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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 05 Hansard (Tuesday, 8 May 2018) . . Page.. 1594 ..

I also spoke last month about neonics and I particularly welcomed the decision by Bunnings, as has been mentioned by Ms Le Couteur, and other retailers to remove the pesticide from their shelves. This is in response to growing concern about the pesticide’s effect on bee reproduction, navigation and immunity and the potential link to colony collapse disorder. Bunnings removed the pesticide from their shelves and replaced it with organic and natural pesticides, and this is fantastic to see from one of our large retailers in the community. The decision is part of a larger issue—the increasing rates of bee mortality and colony collapse disorder we are witnessing right around the world. It is something I know the national environment ministers have actively been discussing. There was, of course, a review by the AVPMA quite recently into this issue, and we need to continue to monitor the emerging evidence in relation to neonic use.

According to the environmental protection authority in the United States, colony collapse disorder refers to the phenomenon that occurs when the majority of worker bees in a colony disappear and leave behind a queen, plenty of food and a few nurse bees to care for the remaining immature bees and the queen. This was first noticed in 2006-07 when beekeepers reported unusually high losses of 30 to 90 per cent of their hives. While there are no Australia-wide surveys of state bee colonies, worldwide we are witnessing colony collapse disorder. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the total number of managed honey bee colonies has decreased by 2.5 million since the 1940s.

Of course, ACT residents can do quite a lot to help. Bees play a crucial role and impact the lives of residents in the ACT, and the ACT government is actively working to ensure the safety of bees in our city. There has been a growth in beekeeping in the ACT, and for residents who are beekeeping hobbyists there are a few things you can do to protect the health of your bees and their regional security in the ACT. One is using organic and natural pesticides. Another easy way suggested is to make your home garden more bee friendly. This can be achieved by planting bee-friendly plants in clumps in the garden, particularly flowering plants, lavender, rosemary and thyme. Bees can also be supported through bee-friendly garden signs to show other ACT residents what a bee-friendly garden looks like. Bees do require a drink, so water is a really valuable resource for bees as well. We need to make sure they are prevented from drowning, so it is suggested to put rocks in bird baths and those sorts of things to attract bees to gardens.

The importance of bees for our environment cannot be understated, particularly for security, food security, biosecurity and our economy. Bees provide us with an enormous service, and it is our responsibility in turn to look after the health of bees in our city. I thank Ms Le Couteur for bringing this matter of public importance forward today.

MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella—Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Minister for Planning and Land Management and Minister for Urban Renewal) (4.01): I thank Ms Le Couteur for bringing forward this matter of public importance. We have heard today about the importance of looking after bees and ensuring we have the right biosecurity for them.

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