Bee more bee-friendly

BUZZING: Norm Pope with a display hive showing a group of bees huddled together during the cold conditions.
BUZZING: Norm Pope with a display hive showing a group of bees huddled together during the cold conditions.

It was World Bee Day on Wednesday and people have been reminded to support native bees and honeybees in the face of challenges that have affected populations.

World Bee Day celebrates the importance bees and other pollinators play across the world and promotes people making bee-friendly landscapes to help safeguard their existence.

Pope's Honey co-owner Norm Pope, who has been keeping bees in Port Lincoln for 42 years, said the last few years have been challenging ones for beekeepers across the country.

"Looking at the big picture, land degradation and climate change, particularly low rainfall...has reduced our honey production by 50 per cent," he said.

"Some producers (across Australia) have been down to 30 per cent (from normal levels).

"Land clearing and fires have devastated the honey crops and put pressure on the quality and quantity of all fruit pollination, particularly almonds."

Mr Pope said pollination in South Australia was worth about $1.7 billion with $11 million contributed by honey production.

He encouraged people to help attract bees to their yards, which included planting floras and trees that flowered throughout the year as well as creating 'bee hotels' to place in the garden.

Mr Pope said many beekeepers were looking to keep native bees which had the benefit of being stingless.

There are about 1500 species of native bees in Australia, with species including the teddy bear bee and the blue banded bee found on the Eyre Peninsula.

Agriculture Drought and Emergency Management Minister David Littleproud said the Australian government was doing its bit to protect bee populations, and native plants that depended on pollination.

"The Australian chief environmental biosecurity officer is working with Plant Health Australia to investigate the biosecurity risks to our native bees," he said.

"The project will look at ways to control pathways that may allow exotic bees or pests to enter Australia.

"The result will be improved responsiveness for biosecurity risks to Australian native bee species for the protection of native ecosystems and biodiversity."