Our stingless bees, Tetragonula Carbonaria, are black, about 4mm in size, and are suited to warmer climates, ideally, Queensland, Northern Territory and warmer parts of New South Wales.
We would not recommend our bees for Victoria, Tasmania or South Australia unless you want to give them a go in a hot house, and whilst they are found and do thrive in Western Australia, we comply with WA regulations in not supplying there.
The bees are interesting and low maintenance. When it is suitable weather time, it is easy to split the hive and have a real good look at what’s going on inside. It’s fascinating!
Because the bees do not sting, children can be involved in helping or just watching the bees walking on their hands or arms.
We find it helpful at splitting time to wear a net over our head because they are annoying if they get into the ears, nose or mouth.
If you want to take a bit of honey (sugarbag) without interfering with the hive, then all you need do is remove the top honey jar, drain it and return it or replace it with a fresh jar.
The honey has a very distinct taste; somewhere between lemon, maple syrup and eucalyptus. It is runnier than other honey and needs to be kept in the fridge.
In our garden, these little creatures do a magnificent job pollinating our fruit and flowers. They carry nectar or pollen on their hairy, hind legs back to the hive to build their honey pots. They will compete with European honey bees on a flower if there are any around, but do not get involved with them.
The hives can be placed in various locations using a variety of methods, e.g. in the garden, on patios, down narrow sideways, on poles, bricks or shelving. Keep in mind that the hive requires some protection from afternoon sun and predators such as lizards and family pets which may knock the hive.
Whatever the preferred way, keep all hives with entrances facing approximately northeast.
We have noticed at times that suddenly all our bees return to their hives and then shortly it rains. They don’t wear raincoats and gumboots!
Also, they do not respond well to temperatures below about 18º C and will take a holiday and stay home. This is when they need their own pantry of honey and they will feed from their own honey pots.
As conditions affect both honey production and active hives, the supply of these may not always be available.
However, when available, we supply a strong active hive and advise that great care is taken. Provide shade in summer during the hottest part of the day. Do not use poisons around hives. Do not shake or open the hive or extract honey for 12 months.
We want you to enjoy your bees and we are happy to help and advise wherever we can.
[Photos of Tetragonula Carbonaria, courtesy of Brisbane Insects and Spiders]
Other information can be found at Aussie Bee.