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Save the Bees

Beekeeper with frame of bees

A sustainable world needs bees

As you most likely know, the Australian bee population is in desperate need of our help and support to survive. Beeswax Essentials’ intentions are to make it easy for you, the Australian community, to help save the bees in as many ways possible and contribute to a better world.

We keep the bees from extinction, the bees keep plants from extinction, and the plants keep us from extinction. Good intentions really do come back around!

"If the bee disappeared off the face of the earth, man would only have four years left to live."     ~ Albert Einstein 

To see a list of the pests and diseases Australian bees suffer from, click here.

To report any pest/disease sightings or possible threats, click here.
 

What you can do to help save the bees

There are many ways you can help to support the livelihood of the bee population. Every action helps, big or small. If we work together like our busy bee friends do, we, the Australian community can make a substantial difference.
 
Here is a list of 12 things you can do to be a part of the change:
 
(If you have read this far you are already contributing positively by caring! Thank you!)
 

1. Grow 'bee friendly' flowering plants.

To see a list of bee loving plants including Australian natives and types of bees found in Australia, click here.

Bees prefer plants with high protein pollen. Even when there's an abundance of flowers close by, bees will travel up to 6 kilometres to a flowering plant with higher protein pollen. It is also a great help to grow plants that flower in winter, as many plants aren't in flower at this time. It could be the saving grace for a hive close by. If bees aren't able to find sugars to feed on they may not have enough energy to get back to their homes and if out overnight, they will not make it to see the next day.

Another tip you will be happy to hear about is to let your lawns grow! Many of us have become accustom to keeping our lawns lean. Some of the bees favorite nectar comes from what we call 'weeds' such as dandelion and clover. These lawn flowers are a delight to see and provide food for the bees at a scarce time of year. So instead of mowing so often, relax and enjoy watching the bees dance among your lawn flowers.

Trees also provide a major food source for bees.If you are contemplating landscaping, consider incorporating the tree varieties that will benefit bees in your area.

Australia has over 1,500 species of native bees! Our native bees tend to enjoy collecting nectar from Australian native plants. So planting natives is highly beneficial as they attract and supply nectar to native bees. Our native bees and plants keep each other from threat of extinction by working together. The European honey bee is not the only species in decline, in fact, native bees are suffering even more with the deforestation of native plants and lack of nectar from competition with the European honey bees. 

bee on sunflower Beeswax Essentials

2. Buy local, raw honey.

To see a list of local beekeepers near you, click here.

Local honey can be found at nearly any market in Australia. Some beekeepers are also happy to have you drop in to their apiary to pick it up. Store bought honey is often imported or mixed with imported honey from overseas. Honey from overseas can carry pests and diseases that Australian bees are lucky enough to have avoided.. so far!

Many large scale honey producers boil their honey to avoid spreading pests and diseases, however, boiling honey can weaken or destroy powerful enzymes, not only lessening its medicinal properties but also making it more likely to develop bacteria or mold. Raw honey lasts longer and tastes so much better.

Also, in some cases, adulteration by adding water or corn syrup is practiced to make it cheaper for producers. (Water in your honey means a shorter shelf life, and yes, we pay for water these days, but not at the cost of honey!)

Australian honey is seen as the world's best. You'll taste the difference!
Supporting your local beekeeper ensures the well being of you, the keeper and the bees. There is an incredible variety of honey types here in Australia. Enjoy trying honey from different tree and plant types to find your new favorite.

 Bee hives Beeswax Essentials

3. Keep bees, adopt or host a hive!

Becoming a beekeeper is absolutely one of the best ways you can support the bee population. Keeping bees in urban areas is also encouraged. If you are put off by management of the hive, there are options to keep native bees or to have a professional beekeeper visit your property to either show you how to manage your hive, or visit regularly to do the job for you.

The keeping of Australian native bees (some of which are sting-less!) is highly encouraged. So if you are allergic to bee stings or concerned about being stung then this is a great option! Along with less stress, they also require a lot less or no attending to.

You can also 'adopt' a hive that is kept at your local beekeepers property for you to visit and collect your jars of honey each month.

Another option is to host a hive. There are many beekeepers out there who would love to keep some of their hives in another location.
 
To find your local beekeeper to inquire about keeping bees, click here.
 
NOTE:
Even though Australia is home to more than 1,500 species of native bees, they are in decline from mass deforestation of Australian native trees (their preferred nectar) and the keeping of European honey bees. Flowers have only so much nectar and the European honey bee works so efficiently that they are now taking over the nectar supply. The competition for our natives is having a devastating effect on their livelihood. We need native bees to keep our native plants alive, so keeping native bees and plants is hugely beneficial for ecological diversity and resilience. 

  Bee hive Beeswax Essentials

4. Build or install pre-made homes for solitary and native bees.

Solitary bees make their homes in small holes or gaps in trees. There are various types of bee houses you can purchase or make. The simplest way to make one is by drilling a few holes in a fallen tree branch and hanging or leaning it up in your garden.

There are some beautiful solitary/native hives available these days, found at local markets and online. 

As explained above, native bees are under much more of a threat than the European honey bee, as they prefer to collect nectar from native plants and are being out-competed by the rise of European honey bee keeping. So keeping native bees and native plants is absolutely the best thing you can do to help save the bees and strengthen our ecological diversity and resilience.

  Solitary bee hotel

5. Place a shallow dish of water in your garden for bees to drink.

You may have noticed bees drinking from shallow waterways in nature, or on the edge of your pot plant bases. Bees need to keep hydrated and sometimes struggle to find a water source, especially in summer. By placing a shallow dish or an old pot plant base with pebbles surfacing as 'landing pads', you can enjoy seeing the bees stop by for a drink and encourage them to your garden for pollination. The birds might even be tempted to visit for a bath.
 
 Bee drinking from river Beeswax Essentials

6. Buy bee products from sustainable shops or beekeeping practices.

Bees produce honey, beeswax, royal jelly, propolis and pollen. These ingredients are used in many different products from foods, skin and oral care to items used around the home on a regular basis. A lot of common household and body products are cheaply made with unnatural waxes, synthetic materials and petrochemicals, so by switching to bee products you are not only supporting the beekeepers by creating a higher demand, you are also looking after your health and well being. Winning!

Find a list of our ever-growing range of beeswax based products on our products page.

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7. Report sightings of bee swarms, pests and diseases.

Finding a swarm of bees can be intimidating but swarming bees are in their most docile state. The threat of a bee swarm can lead to home owners panicking and spraying the colony with all sorts of harmful chemicals. If you spot a swarm, call your local beekeeper to safely remove the colony to add to their apiary.
To see a list of the pests and diseases Australian bees suffer from, click here.

To report any pest/disease sightings or possible threats, click here.
  
 Bee swarm Beeswax Essentials

8. Avoid using chemicals in your garden.

One of the main reasons behind the bees' demise is the use of toxic chemicals on crops and gardens. Ingesting these poisons makes the bees confused, unstable and unable to find their way back to the hive resulting in death. Note that some of these chemicals are systemic so are absorbed by the plant and remain active a lot longer than a spray that washes away.

If pest control must be implemented consider:

~ IPM (Integrated Pest Management).
~ Organic pest control methods.
~ Avoid getting substances in water as bees will transfer it back to their hive.
~ Apply pest control in the late evening (or better at night) when the bees have returned to their hive. There are some chemical options that are only effective for a few hours so if applied at the right time, do not threaten daily flower visitors.

NOTE:
It is very important to avoid buying plants or seeds treated with neonicotinoids. 'Neonics' is an extremely dangerous systemic insecticide. Every part of a plant will absorb and hold this systemic poison and as a result, each insect that feeds on it will suffer and die. Neonics are the major reason for the bees demise. Avoid this substance at any cost. 
 
 
Beeswax Essentials garden planted out

9. Leave sugar-water out, not honey.

Bees and birds will always find their way to honey if it's left out as an easy hit of sugars. As kind as it seems, there are two very good reasons not to.

One of the most harmful diseases bees suffer from is a spore-forming bacterium - AFB (American foulbrood). It is the most widespread and destructive of the bee brood diseases. The spores can remain viable for at least 40 years and can withstand boiling and dehydration. Leaving honey out for birds has resulted in the spread of this disease, as bees will take the infected honey back to their hive and the disease will flourish. The only way to deal with an AFB infected hive is to burn it, bees and all, which can be devastating for the bee population and the beekeepers.

Also, if there is access to free honey, bees take on a bad behaviour called 'robbing'. They will start acting aggressively and spend their time searching for honey to steal from other hives instead of collecting nectar and pollen from flowers. This results in disease spread, aggressive hives and our gardens and food crops lacking pollination. 

If you really enjoy providing honey for birds, a sugar water can be used as an alternative simply by mixing white sugar with warm water. Bees can also enjoy this mixture without the threat of disease. 
​ 
 
Bee on daisy Beeswax Essentials

10. Save seeds!

Saving seeds is vital for food security. There are thousands of varieties of fruit and vegetables, sometimes hundreds of variations of each type having different growth habits, pest and disease resilience and nutritional value. Varieties grown on a large scale for our supermarkets are chosen for their size rather than nutritional value. Now, they've become our 'favourites' by default - because they're what we're familiar with. Other varieties are becoming extinct at an alarming rate because they are not being cultivated.

Food security comes with diversity so by growing alternative varieties suited to our climate, environment and nutritional needs, we are assuring security for our food and for bees to have access to a continuous and diverse range of pollen.
 
​ Bee on bush basil Beeswax Essentials

11. Support local & organic farmers.

Support locals who support locals! By supporting organic farmers in your area, you are contributing to the bees being well looked after in your region along with knowing they have a better chance of finding spray free plants to feed on.. to then make the healthiest honey for you! As the demand for organic food goes up, the use of pesticides will go down, making a safer environment for ourselves and the bees.
 
 Red Earth Organics Lismore Farmers Market

12. Raise awareness and 'unlearn' your fear of bees.

Talk about bees and sustainability. It will never be a fleeting trend topic as it is and always has been the foundation of our existence. A world without sustainable practices and bees is not an option so we are obligated, especially in these concerning times of a shock-less, care-free society, to remain close to the integral parts of our existence.
 
Most people think bees are out to get them but unless threatened, they go about their business with no qualms. It is time we change our thinking and 'unlearn' some things we think we know about bees. We see them differently when we understand their role in the natural world and how much we owe one third of our food production to their hard work. Of course precautions are to be made by people who are allergic to their sting (anaphylaxis). Avoid exposing them to strong smells, perfumes, loud noises and sudden movements and witness them delicately dance between the flowers.
 
Be proud to care about the little things - it makes the bigger picture hopeful and brighter.
 
 Honey bee on hand Beeswax Essentials
 
 
Thank you for reading, and mostly, thank you for applying yourself in ways that will uphold such an integral part of our existence - The bees.
   
 
Head to our sustainability page to find out why Beeswax Essentials is the right choice for you and your home. 
 
Native bee on paper daisy Beeswax Essentials
 

 "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."

~ Margaret Mead

 

Bee pollinating flower hexagon photo

 

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