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Community grant sets up Australian native bee group in Hunter

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A Hunter Valley Operations (HVO) community grant will help a newly-formed group to value and protect native bees in the region.

The local branch of the Australian Native Bee Association (ANBA) is set to establish itself, starting with a workshop in Cessnock on Saturday 25 November.

But, the funding will allow native beekeepers to connect and share information, to develop products and services, and continue efforts – locally and nationally – to raise awareness of the significance, sustainable management and conservation of the prolific insect.

“The HVO financial assistance will allow us to set up and hire premises for community events,” chairperson Ben Fitzpatrick said.

“Even though the Hunter branch only formed in July, we already boast 45 members.

“We’re receiving new enquiries from new beekeepers all the time.”

Mr Fitzpatrick said the Varroa mite emergency response had sparked a growing interest in native bees – and their products – to benefit agriculture, the community and the environment in the Hunter.

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

“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.”

Ex-CSIRO research scientist Dr Tim Heard.

The group’s workshop is on hive duplication of Australian social stingless native bees, with a presentation and demonstration by entomologist and ex-CSIRO research scientist Dr Tim Heard.

Native beekeepers are welcome to bring their native bee hive to duplicate.

The workshop, at 16 Kookaburra Close in Weston, will take place between 9am and 2pm.

It is free for ANBA Hunter branch members with a small fee for non-members.

“We’re excited 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,” Mr Fitzpatrick said.

The HVO grant was one of six announced this month to support Upper and Lower Hunter not-for-profit projects.

Other beneficiaries include:

  • Carrie’s Place DV and Homelessness – Upgrade to household appliances
  • Denman Public School – Colour Run fundraiser
  • Whittingham Public Hall – Replace kitchen flooring
  • Jerrys Plains School of Arts – Replace stage curtains
  • Muswellbrook South Public School – Colour Run fundraiser

HVO environment and community and environment officer Nic McLaughlin said a local ANBA branch would be an important and beneficial resource for residents and native bees.

“Our grants are about helping to improve our community’s capacity building, skills and environment,” he added.

“This latest round of funding means HVO has provided more than $400,000 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 (LGAs).

The next round will open in March.

To find out more, visit www.hvo.com.au/community or email [email protected].

The new Hunter branch is ANBA’s 10th.

For further details, visit www.anba.org.au, the Hunter ANBA Facebook page or email [email protected]

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