Jack and the bees’ talk

Bee One Third's Jack Stone examining a frame of one of his hives. Photo Maleika Halpin

Bee One Third’s Jack Stone examining a frame of one of his hives. Photo Maleika Halpin

Maleika Halpin

Spring is here, and in the wake of a global bee crisis there is an army of Brisbane locals who are busy trying to raise bee awareness through the art of beekeeping and urban farming.

With 70 hives across 15 rooftops from Brisbane to northern NSW, Bee One Third’s Jack Stone is at the forefront of this urban farming movement.

Responsible for the pollination of one third of our global food supply, Jack Stone says bees are the equal sign in the ‘ecosystems equation.’

‘The intermittent thing that is linking season to season, the farmer to the food and the whole ecological cycle is this glorious, golden insect,’ said Jack.

‘Not only the honey bee, but the 20,000 other species of bees that are integral to us producing food.’

And although Australian bees are some of the healthiest in the world, Ecologist and director of Bee Aware Brisbane Toby Smith says pesticides and the destruction of wild habitat are the biggest threats to these wild pollinators.

‘Good government initiative is needed to reduce or stop land clearing and to help identify habitat that we can reclaim and restore,’ says Toby.

‘But we don’t need Government initiatives for people to reclaim habitat in their gardens, people can grow habitat.’

And that’s how Stone describes the vision for his partnerships with businesses like Southport’s Brickworks, Cabarita’s Halcyon House and Brisbane CBD’s Hotel Jen.

‘It’s this incredible activation of a barren, blank canvas, converting a grey space into a green space,’ said Stone.

‘Activation of space, to engage people in general, was something we really wanted to do.’

And Simon Kwakkernaak, Loyalty Manager of Hotel Jen has been particularly surprised at the community engagement and overwhelming support the bees have received.

‘People are very aware of climate change and what we can do to change and improve that situation,so when we introduced sustainable projects to the hotel, the company culture started to align with what people felt,’ said Kwakkernaak.

‘It generated this incredible point interest, a stronger engagement, a story of pride that our community embraced, something we were not prepared for.’

Across the board both Stone and Smith are adamant that education is the key to saving our bees and our ecosystem.

‘In science a lot of the time we’re communicating science to other scientists, and for conservation of native bees we need to be communicating that science to the public more widely,’ said Smith.

‘Most people have no idea about the different bee species we have here in Australia, so they just fly under the radar and that goes up to all the levels of organisation where we’re making decisions that affect bees. Government and land management groups simply don’t know about native bees or their needs, so they get forgotten.’

During the month of November Bee Aware Brisbane is launching its third Wild Pollinator Count, a week where local communities are invited to count wild pollinators in their local environments and help build a database on wild pollinator activities.

Bee One Third are also active in engaging the wider community in education programs like this and believe the city is the place to do it.

‘We thought, we’ve gotta be where the people are and we’ve gotta communicate this message as broadly and as quickly as possible,’ said Stone.

‘If there is anyway you’re going to access a large demographic of people across all socio and economic boards then we have to look at where the people are, where the change makers are and the change makers live in the city.’

The Wild Pollinator Count is observed from November 15 to 22 2015. See the website for more information and instructions on how to join.

You can hear Maleika’s full interview with Jack Stone here.

3 responses to “Jack and the bees’ talk”

  1. Jimmo says:

    It seems we could get stung here.

    • J Wilson says:

      Bee’s don’t tend to sting without confrontation or reason to do so. Bee’s are generally very friendly, docile and gentle creatures, I wouldn’t fear of being stung – out of sight, out of mind in my eyes !

  2. Toby Smith says:

    Great article Maleika! Thanks for including me 🙂 Just to clairfy, Bee Aware Brisbane did not create the Wild Pollinator Count. Dr Manu Saunders and Karen Retra in Albury are the creators of this fantastic initiative. Bee Aware Brisbane just collaborates with them, to help them promote it and to help it build Brisbane and SEQ (mostly through encouraging schools to participate). Cheers, Toby

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