World Bee Day is among us and hives across Australia are buzzing. Cormac Farrell has been the head beekeeper of Parliament House for close to five years. It's a voluntary position and he oversees the bees in four honeybee hives and two native stingless beehives. He says that hives can be a little placid or a bit angry depending on a few different things, but he's sure the bees get to know the handlers, and vice versa. "I was really nervous the first time I opened a hive and saw all the happenings inside," he says. "It was just a maelstrom of bees going everywhere, luckily not angry ones, a friend had set me up with quite a nice colony, with a nice easy going queen and they were very forgiving of my clumsy beginner fingers." Now Farrell is an integral part of the Canberra bee community. As well as managing the hives at Parliament House, he looks after ones at a few different venues. Canberra it seems is abuzz with hives in its urban setting. But the passion for beekeeping doesn't stop in the nation's capital - it is shared throughout the nation, with more than 28,000 beekeepers registered in Australia in 2021, increasing by 5000 in just five years. All the way down to the apple isle, Tasmanian apiarist and Australian Honey Bee Industry Council chairman Lindsay Bourke resides. "World Bee Day is a really important event on our calendar because it brings attention to our industry, which is the honey bee industry, and more importantly, to our beautiful honey that we produce in Australia," he says. Honey making has been a lifelong love for Bourke, who became a beekeeper at 23 years of age. He briefly walked away from the industry to follow other career pursuits, but could not ignore the honey in his veins. "Most people retire at 60 years of age. I came back with such a passion and I couldn't let it go," he said. "I can remember when I was young in my twenties and I would put bees into the rainforest to get leatherwood honey, and we'd go back in two weeks time and we would smell the aroma coming from the hives, and we'd take the lid off and they'd be capped white with beautiful honey. It's ... a feeling that's never left me." Bourke says it was incredibly rewarding when people appreciated the honey produced by his crop. And perhaps it is no surprise that they do, with the beekeeper boasting a suite of awards, with his leatherwood honey named the best in the world at the 2015 South Korean world honey congress. Australia has more than 2000 species of native bees, "more than a continent our size would expect but we're such a mega-diverse country," Farrell said. IN OTHER NEWS: But, increasingly bees are under threat. Globally, bee numbers are declining rapidly. Destruction of their natural habitat, intensive farming practices, and pests and diseases are just some of the complex reasons driving a decline in both the number and diversity of bees. "Honeybees are the most important insect that we have in the world. They pollinate all our crops, our nuts, our vegetables, apples and pears and cherries, and everything that we need to eat," Bourke says. "Without them, we wouldn't have enough food for humans in our world." The sentiment is echoed by Farrell. "The whole idea of World Bee Day is to have some fun, try some nice honey, but raising awareness of the situation is really important too," says Farrell. "Without bees we'd be in a lot of trouble and most of us don't think about it." Farrell says there are many things home gardeners can do to be bee friendly. "It's as easy as growing flowers," he says. "Create food for bees and you get the bonus of the beauty of flowers. There are a whole lot of bee friendly flowers that are easy to grow and provide food all year round." He says bees are fond of natives such as banksias, callistemons and correas. "They don't mind exotics either. They love catmint, borage, all the lavenders are bee magnets, and sunflowers, a rosemary hedge is also one of the best things you can have." He also suggests placing a bee hotel in your garden, those little houses made of sticks and mud which are readily available at garden centres.