RCE Greater Western Sydney-2015

1. Project Title: 
Bee Aware of Your Native Bees
2. Thematic area/s addressed by the project
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3. Project partner contact information : 
Western Sydney University
Project Manager
Main Contact: 
Ms Jen Dollin
4. Project type
5. Project description
Provide a short description of the project including strategies, regional challenges, aims and specific project activities.: 

Australia is home to over 1,800 species of native bee, however, relatively little is known about them. Most native bees are solitary, living in individual nests in dead trees, ground burrows, plant stems and small cavities. Most Australian native bees do not produce honey but they provide pollination services - it is estimated that the value of pollination to the Australian economy is around $1.2 Billion annually. In addition, the European Honeybee Apis mellifera in Australia faces significant threats from the potential introduction of harmful pests, diseases and parasites in particular the Varroa parasitic mite. It is therefore important to encourage the preservation of native bee populations in order to maintain a balanced, sustainable ecosystem. Bee Aware of your Native Bees delivered an education program that bridges this gap in community knowledge and via the provision of artificial habitat conserved and increased existing native bee populations at 5 selected Local Government Areas across Greater Western Sydney including the Blue Mountains and Lithgow. Target sites for this program were council nurseries, a social enterprise farm, a volunteer tourism operator and community gardens. The program delivered seminars that identify local populations and build community understanding of native bees roles as pollinators. A Regional Bee Symposium held in February 2015 at the end of the project at the University of Western Sydney and involving community, council, educators and academics provided a platform for ongoing and future projects and networking.


1. To increase the awareness of the existence of native bee species and their importance in the environment through community education.

2. To identify indigenous species in each LGA and assess their diversity and distribution.

3. To promote the conservation of native bees through habitat preservation and through the provision of artificial nesting substrate.

4. To prepare a Bee Aware of your Native Bees resource pack including native bee identification kit, habitat and behaviour record sheets and "Bee Wall" habitat building information that can be implemented at other sites throughout the state.

6. Project status
Bee Aware of Your Native Bees has been a successful community based environmental education program with a range of outstanding outcomes and impacts. The program’s success can be demonstrated by a variety of indicators including evaluation feedback and program monitoring, high workshop attendance numbers, an unexpectedly large and continuing social media presence and oversubscribed attendance at the Native Bee Symposium. The aims of the program were achieved through a multimedia educational approach including seminars, demonstrations, hands-on teaching sessions, film, online illustrations, online forums and a symposium with recognised leaders and researchers in this field as keynote speakers.
The key outcomes and impacts are considered to be:
• Increased awareness of native bees across all sites with a national reach via social media
• Promotion of the conservation of native bees through provision of “bee hotels” - artificial nesting substrate - at 5 sites in Greater Western Sydney, Blue Mountains and Lithgow;
• Development and distribution of an educational resource pack for each community site that enabled participants to identify and monitor bees. In addition to the “bee hotels” this included a small kit containing insect capturing equipment and “The Bee Hotel ID Guide”.
• Citizen Science identification of native bee species at each site with the aid of the resource packs (2- 6 bee species and 1-8 insect species identified at each site (Appendix 5). Participants were taught how to capture, chill, photograph and identify native bees. Methods taught were non-destructive and all insects were returned to the wild in good health.
• Use of social media as a new educational tool to expand awareness, knowledge and promote citizen science. This included using twitter as a tool to drive members towards the Bee Aware of your Native Bees Facebook site. As at 30 September 2015 this included 2,000 members (this increased by some 500 members after the February symposium.) The site has Australia wide membership, contains many examples of community members self-identifying species and has created a further “Amateur Entomology Club for insects with 410 members.
• Oversubscribed support and attendance at the Native Bee Symposium. The symposium was hosted at UWS Hawkesbury and included presentations and workshop from 7 native bee experts including Australian Museum; University of Sydney and the Aussie Native Bee Research Centre. The symposium was patronised by 174 people and included enthusiasts, naturalists, gardeners, farmers, honey bee keepers, personnel from the Department of Primary Industry, WSI TAFE; Local Land Services, LGAs, universities and research groups. Some 53 organisations participated in this event (see Native Bee Symposium spreadsheet attachment).
• 3 media articles in local newspapers; 1 radio interview, 1 online magazines article and local newsletter network promotions (as attached and in links below).
• Wide reach across selected community demographics including youth; migrants; CALD and seniors. Extensive promotion via a short film produced by TVS the UWS community television station has had over 600 Youtube viewings and the segment has been airing on national community TV networks since November 2014, which is patronised by a monthly cumulative audience of 1.8 million viewers.


Links from other networks to this: http://kynetontransitionhub.com/native-bee-hotels/
8. Tagging
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