For Dermot AsIs Sha’Non and his daughter Sarah, spending quality time together often involves swarms of bees — and the occasional sting.
“When we first began, bee stings would make us swell like a balloon,” 19-year-old Sarah said.
“Now we don’t swell, but we still feel that pain of the sting just as much.”
But the pain does not deter them from pursing a hobby they both adore.
“I was about 11 when we first began and we haven’t looked back,” Sarah said.
“I also enjoy spending time with my dad.
“As a teenager it can sometimes be hard to find something in common with parents, but we’ve got bees.”
What is swarm collecting?
The father-daughter duo have come a long way since they first suited up.
Dermot is now vice president of the Beekeepers Association of the ACT, and the pair spend their spare time volunteering as swarm collectors.
“If bees have set up camp in your backyard for a few days, or sometimes a few years, dad and I are the people to call,” Sarah said.
Spring, in particular, is a busy time.
“This time of the year about half of a colony transfer its bees outside of a hive as a swarm,” she said.
“Their purpose is to create a new colony … they might just pop up in your backyard.”
Queen is behind angry hives
According to Dermot, the queen bee determines the mood of the hive.
“We often get calls from people who might have bees in a possum box or their walls … and the bees have been nice and gentle and they’ve walked passed them every day,” he said.
“Suddenly they’re being stung from the front door because the whole temperament of the hive has changed.”
To help sweeten the vibe of the hive, Dermot said it was not uncommon for a queen to be removed.
“The old queen is removed and a new one is installed,” he said.
“There are queen breeders out there who send bees in the mail, so you get a little buzzing package in your letter box.
“You install a queen cage in the hive. They get used to her over a day or two, then you release her into the colony.
“It doesn’t always work but you just keep trying until it does.”