SOME new residents at Parliament House in Canberra aim to sweeten things up, without the usual political sting.
Sunshine Coast start-up Hive Haven installed one of its innovative native bee hives in the nation’s capital.
With the support of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tony Smith, the hive is located in the Speaker’s Courtyard at Parliament House during Canberra’s warmer months from September to April.
The hive was officially revealed during Parliament House’s 30th anniversary Open Day last month.
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The aim is to help draw attention to the increasing importance of farming native bees as pollinators for future crops.
Hive Haven managing director, Ann Ross, said the opportunity is a dream come true.
“It’s hard to think about it, without becoming emotional,” Ms Ross said.
The innovative native bee hives, developed by Ann and Jeff Ross, will help Australian native stingless bees survive increasing heatwaves and enable the harvesting of native bee honey.
Manufactured by rotational moulding on the Sunshine Coast, the hives are special in that they have a hollow insulation cavity which can be filled with a gel which enables the hive to maintain a stable temperature.
The company is also trialling cold weather hives which feature a small heater located in the cavity.
Federal Member for Fisher, Andrew Wallace, said the couple designed and manufactured the new product in the community with real applications for the future of agriculture all over Australia.
“This is another great example of the Sunshine Coast leading the way and I cannot wait to point out and explain the hive to my fellow MPs when I get back to Parliament House,” Mr Wallace said.
Member for Fairfax, Ted O’Brien, applauded the Sunshine Coast start-up for inventing a solution to the global decline in food crop pollination.
“Our very survival as humans depends on bees pollinating crops and the Australian native stingless bee is gaining a reputation as an effective pollinator,” Mr O’Brien said.
“This innovative insulated hive means native bees will be able to survive in hot and cold locations where in the past they may have perished.
“Given the pressure on honey bees around the world, this hive may spark interest in native bees which have been around since the age of dinosaurs.”
Chief beekeeper at Australian Parliament House, Cormac Farrell, said he was happy to see native stingless bees come to parliament.
“While honeybees are an essential part of Australia’s agricultural infrastructure, they tend to get all the press, whereas we also have so many amazing native bees,” Mr Farrell said.
“I always wanted to strike a balance between showcasing honeybees and native bees, so when Andrew Wallace asked if we could include Hive Haven in what we are doing at Parliament I was really supportive.
“I love the ethos that Hive Haven bring to their business, combining innovation with a passion for promoting our native pollinators, both for home use and as an alternative to commercial honeybee pollination in agriculture.
“Their hive design is also really different and clever, very keen to see how it performs in Canberra.’’
Innovation Centre chief executive officer, Mark Paddenburg, said it was an inspiration to see an Innovation Centre member display its product in the Canberra capital.
“It’s a perfect example of the kind of innovation happening up here in Queensland,” Mr Paddenburg said.
Ms Ross said there were a lot of lecturers, researchers and engineers at USC who donated their time to get the native bee hive up and running.
“I attribute a lot of Hive Haven’s success to tapping into the overall Sunshine Coast start-up ecosystem. It’s been a huge community effort with a global reach,” she said.
Ms Ross said she would like to see native bee farming taken seriously as a viable agri-business (pollination, honey and propolis).
Governments and food producers around the globe are turning their attention to the native bee as the pollinator of the world’s future food crops.
Native bees also produce small quantities of honey which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have used as a food and medicine source for thousands of years.
“You don’t need to be a large land holder to farm native bees in fact, studies are indicating native bees thrive in urban environments,” Ms Ross said.
Hive Haven received an Advance Queensland Ignite Grant in 2017 which partly funded the development of their initial product. More research is needed but their breakthroughs to date are significant.