Bee friendly in September

Southerners are being asked to introduce bee-friendly plants into their gardens to increase bee numbers.

A SOUTHLAND beekeeper is asking southerners to take part in Bee Aware Month in September and plant for bees.

Southland Bee Society president Geoff Scott explained the importance of planting for the honey-making pollinators, saying the right plants could provide bees with their

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 good 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.”

The private garden’s owners, Trevor and Lynne Huggins, had owned the property for the past 15 years, but with the new apiary it had flourished.

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

Apiculture New Zealand is 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.

“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 visited the New Zealand Trees for Bees Research Trust website.

“Trees for Bees has done extensive work on identifying the best plants for bees and has produced regional planting guides, individual profiles of star performing bee plants and advice on planting for home gardeners and rural property owners.”

Some of the best bee-friendly trees are many citrus and pip fruit trees, or native plants like harakeke or rewarewa.

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