Sunday 23.08.15

Bob Lutrell (Bob the Beeman) has had some experimental honey supers on my SNB (stingless native bee) hive for some time – over a year. Bob makes the honey supers on his 3D printer based on a great deal of research and trial and error on his part.

Initial checks indicated that the supers were very welcome by my bees and they were filling them with honey. Fate stepped in at this point and Bob had some heath issues requiring surgery so the supers sat quietly waiting for the moment when he could come back and open the hive.

The moons aligned on the 23rd and we were able to get Bob to my place to do the hive split, check the honey supers and try out Bob’s new invention of a centrifugal honey collector to go with the new supers.

Andy came along as official video-er and a photographer turned up from Quest papers to take photos for an article. Andy will scan the article and post on Brisbane Local Food when the time comes. The video will also become available on this site once it has been edited and passed inspection with Bob.

This was a very exciting workshop due to the experimental nature of the equipment used and all the time and effort put into the design by Bob, coming to fruition. Thank you to all those who turned up yesterday to learn from and enjoy the experience. It was a great morning!

Of great interest to Bob and myself is that he has suspicions that my bees are in fact a hybrid variety . Some of you may remember these bees invaded my own Tetragonula carbonaria hive some time back and killed all the resident bees before setting up home in my box happily since. I had thought they were the same variety. The only way to tell for sure is DNA testing which I have hopes will be organised some time soon.

Big thank you to Andy for his skills with the camera and video. Photos below are a mix of Andy’s and mine.

An example of Bob’s hive showing the new honey super produced on his 3D printer:

Bob's new hive with honey super

Bob working at splitting my hive. Experimental honey supers are the layers on top with tape around them.

100_6792 100_6793

Hive split – the hive structure is not what is expected from Tetragonula carbonaria which leads Bob to think my bees may be hybrid. The comb should look like a spiral if my bees are T carbonaria LIKE THIS. It’s possible I have a hybrid with T hockingsi the comb of which looks LIKE THIS.

23.08.15 my hive split - not your average T carbonaria design
23.08.15 my hive split – not your average T carbonaria design
23.08.15 hive split
23.08.15 hive split

Here’s story you might find interesting about wars between the two species ARTICLE.

Pretty much what happened with my own hive in 2013. I had a good photo record of the whole war but suspect the pics are stuck on my old computer. Here’s one picture I was able to find:

2011 bee war
2011 Takeover of my hive by outside invaders – they took a few days to kill all my bees and throw them out the front door of the hive. I thought at the time they were the same species, Tetragonula carbonaia, but they turn out to be some kind of hybrid. Perhaps between Tc and T hockingsi.

Honey super from my hive:

honey super from my hive

Puncturing tool made to match the super from perspex and nails. Bob’s aim is to injure as few bees in the process of harvesting and splitting as possible.

honey pot puncher perspex and nails

Bob’s centrifuge design. Spins by hand.


Bob is inserting the honey super into the centrifugal collector before giving it a good spin by hand a few times. He extracted 100ml more from the machine on his return home. At $200kg we don’t want to waste any!

Bob Lutrell placing honey super into centrifuge

Some of the honey collected. There was a bit more in another jar. All up about 400mls collected on the day according to Bob.

SNB honey we ended up with a full jar

Everyone enjoyed the morning including Bob who was very pleased with the outcome.

Hopefully everyone went home with some new knowledge or at least a desire to own and learn more about our native stingless bees. Such sweet little beasts to have helping in the garden and no trouble at all to look after.

Bob is working on building some hives for sale. Contact him on his website Bob the Beeman if interested (Qld site).

I endeavored to gauge interest in another visit to Bob’s property out Samford way where he has 100’s of hives many in different designs. Let me know if you are interested in attending and I will try to pin Bob down for a date.


  1. Awesome post about awesome little bees. They wouldn’t like it down here or I would set up hives all over the place. Interesting about the hybridisation and the bee wars and a very good coverage of your event. Hopefully lots of people decide to take Bob up on buying his hives etc. and a good network of native bee keepers can start to build up. Cheers for sharing this Lissa, your posts always excite me πŸ™‚


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