FAQ's

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:

 Amateur Beekeepers Association swarm collection service, 

V’s Bees QLD 

 

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?

If you are a new beekeeper, you must  register as a biosecurity entity.
Once you’re registered as a biosecurity entity, you’ll receive a unique Hive Identification Number (HIN) to brand your hives.

A fee is NOT payable if you keep bees only for non-commercial purposes.

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

Click here for more information

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.

Allergic reactions
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.

Heavy work
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.

Timing
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.

Eyesight
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.

Economics
Beekeeping equipment can be expensive, and keeping just a few hives can be a costly.

Red Tape
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.

Locating hives

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.

Shelter
Protection from prevailing winds. Hives should be located in the protected side of patches of bush.

Sunlight
Apiaries should receive as much sunlight as possible, especially in the morning. Hive entrances usually face north-east.

Access
A common mistake among beekeepers is to locate hives without giving thought to access.

Water
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

  • insurance cover

  • educational and support services

  • grants

  • distribution of ‘The Buzz’ newsletter to members

Some of the services the ABA provides to you, as members are:

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 membership@beekeepers.asn.au 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.

Sign in — Amateur Beekeepers Association NSW

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.

Placement of the beehive registration number

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

By Henry Nicholls

Reality: There are around 20,000 species, only one of which is the common honeybee. They come in many colours. Most bees don’t dance. Only a few species make honey. For most bees, stinging does not mean death. Some never sting.

 

Not yellow-and-black: Halictus poeyi and Agapostemon splendens (Credit: Clay Bolt/NPL)

Not yellow-and-black: Halictus poeyi and Agapostemon splendens (Credit: Clay Bolt/NPL)

 

Everyone loves the honeybee. We humans have been drooling over its honey and prospering from its powers of pollination for millennia.

But our worship of this one species, understandable as it might be, is a sign that something has gone wrong. It’s the perfect example of our ruthlessly human-centric, overtly practical view of the natural world.

There are actually around 20,000 known species of bee. The famous European honeybee Apis mellifera is just one of them.

 

Megachile pluto may be the world's largest bee (Credit: The Natural History Museum/Alamy)

Megachile pluto may be the world’s largest bee (Credit: The Natural History Museum/Alamy)

 

They come in a wide range of sizes. Members of the teensy Australian genus Euryglossina (Quasihesma) are typically less than 2mm long, while the alarmingly large Megachile/Chalicodoma pluto from Indonesia is almost 4cm.

There are also plenty of bees that don’t conform to the popular perception of yellow and black.

The North American sweat bee Agapostemon splendens, for instance, is green and blue. Among the valley carpenter bees (Xylocopa varipuncta) of North America, the females are black and the males are yellow.

 

Ashy mining bees (Andrena cineraria) are common all over Europe (Credit: Andy Sands/NPL)

Ashy mining bees (Andrena cineraria) are common all over Europe (Credit: Andy Sands/NPL)

 

The European honeybee is by far and away the most prolific maker of honey. But there are around half a dozen other honeybees in south Asia that are similarly exploited.

Being social, all these honey-making species have evolved ways to communicate important information to the rest of the hive.

Most famously, foraging honey bees perform a “waggle dance”: a series of deliberate movements across the honeycomb that conveys the direction and distance of a rich source of pollen and nectar.

Waggle dance - Wikipedia

Different species appear to have their own distinct “dialects” of waggle dance. But bees are so smart that when researchers coaxed Asiatic and European bees to inhabit the same hive, the Asiatic bees were able to translate the dancing language of the Europeans.

Sophisticated as the waggle dance undoubtedly is, bees of all shapes and sizes perform other feats of communication too.

When a bee is foraging, it leaves behind volatile chemicals that act like sticky notes: smelly messages that reveal whether a flower has been recently plundered. Subsequent visitors use these cues to improve their foraging efficiency.

 

This is what it looks like when an Apis mellifera stings you (Credit: John B. Free/NPL)

This is what it looks like when an Apis mellifera stings you (Credit: John B. Free/NPL)

 

On the subject of stinging, there are quite a few misconceptions.

For a start, it’s only females that can sting. That’s because the stinger is a modified version of their egg-laying organ, the ovipositor.

“No male bee of any species can sting, even honeybees and bumblebees,” says Richard Comont of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust in the UK.

Then there’s the widespread belief that all bees have barbed stingers that lodge in the target’s skin, eviscerating the bee and killing it. It’s only honeybee workers that do this. Most bee species have barbless stingers, so can attack with impunity.

 

Some stingless bees (Trigona sp.) like to eat rotting flesh (Credit: Nick Garbutt/NPL)

Some stingless bees (Trigona sp.) like to eat rotting flesh (Credit: Nick Garbutt/NPL)

 

That said, most species don’t do much stinging. This is the case for most solitary bees, which make up around half of all known bee species.

Among solitary bees, all females are fertile, unlike social bees with their legions of sterile workers. That means a risky strategy like stinging is only deployed in the most extreme situations. “It’s far better for them to flee and fight another day,” says Comont.

There are also a lot of bees – around 500 species – whose stingers are so reduced that they are collectively referred to as stingless bees. These sound nice, though there are a few species of stingless bees that have given up nectar and pollen in favour of rotting flesh.

These so-called vulture bees aside, most bees are united by their power to pollinate.

 

We have made European honeybees part of our daily lives (Credit: Laurent Geslin/NPL)

We have made European honeybees part of our daily lives (Credit: Laurent Geslin/NPL)

 

The value of this service to agriculture is huge, estimated at US$70 billion every year. This explains why there is such concern over the disappearance of bees in recent decades.

We’ve been systematically stripping flowers out of the countryside

The decline in apiculture had resulted in a decline in honeybees.

“For wild bees, it’s a bit of a mixed and incomplete picture,” says Comont. “But the UK lost 18 species of solitary bee and two species of bumblebee in the 20th century.”

The relationship between bees and flowers goes way back: the flourishing of flowering plants that occurred over 100 million years ago is almost certainly bound up with the buzzing of bees.

The intensification of agriculture has disrupted that relationship. “We’ve been systematically stripping flowers out of the countryside,” says Comont. “The best way to reverse these declines is to put flowers back.”

Bee Anatomy

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.

 

Honey bee anatomy

Labeled illustration of the exterior anatomy of a honey bee.

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.

Bee head anatomy

Labeled illustration of the exterior anatomy of the head of a honey bee.

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.

Honey bee internal anatomy

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.

Source: Honey Bee Anatomy | Ask A Biologist (asu.edu)

Extractor Hire

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

Club Library

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.

Latest Events

The Gold Coast Amateur Beekeeper’s Society inc. welcomes new members, existing members and visitors to attend and volunteer at all events.