A passionate Brisbane beekeeper is coming to the rescue of thousands of native stingless bees and those who find them buzzing around Brisbane’s water meters.
Urban Utilities workers have been dealing with swarms of native bees as of late, in addition to the usual household hazards, when trying to read the meters.
During the summer months the native bees like to find new hives – a favourite spot being the small black box that covers the water meter out on the footpath.
It is dark, moist and at a perfect temperature to nest and make honey.
Passionate insect protector Bob ‘the Bee Man’ Luttrell is the beekeeper the meter readers call in to remove the makeshift hives.
“The ground temperature is stable at 23 to 24 degrees [Celsius] and that is very much the same as the temperatures in a hollow in a tree,” he said.
Home owner Gavin McDougall, from Wishart on Brisbane’s southside, found a colony in his meter box last week.
There were 3000 native stingless bees inside and he did not want to harm them.
“They are part of nature and important so wanted to keep them around,” he said.
In a two-hour rescue, Mr Luttrell removed the entire box, bees and all, vacuumed up the pesky ones and caught a few more in a butterfly net.
He then re-homed them at his property in the Samford Valley, where he now has a million bees he has saved from all over Brisbane.
“They are just a special little native bee,” he said.
“They have been there forever really in the Australian landscape.
“They tend to be almost ignored – people call them flies, ants – they treat them badly.”
He urged people not to kill them because they were vital pollinators.
“People have hosed them, poured hot water on them, and sprayed them with fly spray,” he said.
Mr Luttrell, who has been collecting colonies for over 50 years, takes them away to protect them.
He said they also make very tasty honey.
Urban Utilities spokeswoman Michelle Cull has urged homeowners to check their meter boxes for unwanted guests.
“Always wear protective gloves because you do not know what you may find when you lift the lid,” she said.
“One hive can support thousands of native bees and even though they don’t sting, they can swarm and give a nasty bite.”
Homeowners who find a hive of activity in their meter boxes are urged to ring the contact centre on 13 26 57.
Bob the Bee Man will then remove the colony for free.