“The hum of bees is the voice of the garden.”
World Bee Day is an opportunity to recognise the important role of bees in increasing food security, improving nutrition and fighting hunger, as well as in providing key ecosystem services for agriculture.
Bees are invaluable to life on earth for the critical role they play in agriculture.
The most important role honey bees play is not honey production, but in the pollination of crops for hundreds of essential food sources – from fruits and vegetables to nuts, herbs, seeds and other crops.
One in every three bites we eat
Stop and think for a moment about all the flowering plants that require bees for pollination. The list of foods and herbs we eat is almost too many to list. They include Apples, Apricots, Beans, Beets, Blueberries, Broccoli, Buckwheat, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Cherries, Chilli peppers, Cocoa, Coriander, Cranberries, Cucumber, Coconuts, Eggplants, Grapes, Hazelnuts, Lemons, Limes, Mangoes, Marjoram, Macadamias, Onions, Oregano, Plums, Pomegranates, Pears, Sage, Sesame, Strawberries, Sunflowers, Tangerines, Thyme, Tomatoes, Vanilla, Walnuts and Watermelons.
Can I keep bees in my backyard?
Keeping two or three hives of bees as a hobby can be an interesting and rewarding experience. Many beekeepers have beehives in their back yards. Some bees are even kept on city roof-tops. Bees can travel several miles to collect nectar and pollen, so they do not need flowering plants close by. Usually, beekeepers can care for their bees in ways that allow neighbours to feel safe and comfortable.
Here are some points which need to be considered in relation to backyard beekeeping:
- the number of hives
- location in yard
- bee diseases
- when to handle your bees
- when to re-queen
- legal requirements.
Before keeping bees in a residential area, be sure to know local laws, requirements and regulations, so check with your local council.
Planting a bee-friendly garden
Bees are attracted to most flowering plants, particularly blue, pink and yellow ones. They love the following plants:
- The daisy family
- Pin-cushion Hakea
- Tea Tree
- Purple Coral Pea Hardenbergia
- Sweet Basil
- Flowering gum
The difference between honey bees and native bees
Australian native bees don’t store nectar and therefore they generally don’t produce a lot of honey. European honey bees were introduced into Australia about 200 years ago for that exact reason – to produce honey.
If commercial honey bees and native bees are foraging on the same flowers, they generally do not fight one another. However, commercial honey bees are much better foragers than most native bee species. Native bees are generally smaller and are often mistaken for flies.
About Aussie Native Bees
There are about 1,700 species of Australian native bees. Most native bees are solitary bees, that build small, individual nests, therefore they don’t produce surplus honey. However, there are a few social native bees, like the tetragonula carbonaria species, (we have one of these hives in our community garden). This social native stingless bee does store some honey, probably about 1kg per year – not a lot for us humans to rob.
Commercialised honey production by conserving native social bees is happening. Star City is collaborating with the Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation to boost native bee honey production.
Check out these links
Sydney Bee Club
Bees in the Burbs Facebook Group – all about Native Bees
Wheen Bee Foundation
Aussie Bee Website