Bees and Wasps

European wasps and bees can be a problem in Warrnambool, especially in spring and early summer.

Bees have a generally round body that appears hairy, as do their legs. European wasps are a similar size to bees but have a bright yellow body with black triangle-shaped markings, yellow legs and two long black antennae.

Bees feed upon pollen and nectar, whereas European wasps like sweet food, meat and drinks, and may forage for food up to half a kilometre away from its nest. Wasps can sting repeatedly and tend to become aggressive when threatened, whereas bees generally only sting in self-defence

Wasp nests

Wasps like to live around people so they are near food and drink. They predominantly build nests in the ground (i.e. holes, around the base of trees, within retaining walls and rockeries), but also above ground (i.e. the roof, wall cavities and sheltered parts of a building). Their nest walls look as if made of paper, and often resemble footballs. 

For the control of European wasp nests

  • The best method is to locate the nest and eradicate them using a registered insecticide for that purpose.
  • Wear protective clothing and a bee veil, and it is recommended that treatment be conducted early in the morning or at night, when wasps are less active.
  • Be aware that a torch/ head torch without a red filter may attract wasps. You can cover a torch’s light with red cellophane secured with a rubber band.

Discourage European wasps

In your backyard:

  • Pick up fallen fruit or food scraps.
  • Clean up leftover pet food or dog bones.
  • Use rubbish bins with tight fitting lids.
  • Cover compost at all times, and 
  • Cover bird baths and fish ponds with fine mesh or shade cloth, and cover your pool when not in use

At a picnic or barbecue:

  • Cover food.
  • Pour drink from cans into a glass or use a straw – a wasp could be inside the can, and
  • Wear shoes as stings are often on feet.

Bee swarms

Bees travel in large groups called swarms, are usually gentle and usually sting in self-defence. A swarm of bees may stay in the one area for up to two or three days and then leave. 

Bees play an essential role in the balance of nature, especially through the pollination process. In situations of bee swarms, do not try to move this yourself. Council advocates for their relocation by a beekeeper, who can be contacted via the Victorian Apiarists Association (phone: 03 9317 7142).

Keeping of beehives

To keep bees in Victoria, you must register with Agriculture Victoria and comply with the Apiary Code of Practice. There are strict guidelines for keeping bees and you should always be mindful that bees could be a concern for neighbours.

Local Law Number 2 – Community Amenity, clause 36:

  1. A person must not, on their property, without a permit, keep or allow to be kept any more than the number of beehives specified in the Apiary Code of Practice as amended from time to time, (“the Apiary Code”)  Penalty: 5 penalty units.
  2. Any person keeping bees within the municipal district must comply with the Apiary Code. Penalty: 5 penalty units.
  3. In determining whether to grant a permit, the Council or an authorised officer must have regard to the matters outlined at clause 17 [Standards for Issuing Permits] as well as…’ See this clause for the full list of items.

For more information about bee keeping contact the Agriculture Victoria on 136 186.

The Victorian State Government sets the value of Infringement Penalty Units, to find out more click here

Who is responsible for bee swarms and wasp nests?

For bee-related matters, please contact a local beekeeper or the Victorian Apiarists Association (phone: 03 9317 7142).  Council is not responsible for the eradication of European wasps unless they are on Council or public property, but can arrange eradication of nests through a contractor at a cost to the property owner.