Parliament House bees move into grounds to increase public awareness


Joseph Kwintowski has set up a collection of bee hives at Parliament House, believed to be the first Australian parliament to do so. Picture: Andrew Ritchie d451884
Joseph Kwintowski has set up a collection of bee hives at Parliament House, believed to be the first Australian parliament to do so. Picture: Andrew Ritchie d451884

THERE is a bit more of a buzz around Parliament House after bees moved into the grounds.

Padbury resident and hobby beekeeper Joseph Kwintowski has set up three beehives at the front of the State building, making it the first parliament in Australia to host bees.

His passion for bees and promoting their importance in our food chain prompted him to come up with the idea and approach Parliament directly.

Mr Kwintowski’s mother taught him the art of beekeeping in Poland more than 30 years ago and he has hives set up in backyards all across the metropolitan area.

“The parliamentary beehives are a first for Australia and only the third in the world, behind France and Poland,” he said.

“WA is a paradise on Earth for honey bees and we need to set an example.

“It has unmatched floral diversity, weather and a clean environment.

“Our honey is healthy, tasty and free from chemicals – it is the envy of the world and in high demand.

“I hope the Parliament House honey bees will help increase public awareness about the critical role bees play in our lives.

“We want people to take an active part in bee preservation and think twice before poisoning or killing them.”

Mr Kwintowski said people should call a bee specialist to remove swarms and hives, not spray or attempt to remove them without professional help.

The engineer runs a small business called Hey Honey, producing wax candles and honey, which he also supplies to local cafes like Chopin Patisserie in Sorrento for use in their cakes and pastries.

Legislative Council president Barry House and Legislative Assembly speaker Michael Sutherland announced the bees’ arrival on March 23.

The initiative is part of an awareness-raising program on the plight of honey bees and supported by the Centre for Integrative Bee Research (CIBER) at UWA.

In WA, there are about 2000 hobby beekeepers, many of whom live and house their bees in urban areas.

There has been a rise in the number of beehives located at public buildings in Australia, although this is the first time they have been placed at an Australian parliament.

‘The community needs to adopt a different perspective on the value of the bee,” Mr House said.

“For a long time the bee has been viewed as a flying cane toad when they are in fact responsible through pollination for a third of the world’s food supply.”

Over the past 20 years there have been dramatic declines in bee populations globally as a result of bee diseases, parasites and exposure of bees to pesticides.

However, WA has some of the healthiest honey bees in the world due to geographic isolation, biosecurity measures and the banning of pesticide use on hives.

Bees in this state also have access to large expanses of national forest containing species of trees such as jarrah, which are high in anti-microbial properties that translate across to the honey West Australians consume.

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