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By Dr Marjorie O'Neill, Member for Coogee on April 9, 2020 in Other

One of the factors that unites residents of the Eastern Beaches is the beautiful environment we are so privileged to live in. While we are dealing with the impact of increased population density and transportation difficulties every day (some created by poor government decision-making), we know that our lives in this incredible part of the world are made more pleasant by our physical environment. Over the generations, we have naturally sought to eradicate the weeds in our yards and produce more cosmetically appealing surroundings. We have also sprayed our homes and gardens to reduce the presence of cockroaches, mosquitoes and other dreaded pests. My grandparents did this with a fervour and commitment to more hygienic living and to protect their children from illness.
We are now aware that the use of chemicals to eradicate pests from our homes has come at a high price. We have filled our living environment with chemicals, some of which are dangerous to humans and other species. We have also, in our quest for more beautiful and controlled surroundings, chosen to remove weeds and random plants.
The impact of these decisions has been to reduce the number of bees in our environment. We are now faced with a problem that every one of us should address. Bees need to be promoted, and we can do this by providing bee-friendly environments in our homes, including apartments, schools, public spaces and just about everywhere.
Bees are important. They are pollinators and play a vital role in the entire ecosystem. They contribute to the life of plants, and without them many of these would not be able to effectively pollinate. Our food supply depends on bees.
Apiarists have said that thousands of hives and habitats of native and honey bees in New South Wales were burnt and destroyed in the recent bushfires.
We can act to help address this appalling situation. Progressive individuals, families and schools in the Eastern Suburbs were already hosting bee hives before the current environmental crises. We have many bee producers in the local area who, both individually or as part of a collective, are working to sustain and maintain hives. Some are working with native and non-stinging bees that produce little honey for public consumption, while others are focused on honey-producing bees. Both are great for our environment.
If you, like me, are committed to a better environmental future, you can begin by engaging with the experts at the Amateur Beekeepers Association of NSW or visit their website at
In a small way, I hope to promote this cause by offering the first 250 people who visit my office in Frenchmans Road a free sample of Bee Friendly Flower Seeds. Plant your bee friendly garden strips and send me your photos. I will post the best on my website as an inspiration and encouragement to others. Let us bee friendly!