Gardeners encouraged to plant bee-friendly species

A honey bee collects pollen on a blossom. Photo: Getty Images
A honey bee collects pollen on a blossom. Photo: Getty Images
A Southland beekeeper is asking southerners to take part in Bee Aware Month this September and plant for bees.

Southland Bee Society president Geoff Scott explained the importance of planting for the small, honey-making pollinators, and said the right plants provided bees with their “morning Weet-Bix”.

Pollen-producing plants were best at this time of year, allowing for the bees to build in numbers.

A lot of what people considered weeds were good for this, he said.

His go-to example of bee-friendly planting was Invercargill’s Folster Gardens, where the society set up a new apiary last year.

“There is something for the bees every month of the year,” he said.

Trevor and Lynne Huggins had owned the property for the last 15 years, but when the new apiary was set up, they described how it had flourished lately.

‘‘It’s been quite changing, as far as the garden goes, by having these critters about,’’ Mr Huggins said.

Mr Scott said Apiculture New Zealand was the national body representing beekeepers and honey producers.

Chief executive Karin Kos said one of the best things bee lovers could do for bees was to grow bee-friendly trees, wildflowers or shrubs in their gardens or public spaces.

“This provides essential nutrition for our bee population, ensuring they can be resilient in the face of the many challenges they face.”

When choosing what to plant, Ms Kos recommended people visit the New Zealand Trees for Bees Research Trust website.

Some of the best bee-friendly trees were citrus and pip fruit trees, or native plants such as harakeke or rewarewa.

She said these offered bees excellent, ongoing sources of nutrition and well-nourished bees were better able to withstand threats such as varroa, habitat loss, climate change and diseases.



Breeding honey bees to create honey affects the population of other bees. This has led to a well-documented decline in other pollinator species. If you want to plant for the bees than that is great - do it for the bees and the environment - not for the profit of the bee keeper. And if you want to buy honey you should do so only if it’s to support local beekeepers, who only own a small number of hives and ‘treat the bees well. Small-scale farmers ‘only take the surplus and ensure the bees have enough for winter.