Weleda Australia and Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation have joined forces to offer primary schools a new nationwide conservation initiative – building a network of ‘Bee B&B Hotels’ to help protect Australia’s native bee population and educate children about the important role of pollinators.
Although Eco Warrior Princess is an Australian-based green online platform and definitely not a primary school, we were sent a bee hotel for the purposes of this article. (The fact that we own an organic farm probably had a lot to do with Weleda’s decision to post one out to us.)
How the Bee B&B Hotel works
Some native Australian bees like to live together in hollow tree trunks and are known as ‘social bees’. The bees that are commercially raised to produce honey and are the ones we most often associate with the brown and yellow stripes is known as the European honey bee. They live in a ‘hive’ and the worker bees and several drones are led by one queen bee. The Bee B&B Hotel is not for these types of bees.
The hotel is for Australian native bees who prefer to live alone – which is why they are often referred to as ‘solitary bees’. These bees lay their eggs in little holes or hollow stems which they then seal with mud until their eggs hatch.
Unfortunately the bees’ natural habitats are being cleared out due to industrial progress such as housing development and toxic synthetic chemicals being used on conventional farms.
That’s why the Weleda Bee B&B Hotel conservation initiative is an important one.
It provides primary schools an opportunity to turn their school kitchen garden into a place for native solitary bees to take shelter and rear their young”. The bee hotel is a replacement of the bee’s natural habitat, thus helping to protect Australia’s native bee population. Because the bee hotels is built using different natural materials such as hardwood pieces drilled with different sized holes, bamboo sticks, and other wood pieces, solitary bees will find their ideal ‘bed’.
The school kitchen garden serves as the ‘breakfast’ part of the ‘B&B’.
Bee specialist Dr Megan Halcroft says that conserving our native bees is essential for Australia’s biodiversity and ultimately our food security.
“Currently one in every three mouthfuls of food we eat in Australia is produced with the aid of insect pollinators, predominately the European honey bee,” Dr Halcroft explains. “And, they are under threat across the globe due to pesticide use and land clearing. We can’t continue to rely on the European honey bee as our primary pollinator.”
Dr Halcroft warns that significant action is needed if we are to protect the future of Australian agriculture. “If we don’t take action in supporting our native bees by providing food sources, habitat and investing in research, we risk declines in food quality and increases in food prices.” She believes the answer is in Australian backyards and school yards.
Gardening and bee enthusiast Costa Georgiadis agrees and is a huge supporter of this school initiative. “Many Australians don’t even know that Australia has native bees, let alone more than 1,600 species. To put this in perspective, we have less than 850 species of native birds.”
“Essentially schools are creating an outdoor classroom to learn about biodiversity, and the role we can play in boosting our bee populations. By educating our next generation we will help protect our native bees for years to come.” – Costa Georgiadis
It’s important to note that you will need to have patience as the bees won’t come right away. Once the bee hotel is installed in a suitable location in the garden they will come. It’s just a matter of time.
Weleda Australia comes to the rescue.
Weleda was established in 1921 by Rudolf Steiner – the father of biodynamics – and is the world’s leading manufacturer of certified organic and natural skincare and healthcare, operating in over 50 countries. It’s products are free from synthetic preservatives, fragrances, colourants, genetically modified ingredients and raw materials derived from mineral oils and does not test on animals.
This natural beauty and holistic medicine pioneer is also contributing $1 from every product sold at participating stores towards the bee conservation project – from now until May 2017 in stores and until June 2017 on www.weleda.com.au.
Managing Director of Weleda Australia, David Johnston, says “Weleda is passionate about the Bee B&B Hotel program as it goes to the heart of our company’s reason for being and our active commitment to conservation and protecting ecology.”
The initiative has now launched with more than 70 schools installing the Weleda Bee B&B Hotel as part of the pilot phase. Primary school kids will have a chance to learn about conservation and hopefully grow up to be conscious citizens who have respect for our natural environment.
If you think this is an important initiative and want to register your school for the program, head to www.beehotel.weleda.com.au.