Page 1157 - Week 04 - Wednesday, 4 May 2022
I am pleased to hear from the minister about the changes to weeding practice by the ACT government, avoiding the use of particular pesticides and herbicides and focusing on biological controls. Flame weeding and manual weed removal is one step that is really important to avoid damage to pollinator populations. The recommendation about having bee-friendly plants as part of the municipal infrastructure standards is the kind of excellent education campaign that I have discussed in this place in the past.
I look forward to seeing further work by the government to increase habitat for, reduce damage of and raise awareness about our pollinator populations as we approach World Bee Day.
DR PATERSON (Murrumbidgee) (11.10): I want to reiterate the minister’s emphasis on the importance of bees. Bees are important. I think we are all at least relatively familiar with the phrase “no bee, no me”. It is a simple but powerful message.
Many of my colleagues may not know that my mum, in north-eastern Victoria, is a very successful olive farmer, with 3½ thousand trees which produce around 10,000 litres of oil each year. Her produce is distributed globally and, like any farm, garden or produce, it is highly dependent on bees.
My mum uses organic farming principles. In addition to relying on wind pollination, she welcomes beekeepers to bring hives onto the property to help cross-pollinate. Studies show that the addition of bees when plants are flowering significantly increases their yield, and the crop quality. I understand, and have seen firsthand, the importance and positive impact of the humble bee.
Bees are one of our most fundamental environmental considerations. World Bee Day, coming up on 20 May, is a great opportunity to highlight this. Quite simply, we need bees. As the minister said, they provide us with food security. The World Wildlife Fund suggests that one in every three mouthfuls of food that we eat is dependent on natural pollinators. As noted on the World Bee Day website:
In the absence of pollination, the plant species cannot reproduce so that if the bee species dies, so too will the planet.
I echo a comment made by Minister Vassarotti that we have over 2,000 different species of native bees in Australia. There are over 20,000 different species globally. Each one is equally important and has a role to play. Bees are, of course, also critical for ecosystem health and biodiversity.
Globally, the number and diversity of bees are in decline due to a number of challenges they face, including insecticide and herbicide use, pests and diseases, intensive farming, habitat loss and global warming, and a decline in commercial beekeeping.
It was great to hear some of the important preventive initiatives of the ACT government in this space. However, unfortunately, some bee species are already listed as endangered. Even fauna such as bee-eating birds—it seems counterintuitive,