Homeless bees invade properties

Wednesday September 02, 2020 Written by Published in Environment
Henry Tupa extract bees from premises in Takuvaine using a smoker used to calm the bees. MELINA ETCHES /20090115 Henry Tupa extract bees from premises in Takuvaine using a smoker used to calm the bees. MELINA ETCHES /20090115

Construction boom in Rarotonga leaves swarm of bees without homes. 

Bees are invading people’s houses on Rarotonga and are making themselves comfortable building their hives.

The trees that have been destroyed over the past few years to accommodate the construction boom on the island has added to the problem of bees having to find new homes.

Concerned home owners and tenants have contacted the Ministry of Agriculture and bee keepers on the island for assistance in the removal of the insects on their properties. An average beehive may contain up to 60000 bees.

Agriculture’s livestock officer Edwin Apera says trees are the bees’ natural habitat.

“Bees build their homes in houses as the structure is easy to get into and its warmer,” Apera said.

“Farmers know the importance of bees to their food crops and fruit trees, when bees are around you, expect a lot of pollination.”

Cook Islands Women and Girls with Disability Council co-ordinator Destiny Tara needed bees removed at their office premises in Takuvaine.

“The bees were well established before we moved in here two years ago. They were frightening at first and in the early stages we were worried, but they haven’t harmed us at all, so we let bees do their thing,” Tara said.

“They have been great for our plants that look amazing around our building and none of us have been stung.”

Bees were not a bother to the staff, but for health and safety reasons, the call had to be made to move them out.

The organisation has seen an increase in women with disabilities visiting the office, “and because of communication issues, I won’t always be able to know what their allergies are, or their existing health problems”.

Tupapa resident and member of the village’s Tango Enua group Henry Tupa was keen to get his own bee keeping hive started.

He assisted Apera to extract the bees, a first time experience that got him nervous.

“I was scared being up there surrounded by bees, but I had to keep focused and calm my mind not to panic.” Tupa has farmed crops for the past few years and is excited to set up a hive near his plantation.  Beekeeping is becoming popular on the island. The dark European honey bees were the first to be introduced to Cook Islands, followed by the Italian honey bees.

Ministry of Agriculture has been running workshops to encourage people to take up beekeeping.

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