BEEcause they need us

The Rotarians for Bees (R4BEES) group was initiated by John McCaskill in 2018 as a project of the Rotary Club of Canterbury, Vic. The focus of the group is to highlight the vital importance of bees and pollinators in sustaining life as we know it.

Bees and other pollinators pollinate nearly three quarters of the plants that produce 90 per cent of the world’s food. It is estimated that one third of the food we consume each day relies on pollination, mainly by bees.

Bees are vital for the preservation of ecological balance and biodiversity in nature. They provide one of the most recognisable ecosystem services (i.e. pollination), which is what makes food production possible. By doing so, they protect and maintain ecosystems as well as animal and plant species, and contribute to genetic and biotic diversity.

Bees also act as indicators of the state of the environment. By observing the presence, absence, development and health of bees, it is possible to ascertain changes in the environment and implement the necessary precautionary measures in time.

In Australia, the numbers of pollinators is dropping due to a variety of causes, including pesticides, droughts, fires and loss of habitat. At the same time, planned increases of agricultural and horticulture production require even more pollinators. Changes are needed to ensure the sustainability of bees and pollinators.

A major reason for the decrease in countries outside Australia is the varroa mite, which is fortunately not in Australia at present but has devastated beehives in all other parts of the world.

Rotary is a catalyst for building a sustainable bee and pollinator population in Australia. The Rotarians for Bees Discussion Forum aims to widen the involvement of Rotarians to understand the problems facing pollinators and to develop programs that can support their sustainability. Members come from all Rotary districts in Victoria and the ultimate goal is to spread discussion across Australia.

“It was always our objective to get the model right in Victoria, with full support and involvement from all five districts before then replicating that model in all states,” said John.

“We are thrilled with the success and the support we are receiving, and it is now time to reach out to Rotarians in all states to achieve the same success in reaching people who share our concern about the environment and sustainability and want to support R4BEES projects to help our bees and pollinators.

“We also hope many of these people will join Rotary clubs and see our organisation as one addressing contemporary issues and needs.”

In the three years since its inception, R4BEES has gained wide recognition within and outside Rotary for raising the plight of bees and other pollinators and for helping develop supporting projects. It has forged close relationships with the Wheen Bee Foundation and other not-for-profit bee support groups as well as the Victorian beekeeping industry.

They have developed a very close Rotary relationship with ESRAG (Environment and Sustainability Rotary Action Group) and a key project to highlight Rotary International’s seventh Area of Focus – Supporting the Environment.

District 9800 recently awarded John and Rotarians for Bees an Environment Award for this project.

To learn more on how to get involved, email or visit: / /