Stingless Bees

Discussion in 'Breeding, Raising, Feeding and Caring for Animals' started by S.O.P, Jan 8, 2012.

  1. S.O.P

    S.O.P Moderator

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    With Stingless Bees becoming more popular in Australia, has anyone else started keeping them? Are you harvesting honey?

    I'm using mine as pollinators and fascinators for the kids. Ancillary benefits mean the spiders are extremely well-fed around my home.

    I'd recommend trying to get to one of Tim Heard's courses or talking to local beekeepers about how easy it is to split, or soft-split, hives into new colonies. The perfect gift?

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    My hive:

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  2. ppp

    ppp Junior Member

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    Yep. We've built our original 1 hive up to four. Hopefully around 6 or so plus honey next year....
     
  3. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    Neat! Did you buy or find your colony? There's a chap not far from me who sometimes has them for sale. It's still on my 'later' list of things to spend money on.
     
  4. S.O.P

    S.O.P Moderator

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    It's a rescue hive. We also rescued a hive on Thursday but gave that one to a person, who freakishly spoke to us that morning and gave us his card as a Stingless Bee Keeper. He mentioned he has cheaper boxes for sale so I might soft-split my hive and begin expanding like ppp is.

    My hive is in a nice piece of Tallowood, so I envision that thing being good for another 20 years (not something I want to take a chainsaw to!).

    Technically, on the permaculture side of things, we should be splitting our hives as giveaways (rather than charge 200-300 dollars for them). If I get my act together, soft-split mine, I'll offer split hives for the cost of the boxes I think. Takes up to 12 months to soft-split, if it takes at all, so I'm more likely to rescue a hive before then.
     
  5. Pakanohida

    Pakanohida Junior Member

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    ./shakes with the epinephrin auto injector just looking at the thread.

    Are these mason bees?

    There are groups of beekeepers here in my county that rent out bees to various orchards. In fall, the most amazing cranberry honey is made.

    I would like to raise some for honey, and because of pollination, however I want to live and not go into the hospital. ;) I think I am boned and won't be able to go down this road with some of you.

    Honestly, it would be safer for me to body surf through a patch of Portuguese Man o Wars then deal with a bee.
     
  6. S.O.P

    S.O.P Moderator

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    Not Mason bees, a bee that is particular to tropics/subtropics and native to Australia. They do occur in other latitudes though as stingless bees.

    These are Trigona carbonaria which have the spiral brood in the first photos. We also have hockingsii in Brisbane which have the 'brain-shaped' brood in the photos. Exactly the same in appearance besides a minuscule size difference.

    And no need for adrenaline, as their name suggests, they are stingless. No sting. They bite like an ant when you split or destroy their hive but it's very minor. You can stand in the way of their hive, even put your ear to it and they will just land and walk on you for a while.

    Keeping them is building up steam in Australia because like anything that lives in nature, we are destroying their habitat and they are becoming more rare. They are important pollinators of macadamia and are being hired out for that purpose now I believe.
     
  7. Grasshopper

    Grasshopper Senior Member

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    Did you make your own boxes?
    If so do you have the measurements
    I get them round here I wonder if I set up a box they would probably just move in??
    or do I need to buy some?
     
  8. S.O.P

    S.O.P Moderator

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    There are box designs online, www.sugarbag.net (from memory) has Tim Heard's OATH design for download. A lot of boxes are modifications of that though there are others. A lot of work is being down on ease of honey harvesting through design.

    Would they move into a box just sitting there? I don't know, one in a million? Less? To move them into a box you either tear apart their hive or you put a hose/pipe from the existing entrance into the back of your box, forcing them to leave by the entrance. That's a soft-split. You could find a natural hive and try and soft-split, it doesn't hurt them.

    Keep in mind it is better to leave natural things alone.
     
  9. annette

    annette Junior Member

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    Hi SOP

    I have native stingless bees here but I can't find the hive. Do you know where they are likely to build a hive? High up in the trees or lower down or on logs like yours is? I've tried following them but they lose me. lol
     
  10. S.O.P

    S.O.P Moderator

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    Mine is from 15m up. Thursday's was 5m up in a branch that was 450mm wide. I have kneeled into one at the base of an Ironbark. Seen one at waist height in a Blackwood. Any hollow that suits them.

    Does that help?
     
  11. annette

    annette Junior Member

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    Yes thanks. I have a lot of dead trees around (left them for the local critters). Just have to investigate a bit further into the bush I think.
     
  12. S.O.P

    S.O.P Moderator

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    I can't recall the distances, they could travel up to a kilometre for food.

    My house is at least 500m away from what I assume would be habitat. The wild ones get started before my kept ones.
     
  13. Grasshopper

    Grasshopper Senior Member

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    I remember seeing a hive inside a hollow cast iron fence post outside either the police station or courthouse in the main street in Maryborough. There was a little hole in it and they where flying in and out.
    Ive had ones fly into a belly button hole in a replica Pre Columbian terracotta bowl I have on the outside table.
    They always land on our plates when we eat outside. So probably setting up a box wont take long to lure some in
    We also have the blue stripped ones that eat circles out of leaves.
     
  14. S.O.P

    S.O.P Moderator

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    I get stingless, European and Blue-banded here (tried to get a photo with all 3 on the basil at the same time). Haven't seen any leaf-cutters but apparently watching it is quite the sight to behold.
     
  15. annette

    annette Junior Member

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    wow grasshopper, so it seems they could be anywhere! I'm lucky too I have lots of different bees around here.
     
  16. andrew curr

    andrew curr Moderator

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    if you sprinkle them with icing sugar ther are easyer to follow
     
  17. annette

    annette Junior Member

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    Really? Icing sugar? They really would be sweet little bees then wouldn't they? lol
     
  18. briansworms

    briansworms Junior Member

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    If you were raising these bees and you split a hive would you put the new split in the place of the old hive? Then move the original to another location?

    I used to be an amatuer bee keeper. If you wanted to build up a weak hive you would place in where a strong hive has been sitting. Then you would move the strong hive away at least 3 km to prevent the field bees returning to the old site. The weaker hive then benefits from the extra field bees coming in. The strong hive would be slightly weakened but this can also prevent swarming but not always.

    If you wanted to move the hive to a different position in the apairy you can only move it 3 ft max at a time till you get it in it's new position. Would this be the same with the native bees?

    A mate of mine is a professional Beekeeper and has some Natives as a hobby.
     
  19. S.O.P

    S.O.P Moderator

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    I'm no expert keeper by any means, but you are right. During a split, leave the 'weaker' split in position so the returning bees build it up (plus they don't need to figure out where the food is).
     
  20. SarahEdgecumbe

    SarahEdgecumbe Junior Member

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    Hi guys,

    Thanks for a great thread, I have been wanting bees for a while and Eco4560 reminded me about these little guys. Stingless sound great as i'm sure my neigbours wouldn't be very happy if i got the stinging ones.

    Just a quick question, I have been hunting in the Ipswich City council pages for any laws about keeping these guys in the suburbs. Any ideas? We have a very small block.

    Also if anyone has any extra hives they are looking to sell, i might be interested.

    thanks, i never knew what a fascinating world the bee keeping world could be. So interesting.

    thanks

    sarah
     

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