Let’s celebrate Australian Pollinator Week!

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Pollinator Week is from 13-21 November.  For activities around the country, check out the website.  Here in the ACT, you can participate in the wild pollinator count, don your dancing shoes and do the Waggle Dance, or attend one of the national workshops via video link. 
Fun Activities for Kids to Celebrate Pollinator Week
In addition to the Waggle Dance, there are lots of other fun ways that you might be able to celebrate the magic of pollinators with pre-school and primary school aged children. 
Remember the great resources on our website, including the bee learning resources which you can find here.
We’ve just updated our Education page with new nature books for children, great gifts for Christmas!
The Wild Pollinator Count
The Australian Wild Pollinator Count focuses on our often-overlooked wild pollinator insects. The organisers of the Wild Pollinator Count are seeking your assistance in building the information base on our indigenous insects. Researchers estimate that Australia has around 2,000 native bee species, all of which are important pollinators. They also know there are a couple of thousand butterfly, wasp, fly, moth, beetle, thrips and ant species, some of which are documented pollinators. Unfortunately, there is not a lot of information on the ecology of many of these insects, what flowers they pollinate, or where they are found and this is where you can help! To find out how to count take a look at the website.   
Bee Friendly Hall – The First Bee Friendly Village in Australia
As an example of what can be done with the will and commitment of the local community to protect and encourage pollinators, look no further than our local Hall Village.
What started in 2018 as a small group of Hall Village beekeepers naturally expanded to become a larger group of people – the Hall Honeys – a group of local beekeepers, environmentalists and concerned citizens who appreciated the important role played by pollinators. A discussion about improving the gardens in main street of the Village sparked the idea of establishing Hall as Australia’s first “Bee Friendly Village”.  The group resolved to develop and implement a “Bee Friendly Community Charter” with the aim of promoting the health of Bees and other pollinators in the area as well as setting an example that might be emulated by other communities. The Charter was developed with assistance from ACT for Bees.
The next step was to engage the residents of Hall to gain their support. The Rotary Club of Hall agreed to sponsor an initiative to educate the community and establish a register of “Bee Friendly Gardens”. 
Hall Village Men’s Shed members embraced the challenge of constructing 100 “bee hotels” to provide habitat for native bees and other pollinators. The effort started with a review of literature on what makes a good “hotel”: size, wood type, hole size, depth, and location are all important and ease of construction was also a factor. Men’s Shed and Rotary member Bill Pearson, who has a professional design background, experimented with several designs before perfecting the “Bee Block” – a unique design using recycled hardwood timbers. Bill’s artist wife Andie created a distinctive colour palette for the bee block roofs. Each block is numbered so that eventually the community can engage in “citizen science” monitoring of their use. Once the “hotels” were ready, Rotary hosted a ‘Bee Friendly Garden Sizzle’ with some great giveaways.
The response was astounding – nearly every household participated and signed up. If you walk the streets of Hall, you will see the garden signs proudly on display:
Since that event, the Honeys have undertaken a range of projects to improve habitat and food for pollinators in the Village. The plantings and signage educate visitors to Hall Village about pollinators and engage them in the mission and the Honeys are more than happy to share their knowledge with other communities.
This is an edited version of an article by Hall Rotarian, Jonathan Palmer. 
ACT for Bees updated Planting for Pollinators list 
Native Plant Sale
And talking of pollinator friendly gardens, the regular spring sale of the Australian Native Plants Society, Canberra has been cancelled due to COVID restrictions.  However, some growers are selling plants either endemic to the Canberra region or suited to the Canberra climate.  For further details, click here.

Good resources on pollination and the importance of invertebrates for healthy ecosystems

We’ve highlighted the excellent work done by Xerces in the past, which is the world’s largest insect-focussed organisation. This report describes the work Xerces is doing to address the alarming falls in insect populations by creating extensive large-scale habitat corridors – some of which are more than 6 miles long. 

Over 95% of the world’s animals are invertebrates, which includes pollinators. This report gives a lay person’s overview of a recent review of a range of insect groups from around the globe. The review found that over 40% of all insects are declining and a third are endangered.

Here in Australia, the Bush Blitz has discovered more than 1700 new fauna species and has added thousands of species records to what is already known since the program began in 2010.  Incredibly, forty-five per cent of continental Australia and over 90 per cent of our marine area have never been comprehensively surveyed by scientists. 

Some interesting Reads, Podcasts and Videos
Southern WA experienced an unusually rainy winter , which triggered an exceptional wildflower season this year. Mt Gibson is on Badimia Country and this beautiful video showcases the wildflowers blooming at Mt Gibson this Spring. 
“Mt Gibson also hosts one of the world’s most significant rewilding projects, a 7,800-hectare feral predator-free fenced area into which nine locally extinct mammal species have been reintroduced, including the Bilby, Numbat, and Woylie. Excitingly, the wildflower boom has also provided new opportunities for an ongoing collaboration with a threatened plant breeding program at Kings Park Botanic Garden in Perth. Senior Plant Breeder Digby Growns collects and develops native plants for cultivation, with a particular focus on rare and threatened plants. It’s the only conservation-based ornamental plant breeding program on the planet.”

This interview with University of Queensland entomologist Dr Trevor Lambkin delves into his labour of love documenting butterflies over 40 years in the Torres Strait and how his data could provide a key indicator of climate change impact on the Torres Strait islands.

We suggested reading Suzanne Simard’s book in the last newsletter. Even if you haven’t read the book, you will find this podcast ‘Forests Are Wired For Wisdom’ where Suzanne Simard talks about her work, really interesting.

Paul Stamets has shed new light on the importance of fungi for overall ecological health. In this video, he talks about how fungi may help alleviate colony collapse in bee hives.

And hot off the press, exciting news of the discovery of thousands of rare forest honeybees, the last wild descendants of Britains native honeybee population have been discovered in the ancient woodlands of Blenheim Palace.Until now, they had been thought to have disappeared due to disease and competition. Read more in ‘Wild heirs of lost British honeybee found at Blenheim.’

 

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