Page 1158 - Week 04 - Wednesday, 4 May 2022

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I know, when we are talking about the need to protect bees, to start talking about the animals that feed off them—would lose their prey and would start to die off, again having significant ripple and flow-on effects.

We would likely still have cereal-based crops to eat, as they are largely wind-pollinated. But fruit and vegetables are a different matter. It would be quite sad if we started to lose even some of the wealth and variety of fruits and vegetables that we have available to us. Blueberries and cherries, as an example, rely on bees for up to 90 per cent of their pollination. Hand pollination is a possibility, but it is incredibly labour intensive. I know it is not something that would be a practical option for farmers.

How serious is the bee situation? Pretty serious. Loss of bee populations is a real threat. Hence the need for World Bee Day to throw a spotlight on this and help to raise awareness. What can we do? We can recognise that climate change is real, that the warming of our planet is real, and that climate change will negatively impact our bee population. We, as individuals, government and businesses, need to do what we can to protect bees.

At an individual level, we can plant bee-friendly gardens or balcony pot plants. Plants, including lavender, marigolds, primrose and many native species such as abelia, butterfly bush, callistemons, native daisies, grevilleas, many eucalypt species, tea tree, honey myrtle and native rosemary, are all great. We can reduce the use of herbicides and insecticides, and we can be mindful of the products and produce we buy and the practices of businesses behind those products and produce.

We can also show our support for beekeepers as a vital industry in our agriculture sector. In 2017 the contribution of honeybees to Australian agriculture through pollination services was valued at around $14.2 billion.

Individually, one of the best ways to show our support is to buy local honey and beeswax products. I welcome the ACT government’s efforts in the recently announced food and fibre strategy, and it is great to hear how Canberrans are already engaging with this.

I would also like to acknowledge the Canberra Region Beekeepers Association. Their website is incredibly accessible and there is a swarm collector list that has provided a constant reference point for me, for constituents who report swarms in their neighbourhoods.

As humans, we have plenty more than one job to do, but one of our jobs is to help to keep these bee species alive, to look after them and to raise awareness of their importance.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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