Tag Archives: Eucalypts trees

Australian Parliament House honey harvest for Christmas!

The beautiful Great Hall of the Australian Parliament House is not the first place you would imagine a bee harvesting ceremony to take place.

Add to that some sampling of  delicious chocolate coated honeycomb and other honey inspired goodies, and you have a very popular event!

Earlier this week I joined this celebration of the first harvest of honey from the beehives in the Parliamentary Gardens.

Cormac Farrell, an Environmental Scientist, and head beekeeper with the engineering company Aurecon, helped established the hives at Parliament House in 2013.

Cormac Farrell: head beekeeper for Aurecon photo Rohan Thomson Canberra Times.

He said the Parliamentary garden crew have been fantastic because they maintain the gardens almost completely pesticide free. There are eucalypts trees with an understory of tea tree and cherry blossoms in spring and a big stand of Argyle apple nearby.

Eucalyptus trees surround Parliament House

In 1976 the first Parliamentary beehives were approved by the then Speaker of the House of Representatives, Billy Snedden. He was asked by the Victorian MP William Yates for permission to install two hives in the House of Representatives garden.

As the request was made on the 1st April, Snedden thought it was an April Fool’s Joke, but approved it anyway.

The House of Representatives Gardens today

During the time of the first two beehives in the House of Representatives gardens, Mr Yates’ honey became very popular, and was often taken home by politicians.

The honey was famously given as a peace offering by Mr Yates from the Liberal Party, to the Prime Minister Gough Whitlam from the Labor Party, during a particularly heated parliamentary debate.

Gough Whitlam: Prime Minister from 1972-75

Wouldn’t it be great if honey could smooth over party tensions these days!

Today’s hives at the new Parliament House gardens have the latest bee technology fitted with sensors to monitor the health of the hives as well as the Australian-invented “Flow Hive” which allows easy harvesting of honey.

I joined the many people who watched the first harvest. As you can see I was not the only one hoping to get a glimpse of the whole process. I had trouble getting photos of the process…

 

Cormac Farrell is gently brushing the honeycomb

Father and son beekeepers, Stu and Cedar Anderson’s invention ”Flow Hive” has made beekeeping much easier. The Flow Hive works by splitting honeycombs vertically with a key mechanism, releasing honey inside and letting it flow to a tap at the bottom, all without disturbing the bees.

Stu Anderson (left) and Cormac Farrell (right)

 

The honey flowing seamlessly into a jar as a result of the Flow Hive (honeyflow.com.au)

This project is a collaboration between the Department of Parliamentary Services, the Australian National University Apiculture Society and Aurecon.

Once the honey goodies came around, it was difficult to hold sticky bits and take photos! Congratulations to all who brought this project together, what better place to have beehives…

Cormac Farrell made this simple but profound comment at a previous interview:

It might seem weird to keep backyard bees at Parliament House, but for our grandparents generation it was as normal. Bees help people understand how seemingly small things connect with big things. Our cities are not concrete jungles, we can still have plants and we can produce food, bring culture and real life to the place.

 

Links for further information:

www.honeyflow.com.au

www.beeaware.org.au

 

Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

Stepping out at the Arboretum

When I began this blog I wrote a post about the Arboretum in Canberra  (Arboretum, 100 trees… in 100 forests)..here is a photo from that post showing this beautiful place in the early morning.

IMG_1031 (1024x768)

Amongst the  newly growing forests in the Arboretum is one of the best kept secrets, a regional botanic garden called STEP (Southern Tablelands Ecosystems Park)

IMG_6455 (1024x648)This area has been designed to represent the native plants and trees typical to the Southern Highlands. These areas have forests, woodlands, grasslands, and wetlands.

IMG_6463 (1024x768)

Unlike all the other forests in the Arboretum, this forest has an understory of shrubs, herbs, grasses and ferns. As we walked down the path from the highest area to the wetlands I’ve concentrated on the flowering understory for photos, but just occasionally there is a lovely spring flowering Eucalypt..

IMG_6388 (1024x768)

…. this one is called Eucalyptus dalrympleana (Mountain Gum)

IMG_6404 (768x1024)

and a flowering Wee Jasper Grevillea ..

….. further down the path the open woodland area is being developed, the clumps of grass are called Poa sieberiana

IMG_6468 (1024x768)

Early the following morning I went back to take more photos, and I was reminded of my childhood in Africa ….. walking along paths lined by soft green grasses, and watching birds skimming through  them…but in this botanical garden there are street lights in the distance to remind me that we are very near a carpark, and the expressway to the city is not too far away.

IMG_6490 (1024x648)

The only bird happy to have his photo taken is this cockatoo, who was very busy eating the tips of the grasses.IMG_6312 (1024x768)

Here are some of the colourful spring flowering native plants and shrubs

IMG_6316 (768x1024)

IMG_6315 (1024x639)

 

 

 

 

IMG_6365 (1024x768)

Solanum linearifolium Kangaroo apple

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_6360 (1024x768)

Ranunculus lappaceus

 

IMG_6330 (1024x768)

Chrysocephalum apiculatum

 

IMG_6344 (1024x768)

Xerochrysum bracteatum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_6351 (768x1024)

Ammobium alalum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_6382 (1024x841)

Bulbine bulbosa

IMG_6357 (1024x768)

Derwentia perfoliata

 

 

 

 

 

 

and my all time favourite is this tiny flower, perfect in every way!

IMG_6377 (1024x768)

Dianella revoluta

The frosty hollow area has species that need frost and cold air ..a favourite tree of mine is the snow gum (Eucalypt)

IMG_6473 (1024x675)

There is a small wetland for the plants suitable for this type of habitat.

IMG_6474 (1024x667)

This attractive rock amphitheatre has been constructed to use as an educational space. Over time the plan is to have regular groups of students to learn about the plants native to this area.

IMG_6496 (1024x768)

The Arboretum provides water tanks for STEP, and these are used to irrigate the fledging trees and shrubs.

IMG_6502 (1024x547)

Here is one of the dedicated volunteers watering the plants, the netting over his hat is a most efficient way of keeping the annoying flies away from his face (a sure sign summer is on the way).

IMG_6340 (1024x768)

The volunteers working on the STEP program are an inspiration. They are full of enthusiasm and very knowledgeable about all the plants that they see growing and developing every week.

IMG_6419 (1024x707)

When we arrived they were just packing up after a shared morning tea under the gum trees. What better way to spend a lovely warm spring day, being productive and useful and sharing that with like-minded people.

 

STEP is having an open afternoon with volunteers to show visitors around STEP and answer any questions about growing native plants in Canberra on Sunday 29th November between 12.30 – 3.00.

www.STEP.asn.au