SEPTEMBER is Bee Aware Month and those involved in apiculture want people to know how they can help local bee populations.
This year, Apiculture New Zealand’s (ApiNZ) educational campaign called on Kiwis to “bee a hero” in supporting the beekeeping industry and keeping bees healthy.
ApiNZ chief executive Karin Kos said there were two key goals of the campaign.
“We want to lift awareness of the critical importance of bees to New Zealand’s environment, food chain and economy, and teach Kiwis some simple actions that everyone can take to improve bee health.”
She said green-fingered Kiwis could help bees by growing bee-friendly plants in their gardens, while non-gardeners could also do their bit.
“Mowing your lawns less often is one really simple thing that can make a difference for bees. Weeds, like clover and dandelions, are great food for bees.”
Beekeepers had become essential to the survival of honey bees, as they worked to care and protect them.
Buying honey was a good way to back them, she said.
It was also important to take care with garden sprays.
Ms Kos said either avoid garden sprays, select bee-friendly products or follow the spray safe rules.
“Spray only in the early morning and evening when bees are less active; never spray when flowers are in bloom and always read instructions carefully before spraying.”
The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) was a key supporter of Bee Aware Month and it set the rules around when, how and where insecticides could be used.
The EPA’s acting general manager of the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms group Clark Ehlers said insecticides played an important role in food production, but some were harmful to pollinators, such as moths, birds and bees.
“Bee Aware Month is a great time for people to ensure they’re following label instructions when using chemicals, or using alternative pest control methods, to keep our pollinators safe.
Southland Bee Society chairman Geoff Scott agreed it was important to be bee-conscious while spraying.
“You can actually safely spray flowers, you’ve got to pick the time you do it and what you spray them with.”
He suggested going to a nursery to find bee-friendly plants to plant in gardens.