It’s no secret honey bees have been in trouble in recent years.
Declining bee populations, or more precisely the ‘mysterious’ disappearance of most, if not all, adult bees from the colony, became known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). Regardless of whether one believes that CCD is an actual phenomenon, it is clear that managed populations of the Western honey bee Apis mellifera suffer from the negative effects of inappropriate use of pesticides and a range of parasites and diseases.
Australia has so far been spared, but many fear it is inevitable that our bees too in the not so distant future will start to decline. But also native bees need our help to thrive! Their numbers have been dwindling particularly due to the disappearance of natural nesting sites and a reduction in available forage. Again, Australian bees seem to be doing well for now, but we most certainly need to look after them.
While it is certain that Albert Einstein never actually mentioned the importance of bees (he was a physicist after all) his alleged quote “If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would only have four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man” continues to resonates. This is because no other single animal species plays a more significant role in producing the fruits and vegetables that we rely on daily. Honey bees pollinate hundreds of crops we depend on, as well as flowering plants and trees important for other wildlife.
Taronga Zoo – arguably one of the world’s leading zoos – announced recently the opening of a dedicated bee installation in partnership with global natural beauty brand, Burt’s Bees to educate guests about bee conservation and the vital role they play in maintaining the natural environment and biodiversity.
“An essential part of flora and fauna conservation comes from bee pollination and a significant part of our food production is directly dependant on bee pollinators,” said Professor Madeleine Beekman, from the University of Sydney’s School of Life and Environmental Sciences “
“Bee colonies face many challenges around the world particularly from pests like the Varroa mite, a blood-sucking ectoparasite. This mite acts as a vector of some important honeybee viruses, resulting in the viruses becoming more virulent and killing the bees,” said Beekman.
Burt’s Bees spokesperson, Simon Durrant, General Manager ANZ said, “A world without bees is unimaginable and we’re committed to supporting our buzzing friends. This partnership is just one of many global projects that Burt’s Bees supports. We are working quickly with conservationists to understand why some of the world’s bee species are now under threat and what else we can be doing to help.”
The custom built hive at Taronga Zoo provides a lateral view into the hive so visitors and keepers to get up close and appreciate the complex and fascinating inner workings of a bee colony.
As global populations decline, Australians can take simple steps to help the bees buy shopping organic and planting native plants in their gardens all year round.
To learn more about bee conservation and the vital role they play in maintaining our natural environment, you can visit the bee installation at Taronga Zoo in partnership with global natural beauty brand Burt’s Bees.