The winning project
Dawson’s Burrowing Bee Education Project, was presented by Director of Regions, Jessica Machin and was voted the winner of the 2021 Impact Circle recipient. This has been brought to life as a collaboration between the WA Museum’s regions and the Science/Collections departments courtesy of the funds so generously donated by the Impact Circle donors.
The Dawson’s Burrowing Bee is big hairy, solitary, ground-nesting species native to the Gascoyne region often called Mungurrgurra or sometimes Jurrabarri. Females burrow into bare clay flats to make their nests and like many other ‘solitary’ bees, exhibits gregarious tendencies. An active nesting colony may contain up to 10,000 burrows and can provide one of the most exciting entomological experiences.
The project has allowed the Gwoonwardu Mia Gascoyne Aboriginal Heritage and Cultural Centre to develop a legacy education program, focusing on the bee by working closely with Dr Terry Houston, Research Associate at the Department of Terrestrial Zoology (Entomology) and Antoinette (Toni) Roe, Operations Manager of Engagements and Events and the cultural knowledge keeper for Gwoonwardu Mia.
This was identified as a rare opportunity for two experts to join forces to create content that links both Indigenous knowledge, and the scientific research around these unique specimens and the Impact Circle support means that generations of children will be able to share, enjoy and learn from the program.
An education legacy
The Gascoyne region will begin learning about these native bees from the 19 July 2022.
The program will be kicked off with a community day and Gwoonwardu Mia will host an open day to schools and the community.
Students will be able to engage directly with a curator from the WA Museum who will be on hand at the centre to share their knowledge and provide insight into the collections and the research done by the museum. This day will include hands on activities including the launch of a digital interactive colouring in screen customised for the site and the Museum in a Container will also make an appearance in Carnarvon for the first time.
Following this, a loan box will also be made available to schools and education group from around the Gascoyne region. The loan box will include:
- Bee model to show the anatomy of the burrowing bee and how it varies from other species
- Diorama to show the burrow and landscape
- Interactive activities such as the “Food Web” which will ask students to map out the current and future threats to the burrowing bees.
- Life cycle activity
- Stories from Toni Roe, and how the bees hold a special connection to her elders.
My connection to the bees come from my elder’s my gran’s the Dodd family. They have taught and showed me so much in the past. Being out on country camping, filming, talking and just hanging out with my elders and the bees meant so much as they are all now deceased, I will carry those memories and the story forever in my heart.’ – Toni Roe