Forrest Research Foundation Scholar Kit Prendergast’s Sweet As Native Bee Photographic Exhibition is showing at the Woodside Pleasure Garden as part of Perth’s Fringe World Festival.
The exhibition brings Forrest Scholar Kit Prendergast’s research to a whole new audience, presenting a collection of striking images of Western Australia’s incredible native bees. The exhibition runs from January 17 – February 18, is free and suitable for all ages.
When we talk about bees, images of the introduced European honeybee generally come to mind. But Prendergast hopes to challenge this common idea by presenting interesting factoids and a range of beautiful photos that explore the wonders and quirks of our indigenous native bee biodiversity.
Awarded a Forrest Research Foundation scholarship in 2016, Kit said at the time “the Forrest Scholarship will enable me to realise the full potential of my project and the generous financial assistance will provide invaluable support and stability”.
Kit is in her final year of a PhD project to discover what native bees inhabit urban areas in South-West Western Australia and the factors that enhance or limit their diversity and abundance. This includes the relative value of residential gardens versus remnant bushland fragments as quality habitat for bees.
In addition, she is investigating the potential of the introduced honeybee to out-compete native bees, with her results shedding light on how to harmonise native bee conservation with the important Western Australian honeybee keeping industry.
Through her research, Kit hopes to put native bees at the forefront of public and academic awareness. With much publicity about “saving the bees”, almost all attention has focused on the introduced European honeybee, and as Kit is finding, this is to the detriment to native bees, as native bees have different requirements when it comes to food and nesting.
Kit’s research will provide evidence-based ways to improve the conservation of native bees in Australian cities and abroad. With her research revealing the indispensable nature of native vegetation for native bees, Kit hopes that this will provide further ammunition against the ongoing destruction of native vegetation, be it for urban development, mining, or livestock agriculture.
Kit’s PhD project is a wonderful example of the diversity of work being undertaken by Forrest Scholars, and the inclusion of her photographs in the Fringe World program highlights how the worlds of science and culture can collide with stunning results.