Aussie Beekeeper Asks, Please Don’t Feed The Bees

There have been plenty of posts kicking around Facebook asking people to ‘feed the bees’ to stop them from dying of hunger, and therefore ending the food chain that keeps the rest of the world alive. But we are here to tell you that this is not the case for Australia. Here’s why!

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You could say here in Adelaide we are quite well-known for our beehives; the city’s Beehive Corner being both an iconic and historic meeting spot. So we thought it was only right to impart some serious and shocking news with you.

Unless you have been living under a rock (or more fittingly, in a beehive), then you would be aware that there is a bee crisis going on. More specifically, there are concerns that the bee population is declining. This news has led to a buzzing frenzy worldwide.

There have been plenty of posts kicking around Facebook asking people to ‘feed the bees’ to stop them from dying of hunger, and therefore ending the food chain that keeps the rest of the world alive.

Sir David Attenborough even buzzed in, urging people to feed the bees. Suggestions ranged from feeding the fatigued bees sugar syrup to filling buckets with the sweet goodness. Unfortunately, the panic kicked in and many of us assumed this to be the correct information, with desperate posts going viral.

But we are here to tell you that this is not in fact the right information for Australians.

Earlier this month, we saw post emerge from a NSW-based beekeeper. This plea by The Productive Patch, has gone viral, contradicting a popular video by Sir David Attenborough.

Please don't feed my bees 🙏🚫🍯🐝The past few weeks I've seen post after post about how bees are starving. How if you just…

Posted by The Productive Patch on Tuesday, July 10, 2018

It detailed the fact that Sir David Attenborough was reflecting on a context different to Australia. Sir Attenborough was talking about a geographical area where honey bees and bumble bees are native insects. Our local bees don’t need this, and in fact, it may do more harm than good.

The post reads, “In Australia, Apis Mellifera, the European Honeybee, is an introduced species. For the most part, they’re managed by beekeepers who have taken on the responsibility to care for their bees.”

It continued to say,

“Knowing that others may be feeding my bees unnecessarily with open air feeders is really sad for me. They have surplus honey they made to feed on which is nutritionally far superior than heavily processed man-made cane sugars. Most importantly, it is against the Biosecurity Code of Practice in Australia to feed honey. This practice carries a very high risk of spreading diseases such as AFB, which would mean certain death for a bee colony and likely many more hives in the vicinity.”

With all of this contradicting information, we decided to take the matter into our own hands and seek the advice of an Adelaide beekeeper.

Sandra from the Bee Sanctuary is one of the best experts in Adelaide. She says she does not encourage people to feed the bees for a number of reasons.

“Regular feeding of bees may lead to robbing behaviour of bees, that is, bees competing for the same food source in periods of dearth. This ‘competitiveness’ may result in aggressive behaviours being displayed by bees, which in the urban context in not conducive to co-habitation of bees and people.”

Sandra went on to say, “Bees from different colonies being fed from the same source may lead to the spread of disease.

“A continuous supply of sugar feed may contribute to bees becoming reliant on that supply and as a result the colony does not respond appropriately to natures variabilities. If the sugar feed source suddenly stops (because the feeder decides to go on holiday for example) the colony could crash.”

All in all, it is fair to say that this news is quite alarming.

Sandra also works with the Mayfair Hotel to care for their beehives at their hotel. Bethany Finn, executive chef of the Mayfair Hotel says the started their rooftop beehive for sustainability and food security. Finn is also a trained apiarist.

Bethany says, “It’s about keeping those bees healthy so that they thrive and if it produces an excess of honey for the hotel then great!”

You can read all about the Mayfair’s rooftop beehive here.

So there you have it, STOP feeding the bees. It’s shocking news that must be shared. Our bees are the essential to our own existence, so be sure to treat them well (and stop treating them to sugary syrup because Australian bee experts do actually know what they are doing!)

 

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