Hon Barry House, MLC, President of the Legislative Council and Hon Michael Sutherland, MLA, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, today announced that bees have taken up residence in the gardens of Parliament House.
The initiative that involves the placement of three bee hives in the outer gardens of Parliament House is part of an awareness-raising program on the plight of honey bees.
The project, which is supported by the Centre for Integrative Bee Research (CIBER) at the University of Western Australia, is the result of a partnership between Parliament House, hobbyist beekeeper Joseph Kwintowski and UWA’s Director of CIBER Dr Boris Baer.
In Western Australia, there are approximately 2000 hobbyist beekeepers, many of whom live and house their bees in urban areas.
There has been a rise in the number of bee hives located at public buildings in Australia, and although bee hives have been placed at other Parliaments around the world, this is the first time they have been placed at an Australian Parliament.
‘The community needs to adopt a different perspective on the value of the bee. For a long time the bee has been viewed as a flying cane toad when they are in fact responsible through pollination for a third of the world’s food supply’, said Mr House.
Over the last 20 years there have been dramatic declines in bee populations globally as a result of bee diseases, parasites and exposure of bees to pesticides.
On the other hand, Western Australia has some of the healthiest honey bees in the world due to geographic isolation, biosecurity measures and the banning of pesticide use on hives.
Bees in this state also have access to large expanses of national forest containing species of trees such as Jarrah, which are high in anti-microbial properties that translate across to the honey Western Australians consume.
‘Compare this to some parts of the world where honey cannot be used due to pesticide contamination, and we realise we are fortunately placed. The fact that we have disease-free, clean, environmentally green bees in Western Australia needs to be actively promoted and that status retained ’, noted Mr Sutherland.
CIBER is one of the largest bee research facilities in Australia and a global leader in the area of disease research and prevention.
CIBER’s research is supported by commercial beekeepers and hobbyists who play a critical part in disease identification and protection of the species.
CIBER says that the community can also take an active part in bee preservation and disease prevention by recognising that bees are a necessary and valuable part of our environment and by taking measures to protect them.
‘Not only are bees critical to our sustainability, but a bee hive is a super organism and well worth learning more about’, says Mr House.
‘Until Parliament’s contact with CIBER and the beekeepers, I wasn’t aware that bees were revered in a number of ancient cultures, that bees adopt different roles in a hive, that the majority of bees in a hive are female and that the personality of a hive is determined by the individual queen bee’, said Mr House.
Members of the public interested in learning more about bee preservation and research can obtain information at http://www.ciber.science.uwa.edu.au/
David Stacey (UWA Media and PR Manager) (+61 8) 6488 3229 / (+61 4) 32 637 716