Mine grant keeps Hunter native bees buzzing

Mine grant keeps Hunter native bees buzzing

A community grant from local mine, Hunter Valley Operations (HVO), is helping a newly formed community group to value and protect Australian native bees in the Hunter.

The Australian Native Bee Association (ANBA) Hunter branch used the grant to help set up and run a community workshop in Cessnock on Saturday 25 November.

Chairperson of ANBA, Ben Fitzpatrick, said the HVO funding will help local native beekeepers to connect and share information, to develop native bee products and services whilst continuing local and national efforts to raise awareness of the significance, sustainable management, and conservation of Australian native bees.

Australia has about 1,600 species of native bees, about 10 per cent of the world’s total bee diversity.

“This HVO funding will help us with setting up and to hire premises for community events,” Ben said.

“We formed the group in July and already have around 45 members. We’re receiving new enquiries from new beekeepers all the time.”

Ben said the varroa mite emergency response has sparked a growing interest in native bees and native bee products and services to benefit agriculture, the community and the environment in the Hunter.

“Varroa mites cannot attack Australian native bees directly, as native bees have a very different biology from European honeybees.”

“The honey from native bees has been used in Australia for thousands of years and we’re learning more about the role of native bees in pollination.”

Forty people attended the workshop on hive duplication of Australian social stingless native bees.

HVO Electrical Engineer and native beekeeper, Greg Lloyd is a member of the local ANBA branch and attended the workshop.

Greg and other attendees were fortunate to receive a presentation and demonstration by entomologist, ex-CSIRO research scientist, stingless beekeeper and promoter of native bees, Dr Tim Heard. Tim is the author of the multi-award winning and best-selling The Australian Native Bee Book.

The HVO grant is one of six new grants to support Upper Hunter and Lower Hunter not for profit community group projects.

Round 2, 2023 HVO Community Grants recipients

  • Carrie’s Place – Upgrade of household appliances
  • Denman Public School – Colour Run fundraiser
  • Whittingham Public Hall – Replace kitchen flooring
  • Jerrys Plains School of Arts – Replace stage curtains
  • Australian Native Bee Association, Hunter branch – Establishment equipment and event
  • Muswellbrook South Public School – Colour Run fundraiser.


HVO Environment and Community Officer, Nic McLaughlin said a local ANBA branch will be an important and beneficial resource for local people and native bees.

“HVO’s grants are about helping to improve our community’s capacity building, skills, and environment,” Nic said.

“This latest round of funding means HVO has provided more than $400,000 to more than 90 projects since 2018. This is in addition to its other partnerships, sponsorships and workplace giving programs.”

HVO community grants are awarded twice a year to support smaller scale projects of not-for-profit organisations working in the Muswellbrook, Singleton, Cessnock, Maitland or Upper Hunter local government areas. The next round will open in March 2024.

ANBA is a national member-based organisation that promotes the conservation, cultural significance and sustainable management of all Australian native bees. The new Hunter branch is ANBA’s tenth.

IMAGE | Dr Tim Heard (centre) splits a native bee hive with Ben Fitzpatrick (left) and Greg Lloyd (right).

Hunter Valley Operations

Hunter Valley Operations operates the HVO South and HVO North open cut coal mines north of Singleton. Its 1,200 plus strong workforce mines some of the world’s highest quality thermal coal as well as metallurgical coal. HVO is proposing to extend its operations to 2050. This will support around 1,500 ongoing local jobs and continue support for local businesses, charities and community infrastructure and projects.

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