Related Pages
Photo Albums
Honey bee pollination (53 crops– 75% of our food crops)– contributes $14 billion to the Australian economy.
Our estimates for Australian Agriculture production are increasing, yet our bee populations are decreasing. 
The country’s food security is at risk if we don’t work together to ‘save the bees’
Disease : Varroa
The varroa mite carries a disease that destroys hives and bees. In the US varroa mite resulted in a loss of ~50% hives. In Australia 50% of pollinators are wild bees. The mite has not yet reached Australia, but it is almost inevitable arrival will cause a loss of up to 75% of Australian pollinators. The impact will include loss of pollinators, impacting on both food production and the economy; and use of pesticides in hives, thus adulterating honey. It will take up to 10 years to rebuild bee numbers and restore the balance.
Use of pesticides in agriculture, by local councils and in gardens are putting our bees and other pollinators at risk.
High-strength Round-Up type chemicals are banned in Europe, but not Australia. Not only do they kill detrimental insects, but also the ‘good’ ones.
Rotarians for Bees is working to raise awareness of this and seek your support in spreading the word.
Our Honey Bees, Native Bees and other pollinators require year round food sources.
The recent bushfires decimated habitat around the country and have put pressure on much of Australia’s bee population.
Additionally urbanization and lack of habitat diversity are making it more difficult for our pollinators.
Planting bee friendly trees and plants can make a difference.
Climate Change
Climate change is having an enormous effect, leading to a decline in pollinators and honey production world-wide.
Financial Sustainability
There are many factors affecting Commercial sustainability.
Adulterated honey with sugar-based additives is one. 
Currently, there is no testing facility in Australia to identify adulterated honey.
Education / Training to support more people entering the Beekeeping  sector is also important.
There are both commercial and hobby beekeepers.  In Victoria alone there are around 9,000 beekeepers, all of whom are registered with the government, but only ~2,000 of whom belong to Apiary clubs.  Privacy issues preclude identification outside the government of non-club apiarists. Whilst each state has a local association, there is little communication between them.
Rotarians for Bees is a group of Rotarians from a variety of Rotary Clubs who are very worried about the dangerous decline in bee (& other pollinator) populations worldwide & are taking action to help reverse this trend.
Without bees and other pollinators much of the world’s food supply would end so it’s literally a matter of life and death that these essential tiny links in our global food chain are supported and with Rotary’s global reach we can do something to help!
Rotary Canterbury is one of the founding Clubs and is proud to auspice this ESRAG (Environmental Sustainability Rotarian Action Group) project.
Rotarians for Bees mission is to:-
  • build awareness of the need to protect & support bees amongst our 1.2 million members worldwide
  • encourage action to support pollinators and their role in agriculture & horticulture around the world, thus ensuring food security.
Established under the auspices of the Rotary Club of Canterbury (Australia) and a project of ESRAG (Environmental Sustainability Rotarian Action Group) Rotarians for Bees comprises a growing group of Rotarians & friends from over 40 countries, lead by a committee in Australia.
Chairman: John McCaskill (Rotary Canterbury) Email: 
Secretary: Rosemary Waghorne (Rotary Canterbury)
ESRAG Representative: Pat Armstrong (Rotary Doncaster)
Bee populations are dwindling in alarming numbers globally due to:
  • Climate change
  • Pesticides and industrial agriculture
  • Loss of habitat & flowering plants
  • Varroa mite & diseases
  • Commercial viability of Beekeeping
What can Rotarians do to support bees & other pollinators?
Honey Bees live in hives with a queen, protect their territory (& sting!), but setting up a hive of your own can support the bee population, improve vegetable garden yields and produce delicious honey.
A number of Rotarians are apiarists why not invite one to speak to your club about how to get started?
For more information about Honeybees contact the Victoria Apiarists Association (VAA) at
To find out about bees & bee friendly plants visit or
Native Bees
Of the 1,500 or so types of native bees in Australia, roughly 10% are stingless & live in hives with a queen. The others are more solitary, but all are valuable pollinators and can be housed in ‘bee motels’ of hollow bamboo or in tree trunks.
Ask your local Men’s Shed to make you a bee motel, set it near your flowering bushes in the sun, away from people & pets & welcome native bees into your vegetable gardens to help magnify your crops!
Time for ACTION!
To support bees & pollinators all Rotarians can help:
  • Join ESRAG (Environmental Sustainability Rotarian Action Group) & become part of the Rotarians for Bees project!
  • Join our Facebook page to learn more, share ideas and make global connections for pollinator projects!
  • Plant bee friendly plants with lots of pollen & nectar in gardens & pots, eg:
    Lilacs & Lavenders, Flowering Gum, Fruit Trees & Berry Bushes, Herbs, Tea Tree, Grevillia, Wattle, Hakea, Happy Wanderer & more!
  • Talk to your local council about establishing bee friendly gardens on nature strips & public land like they are doing in Paris & elsewhere.
  • Never use pesticides outdoors & encourage farmers you know to adopt biological alternatives to chemical pesticides.
  • Establish a bee hive (for honey bees) or bee motel (for native bees) at home.
  • Support research into disease & varroa resistant bees through not-for-profit organisations like the Wheen Foundation
  • Invite an apiarist to speak at your Club & spread the word!
  • If you see a bee swarm, call an apiarist to have it safely removed & rehoused.
Interested in joining Rotarians for Bees?
Contact John McCaskill (Rotary Club of Canterbury) or Faye Kirkwood (Rotary Club of Caulfield)
Useful references include: