Complaints about nuisance bees have risen over the past few months due to the impacts of drought and fire on floral resources and water. A common cause of complaints is bees foraging for water. Providing water in your yard for bees can be as simple as a bucket with a towel stuffed in it: this will wick moisture and the bees can access it. Try to place it away from the hive, because if it is too close the bees often fly over it. Keep it refreshed as bees prefer clean water.
As native wildlife has been impacted by fires and dry conditions, some people are feeding honey, or honey in mixes, for wildlife. Feeding of honey is an illegal practice, in most cases does not support wildlife, and can have negative impacts through disease spread in honey bees.
I have had quite a lot of enquiries regarding smoker use on fire ban days. Using a smoker in an emergency situation is allowed on a total fire ban day, but only under strict conditions.
Risks to public safety must be addressed immediately. Placing hives near schools, day care centres, and other public places like parks is irresponsible. If you know that someone is anaphylactic to bees, you must not place your hives in such a way as to pose a danger to that person – for example along a fence line adjacent to their dwelling. Ensure your hives are branded correctly and you do not have too many hives in an urban situation.
One of the best ways to avoid nuisance bee complaints is to maintain good relationships with your neighbours. Keep that communication line open and respond quickly to their concerns.
This article by NSW Department of Primary Industries Bee Biosecurity Officer Mark Page was originally published in the NSW Bee Biosecurity e-newsletter for registered beekeepers.