What's up with bees?
When you think of 'bees', you probably picture the fluffy bumblebees, or the yellow and black honey bees. You probably know that they sting, they pollinate over 70% of the food we eat, and maybe even that their populations are in decline all over the world due to pests such as varroa destructor, diseases, pesticides and Colony Collapse Disorder. But what you may not know, is that Australia has over 2000 species of Native Bees, including roughly ten types of cute, buzzy, tiny, stingless, black bees, that are also being threatened by clearing, fragmentation and urbanisation. These are known simply as 'Sugarbag' or 'Bush' bees, with sugarbag being the name of the rare honey they produce in quantities of less than 300g a year.
Who are these bees for?
These adorable bees are perfect for pets, schools and children because of their docile behaviour and, of course, because they are stingless.
Keeping a hive of Native Bees is easy as they require very little maintenance, no special training, no government or council permit, and no extensive equipment. You are also helping to conserve our beautiful native species, increase the globally declining bee populations, and pollinate all the flowers in yours and your neighbours gardens (these bees can fly up to half a kilometre away)!
It is also very relaxing to sit back with a cup of tea, and watch your Bush Bees coming to and from their hive with 'Shopping Bags' full of pollen :)
You can become a native bee custodian here.
What can you do?
Just found out about our incredible native bees and want to do something? Here are two ways to help conserve our native bees: First of all, the obvious. Plant bee-attractive flowers. For a great list of these, visit MRCC Valley Bees' Leaflet:
Secondly, a great way to help Australia's solitary native bees is to build an insect hotel. The above link also has helpful information on solitary bee habitats. These can be as simple as a bundle of hollow reeds, or as complex as a mixture of habitats placed together in a house-shaped structure. We are in the process of writing our own instructions for this, which will soon be available here.
If you want to do even more to help our little native pollinators, you can also purchase a hive with 5, 000 bees!
" The children get to see firsthand - actually observe the native bees. It's great. Developing school community spirit. They have to learn to be responsible in looking after the hive.”
- Teacher Jason Everett
These Native Bees are perfect for backyards and garden pollination, and are virtually guaranteed to increase your veggie patch production! However, you do not need to have a huge garden with large amounts of flowering plants, as these bees will fly up to 500m away. Infact, there are people keeping bush bees on the 30th floors of apartments!
Native bush bees have proven to be productive pollinators of many crops and other plants. Plants that have been found to be benefited most include Mangoes, Avocados, Watermelons, Blueberries, Lychees and Macadamias. Stingless bees are actually better pollinators for some of these plants than honey bees! If you are a crop grower, and are interested in how having patches of natural forest alongside plantations can significantly increase yields, or how to rent/purchase hives in commercial quantities, please contact us.
Sydney, NSW, Australia