Garden maintenance

FAQ's

Frequently asked questions

How does the B&B Highway help the pollinators?

The biggest threat to pollinators is habitat loss. So, one of the best things we can do for the birds, bees, bats, and bugs is provide them with protected habitats. This is what makes our Bed & Breakfasts for Birds, Bees, Butterflies and Biodiversity especially helpful because they include not just plants, but also habitats for declining pollinator populations.

As more and more pollinator habitats are regenerated, a highway for the pollinators will form that fills in the pollinator habitat gaps. The B&B stops will serve as resting hubs for pollinators to recharge between work.

HOW CAN I BECOME INVOLVED IN THE B&B HIGHWAY?

There are many ways to support the B&B Highway. If you are at a school and wish to host a B&B Highway, this page has the best information.
If you are interested in volunteering anywhere around Australia, we encourage you to get in touch via this form. Volunteering roles include:

  • Installation volunteer - planting, transporting & installing habitat.
  • Education volunteer - help us deliver our education program in-person and virtually.
  • Biodiversity assessment volunteer - help carry out assessments to ascertain the success of each location.
  • Admin/office volunteer - if you’re based in Sydney you may be interested in working with the broader team weekly to help manage the B&B Highway.
    Alternatively, if you are unable to volunteer time, be sure to follow us on social media and interact with us there too. Help spread the word and talk to everyone you can about the work the B&B Highway is doing to protect pollinators. Be sure to sign up to our newsletter to keep up to date with what’s happening and any public events too (scroll to the bottom of this page to register your email address). The more people that know about what we do, the more pollinators we can support!
WHAT IS AN INSECT HOTEL?

In cold climates, an insect hotel is a hibernation place for insects. In the summer it is a nesting place. But no matter the type or creative design of an Insect hotel, they all have one thing in common – they provide smooth, cylindrical spaces, 4 – 9 mm in diameter and at least 15 cm deep, perfect for the native stingless bees who are solitary by nature, and who use these spaces to hatch their young.

When built properly, an insect hotel can be the perfect habitat for insects in the garden, orchard or food forest and stimulates the diversity of insects. The result of diversity is an improvement of the overall ecological balance in the garden.

For more information on insect hotels and how to build your own, check out this article.

I KNEW ABOUT THE BEES BUT NOT THE OTHER B’S! WHO ELSE IS A POLLINATOR?

Bees get all the press for pollination because they do a lot of the work, but they can’t do it all by themselves! Bees are only one of the many different types of pollinating insects. Wasps, beetles, flies, butterflies, moths, ants and mosquitoes are also essential pollinators. Around 65% of flowering plants and an even higher amount of crops need insects to pollinate them. Different plants need different pollinators. In fact, some plant species can only be pollinated by particular species of insects. In the case of native Australian fig trees, they need specific species of fig wasps to pollinate them, and the wasps can only reproduce inside the figs.

Insects make up the majority of the pollinator workforce, but there are still many other animals that you may be surprised to learn are pollinators, too! Birds, bats, rodents and even reptiles are also pollinators. In fact, at least 960 species of birds are pollinators. They are especially important for pollination in temperate and tropical climates.

A BEEHIVE IS BEING INSTALLED AT MY CHILD’S SCHOOL, SHOULD I BE WORRIED ABOUT MY CHILD GETTING STUNG?

No, our B&B Highway focuses on protecting Australia’s native stingless bees. If one of our hives is being installed at your child’s school, it will be a native stingless beehive. Stingless bees are much smaller than European honey bees and, as their name suggests, they do not have stingers. Native stingless bees do not produce any venom and therefore cannot harm your child. There is no risk of anaphylaxis.

DO NATIVE STINGLESS BEES PRODUCE HONEY?

Yes, Australian native stingless bees are social bees that produce small amounts of honey in their hives. This honey is called sugarbag honey. Sugarbag is tangier than commercial honey produced by European honey bees. However, because native stingless bees produce such small amounts of honey each year, harvesting this honey can weaken or potentially kill the hive. In colder climates, the bees need this honey to survive through the winter. Harvesting is sometimes possible in warmer climates. Apiarist Dan Smailes contends that it is possible to cultivate honey from stingless bees in the right areas with several provisos. One of the most important factors is to know your hive well, and know how mature it is before attempting to harvest any honey. Smailes states that once the hive becomes mature, which is between one to two years, it is usually safe to harvest the honey and depending on the size of the colony can be harvested annually or bi-annually.

For more information on harvesting from native stingless bees, check out the Sugarbag Bees website

WHAT TYPE OF PLANT SHOULD I PUT IN MY POLLINATOR GARDEN?

A pollinator garden differs from an ordinary garden because a pollinator garden is filled with plants and flowers that specifically attract pollinators. The idea is to make the pollinators job easier, so including plants that are bee-friendly is very important to supporting your bee population. Native stingless bees need nectar and pollen supplies all year round. Look for plant species with long flowering periods or several species with varying flowering times throughout the year. Flowers in different colours and shapes including local natives and exotics should be included wherever possible. Ask your local council or nursery about local plants for local fauna.

ARE NATIVE BEES AFFECTED BY THE VARROA MITE OUTBREAK IN NSW?

As best we can tell, the Varroa mite does not affect native bee species. For more information, please read this recent article.