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ACT For Bees Mid Winter Buzz

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Dear ACT for Bees community

We’ve been busy thinking about future directions for ACT for Bees.  Over the next five years our focus is going to be:

  • Collaborate on developing a labelling system for plants sold at retail outlets that identifies that a plant has not, from seed to sale, been exposed to a neonicotinoid product.
  • increasing bio-diversity in the city through increasing plantings for year round flowering for pollinators, by schools, business and local community in our gardens and on road verges.
  • Create a map of ‘pollinator friendly gardens’ in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) and wider community.

Incredibly, disclosure of biocide information in Australia is not compulsory although the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority is undertaking a review of pesticides called neonicotinoids.  We will be monitoring this closely.  If you’d like to be involved, why not contact us and help maintain healthy populations of pollinators.  Healthy pollinators are critical to our food supply. Neonicotinoid pesticides are now more lethal to insects than ever before , being 10,000 times more toxic than DDT. This is affecting all parts of our ecosystem and impacting the health of biodiversity,
Links to research articles about the dangers of pesticides are on our website, including an excellent recent article by Friends of the Earth about the impact of pesticides on Australian bee populations.  See Bees and Pesticides
We’ve also got a lot of information about the important role cities can play in maintaining bio-diversity.  We’ve produced a planting guide suited to the ACT climate aimed at attracting more pollinators to your garden.  Go to Gardening for Bees and start planning your spring garden!

‘Love Food? Love Bees!’ Australian Curriculum aligned FREE resources









Cool Australia has recently updated us on the impact of ‘Love Food? Love Bees!’ curriculum resources and we want to share this exciting news with you. This year the education material reached 132,320 students around Australia. According to Cool Australia’s research over 244,000 students have participated in the program since 2017 when the Year 5/6 was launched.

The popularity of Love Food? Love Bees!’ lessons was evident when 2 of them ranked in the Top 10 during May 2020.
This ranking measures the most visited lessons on Cool Australia’s website. More than 1,400 lessons are currently available, FREE to download from their website.

The Early Learning ‘Love Food? Love Seeds!’ helps children understand where their food comes from. This unit focuses on students exploring the amazing world of seeds, using play and exploration to find out where the plants that rely on in our food system begin.
The Year 5/6 ‘Love Food? Love Bees!’ unit supports students to develop an understanding of bees, their role as pollinators, the threats they face and the steps they can take to be bee-friendly.

The Yr 9/10 ‘Love Food? Love Bees! Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture’ unit explores effective ways that we can help create a more sustainable future by considering the food we eat. Unsustainable farming practices lead to problems such as soil erosion and degradation, pollution, climate change and loss of habitat to name a few. This unit is designed to empower students to make simple changes to their food consumption habits to create big positive impacts. One food issue that students can act on right now is protecting pollinators and taking care of bees means you are taking care of biodiversity, as they play a larger role in overall ecosystem services.

Have you or your school/ home school group used these Australian curriculum aligned free resources for Early Learning, Years 5/6 and years 9/10? We’d love to hear from you.

The Autumn 2020 Wild Pollinator Count

The Autumn 2020 Wild Pollinator Count was recently released.  Almost 2000 valid observations were submitted, more than double the previous record in Spring 2019.  European honey bees were the most commonly observed flower visitors.  As noted in the report, this could be because of the impact of the summer bushfires and because no native plants were flowering in suburban gardens at the time of the count.  Full details of the count and some stunning pictures are at: Wild Pollinator Count Autumn 2020 results

The COVID lockdown has apparently sparked more interest in Australian Native Bees and bee keeping.  Kit Prendergast, a Western Australian native bee expert, was recently interviewed on ABC Radio Perth along with a number of Perth apiarists.  You can listen to those interviews at: Bee keeping is on the rise but what about our native bees? (26 mins)

With the frosty nights, many native bees and butterflies are already in hibernation.  If you’re tempted to help native bees by providing a bee hotel, you might like to read an article from the US about the importance of maintaining good hygiene in bespoke (!!) accommodation for bees.  Like hotels for humans, bad hygiene leads to disease with potentially lethal impacts on the guests. The horrors of mass-produced bee houses

We’re continuing to see honey bees and hover-flies in our gardens and of course lots of birds.  If you’ve got room for a pot or a spot in your garden, why not give the birds and bees a feed with a flowering winter grevillea?
And finally, a beautiful film on pollination was made back a while back in the US.  If you’ve not seen Louie Schwartzberg’s film, take 10 minutes out of your day to be mesmerised by the way insects, birds and bats pollinate flowers. The Hidden Beauty of Pollination

Here are a pick of posts from ACT for Bees Facebook page over the past month which may interest you.

  • What Nature is Telling Us and What We Can Do for Nature has innovative and uplifting stories of how ‘nature in our cities’ is bringing health and wellbeing to both humans and biodiversity. Natural infrastructure and integration of biodiversity in urban planning, such as pocket parks, urban farming, green walls, tree planting and daylighting of rivers, offer innovative and cost-effective solutions that improve quality of life and climate resilience.
  • Insects can teach us how to create better technologies “One thing humans already share with several species of insects is a practice known as “eusociality”.  It involves a sophisticated division of labour, with different generations working together and different individuals carrying out different jobs, including giving birth and raising children. The most notable eusocialists on the planet are rare species of insects (ants, termites and bees) and Homo sapiens.”
  • Project Phoenix: Native Seed for Bushfire Recovery Greening Australia is leading on a strategic program to build and secure native seed and plant supply for restoration after the devastating Black Summer bushfires. We must ensure future bushfire recovery can be undertaken with the confidence of having a strong seed and native plant supply sector to support it. The project includes the planning and mobilisation of key activities in the native seed and plant sector, as well as the development of a self-sustaining sector supporting Indigenous groups, regional communities and landholders.
  • Bees seeking bacteria: How bees find their microbiome. Chemicals such as pesticides and fungicides harm both honey bees and wild native bees. Recent studies are revealing the potential benefits of the bee microbiome for maintaining the health of these pollinators and mitigating viruses and disease.
  • How planting a garden can boost bees, local food and resilience during the coronavirus crisis Building diverse and abundant communities of native pollinators, in cities and on farmland, will be critical to buffer food shortfalls now and in the future.

Best wishes
Julie, Lynne, Diane, Didi, Julie, Matt, Melissa, Micah, Rhonda, Robert, Sandy and Stephanie
the ACT for Bees team

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