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Trees for Bees

The humble honey bee needs your help!
The beekeeping industry is facing some of its biggest challenges with increasing bee pests and diseases. This is of great concern because, in terms of the food we eat, about a third of the calories and three-quarters of the diversity rely on bees for pollination.

The most important issue leading to a bee crisis in New Zealand is declining floral resources and the subsequent scarcity of quality bee pollen, which leads to bee malnutrition. The key to good bee health is a continual supply of diverse pollen and nectar from natural sources.

Bees consume pollen as a protein and vitamin source and nectar for energy. While gathering these resources, they move pollen from one plant to another thus pollinating of crops and plants. Availability of quality pollen resources is critical during spring when beekeepers are building up bee populations for pollination services. Any shortfall leads to protein stress that weakens bees making them more susceptible to diseases and pests (e.g Varroa mite); it also dramatically slows the queens breeding output and this results in low field strength and under-performing pollination services.

- Federated Farmers of New Zealand
Create a Buzz in your backyard!

Urban gardeners are being urged to lend a hand to a small and often overlooked worker that plays a huge part in New Zealand’s economic well-being – the humble honey bee.

Landcare Research has joined with the National Beekeepers’ Association (NBA) to launch the Urban Trees for Bees program.

The initiative is based on the successful Trees for Bees program launched last year by the Federated Farmers of New Zealand Group that was aimed at the agriculture sector and is based on improving the numbers and health of New Zealand’s bee stocks.

Urban Trees for Bees includes tips to make gardens more bee-friendly and researcher Linda Newstrom-Lloyd says creating the list of best bee plants for gardeners was quite different from the previous regional lists for farmers.

“Plants in gardens often receive more specialised care than plants out on the farm and they don’t need to be so practical.  In gardens, the possibilities for numerous plant species with glorious flowers are endless and even the vege garden can have lots of good bee plants like squash and corn.

“Almost all of the herb plants tend to have a lot of nectar and are particularly well loved by bees, especially rosemary, lavender and sage.  The same is true for fruit trees like apples, and plums and especially citrus fruits.  Native plants for the garden such as New Zealand flax and the cabbage tree are also of high value for bees,” Dr Newstrom-Lloyd says.

NBA spokesperson, Maureen Maxwell, says growing awareness of the plight of bees has seen an increase in calls from gardeners to assist.

“Now that there is a much greater awareness of the global bee crisis, most people want to do something to help the bees in New Zealand.  The plant list we created for gardens in the Urban Trees for Bees project is an excellent tool that people can use to help protect the New Zealand honey bee in cities and in country gardens,” she says.

- National Beekeeper Association of New Zealand

The Urban Trees for Bees brochure presents a shortlist of bee plants suitable for both city and country gardens. To download your copy or to find out more about how you can help, follow the link below.

Urban Trees for Bees Program

Or if you are in the Farming Industry and would like to know more or download your copy of the Trees for Bees Program, follow the link below.

Trees for Bees Program - smart farming for healthy bees.