Bee-Friendly Spaces

We just hit ‘send’ on a wonderful project – a bee friendly space. It’s not our first, and thankfully with the growing awareness of the threat posed by bee extinction, it certainly won’t be our last. Designing bee-friendly spaces are the type of projects that we absolutely love here at Orterra because it’s a chance to collaborate with incredible people such as apiarists as we work towards thriving bee populations across Australia.

Bees are essential – full stop!

Bees are critically important, no doubt about it. We know that from a biodiversity and ecological perspective that bees play a vital role in agriculture as well as maintaining our native (and non-native) vegetation which in turn impacts upon the liveability of our urban landscapes and mitigate the impacts of climate change. However, many of the factors that contribute to climate change such as deforestation, land clearing and mass, indiscriminate insecticide use also put the populations of bees at risk.

Bees are pollinators. This makes them the heart of the life cycle of plants. No bees? No plants. No food security, no feed for livestock.

Photo by Damien TUPINIER on Unsplash

It’s a grim prospect. This is why a garden or space design that takes into account bees, to create an environment that will allow them to thrive and do their work without harm is one we embrace.

Bees get a bit of a bad rap – we get it. Their stingers are scary! But while there are over 1700 species of native bees, what’s little known is that there are entire classes of native Australian bees that are actually stingless. According to the scientists at Australian Native Bee Research Centre they are located right across Australia.

Australia’s smallest hard workers

Our native bees are as diverse as the geographical environments they reside in. They live in tropical rainforests, deserts, heathlands, mountain ranges and coastal scrub regions. This means that different bees like different plants which is a key guiding principle for us as landscape architects. It’s also interesting to note that there is no such thing as a bumble bee in Australia, despite that catchy little ditty that preschoolers sing.

Without bees, our ecological system is at risk. Yes, we know we’re repeating ourselves here, but it can’t be stressed enough how vital it is that we all make a concerted effort to address the complex reasons driving the decline of our bee populations. Here at Orterra we are in a unique position of being able to play an influential role through the our designs for large commercial, education and residential developments, but we can also help our ‘smaller’ clients incorporate bee-friendly considerations into their backyard renovations and landscaping efforts.

Best of all? Bee-friendly spaces are potentially easier than you think to create.

Bee-friendly spaces are easy!

It’s not necessary to go into full bee-keeper mode in your backyard – although we do have clients who do exactly that and keep their friends, family and neighbours in (divine!) honey. Rather, clever plant choice and careful use of insecticide will make a residential garden a haven. Local bees like local plants, so find the bees that are native to your area (this chart will help) and plant accordingly. Go for plants that are heavy in nectar and look for different colours and shapes to attract a diversity of bees. You can also choose plants that flower at staggered times which prevents a feast or famine situation for the bees.

How bee-friendly is your outdoor space? We can help! Just reach out.