We’ve shared many stories about how violent weather disasters have killed bees in Australia, like this one here.
This time it is the floods that are affecting NSW, and this story is about beehives that were threatened by the flood waters, and how three men saved about 1 million buzzy bees from drowning.
Camden Community Garden in south Sydney is located at Exeter Street.
The president, Steve Cooper, and volunteers Justin O’Brien and Simon Suters spent hours moving beehives to higher ground, so the bees would not drown. Starting near sunset, they worked through the night to move 19 beehives that were at risk from rising flood waters.
It was a close call. The four lowest beehives had already become inundated with rising water.
To get to the hives, the men had to wade through waist-deep waters. Taking the added flood water into account along with the frames, bees, and honey inside, these hives weighed about 90-100 kilos (200-225 pounds) each. It took them two hours just to move those four hives to higher ground.
This unrelated 7:38-minute video by 7NEWS Australia shows the extent of devastation caused by the current floods:
The men took a break, and then discovered that the next row of hives was becoming flooded, too.
This time it was more perilous, as they had to wade through shoulder-deep water to save the bees.
A seeming miracle occurred next. One hive was unable to be moved, but the water eventually lifted the hive up, and with air trapped inside the hive, it allowed Steve and Simon to float it out of the area.
It was a challenging ordeal on what turned out to be a crazy night. Although the bee rescue was a real ordeal, it had to be done. Up to 60,000 bees dwelt in each of the largest hives.
According to Mr. O’Brien, they couldn’t believe how fast the water was rising. It was a constant race against time and against those rising waters for the three men, but in the end, they saved 19 of the 21 hives, having to move some more than once. Even then some hives had to be repositioned as waters continued rising.
Between dozens of bees getting inside one man’s bee suit and another man not wearing gloves, they took some hits from bee stings and battered hands and were the worse for wear the next day.
When bees are cold and wet, they get extremely angry, according to Mr. O’Brien. He estimates that there were over one million bees involved in the relocation process that night.
Over the past few years Mr. O’Brien and Mr. Cooper have performed bee swarm removals. All the bee colonies at the garden originated from those swarms.
The garden suffered other casualties. The chicken coop was utterly submerged. The men rescued the chickens from it, placing them in a greenhouse, but then the greenhouse went underwater as well, and they were only able to save four of their nine chickens.
In the time it took them to pick up one hive and move it, they would come back to find the water had risen another foot during that time. It was a relentless race against time.
In the end, most of the million bees were saved, thanks to the dedication of three wise men that were determined not to let them go under. Click here to scroll through and see some images from this ordeal as well as photos of these men and their bees in drier times.