Bee hotels get pupils buzzing

Bee hotels get pupils buzzing

Life & Style
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Tanunda Urban Forest has become home to a hive of native bee activity to help students understand the importance of bee populations for agriculture and the local ecosystem.

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Tanunda Urban Forest has become home to a hive of native bee activity to help students understand the importance of bee populations for agriculture and the local ecosystem.

Barossa school students have helped to attract native bees to the region by building 'hotels' to increase bee production and pollination.

As a part of a Youth Environment Council regional project funded by the Natural Resource Management levy, Natural Resources Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges and Natural Resource Management board, the program was rolled out with Faith Lutheran College and Tanunda Primary School students in August.

Tanunda student Caitlin Squire and Faith student Harrison Hylan are members of the YEC, and initiated the bee hotel-making project. They organised for students from their schools to participate in a workshop with Cosmophylla Garden Services and Advice's Jenny Deans, before building began.

In August, students learned to identify suitable materials such as vine cane, reeds and bamboo to make natural bundles for native bees to reproduce in.

More than 80 year seven students made 43 hotels that were hung in the Urban Forest, a community green space, in September.

NRAMLR education officer Chris Hall helped the Barossa Valley-based YEC members bring the regional project "to life".

"NRM follow the students' interest and their ideas so we can help provide a platform to make it happen," he said.

"The aim was to have an educational outcome and an on-ground outcome - the students wanted to make a practical impact with their project."

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After taking advice from a local bee expert, a new type of bee bundle hotel was designed. Mr Hall said traditionally, bee hotels were made at ground-level and about 1 metre wide but the new hotels were 30 centimetres long and suspended in trees.

Faith agriculture teacher Craig Moore said the new design provided a safe space for bees to build a home and reproduce.

"Some bees live in open ground and there are not always suitable places for bees to live, so bee hotels help protect bees and give more options to breed in," he said.

Mr Moore said the project had an "enormous" impact on students.

"The project is very much about creating awareness about the necessity of bees in the local environment," he said.

"Students have been able to physically see the impact of their project by seeing the bees taking to their new homes."

Students have been able to physically see the impact of their project by seeing the bees taking to their new homes. - CRAIG MOORE

Mr Moore said the students were eager to continue working with bees as a part of this project, so automatic honey flow hives were also constructed.

"We purchased hive kits and the students built them - they began to collect honey a few weeks ago," he said.

"It's been fantastic for the students to learn about the diversity and range of bees in the environment.

"Some students have even built hotels at home."

Mr Moore hoped to continue the project as a part of the bees and trees course offered to students in the curriculum.

"Exposure about the importance of native and European bees in pollination is crucial," he said.

                         - VANESSA BINKS

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