University student Leslie Lowe has set himself an ambitious task – he’s trying to set up a commercial native bee industry with a group of Aboriginal elders.
The next step is to harvest and sell the honey and set up pollination services.
The environmental science student has been studying native bees for ten years, and is now forging ahead with the Gabai Native Bee Project with the Woorabar elders.
The group has already established 30 hives.
But there are troubles with sourcing the bees sustainably without tearing out wild hives.
Mr Lowe says they’re exploring land clearing projects and drafting a memoriam of understanding with the local council.
“With urbanisation and habitat destruction, we’ve got a lot of bees moving into urban areas and they can tend to be a bit of a pest for council in their water mains and into their brick linings of buildings.”
Aside from returning health benefits to Aboriginal communities and pollinating native plants, Mr Lowe says there’s a place for native bees in wider agricultural pollination.
“They tend not to be as robust as the European bees in their pollination services, but we’ve developed new technologies to stimulate them a little bit (through) different hive formations.”
He says they’re also just loveable animals.
“They’re extremely funny when you sit there and watch them; they’re like little clowns playing around.”
Elder Brian Little says the bee project could bring not only money but unity to the Aboriginal community.
“A little thing like this could lead into a better (overall) environment.”
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