THE Mount Alexander Shire will draw up a list of beekeepers after being criticised for killing a swarm in the Castlemaine Botanical Gardens.
But staff have defended their decision last year, telling councillors they were forced to kill the bees or endanger park users.
The shire's councillors will gather next Thursday for a council meeting and consider the response to a 17-signature petition expressing alarm that chemicals were used to kill the swam on Saturday, 18 October.
Bee populations are declining worldwide and the petitioners have listed four alternatives they say could have been used, including contacting a beekeeper.
Council officers say killing the bees was a last resort after trying unsuccessfully to find a beekeeper the day before.
"Staff were concerned that the community could be at risk of injury over the coming weekend," they said in a report ahead of the council meeting.
"Of particular concern was a scheduled Castlemaine Parkrun on Saturday morning."
That run is a weekly 5km event staged in the Castlemaine Botanical Garden.
Officers have told councillors they will draw up a list of local beekeepers who can be contacted when bees swarm in the future.
The bee swarm had split from a nearby hive on the Friday morning and spent the day actively moving along a well-used perimeter path in the park, council officers said.
Staff members put up safety cones but were still concerned about the danger the bees could pose if someone was stung and had a severe allergic reaction.
"A small percentage of people who are stung by a bee or other insect quickly develop anaphylaxis," council officers said.
They could not be sure cordoning off the area and putting up signs would work because swarming bees can move and were already close to paths.
Other petitioner suggestions included leaving notices near the entrances to the gardens to call a beekeeper if needed.
Council officers said staff members are available on weekdays to assist when community members ring.
An upcoming review of Botanical Gardens visitor experiences could look into how the public can access after-hours services, the officers said.
Officers accepted the petitioner's call for publicity about the value of bees and concerns about the decline in their numbers.
"This is a great suggestion," they said.
Officers would consider updating the council's website with links to information on the role bees play in the bush and agriculture.
However, they ruled out banning the use of poisons in the Botanical Gardens. The council will continue using chemicals "appropriately and in moderation".
"Council understands the community concerns regarding chemical use in out parks and gardens. In response we have significantly reduced the use of herbicides," officers said.