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Wollongong City Council

Un-bee-lievable idea to help native bees

Wednesday 14 April 2021

Have you heard of bee hotels? Bee hotels are popping up in parks, gardens and natural spaces across the city as alternative nests for native bees and other pollinators.

We’re encouraging everyone to pull on a pair of gardening gloves and start transforming your garden into a native bee sanctuary.

Wollongong City Council Horticulturalist Tija Hurry spends each day caring for community gardens and parks in Wollongong. She says that making a garden “bee friendly” is something everyone can do.

“Biodiversity is an important part of managing any ecosystem, from big parks to household gardens, or even on the verges outside your property. Bee hotels are a great way to increase pollinator habitats in your garden by providing shelter and nesting areas for bees,” Ms Hurry said.

“Worldwide our bees are under threat. As we urbanise our environment, we’re removing natural habitats for our native bees. Building bee hotels, planting bee-attracting plants and reducing or easing the use of pesticides are basic ways we can all make a difference.”

Across the city, Council has built and installed 12 bee hotels in various parks and gardens. This decision came as a response to the devastating NSW bushfire emergency in 2019 and 2020 which saw a considerable number of natural habitats destroyed by fire.

But why build a bee hotel at home? Ms Hurry explains that many people are surprised to learn that most Australian native bees don’t live in beehives.

“There’s a big difference between honeybees, which most people are familiar with, and native bees. Honeybees are actually an invasive bee species imported from Africa and Asia that have been domesticated for hundreds of years,” Ms Hurry said.

“In contrast, Australia has over 1500 species of native bees and about 200 species of native bees in the Illawarra region. Although we have some native bees that produce honey, most of our native bees come in many different types, sizes and shapes from those that live solitary lives, to furry bees, blue bees or bees with long tongues.”

Native bees are important pollinators for the wide variety of wildflowers and plants that make up the Australian bushland. There are three easy steps to encourage native bees in your garden.

  1. Build a bee hotel

    Whether you make your own bee hotel or purchase a pre-made hotel kit, this is a great way to encourage native bees in your garden. Watch our video to find out more.

  2. Plant a bee restaurant

    Bee restaurants are another way of describing bee-friendly plants. Planting flowering plants, shrubs and trees provides natural bee food and habitats for many types of native insects.

    When choosing plants for your garden look for plants that have bright coloured flowers. Myrtles, Eucalyptus, Wattles, Daisies, Grevilleas, Banksias, Rosemary, Lavender, Sunflowers, Asters, Thyme and Geraniums are all favourites of bees and look good in your garden.

  3. Build a water source
    Once you’ve built a bee home and planted flowering plants, the next step is to make sure there’s a water source nearby for native bees. Fishponds, bird baths and fountains are easy ways of adding water sources to your garden.

Want to purchase flowering plants for your garden? Wollongong Botanic Garden holds regular subsidised plant sales at their Greenplan Nursery for residents of the Wollongong City Council area.

Find out more by visiting the Wollongong Botanic Garden website.