The Malta Independent 4 August 2020, Tuesday

Buzzwords and bees

Sunday, 25 March 2018, 07:13 Last update: about 3 years ago

The work of BeeSavers Malta started in the spring of 2014 when a group of motivated students keen to be of service to Nature, started by voluntarily rescuing bee swarms under the custodianship of an experienced apiculturist.

A bee swarm, simply put, is a colony of bees being created - and although it seems pretty straightforward, we usually have a situation when a number of panic stricken residents point to a football sized clump of bees in their vicinity - the deafening buzzing sound does nothing to calm the situation!

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Patiently we get to work, rescue the swarm from pest controller and put the colony into quarantine, treating diseases if any, and then relocating the swarm into the wild. This is after all the colony's original intention. Yet due to our nation's lack of natural spaces, such as caves and trees, the swarm tries to find a home in the urban jungle: an open ventilator, crevices in a brick wall, and so on.

Our continued actions have played an important environmental role by ensuring the safety of innumerable colonies of bees and the public. During every visit, we also help to raise awareness on bees by informing every caller about the importance of such awe-inspiring insects, on which so much depends.

Throughout the years, our small group of students, namely Anthony Spiteri, Bernardette Aquilina, Antoine Galea and Glenn Spiteri, have done so much resourceful work with zero resources. This is enough to attest what boundless passion can achieve. Now the time has come to broaden our horizons and set rooted, long lasting projects for the benefit of the bees and nature, which is why we have formalised the group into a non-profit organisation called BeeSavers Malta.

There has been a steady increase of amateur 'bee-catchers' whose sole aim is to make a quick buck by catching swarms and selling them without due quarantine and treatment, thus endangering further bee colonies. This is why we wish to centralise swarm calls from all different government departments into one cohesive and professional unit.

Furthermore, the fragmentary state of environmental NGOs worries us. A true public service is the identification of a service which needs to be done and simply doing it. NGOs should be judged on the tangible work that they do. So many grants are being applied for sideline research, of which already hundreds of scientific papers exist instead of being acted upon, such research serves only to gather cobwebs, (and the grants of course!).

What we need is a true cohesive unity between environmental groups, with practical work in each and every niche'.

The aforementioned groups, often liberal in their political ideas are quick to turn into environmental fascists by continuous pressure applied to eradicate alien species from our islands. Such alien species considered for eradication include the Eucalyptus tree, a hardened, drought resistant species imported from Australia. While not being invasive, as the seed requires specialised conditions for growth, it is becoming increasingly versatile in the face of Malta's rapid climate change: Namely the progressive desertification of the Maltese Islands due to rampant 'progress'. I would like to remind such groups so intent on erasing this tree on the harsh winter of 2016, when we experienced the driest winter in nearly a hundred years.

Such trees, numerous in our territory have extensive roots that are able to absorb water in the driest of conditions, thus transferring nectar and pollen to their flowers even in the most dire of circumstances. Had it not been for these trees supplying the proverbial 'oasis in the desert' for bees, we could have faced a mass extermination of bees in 2016. The severe lack of bee foraging sources in Malta is a serious issue which needs to be addressed.

So, leave such trees alone! Malta's climate is changing at a fast pace. Start worrying about harmless alien species once our islands have the climate of the paradise they once were.

Thankfully, our appeal to stop the eradication of Eucalyptus trees on government land has been approved by Minister for the Environment Dr Herrera. So we hope bureaucracy does not stand in his way to enact this change, for the sake of the trees and bees.

However, further evaluation in the proposed eradication of Eucalyptus from the Simar Nature reserve in Xemxija and other lands in the hands of NGOs has yet to be done.

We welcome members of the public to join our Official Organisation Launch on 31 March (details on our Facebook page Beesavers Malta).

 

Antoine Galea

President

BeeSavers Malta


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