Bees are fascinating, there’s no two ways about it. But how much do we really know about these industrious insects? Luckily for those of us in the region, Gympie & District Landcare hold free beekeeping sessions from 9am-1pm on the first Saturday of every month. A massive thank you to Valley Bees for hosting these sessions. The next session held at Gympie & District Landcare is October the 2nd, so be sure to check it out!
Let’s not get a bee in our bonnet waiting until October to learn, though… let’s start now!
Bees are important to our environment – the presence, absence and quantity of bees communicate a lot about the state of our surroundings. José Graziano da Silva, Former Director-General of Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, states that “Bees are a sign of well-functioning ecosystems.” They are vital for biodiversity in nature, the preservation of ecological balance and the protection and maintenance of ecosystems.
Bees are pollinators, meaning they assist in plant reproduction (and therefore food production). They move pollen from the male anther of a flower to the female stigma of a flower, thus bringing about fertilization. Pollination directly affects agricultural produce in terms of plant quality, quantity and resistance to pests. Approximately one third of food production is dependent on bees.
Food and pharmaceutical products
Bees provide us with honey, royal jelly, pollen, beeswax, propolis, honey bee venom and more… How amazing is that! These products have a myriad of health benefits that can be found on the internet at the click of a button.
Bees instinctively know how to build their comb – the six walls that make up the strong hexagon pattern meet at a consistent 120 degrees. No room is wasted with this intricate pattern, and cell size is determined by the size of the bee’s body.
Did you know that Australia has over 2,000 species of native bees? As Australian native bees don’t generally produce (much) honey, due to not storing nectar, European honey bees were introduced to our country around 200 years ago to help with our honey production.
When choosing a beehive, it’s all about personal preference in relation to convenience – it makes no difference to the bees. There are three different hive designs (see picture) – The Langstroth Hive, the Kenyan Top Bar Hive, The Warré hive. Jump on www.valleybees.org.au/types-of-beehives/ to learn more.