It has been so hot in Western Australia’s mid-west that a local woman found honey dripping down the wall of her house, revealing a large bee infestation.
- Homeowner Gabby Forrester has had bees in her chimney for more than eight years, but she decided to let them be
- This week’s weather in Geraldton reached 41.5 degrees, causing the honey and honeycomb inside the chimney to melt and leak out of the walls
- A beekeeper has removed half of the bee colony, but Ms Forrester is happy for the other half to continue living in the chimney
This week temperatures in Geraldton, 450 kilometres north of Perth, ranged from 38 to 41.5 degrees.
Gabby Forrester said she had known bees were using her unused, blocked off chimney as a hive for years but did not realise how much honeycomb was inside.
It turned out the honeycomb had melted in the heat, overflowing down the side of her home.
She said when her parents owned the house, they used to spray the bees in the chimney.
“The bees have lived here for about 20 years,” Ms Forrester said.
“Since I’ve taken the house over for about eight years, I haven’t had them sprayed and we have happily cohabited the house without getting in each other’s way.”
Not wanting to kill the bees, she called a local beekeeper for help.
“I have had Brian, the bee man, here and he has told me that the chimney is pretty much completely filled with honeycomb,” Ms Forrester said.
Since taking on her parents home, Gabby Forrester has decided to leave the bees inside her chimney alone, resulting in nearly a decade’s worth of honeycomb filling it to the brim. (ABC Midwest and Wheatbelt: Zachary Bruce)
Chimney a challenging task
Brian Kelly is a local bee enthusiast who relocates hives to his own property, where he harvests the honey to sell at markets.
Honey has been dripping down the side of Gabby Forrester’s home for a couple of days, with temperatures reaching 41.5 degrees. (Supplied: Gabby Forrester)
He said it was the first chimney relocation he has had in his 15 years of beekeeping.
“There is no way I can get the bees out of there now and there is honey leaking down the wall of the chimney,” Mr Kelly said.
“It is full of honeycomb up to the top.
“When they fill up the space the hive splits and they breed a new queen, one leaves with half the bees and starts a colony somewhere else.”
He said he had tackled some challenging swarms in his time.
“That is the first one I have seen in a chimney,” Mr Kelly said.
“But I have seen them just about everywhere, the worst one I had to do was get them out of a boat.”
Brian Kelly has been beekeeping in Geraldton for 15 years. (ABC Midwest and Wheatbelt: Laura Meachim)
More awareness for bees
Western Australia’s honey bee industry is known for its freedom of important bee diseases and pests, which occur in other parts of the world.
Gabby Forrester said a taste test of the honey dripping down her chimney wall was successful. (Supplied: Gabby Forrester)
Mr Kelly said because of more education around the importance of bees, he has noticed less people fumigating in Geraldton.
In recent years he has gone from having five hives to 25.
“I don’t like poison, I don’t think I have poisoned any yet,” Mr Kelly said.
“Normally I have been able to get most of the swarms, but there are some swarms you just can’t get at and if they are not bothering the people you might as well leave them there.”
Mr Kelly was able to relocate half of the bees in Ms Forrester’s chimney, but getting the rest out would involve dismantling the structure.
Luckily, Ms Forrester said she would be happy for the bees to continue living in her walls.
“My parents used to spray, they are old farmers with the old mindset,” she said.
“I haven’t sprayed for years, knowing the state of the world’s bee population, it didn’t enter my mind to spray them.
“I’m actually thinking of putting a tap on the other side to see if I can get some honey out.”