Wanna-bee: Linking Beekeepers and Farmers

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An online matchmaking service linking beekeepers with farmers has been launched in Gippsland.

The idea was inspired after the South Gippsland Landcare Network and Agribusiness Gippsland hosted a bee information evening last Friday at the Berry’s Creek Hall. Nearly 130 people heard from local apiarists and Mark Leach, an expert on bee-friendly vegetation.

Attendees were a mix of landholders interested in how bees could help their production and beekeepers looking to establish hives.

Organiser Jenny O’Sullivan from the South Gippsland Landcare Network said that the meeting revealed how much interest there was in bees, but also a real gap.

“Many people are keen to invest in hives but needed farmland, bush, orchards and croplands to keep their bees well fed,” she said.

“There are also landholders who are interested in finding out how bees can help their farm’s production.

“So we developed this new Wanna-bee website which will link beekeepers looking for a location for their hives, with farmers with suitable land,“ continued Ms O’Sullivan.

Landholders and beekeepers that match together can have a positive, cooperative relationship. Having bees on your property can increase pollination of crops and other plant species.

In Australia, nearly two thirds of our agricultural production benefits from honey bee pollination.

Beekeepers also benefit from having access to vegetation on properties.

Howard Stevens from South Gippsland Beekeepers said many of South Gippsland’s trees were good food sources for both introduced and native bees.

“Suitable vegetation includes the manna gum, narrow-leafed peppermint, swamp gum and the bog gum south of Leongatha” he said.

“However Insecticide sprays are a problem for bees on farms, particularly snow pea crops in some parts of South Gippsland.”

The criteria for suitable land is a well-drained site allowing bees access to water, some shade and shelter from wind, close to the intended food source and not in the way of gates or stack yards.

In the future the local Landcare Network is looking at promoting tubestock of locally suitable bee-friendly plants to continue the project. In the meantime, the matchmaking site has been developed to try to make use of the vegetation already available.

The meeting was supported by Michaels IGA, the Local Food Network through South Gippsland Shire Council and the West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority.

Anyone interested in learning more about beekeeping, phone Steve Lovie 0488 622 890 or Bronwyn Barton 5655 1936. The Wanna-bee website can be found at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Wannabee-Linking-Gippsland-farmers-and-beekeepers/679159508860803