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16 March 2017

Because native bees matter

Bees play a significant role in our food chain. They are responsible for one third of the world’s produce, however millions of beehives have unknowingly disappeared worldwide. Up to one fourth of all colonies have been destroyed, with losses reaching up to 80% on some farms.

Australian native bees play an important role in the ongoing development of our native ecosystem. There are over 1500 varieties of native bees which are more fragile than the introduced European honeybees and have suffered greatly from urban deforestation. Over the years, they have co-evolved with Australia’s native flora resulting in many species relying solely on native bees for cross pollination.

Honeybees are important for the earth’s bionetwork, however they pose a threat to Australia’s native fauna and flora as they rival other animals for tree hollows and floral resources. The Scientific Committee, established by the Threatened Species of Conservation Act have highlighted the species at risk of being displaced from hollows by rivalry honeybees which include the Brush-tailed Phascogale, Squirrel Glider, Yellow-bellied Glider, Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo, Regent Parrot, Brushtail Possum, Greater Glider and Sugar Glider. Other native animal’s honeybees threaten include honey eaters and native bees due to their ability to remove more than 80 per cent of the floral resources produced from their frequent visits. Certain plant species are also vulnerable to honeybees as their process of pollen removal affects their seed set preventing correct crosspollination.

We can protect Australia’s future bionetwork by providing a safe place for native bees to live and by planting specific plants to attract them to our gardens. Most native bees are solitary and rise their young in hollows and tiny nooks. Bee Houses provide a perfect place for native bees to nest and be protected from the harsh elements or predators.

Anyone can create a bee friendly garden regardless of the size or location of your backyard. Planting a variety of flowering plants will help to attract many species of bees to your garden. The list below is not extensive but offers a variety of bee friendly plants to get you started in creating a haven for bees in your garden. For more information, read A Bee Friendly Garden. It provides a thorough guide to encouraging bees and other good bugs to your green space.

Bee friendly plants

Herbs: Basil, Corriander, Rosemary, Borage, Thyme, Oregano, Marjoram, Fennel, Sage, Rocket, Lavender, Chives, Mint and Rocket.

Fruit and vegies: Lemons, Limes, Mandarins, Passionfruit, Strawberries, Cucumbers, Squash, Raspberries, Apples, Avocado, Watermelons, Pumpkins and Peppers.

Flowers and trees: Alyssum, Cornflower, Lilly Pilly, Cosmos, Poppies, Echinacea, Eucalyptus, Echium, Forget-me-not, Foxglove, Callistemon (Bottlebrushes), Geranium, Marigold, Roses, Sunflowers, Zinnia, Banksia and Grevilleas.

Related: Why it is better to eat seasonally; Top environmental documentaries to watch; How to detox your home

Author & Editor

Tracey Bailey is the founder of Biome Eco Stores and mother of two. After working in corporate communications and starting a family, she made a choice to be part of the solution to our planet's future and started Biome Eco Stores. Tracey is passionate about educating the community about living eco-friendly and sustainable lives through her extended product, chemical, health and environmental knowledge.


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