A home owner in Toowong called Peter Possum for a Brisbane bee removal job during February 2016, which involved the stingless native bees, Trigona. She was concerned that every afternoon for a month, she had to remove many dead bees from the balcony of her Queenslander house. Some were in clumps of 3 or 4 interlocked individuals, fighting to the death. Others flew in a cloud near the balcony but there was no bee hive nearby. Native bees do attack rival nests and bee swarms have been reported killing each other outside and inside their hives but it is unusual for a “fight” to occur where there is no hive. The serviceman removed over 500 dead bees from a few days fighting, so over a month the swarm included many thousands, probably from two or three hives. Since native bees usually forage within 500 metres of the hive, this conflict suggests their nest was within 300 metres of the house, but no bees could be found in nearby gardens.
It was noticeable that close to the fighting area, the edges of the white painted wood of the balcony had a dark yellow stain as well as brighter yellow bee droppings. Bees could be seen marking territory on the balcony wood but without a nearby nest or attractive source of nectar, it was hard to understand why.
Native bees struggle to compete with feral honey bee swarms, which also displace other Australian native animals that need holes to nest in, such as possums, sugar gliders, kookaburras and parrots. The native bee life cycle and behaviour is still poorly understood but some enthusiasts do maintain hives and collect their honey. The native bee swarms are really harmless; one individual native bee might give a bite or nip if trapped but they do not sting or attack in numbers. In this case the bees were left alone and the fighting stopped after a total period of about 6 weeks. But if a nest is causing problems and you need bee removal around Brisbane, we can investigate and suggest the best option.

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