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Migration Centre of South Australia

Idea: Beekeeping course creates buzz for new migrants



Some of Tasmania's newest residents are doing their bit to help declining global bee populations.

Young migrants and refugees at Hobart's TasTafe are giving their English lessons a more practical application, taking part in an urban beekeeping project.

TasTafe has one hive and about 25, 000 bees on its rooftop.

Ian Hewitt, a coordinator of the Young Adult Migrant English Program, says the students are getting a lot out of the program.

"They're learning English and they're learning about beekeeping and the environment and science at the same time, " he said.

Beekeeper Robin O'Brien is teaching about 40 students how to open hives, how to identify healthy and sick bees and how to look after them.

"I'm teaching the basics of beekeeping to the students, who are keen to learn about it."

Student Arop Majok is part of a core group of about 10 students who have taken a particular interest in the project.

"Maybe one day if I go back home to Sudan I can teach some other young kids how to look after the bees, " he said.

Boosting disease-free stocks

Bees are vital for plant pollination and Tasmania is one of the only places in the world with a disease-free bee population.

Bee populations are declining worldwide because of disease, parasites, pesticides and some farming practices.

Tasmanian beekeepers are getting older and there have been concerns about who will take the industry into the future.

Earlier this year, the Tasmanian Government announced 10 places would be offered in certificate two and three courses at TasTafe.

Robin O'Brien says a handful of the students look likely to continue beekeeping after their English course finishes.

"Some people, no matter what, have a fear towards bees but a lot of the students happily put their head over the hive and are digging away without being told, " he said.

"There are some naturals in there."

The students have already produced more than 50 kilograms of honey and expect to extract plenty more.

They have been giving the honey to staff and friends for a small donation, to cover the costs of the program.

By Ellen Coulter
Sourced from ABC NEWS 1/08/2013


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