the queen lays an egg.|
|24||–||Venom Sack||Holds the venom produced by the venom gland, and can then contract to pump venom through the stinger.|
|25||–||Venom Gland||The gland which produces the venom that damages tissue if injected into the body.|
|26||–||Wax Glands||Worker bees start to secrete wax about 12 days after emerging. About six days later the gland degenerates and that bee will no longer produce wax. The queen is continually laying eggs to maintain colony size and to produce more new workers that produce wax.|
|27||–||Ventral Nerve Cord||Like the nerve cord in our spine, which holds bundles of nerve fibers that sends signals from our brain to the rest of our body.|
|28||–||Proventriculus||A constricted portion of the honey bee foregut or honey stomach, which can control the flow of nectar and solids. This allows honey bees to store nectar in the honey stomach without being digested.|
|29||–||Honey Stomach (Foregut/Crop)||A storage sac, used in honey bees to carry nectar. The honey stomach is hardened to prevent fluids from entering the body at this location.|
|30||–||Aorta||Blood vessel located in the back of a bee that carries blood from the heart to the organs.|
|31||–||Esophagus||Part of the bee digestive system that begins below the mouth and connects to the honey stomach.|
|32||–||Ventral Nerve Cord||Same as 27. This is a large bundle of nerves from the brain that sends signals to the rest of the bee’s body.|
|33||–||Labium||In bees a tongue-like appendage used to help drink up nectar. Like our tongue bees can taste with this organ. The labium fits inside of the maxilla (2), kind of like a straw.|
Need to use an Extractor?
The Gold Coast Amateur Beekeeper’s Society inc. has three extractors available for hire to members only.
It is a condition of use that this equipment is returned in a clean, wax and honey free condition.
Cost of hire: $15 per 48 hours, or part thereof.
To book an extractor, contact:
V’s Bee’s Qld
3/90 Spencer Rd, Nerang
located inside Allied Bearings and Seals
Phone: 0415 192 662
The Gold Coast Amateur Beekeeper’s Society inc. maintains a Club Library of Beekeeping and Flora Books available for loan to current financial members.
For a listing of titles, please click here
BEEcome a member
Apply here to Join the Gold Coast Amateur Beekeeper’s Society inc. and receive monthly newsletters, invitations to monthly General Meetings, workshops and connect with other local Beekeepers.
In 2020 The Gold Coast Amateur Beekeeper’s Society inc. affiliated with the Amateur Beekeepers Association of NSW (ABA) . The ABA’s centralised membership system takes care of most membership admin tasks. Members use the ABA system to join our association and the ABA, pay fees and update their details.
The Gold Coast Amateur Beekeeper’s Society inc. welcomes new members, existing members and visitors to attend and volunteer at all events.