Darwin branch – December 2023

Christmas picnic
December has bought a nice wrap-up to our first year as the NT branch. Our members all agreed it would be a lovely way to finish the year by enjoying a nice Christmas picnic together down at Lake Alexander, East Point. Local members David Shea, Barry Conde, David Sutcliffe, Anne Patton, Wes Mackay and Sherronna Nowland attended the picnic together with their families and friends.

Hive rescues
Janelle O’Shannessy was recently contacted by the Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics about removing native bees from Lyons Cottage, a heritage-listed property undergoing extensive renovations.
Lyons Cottage is the only remaining example of colonial bungalow-style architecture in Darwin. Lyons Cottage was built in 1925 as accommodation for the Darwin Cable Company management staff and their families. The building is currently managed by the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory and currently houses Aboriginal Bush Traders.
After inspecting Lyons Cottage with the builder, a time was booked in to mobilise after hours to do the job. TEAM work was key for this rescue that took over an hour and a half for the three volunteers, including Janelle, Glenn and Justin.
Justin very carefully removed sections of wall panelling allowing Janelle and Glenn to view the colony(s). They carefully worked on extricating the different components of the colony – structure, honey & pollen stores and the brood.

As Glenn started finalising works on the first colony Justin removed more panels to reveal a second large colony. Janelle worked on this colony following the same process of extrication and they both finished up using their bee vacs to collect as many bees as possible.
Given the staining on the walls internal and external and the build-up of propolis, it appears that the bees have been there for many years.

Demolitions was the theme of the month, as Wes and Sherronna attended Palm City Resort to assist with some demolition rescues after Dave was notified of the bees by the management group. T. mellipes nests were identified in two of the bungalows currently under renovation. Their nests were each wedged inside the bathroom wall framing cavities, building around the water pipes.

Certainly not an easy job, nor a smooth one. Access to the nests was difficult as they had to work around the wooden plumbing supports. That being said, Wes and Sherronna enjoyed the challenge and had a good time working on the rescues and teaching the tradies on site about native bees.
Several other colonies were identified in the resort, one was enjoying the poolside view with their nest inside a pool umbrella pole, and another nested within a retaining wall. These nests were safe from the renovations and the advice to management was to leave them bee.

Native bee forage plants
It always brings us pleasure to observe and share plants that native bees like to forage on. Fireball Lilys, Holly-Leaved Pea Flowers, and Dragon fruit flowers appear to be the flavour of the season for our T. mellipes, NT Hock-ingsi and Great Carpenter Bees.

What’s Up in 2024?
As we say farewell to 2023, our branch looks forward to the events and ideas that we have scheduled for 2024.
We plan to elevate the Australian Native Bee Association Inc. NT branch profile at community garden events, plant expos, garden corners, markets and open-days. We have also secured a number of Bunnings BBQs to help us raise funds for personalised equipment and merchandise. Our members continue to volunteer their time, expertise and networks to assist us to build the profile of our local branch.
We plan to actively seek out community and government grants in 2024 to assist us with education and awareness surrounding our local native bees.

And finally, we would love to secure a number of guest speakers to present to our members throughout the year (either face to face or online) so that we can keep ourselves updated and educated on emerging bee topics. If anyone has any interesting presentations that they would like to share with the branch, please get in contact!

Barry Conde was nominated for the Environment & Conservation Award
In exciting Northern Territory branch news, Barry Conde was nominated for the Environment & Conservation Award at the Territory Natural Resource Management 2023 Awards on 22 November 2023.
James Pike from Land for Wildlife nominated Barry for the award, highlighting that Barry has become the “go-to” man when it comes to native stingless bees in the greater Darwin region. Barry has worked tirelessly to in-crease public awareness of native bees, their importance in the ecosystem and to encourage native bee keeping within the community.
Barry has fostered his love for native bees through volunteering his time at workshops and events to be able to support the local bee community. The development of his own interactive bee hives allows for better community engagement, local purchasing of equipment and maintenance. With land development and habitat loss being a major threat to our native bees, James highlight-ed that Barry’s hive designs along with the next wave of beekeepers play an important role in supporting healthy bee colonies to develop, grow and thrive in local habitats.
Barry continues to present at workshops and engage at community events, using his viewing hives and home collected honey to help inspire the next generation of meliponists (stingless beekeepers) and help raise awareness of the importance of our native stingless bees in the ecosystem and help drive their conservation.
Congratulations Barry on your well-deserved nomination for this prestigious award! You have certainly been a wealth of knowledge for all us members locally.

News & Notices