'Bees and balance'
IMAGINE a pet you don't have to feed, look after, train or take to the vet but which rewards the owner for every minute spent in its company.
And what if this pet becomes two in good conditions, so you can give one away for Christmas.
Native bees are a lot of fun and adapt well to suburban life, where multitudes of well watered flowers provide a year-round source of nectar and pollen.
Glenbo Craig is a commercial honey bee keeper, a skill which runs in the Craig family. "But I like native bees and we need more of them,” he says. Mr Craig is the production part of the team which gave us Tim Heard's award winning, beautifully illustrated text, The Australian Native Bee Book.
It's well worth a read for any prospective native bee keeper, but there is an even better way to save a lot of mistakes and learn from other people's. That is to follow the Mary Valley Bees online, which you can get to via the Mary River Catchment Co-ordinating Committee website.
Once there you can read all about it and, even better, find out the when and where of the next Mary Valley Bees field day, where you can meet people and bees and see hive management in action.
It is what Mr Craig calls "our Face-to-Face-Book” where you get to talk to actual humans instead of virtual replicas on your computer screen.
Glenbo says there are a lot of alarmist myths about stingless native bees, including one that says you have to divide the hives when they get too full. "We've had native bee hives at our place living happily without being divided for years.
"You can divide them if you want and there are good reasons and some not so good reasons .
"A good reason is that we need more native bees, because habitat destruction has reduced their numbers and they are needed for pollination.”
My good reason is I want to give one away for Christmas.
They are going up in price all the time too, so you can quote rising prices to anyone who thinks you've become eccentric.