BEES are being brought to Bayswater in a new 12-month trial to support healthy bee populations and show people that the fuzzy fliers aren’t scary.
Following a motion tabled by Cr Michelle Sutherland, the first of the trial beehives has been set up at Maylands Brickworks by Bayswater council and the WA Apiarist’s Society.
Dean Wood from the WAAS says “fear is the biggest hurdle” to getting councils to accept bees and this trial will hopefully show people that bee hives are safe.
“It was only a few years ago that Subiaco council banned honey bees in their local authority area,” he says. “They’ve just rewritten their policy, and are now allowing beekeeping.
“The exciting thing is there’s just been this change over the past two years, and to have councils who in the past have been extremely cautious in giving approval to individuals having bees in their back gardens, to having councils wanting to keep bees in their public parks, is an amazing change of attitude.
“Honey bees are major pollinators…without the pollinators the food can’t be produced here, and that is a threat to our food production.”
As part of the trial the society’s come up with a code of practice for urban beekeeping to help minimise any risks.
For example, Mr Wood says if the bees have an entry to their hive above head height it’s highly unlikely they’ll sting anyone.
“Bees choose the most efficient flight paths between their home and the food source,” he says.
“If you can get the flight path from the hive above head height, you’re then diluting the exposure of bees to people.”
And when bees look their scariest in huge swarms looking for a new home, that’s actually when they’re least likely to sting.
He says the society’s increasing membership means people without their own space, or who already have a colony on their property, can use the trial sites as communal bee yards.
“The Society is very keen to have communal sites,” he says.
“Beekeepers have all sorts of reasons they’d want to keep bees there.”
If you’re starting a new colony you have to move it at least 3km away from the old one, otherwise the loyal bees just buzz back to their queen and don’t start a new hive.
Mr Wood says it’s an urgent time to get more bees out there and to make the public more aware of them.
“There is a worldwide demise in bee populations,” he says, and Australia is a safe bastion for them.
by DAVID BELL