We’re all aware that the bees need our help – so what can we do at home to help out during lockdown?
Turns out, there’s a lot! Cormac Farrell, official beekeeper to Parliament House’s hives in Canberra, gives us his top 5 tips.
Winter is the perfect time to set up a bee friendly garden for spring. Plan to have something flowering year-round. Good species include Sage (Salvia sp), Bottlebrush (Callistemon sp), Banksia, Hakea, Lavender and even Dandelions! I have a herb garden for the kitchen just outside the front door, and the bees love flowering herbs like Basil, Thyme, Oregano, Coriander, Mint, Chives, and the ever-useful Rosemary.
Bees enjoying flowering rosemary
Include water in your garden for bees and other insects and animals, with lots of structure to allow them to drink without drowning. I like to use shallow dishes filled with pebbles, but if you are after a bit of sparkle you could even go for marbles.
Bee drinking fountain created by Cormac
Nervous about stings? Check out Australian native stingless bees. Did you know that there are more than 2,000 species of Aussie native bees? One of the most fun ways to become acquainted with the native bees in your area is to take part in citizen science events like the Wild Pollinator Count.
Native ‘Blue Banded Bee‘. Their pollination contributes to at least 30% of Australian crops.
Build a bee hotel for your garden or balcony. These can be as simple as blocks of wood with different-sized holes drilled into them, to giant mud-brick mansions! Having lots of small bee hotels spread around your garden is better than one large one, as native bees like to live close to flowers, and can be vulnerable to predators and disease if all in one spot.
Bee hotel made of paper straws and PVC pipe posted on ‘Act for Bees’ Facebook page
Check out online resources about bees.One of the best is Act For Bees, who advocate for pollinator health and have even put together a school curriculum and resources. One of the Facebook groups that I really enjoy is Bees in the Burbs.
Wearing a ‘Plant These, Save the Native Bees’ hoodie on ‘Bees in the Burbs’ Facebook page
If you’re having problems with a hive near your house, get in touch with your local bee club – most have a free service where they relocate hives in unsafe locations to somewhere the bees can continue to thrive.
If we all get behind a couple of these tips, we can make a huge impact on the health of bee colonies across Australia! For more info, or to get involved with an apiary club near you, just head to the homepage of this website, enter your postcode, and type ‘Bees’ in the search bar on the results page.
Cormac Farrell is the head beekeeper
at Canberra’s Parliament House,
and an organiser for World Bee Day.
Follow Cormac on Twitter.
Photo credit of native Australian bee in feature image to James Dorey.
9 July, 2020