Bee workshops helping to turn Newcastle into pollinator-friendly city

11 Nov 2023

City of Newcastle (CN) has created a buzz at the beginning of Australian Pollinator Week by hosting two fully booked native bee workshops at the Hunter Wetlands Centre.

Run by native bee expert, Dr Tobias Smith, the workshops focused on bee diversity, lifecycles and management, and the process of hive splitting and propagation.

Residents also had access to a free plant giveaway as part of CN's Natural Connection program, which aims to build community understanding and stewardship of Newcastle’s pollinators and their habitat.

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said CN was one of the first councils in Australia to commit to being a pollinator-friendly city.

"These community skill-building events form part of the broader Newcastle Environment Strategy, which was adopted by Council at our October meeting," Cr Nelmes said.

"As part of the Strategy's four-year delivery plan, we're working on nature-based solutions to expand our urban forest and improve vegetation cover for movement of pollinators and other wildlife through connected habitat corridors."

Councillor Elizabeth Adamczyk said creating awareness of the plight of pollinators is vital for our future, with her notice of motion at April's Council meeting attracting unanimous support.

"We are excited to kick off Australian Pollinator Week by celebrating the crucial role our thousands of native pollinators play in producing food, increasing biodiversity and protecting human and ecosystem health with two fully booked native bee workshops at the Shortland Wetlands," Cr Adamczyk said.

"Habitat destruction through carbon emissions, pollution, pesticides, urban heat island effects, and impacts of drought, bushfire, flood, and the recent varroa mite incursions have exacerbated declining pollinators in Australia and locally, and City of Newcastle is committed to collaborating with the community to restore pollinator habitats and reconnect broken biodiversity corridors in the city.

"We are proud to host and support a range of events this Australian Pollinator Week where anyone can get involved in the way that best suits them, whether it’s a powerful pollinators webinar with leading entomologists, learning how to create a pollinator-friendly backyard or verge garden, or becoming a ‘citizen scientist’ by taking part in the pollinator census.

"Media coverage has highlighted the situation regarding honeybees, especially after the varroa mite was detected in our region, but in Australia up to 2000 native bee species are also crucial as pollinators of our crops and gardens."