By Gabrielle Stannus
Article originally published in the Greenlife Industry Australia News (24/09/2020)

Eve Chugg has figured out that to ‘bee’ kind to (and feed) ourselves, we need to protect the plants we eat and the insects that pollinate them. Find out how this Year 8 student from Tasmania needs your support to protect local bees.

Eve Chugg’s family runs Longford Berries in northern Tasmania, growing organic strawberries, blackberries and gooseberries. It is not surprising then that her family love bees, the pollinators of these crops.

“My mum is always talking about them. She recently bought a flow hive, which we put at the farm,” says Eve.

A conversation between mother and daughter about the declining number of bees worldwide soon after that purchase got Eve thinking.

“I just went into my room and thought to myself, ‘What are you on about mum?: bees are everywhere!’ However, I started researching and I found out that this was not the case,” explains Eve.

 Eve Chugg, Year 8 student at Scotch Oakburn College in Launceston, is working to protect honeybees and native bees in Tasmania. Image: Scotch Oakburn College

Eve Chugg, Year 8 student at Scotch Oakburn College in Launceston, is working to protect honeybees and native bees in Tasmania. Image: Scotch Oakburn College

 Eve installing a bee hotel at Scotch Oakburn College’s North Esk Wetlands. Image: Mark Hassell

Eve installing a bee hotel at Scotch Oakburn College’s North Esk Wetlands. Image: Mark Hassell

Realising the devastation that the loss of these important food crop pollinators would cause to the human population, Eve decided to do something about bee health.

“That so many people would die of starvation if we lost our bees; that just makes my mind explode,” says Eve, a Year 8 student at Scotch Oakburn College in Launceston.

With the help of her school, family and friends, Eve has constructed bee hotels in a bid to attract these important pollinators to areas where bee habitat is threatened.

Eve has also conducted a raffle, with half of all proceeds going to the Wheen Bee Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation promoting awareness of the importance of bees for food security and funding research projects and activities aimed at keeping bees healthy.

 Delicious honey roasted almonds made by Eve and offered as raffle prizes help to raise awareness of the critical role that bees play in pollinating this important crop. Image: Inwardout Studio

Delicious honey roasted almonds made by Eve and offered as raffle prizes help to raise awareness of the critical role that bees play in pollinating this important crop. Image: Inwardout Studio

 The North Esk Wetlands is home to a variety of native bees and the vulnerable green and gold frog. Image: Scotch Oakburn College

The North Esk Wetlands is home to a variety of native bees and the vulnerable green and gold frog. Image: Scotch Oakburn College

The remainder of the funds from Eve’s raffle is funding the purchase of plants for the local wetlands. During her research, Eve found out that many indigenous plants are reliant on native bees for pollination, including those growing in the North Esk Wetlands adjacent to her school. This fresh water riverine wetland is subject to tidal influence and is an important and increasingly rare niche habitat in this urban setting. Species present at this site include Leptospermum scoparium, a native Tasmanian plant and the source of the famed Manuka honey.

 Eve with Codie Bounday, school groundskeeper. Codie has provided Eve with advice and practical support to help her realise her goal to protect local native bees. Image: Mark Hassell

Eve with Codie Bounday, school groundskeeper. Codie has provided Eve with advice and practical support to help her realise her goal to protect local native bees. Image: Mark Hassell

 Eve with local nurseryman David Allan, from Allan’s Garden Centre. David has donated plants to Eve’s wetlands project, including the Tasmannia lanceolata (mountain pepper) pictured here. Image: Mark Hassell

Eve with local nurseryman David Allan, from Allan’s Garden Centre. David has donated plants to Eve’s wetlands project, including the Tasmannia lanceolata (mountain pepper) pictured here. Image: Mark Hassell

According to Codie Bounday, the school groundskeeper, these wetlands are home to several native bee species including Exoneura hamulata (reed bee), Callohesma calliopsiformis, Hylaeus species (masked bees) and Hyleoides concinna (wasp mimic bee)1.

Eve is now working with Codie and the school community to increase the number of flowering trees and shrubs rich in nectar at the wetlands to better support these native bees.

Further reading

Interested in native bee species? Check out the work of local Australian researcher Dr Anne Dollin: www.aussiebee.com.au

References

1. Aussie Bee 2020, viewed 22 September 2020, www.aussiebee.com.au