Want to keep your own stingless bees? You can start by finding your own nest and transferring it to a box (see section below*). Or you can take an easy path and buy your first hive.
Only warmer climates from around Sydney north are suitable. If you live in Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania or southwest Australia, you are unfortunate, as social stingless bees do not occur in your area. I would not recommend sending them there as they would probably die in the winter. However, many solitary species occur there. See here (PDF, 209kb) about encouraging local solitary bee species in your garden.
The easiest species to keep in coastal areas between Nowra NSW and Bundaberg Qld is Tetragonula carbonaria, the common local species. I have hives of Tetragonula carbonaria available for sale. I also have a limited number of hives of Tetragonula hockingsi available for sale. This species is more suited to areas north of Brisbane.
Original Australian Trigona hive
An OATH (Original Australian Trigona hive) is good for splitting but not well suited for extracting honey (See below for the design for an OATH).
Honey OATH design
The honey OATH has an extra compartment on top, a honey “super”, which allows you to remove honey with minimal disruption to the nest. Honey OATHs are just as suitable as standard OATHs for splitting or pollination. I recommend honey OATHs even if you do not intend to extract honey, as they have better insulation on the top, an optional storage area and so are generally better homes for the bees.
Here is a section of a honey OATH (made from 2 linear m of 25 x 200 mm softwood). It consists of a lower brood box (two sections: bottom and mid) and an upper honey box. All hive boxes are professionally made, built of hoop pine, nailed and glued, and painted (three coats). It is guaranteed to fit together precisely (important for sealing out natural enemies and climatic extremes), and to last for many years. The bottom of the mid section (where you split a hive) has built-in bars to prevent slumping after a split and to allow a clean split. The sections are held together with plastic strapping.
My price is $550 for a Honey OATH hive stocked with a strong nucleus of bees.
For local pickup, I usually have hives available for sale at short notice. For orders outside the Brisbane region I may need up to 6 weeks to prepare a hive for postage.
To place an order contact me.
Payments are accepted by cash, EFT to my bank account or PayPal.
Sending hives by Courier or Post
When mailing hives, I charge a postage and handling fee of $100.
I guarantee the survival of hives for one year as long as they are treated properly. If your hive dies, I will replace it, free of charge, upon return of the dead hive. Note that I cannot guarantee a hive that experiences temperatures of greater than 40C, receives direct sun after 10 am in summer, is kept outside their natural geographical range, is opened, is split, or has honey extracted.
Positioning your hive is important. They should be kept in a sheltered position. Generally, if you would be comfortable in a position all year round, then the bees probably would be too. A verandah is usually good as they are protected from the elements and you can watch them more easily. They must be protected from direct afternoon sun. They don’t need much space, even a small apartment verandah is sufficient. If you want to put them out in the open, you will need to provide a roof. I can supply a simple but effective roof for $10.
Price for a professionally made empty hive box (honey hive design) is $150. I also supply standard OATHs for $110. I recommend standard OATHs for transfers as they have only one gap for the bees to seal, not two.
Want to make your own box?
You will need 25mm thick timber. We sell the timber (hoop pine, cut to length), and plastic for brood excluder and split bars, to make one honey hive for $45. Contact Dan Heard 0413 943 860 to arrange pickup from Taringa, Brisbane.
There is no legal requirement to register hives of native bees in Australia.
*Removing hives from natural locations
Although there is no legal protection of native bees (except of course in National parks and all other protected areas), I strongly discourage you from removing hives from the wild. Chopping down a tree to take the bees is even worse resulting in a loss of both tree and bees from their natural environment. However I encourage the rescue of colonies from trees that have been felled as part of legal land clearing or tree removal on private land. At least then the bees are saved.
How do I extract the sugarbag?
For a list of other suppliers of stingless bees in hives go to the website of the ANBRC: http://www.aussiebee.com.au/buy-stingless-bees.html.