Working together to save our Bees and other Pollinators to secure our food supply
our bees are in danger
cAN YOU HELp?
Without bees and other pollinators much of the world’s food supply would end so it’s literally a matter of life and death that these essential tiny links in our global food chain are supported.
Spring has Sprung and it’s Causing a Buzz!
It’s been a welcome relief in our Melbourne lockdown to get out and feel the Spring sunshine on our faces (when it chooses to appear) as we enjoy our daily exercise.
The bees and pollinators are out in force, enjoying the warm sun and the blooming flowers. This pair of worker honey bees along with their friends were having the time of their lives in a Glen Iris volunteer’s garden. How lovely to hear them buzzing away as you step outside your house!
Behind the scenes, the Rotarians for Bees team have been getting together via Zoom to catch up on all things pollinator.
We are having a long planned Spring clean on our website; adding a new resources section, updating forthcoming events and featuring some wonderful and inspirational projects from Australia and further a field.
Please get in touch to feature your projects, thoughts and ideas!
Our October Focus
The blue banded bee (Amegilla) is capable of a special type of pollination behaviour called ‘buzz pollination’. In some plants, the pollen is trapped inside tiny capsules in the centre of the flower. The blue banded bee can curl her body around the flower and rapidly vibrate her flight muscles, causing the pollen to shoot out of the capsules. As she collects some pollen for her nest, she transfers some of the pollen to other flowers, successfully pollinating the flowers. The Wheen Bee Foundation
Image credit: TW, Wavell Heights, Brisbane
Flower of the Month: Borage
If you want to welcome more bees to your outdoor space, Borage is the plant for you, easy to grow, self-seeding and will spread happily in your garden. The pretty blue flowers replenish their nectaries regularly and are a magnet for honeybees all summer. The flowers can be used in drinks and also with the young leaves in salads – although not a native, it’s a win for us and our bees!
Image credit: @forgetful_urban_farmer
Each month we will be adding to our R4Bees Recipe book. This month, we had the pleasure to try this delicious honey cake from one of our members. Perfect for picnics in the park, or enjoying for your afternoon tea on a rainy weekend.
We’d love to heart about your favourite honey recipes, email us email@example.com.
What are the Issues?
Honey bee pollination (53 crops– 75% of our food crops)– contributes $14 billion to the Australian economy.
Our estimates for Australian Agriculture production are increasing, yet our bee populations are decreasing.
The country’s food security is at risk if we don’t work together to ‘save the bees’
Our Honey Bees, Native Bees and other pollinators require year round food sources.
The recent bushfires decimated habitat around the country and have put pressure on much of Australia’s bee population.
Additionally urbanization and lack of habitat diversity are making it more difficult for our pollinators.
Planting bee friendly trees and plants can make a difference.
Climate change is having an enormous effect, leading to a decline in pollinators and honey production world-wide.
Use of pesticides in agriculture, by local councils and in gardens are putting our bees and other pollinators at risk.
High-strength Round-Up type chemicals are banned in Europe, but not Australia. Not only do they kill detrimental insects, but also the ‘good’ ones.
Rotarians for Bees is working to raise awareness of this and seek your support in spreading the word.
Disease : Varroa
The varroa mite carries a disease that destroys hives and bees. In the US varroa mite resulted in a loss of ~50% hives. In Australia 50% of pollinators are wild bees. The mite has not yet reached Australia, but its almost inevitable arrival will cause a loss of up to 75% of Australian pollinators. The impact will include loss of pollinators, impacting on both food production and the economy; and use of pesticides in hives, thus adulterating honey. It will take up to 10 years to rebuild bee numbers and restore the balance.
There are both commercial and hobby beekeepers. In Victoria alone there are around 9,000 beekeepers, all of whom are registered with the government, but only ~2,000 of whom belong to Apiary clubs. Privacy issues preclude identification outside the government of non-club apiarists. Whilst each state has a local association, there is little communication between them.
There are many factors affecting Commercial sustainability.
Adulterated honey with sugar-based additives is one.
Currently, there is no testing facility in Australia to identify adulterated honey.
Education / Training to support more people entering the Beekeeping sector is also important.
Our Potential impact
1. Rotary’s Environmental Sustainability Rotary Action Group (ESRAG) aims to integrate environment and sustainability into everything we do. It is building membership through regional chapters, including one Australia, which will focus on 2 key issues: bees and plastics. Hence, Rotarians for Bees is a perfect fit with ESRAG.
2. ESRAG has a partnership with the UN and is setting up project teams, e.g. climate change, pollinators; investigating the possibility of an Enviro club award; and developing a Database on environmental projects in Rotary. Rotarian for Bees members have agreed to join ESRAG.
3. While Rotarians raise funds for a multitude of projects, Rotary is not a bank with unlimited funds. Its key strength is in networking, lobbying/influencing, and mobilizing its members.
4. Rotary cannot (nor should it try to) solve all of the issues relating to pollinator decline. Many of them are the responsibility of the industry and/or government.
Let’s Start Something new
We would love to hear from you. Whether you’re a Rotarian or not, we need people like you getting involved to help create the awareness to solve the issues faced by our pollinators..