The importance of pollinators

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”Bees are a sign of well-functioning ecosystems.”

– José Graziano da Silva, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization since January 2012
The world without bees would be grey, dull, boring and bad for our eco systems.
There would be no flowers, fruit, coffee or even chocolate. 
Bees are vital for the preservation of ecological balance and biodiversity in nature. They provide one of the most recognisable ecosystem services, i.e. pollination, which is what makes food production possible. By doing so, they protect and maintain ecosystems as well as animal and plant species, and contribute to genetic and biotic diversity.
Bees also act as indicators of the state of the environment. Their presence, absence or quantity tells us when something is happening with the environment and that appropriate action is needed. By observing the development and health of bees, it is possible to ascertain changes in the environment and implement the necessary precautionary measures in time.
Over the past 50 years, the amount of crops that depend on pollinators (i.e. fruit, vegetables, seeds, nuts and oilseeds) has tripled. Bees play an important role in relation to the scope of agricultural production. Effective pollination increases the amount of agricultural produce, improves their quality and enhances plants’ resistance to pests.
If you want to attract more bees to your garden, land clearing and landscaping can destroy food sources and nest sites, threatening native bees. You could help by planting nectar-rich flowers and providing new nest sites in your garden.Good plants for attracting native bees include: Abelia x grandiflora, Angophora, Baeckea, Buddleja davidii, Callistemon, Eucalyptus, Grevillea hybrids, Hardenbergia violacea, Lavandula, Leptospermum, Melaleuca and Westringia.Both bees and wasps often sip nectar from flowers. However, bees feed their young with pollen collected from flowers while wasps feed their young on insect or spider prey. So if you see an insect collecting pollen from a flower, it is a bee, not a wasp.All bees and wasps have four wings, but flies have only two wings. Flies also have shorter antennae than bees and wasps do. Some flies sip nectar from flowers and may mimic the colouring of bees or wasps. So take a close look!

Australian native bees need our help! Native bees are vital pollinators for our bushland and our crops. However, insecticide use can kill native bees, and landclearing can destroy their food resources and nest sites. What can we do?

It is important to avoid or limit the use of insecticides where possible. Plant a Bee-Friendly Garden to provide food for your local native bees, and set up Bee Hotels to supply them with nest sites.

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