Keeping Australian Native Stingless Bees – By Greg Coonan

Greg’s book is a beginner’s guide to Native Stingless Bee husbandry aimed at providing advice for people looking to buy their first hive and also answering the endless question that new beekeepers love to ask.

I enjoyed reading the book, it is easy to read, written in everyday English and avoiding the technical terms that many of us struggle even to pronounce. Greg is based in Brisbane’s bayside, his vast knowledge and passion for native bees is well relayed in the book which covers predominately hockingsi and carbonaria, it also includes Austroplebeia australis bees

There are numerous supporting pictures, albeit the layout of merging several photos into one I found confusing, each would have benefitted from a border.
The book is in two parts, Part 1 sets out what you need to know to become a hive owner. Part 2 covers day to day beekeeping practices and advice with Greg relating his own experiences and knowledge.

Part 1 – Your First Hive
Greg’s introduces the three varieties of native bee that are to be found in SE Qld, how hives are built by the bees, the structure and what you would expect to see through the viewing panel.
Greg uses standard OATH designed boxes, the pros and cons of timber choice and thickness are explained for the novice. Advice on where to locate a hive is well explained. The section also gives detailed information on log hives and their maintenance.

There is sound advice on pest and pest control, avoiding liquid nails, transporting log hives and Greg’s own experiences with Cadaghi and African Tulip tree both of which he considers relatively harmless to bees.
The book also explains the types of swarms the new hive owner might encounter and reassurance of what to do when swarms appear.

There is a comprehensive table about bee friendly plants and shrubs. Knowing how big a plant will get I think is very useful for people with small or limited gardens.
Part 1 concludes with pictures of Greg’s favourite 10 hives, they are a joy to see and would be an instant favourite with any young budding beekeeper.

Part 2 – Native Beekeeping
I really enjoyed the second section because it provides answers and tips that are so valuable to the beginners (and even some of us who are not beginners!)

Tips and advice include when to work with bees, how to be prepared, box design, benefits of observation panels and honey harvesting. There is a lot of detail and information on splitting and educting hives and even a reverse eduction from a box to a log. When and why splitting and eductions can fail and how to avoid these pitfalls. Greg also talks about hive rescue and has sound advice for the reader.

Part 2 concludes with advice and information on pest control
I would recommend Greg’s book to anybody considering or who has just started on their Stingless Bee journey, it is certainly the Highway Code of beekeeping for all “L” and “P” platers and provides an informative foundation for the reader to progress forward.
Review by Peter Stone, 15 May 2021

Publisher – Northern Bee Books, ISBN 978-1-912271-77-1

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