The Mural That Has A City Buzzing About A Vital Environmental Disaster

The new "Bring Back the Bees" mural, by street artist Mulga, has put the spotlight on a global threat.

Bee populations are in dramatic decline, and that in turn is risking our food supplies, including some of our favourites like chocolate and coffee.

Around the world, these tiny workers are responsible for one-third of our food.

In Australia alone they contribute $14.2 billion to the economy every year.

"The bee population globally is in dramatic decline - up to eight percent in the Middle East, and 30 percent in America," Taronga Zoo bee keeper Elle Bombonato warned.

Image: 10 News First

Many food crops are dependent on bees for pollination including avocados, strawberries, broccoli, blueberries as well as coffee and chocolate.

But humans have had a devastating impact.

"It's a desert for bees out there," Bombonato said.

"With all these developments happening around the cities, often they're landscaped with plants that aren't bee-friendly. We should be planting more flowering plants such as basil and lavender, so bees can collect nectar and also the important pollen.

"Then there's climatic change. We are starting to warm up so what happens is flowers bloom earlier and when bees come out of hibernation there aren't a lot of flowers for them to eat."

Image: 10 News First

Like many people, Mulga was unaware how vital bees are.

"It's the first time I've painted bees," he said.

"I think they are pretty cool little dudes and I didn't realise they were so important to humans, so I think we should look after them."

His mural was commissioned by Burt's Bees, which has also provided a way for consumers to help.

"We have developed a limited edition Strawberry Lip Balm, and with every purchase we donate a $1 to the Wheen Bee Foundation, which supports the researchers who are looking to improve the population of bees globally," said Shaunte Mears-Watkins from the company.

Image: 10 News First

It's worth noting all of the worker bees are females -- and when it comes to busy bees, no-one beats the Queen.

"The Queen bee can lay up to 2000 eggs in one day and up to 200,000 eggs in one season - she is very very busy." Bombonato said.

And don't be afraid if you see a swarm.

"Often the workers accompanying the queen when they swarm are full of nectar so they are actually at they're safest. Don't be alarmed just contact your local bee keeping club and they'll come and safely remove the bees," the beekeeper said.