LOOKING for a low-maintenance pet that doesn't take up too much space, won't bite and needs no looking after when you go on holidays?
I suggest you try native Australian stingless bees.
Unlike the introduced European honey bee, Australia has bees that won't sting, making them perfect "pets" for children and safe for those who have allergies, says Cath Young.
The family has adopted a hive of native stingless bees which takes pride of place outside her seven-year-old daughter's window.
"We watch them fly off and return home later with big blobs of pollen on their back legs for their queen," she says.
Worldwide, these little critters have been pushed to the brink by loss of habitat, disease and pesticides.
Although there are hundreds of species of Australian native bees, the stingless bees are the only ones that make and store quantities of honey.
"We only get about a jar of honey per year from the hive, but that's not why we have them," Ms Young says.
"We are doing it because the world needs bees.
"We toyed with the idea of getting European honey bees, but that was too complicated and we figured if we were going to have bees, why not help our native species?
"Kids have a natural interest in animals and Marlo loves them so much she wrote a speech and convinced her school to adopt a hive as well."
Apart from harvesting honey once a year when the hive gets past a certain weight, the bees need little work besides placing the hive in the right location in the garden.
For more information on native bees, visit: www.sugarbag.net
Megan Kinninment blogs the offbeat (and bees) at http://www.seekerofthelostarts.com.
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