Plants and our planet need insects.
We will really need our native pollinator insects to sustain our food crops when the population of European honeybees in Australia starts to collapse. This will happen whan the Varoa mite reaches Australia and isn't detected by bio-security.
Our project will continue to research this subject, and start collecting seed and propagating long-flowering groups of habitat plants that will feed and provide habitat for our local native insect populations.
Insects worldwide appear to be under threat. There hasn't been enough science done in the past locally to quantify this apparent decline, but it is being observed, particularly in Europe and America. The widespread use of neonicotinoid pesticides is emerging as a probable cause of colony collapse in honey bees, and is likely to be affecting many other species of insects.
At a local and domestic scale, we can actively seek alternatives to using these chemicals. We can also can grow and protect plants that provide food and reproductive resourcesfor our native insects in order to give them the best chance of survival.
Even if the varoa mite doesn't get here, if we hope to retain a useful pollinator population of European honey bees and/or native bees; farmers, orchardists, horticulturalists and home gardeners need to re-examine their use of pesticides, especially the neonicotinoids. These may be marked as safe for individual humans to use, but future humans may regret the loss of bio-diversity that they appear to be causing.
There are many insect [and bird] species that can substitute for chemical controls and play a useful role in controlling insect pests in gardens, orchards and farms. But they need habitat.
Locally, now (January 2020), Sweet Bursaria (Bursaria spinosa) is flowering and the insects are going nuts! You can see fine leaved bushes with masses of creamy white flowers along many of our local roads, particularly Yinnar Road between the town and the Hazelwood Cemetery. This is the plant that provides habitat for the Eltham Copper Butterfly caterpillars. The butterfly's truly astonishing symbiotic relationship with ants and Sweet Bursaria plants is explained at this link.
Quite a few local Eucalypts are also flowering now and full of insects and birds.
For those with concerns about the pesticides that they are using, there is a list of brand names of neonicotinoids here:
There is more information (2017) on particular uses from the Australian Government here - but there seems to be an inclination to follow protocols developed in the USA rather than adopting the more cautious approach of the European Union.
For all things Australian Native Bee, the Aussie Bee website has ID guides, How-to guides and more.
Port Phillip and Westernport Landcare are doing a lot of work on both pollinator and predator insects, and there are good resources on their website.