European Honey Bees

Native bees and European honey bees play an important role in our natural ecosystem, pollinating our flowering fruit, vegetables and flowering plants. European honey bees can be an unwanted pest when they swarm and land in your garden or a welcome guest when they produce honey for your friends and family.

Honey bees have distinctive yellow and black bodies with black legs and live in large numbers in hives. Although they have similar colouring, honey bees are slightly smaller than European wasps and are less aggressive, usually only sting in self-defence.

Keeping European Bees to Produce Honey

Backyard honey bee keeping is a fascinating and occasionally profitable hobby. A hive or two can be kept in most parts of Victoria, including cities and towns.

In the City of Whitehorse, residents are permitted to keep honey bee hives on their property ( PDF 280.06KB) in accordance with the relevant Apiary Code of Practice.

The following documents are useful for keeping honey bee hives.


Keeping Bees

English Keeping Bees as a Hobby
  Apiary Code of Practice
  Honey Bee Biosecurity Code of Practice
Greek Keeping Bees as a Hobby ( PDF 487.46KB)
  Honey Bee Biosecurity Code of Practice ( PDF 484.69KB)

Varroa Mite

Varroa mite (Varroa destructor and Varroa jacobsoni) is a parasite of adult honey bees and honey bee brood. It weakens and kills honey bee colonies and can also transmit honey bee viruses. It is considered the greatest threat to Australia's honey and honey bee pollination plant industries. Varroa Mite is a notifiable pest and bee keepers need to contact the Agriculture Victoria if they detect an infestation in their hive.

There is a current Varroa Mite infestation in New South Wales and the State of Victoria has been declared a Control Area which means a permit is required to bring bee hives or bee products into Victoria from NSW.

Honey Bee Swarms

Signs of Honey Bee Swarms

Honey bee swarms can occur in spring and early summer when a group of honey bees split from a hive in search of a new home. Honey bee swarming is an essential stage in their natural life cycle and usually occurs during spring and summer (September to December).

Slow moving honey bee swarms can form a vertical football shaped cluster on a fence posts, tree branch, bench or in a letterbox or compost bin, while the scout bees fly out to find a permanent home. Honey bee swarms are generally not aggressive unless disturbed and often stay in an area only one or two days before moving on.

If you see a honey bee swarm:

  • Do not disturb the swarm – this can aggravate the bees and makes it more difficult for removal
  • Keep children and animals well away from the swarm
  • Wear footwear to protect your feet in case bees have settled on the ground.

Controlling Honey Bee Swarms

Location Responsibility Contact/Action

 Your Property

The resident

Report the swarm to:

Swarm Patrol. Swarm Patrol will attempt to match the swarm to a local bee keeper for collection. Some beekeepers will do this for free. The sooner you report a swarm the better before it enters into walls or other cavities, becoming difficult to remove and potentially costing you more money.

Or contact:

Victorian Apiarists' Association

  • Bee Removal Hotline on 1902 241 059 (not a free call)
  • Email:
  • Telephone 5446 1455 to locate a qualified apiarist in your area
Your Neighbour’s Property Your neighbour

Speak to the property owner about your observations. Direct them to this page for information.

If the problem continues, contact Council

Council Property Council Contact Council
Power Pole United Energy Notify United Energy
Telecommunications Pit The telecommunications company that owns the pit Report the nest to the faults line of the telecommunications company

Honey Bee Stings

Seek medical advice if a honey bee sting inflames areas of skin around the site of the sting or swelling or redness appear to spread or the area appears to be infected.Honey Bee Stings

If the stung person suffers an anaphylactic reaction, immediately dial 000.

More information about insect bites and stings: