Planting flowers to feed the bees

Bees R Us owner Stephen Black tends to his bees
Fairfax NZ

Bees R Us owner Stephen Black tends to his bees

Wildflowers are being planted in a council run community orchard in an effort to feed the bees.   

The New Plymouth District Council is taking part in September's Bee Aware Month, with the theme of "feed the bees" by planting bee-friendly wildflowers in the Brois St Orchard.  

Parks operation manager Stuart Robertson said the planting would be a trial to see the effectiveness of seeding orchards with flowers that bees love to feed on. 

"Bees pollinate two-thirds of the food we eat and more than $5 billion of New Zealand's agricultural exports depend on bees." 

Bee numbers are dropping because of the use of pesticides and the destruction of habitat, Robertson said. 

"We need them to pollinate the plants that give us fruit and veggies and everyone can lend a hand by being bee-friendly in their gardens." 

Taranaki beekeeper Stephen Black said pesticides, the varroa mite and the reduction in spring and winter food sources was putting stress on the bee population.   

"Over winter bees shrink down to about 5000 bees in a hive. A  good honey producing hive needs 50,000, so between August to November they have to grow their numbers and to do that they need protein. They get that from early flowering plants such as willows and gorse."  

The situation isn't too bad in Taranaki, because of the riparian planting scheme, but one problem with the scheme is it concentrates on native plants, he said.

"And a lot of natives don't provide that very early spring protein."  

There has been an increase in bee keeping because of the popularity of manuka honey, he said.

That increase in bee numbers in some areas has also caused stress for bees as they have to compete for food, Black said.

 - Stuff

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