No bee, no me
We need bees in order to eat. Without pollination by bees our global food supply would reduce by about a third, leaving us without many of the fruit, vegetable, nut, seed and grain crops that sustain us.
It goes without saying that without bees we’d also be without honey, and that would make for a very unhappy Pooh Bear.
It’s easy to make your garden a welcoming smorgasbord for neighbourhood bees, both the European Honey Bee and Australian Native Bees.
1. Don’t use chemicals to control attacks by insurgent insect mobs.
2. Grow a range of plants that flower throughout the year, so there’s always food available.
Native bees like: Buddleja, Callistemon, Eucalyptus, Grevillea, Lavender, Melaleuca (Honey Myrtle), Westringia (Coastal Rosemary) and Daisies.
Honey bees in our part of the world also enjoy subtropical species such as Coriander, Basil, Guava, Macadamia, Carambola, Lemon-Scented Myrtle, and Lime.
Learn more by downloading (for free) the excellent Bee Friendly: A planting guide for European honeybees and Australian native pollinators from the Australian Government’s Rural Industries Research & Development Corporation
3. Grow plants with a variety of different flower shapes and forms.
4. Let flowering plants flower as long as they want, particularly heading into winter.
5. Consider raising bees yourself!
Grow your own
Home-grown honey is a thing of beauty and delight.
I’ve got a mate who’s been keeping bees since before it became Brooklyn-hipster-cool.
He keeps his hives out on another mate’s property near Samford, but you can also raise honey bees in your backyard or on a rooftop.
Make sure your hives are positioned so the flight path doesn’t intersect with your daily activities, unless you feel like a mouthful of angry bee every time you walk outside.
In Brisbane, expert help is available from Bee One Third.
Urban apiarist Jack Wilson Stone can get you started, train you to maintain your hives, and give you tips to help harvest the good stuff.
I had the huge pleasure of sharing a stage with Jack last year, and a more helpful, knowledgeable and cheery chap you are unlikely to meet.
Native bees won’t keep you awash in honey but don’t overlook them on account of that. With over 1,500 species, Australia’s native bees are critical for pollinating native flora.
The native Social Stingless Bee (Tetragonula carbonaria, previously called Trigona carbonaria) is also used for pollination of crops such as macadamias, mangoes, watermelons and lychees in Queensland.
The Blue Banded Bee (Amegilla cingulata) specialises in the excitingly named Buzz Pollination, needed for crops such as tomatoes.
You can set yourself up with a native bee hive from Bee Yourself. Versions are available depending on whether you wish to try and harvest some honey, or you’re mainly interested in pollination.
Continue the buzz
Few things get a fixie-riding, cold-drip-drinking, full-sleeve-wearing hipster as excited as a mason jar of local provenance honey.
In Brisbane get your Hood Honey from Biome, Sourced Grocer, Merriweather, Primal Pantry and The Gunshop, amongst others.
Eat it while bee-ing inspired by these 3 TED Talks: