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Dr Tim Heard (centre) splits a native bee hive with Ben Fitzpatrick (left) and Greg Lloyd (right). Image credit: nativebees.com

A Hunter Valley Operations (HVO) community grant has helped a newly formed community group to value and protect Australian native bees in the Hunter.

The Australian Native Bee Association (ANBA) is a national member-based organisation that promotes the conservation, cultural significance and sustainable management of all Australian native bees, and the development of native bee products and services to benefit agriculture, the community and the environment.

With help from the HVO grant, our region has become home to the tenth ANBA Branch in Australia, with the Australian Native Bee Association Hunter branch launching last year.

ANBA Hunter chairperson, Ben Fitzpatrick, said the HVO funding has allowed the branch to establish itself and run community workshops, the first of which was held in Cessnock late last year.

“The HVO grant will help local native beekeepers to connect and share information, to develop native bee products and services, and continue local and national efforts to raise awareness of the significance, sustainable management, and conservation of Australian native bees,” Ben said.

HVO Electrical Engineer Greg Lloyd (right) with fellow ANBA Hunter branch member Paul Peterson. Image credit: nativebees.com

“We formed the group in July and already have more than 50 members. We’re receiving new enquiries from new beekeepers all the time.”

He said the Varroa mite emergency response has sparked a growing interest in native bees and native bee products and services to benefit agriculture, the community and the environment in the Hunter.

“Varroa mites cannot attack Australian native bees directly, as native bees have a very different biology from European honeybees.

“The honey from native bees has been used in Australia for thousands of years and we’re learning more about the role of native bees in pollination.”

The group’s workshop was on hive duplication of Australian social stingless native bees, with a presentation and demonstration by entomologist, ex-CSIRO research scientist, stingless beekeeper and promoter of native bees, Dr Tim Heard. Native beekeepers were invited to bring their native bee hive to duplicate. HVO Electrical Engineer and native beekeeper Greg Lloyd was one of 40 people who attended the workshop.

“We were honoured to have Dr Heard at our event because he wrote the multi-award winning and best-selling The Australian Native Bee Book, which is a complete guide to native stingless bees,” Ben said.

The HVO grant to the Australian Native Bee Association – Hunter branch is one of six in the latest round of HVO grants that support Upper Hunter and Lower Hunter not for profit community group projects. Carrie’s Place DV and Homelessness, Denman Public School, Whittingham Public Hall, Jerrys Plains School of Arts and Muswellbrook South Public School and KIDS Foundation also received grants.

HVO environment and community and environment officer Nic McLaughlin said the local ANBA branch will be an important and beneficial resource for local people and native bees.

“HVO’s grants are about helping to improve our community’s capacity building, skills, and environment.

“This latest round of funding means HVO has provided more than $420,000 to more than 90 projects since 2018. This is in addition to its other partnerships, sponsorships and workplace giving programs.”

HVO community grants are awarded twice a year to support smaller scale projects of not for profit organisations working in the Muswellbrook, Singleton, Cessnock, Maitland or Upper Hunter local government areas. The next round will open in March 2024.

To find out more visit www.hvo.com.au/community or email EnvironmentandCommunity@hvo.com.au.
For more information on ANBA and its Hunter branch visit www.anba.org.au, the Hunter ANBA Facebook page or email hunter@anba.org.au

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