Beeodiversity at Loreto Kirribilli

Beeodiversity at Loreto Kirribilli

Excitement levels ran high as a swarm of 15,000 bees took up temporary residence at Loreto Kirribilli.    


If the return to school for another term was not exciting enough, staff and students were left in awe as a swarm of bees, along with their queen, decided to set up a temporary hive on a sweet-smelling gardenia plant outside the Loreto Kirribilli Junior School at the commencement of Term 4, after splitting from their colony. Thankfully our local apiarist (beekeeper), Henry, was close at hand to investigate, educate, and safely transfer the bees into a temporary hive before transporting them to a new home in nearby bushland.


Henry was able to share several interesting insights for us:

  • Bee swarms are generally not dangerous, as they are looking for a new home, not trying to protect one, so they are not aggressive. A swarm happens when a colony of bees becomes so large, that a second queen is created, and the old queen takes off with half of the colony to establish a new nest. The workers are all gathered around the queen to protect her while scout bees go out looking for a likely new home.

  • Spring is the time many beehives create a new queen and multiply, divide and then create a new colony.

  • We understand the bees came from a nearby hive, possibly in our tree canopy.

  • Our bee swarm was one of the larger-sized swarms (in the top 20%) with approximately 15,000 bees.

  • Why smoke for bees? According to Henry, the smoke masks bees' alarm pheromones, so they don’t sting. Smoke also causes bees to prepare to leave their hive because they believe it is on fire (think bushfires). They begin to eat lots of honey, thinking they need the energy to go find a new home. Engorged with honey, their abdomens are so full it makes it hard for them to sting.

Care for the environment is a priority at Loreto Kirribilli, evidenced by our Environmental Sustainability Strategic Framework. The framework, with its four pillars of Emission Reduction, Sustainable Consumption, Natural Abundance and Environmental Literacy, seeks to engage students at all levels across our Senior and Junior Schools, enabling them to play an active role in making our school sustainable.