Where Bees Live in the Wild
Despite the homes of bees being commonly known as hives, this term is only actually accurate for their humanmade houses constructed by beekeepers. Hives are built as to ensure easy access to these animals and honey. However, in the natural environment, bee-homes are called nests, and can occur in a variety of places.
The main requisite for a bee nest is somewhere sheltered and safe. Honey bees use many different locations, both above and below ground, to make their homes. These include caves, rock cavities and hollow trees as natural nesting sites; in residential areas, bees can inhabit cavities such as house walls, the floor cavity of multi-storey buildings, letter boxes, meter boxes, chimneys and compost bins. In warmer climates they may occasionally build exposed hanging nests.
When choosing their location, the most important features of a natural bee nest are: a sheltered, darkened enclosure; a small, defensible entrance; adequate space for the bees to move; hexagonal beeswax cells moulded into parallel comb separated by “bee space”; and a separation of brood (a central sphere) and food (to the top and sides). These features are replicated by apiarists and beekeepers when creating hives, especially in the case of natural beekeepers, whose main objective to mimic the activities of bee colonies found in the wild.
The nest itself is made up of many honeycombs – a mass of hexagonal wax cells made by worker bees—parallel to each other, with similar spacing between each for the bees to move around. It usually has a single entrance, and different species prefer different sized nesting spaces. In Australia, native bees inhabit a variety of secluded spaces in the environment, with some species burrowing under desert sands, and others nesting inside tree cavities near waterholes. The diversity of landscape and climate across the country means that nests are similarly varied.
The basic structure, or architecture, of honey bee nests is similar across species: honey is stored in the upper part of the comb; beneath it are rows of pollen-storage cells, worker-brood cells, and drone-brood cells. The larger, peanut shaped queen bee cells can be found on the lower edge of the honeycomb. Honeycombs are built on the walls along the cavity tops and sides, with small passageways occurring along the comb edges. Finally, around the entrance to the nest, the bees smooth the bark, and the cavity walls are coated with a thin layer of hardened resin (propolis) made from plants.
Due to the tendency for bees to build nests in locations where other bees reside or have resided, it is likely that swarming can occur when nests grow or multiply. It is therefore understandable that a natural nest might need to be removed from your residence should you find the bees overwhelming. Professional removal can safely remove the nest from your property, and ethically save the bees in the process, by relocating them to a different area.
For Bee and swarm rescue Melbourne please call B en on 0437077792