Yinnar, Yinnar South Landcare - October 2023

J Duncan

Bees, Bugs, Beetles, Butterflies

Well, it is official. Australia is no longer the only country in the world to be free of the Varroa mite. This mite is a parasite of European honeybees. These are the bees that pollinate most of our food crops. The bio-security strategy has now moved its focus from Eradication to Management and Control.

So far, the pest is officially only in New South Wales. However, the reason for the change in government strategy was said to be non-compliant and illegal behaviour by NSW bee-keepers. It is hard to have confidence that this insidious pest won’t spread to beehives in neighbouring states sooner rather than later.

For some years now, there has been quite a lot of research and prototype design work done on introducing habitat for native bees and other pollinators into orchards and vineyards. What can we do? Everyone can help by just not using neo-nicotinoid pesticides. These chemicals are thought to have a role in an apparent worldwide decline in bee populations. We have a project on our group’s website with more information including the brand names of pesticides in this category.

Planting native plants in closely spaced patches is something we can do. Choosing plants for a succession of flowering times will provide pollen and nectar for native bees and other pollinator insects. (Aim for no more than 200 metres between patches). The idea is to help other pollinator species to flourish, so that they can pollinate our crops and gardens when Varroa gets here and European honeybee populations decline. Even if this decline is only in feral honeybees, i.e. the ones that have escaped and aren’t looked after by beekeepers; losing them is predicted to wipe out 70% of the total current pollinator population.

Bug on White Elderberry plant

Yinnar, Yinnar South Landcare Group will have pollinator guides and some plants for sale on our Landcare stall at Yinnar Community Market on Sunday November 5. With dry weather coming up, it will be swamp plants or ones to grow and water in gardens. (It is now far too late for re-veg planting anywhere that won’t be watered over summer). For those who get the bug for looking more closely at those insects in the pollination workforce, Australian Pollinator Week is on November 11-19 this year.

Thanks to Tamara Leitch for our photo of the amazing native bug that lives on locally indigenous White Elderberry plants. We will have some of these seedlings to sell at Yinnar Market on November 5.

Trees and other Yinnar Landcare news

Our group has now finished planting for this winter. We worked on our group’s Billys Creek and Upper Middle Creek re-veg sites and on private property at Yinnar. For one of our two Billys Creek days we were ably assisted by a group of students from Gippsland TAFE. That day was blessed with fine weather, and everybody had a great day.

Planting trees in rough grassland at Billys Creek

One of our two planting days at Yinnar also had good weather, and on both of these days our group appreciated being rewarded with a feed of delicious pizzas cooked by our hosts. Our re-vegetation site along Upper Middle Creek is now growing well and we are mainly infill planting and replacing plants that have died. We are also removing the guards from the trees that are big enough and re-purposing them on other sites.

We are pleased to report that the fire recovery money received by Latrobe City for recovery from the Yinnar South / Jumbuk bushfires in 2019 is now allocated to the Latrobe Catchment Landcare Network. Network staff are processing applications and assessing sites on affected properties. Applications have closed but it is expected that successful applicants for the funding will be notified very soon, with planting to take place next winter.

Finally, we are very happy to report an increase in membership applications to our group, and some new keen and active people becoming increasingly involved in group activities.

Web Page - https://www.landcarevic.org.au/groups/westgippsland/yinnar-south