Men’s Sheds help save native bees by building hives and ‘hotels’

Handing over new bee hives: Peter Mattheson and his partner Aspen

There is a “beemergency” according to beekeeper and Men’s Shedder Gavin Smith.

He’s calling on more Men’s Sheds to lend their skills to the cause.

‘The bushfires and the floods have destroyed native and honey bees by the millions,” says Gavin.

‘They are essential for pollinating plants of every kind.’

We can make hives and bee hotels for those that remain.

Like so many Men’s Shed projects, the Beemergency Project started with a simple idea, a can-do attitude and collaboration.

Gavin shared his idea with his fellow Shedders at Hunter’s Hill Men’s Shed (NSW) and his bee clubs, the Urban Beekeepers of the Inner West and Sydney Bee Club.

PUG Men’s Shed (PUG stands for Pyrmont, Ultimo and Glebe) along with Leichhardt, Waverly and Canada Bay Sheds were also quick to offer a hand.

Their free labour together with donations of money and materials are helping the project take flight.

Already 120 small nucleus hives have been built, along with 30 native hives and bee hotels.

A first installment of 60 boxes was delivered to Elands, a village on the mid north coast of New South Wales.

‘We have been fortunate in the city (areas). Our gardens are lush and provide flowers year round. Our city bees are healthy, well fed with plenty of pollen and honey,’ says Gavin.

But he says hundreds more hives are needed in country areas.

What is a nucleus hive?

These are known as nucs (pronounced nukes).

‘Beekeepers select five frames of bees with developing larvae and pupae,’ explains Gavin.

‘Once in the nucleus hive a new queen bee is added. This produces a new colony in a matter of months, which can then be housed in a full sized hive.’

Nucs can be used over and over again producing several new colonies per year.

How to help the “beemergency”

‘If you have a workshop, spare timber and time I can supply the plans,’ says Gavin.

He points out that new or second-hand timber can be used because bees aren’t fussy, they need shelter from the elements.

The virus has slowed us down like everything else but we’ll get there.

If you’d like to know more about the Beemergency Project you can contact Gavin Smith by email at gavinsmithwilderness@gmail.com

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