The bee’s knees

En­cour­age th­ese busy work­ers: it’s good for them and you

Central and North Burnett Times - - JUNIOR SPORT - with Ma­ree Cur­ran Got a gar­den­ing ques­tion? Email ma­ree@ede­nat­by­

UN­LESS you’ve been liv­ing un­der a rock for the last few years you will be well aware that bees are un­der threat and, with­out bees, much of the world’s food sup­ply would be threat­ened.

Aus­tralian na­tive bees and Euro­pean honey bees all con­trib­ute to pol­li­na­tion, and there are lots of things that gar­den­ers can do to help them thrive. If you grow fruit­ing plants then you need bees in your gar­den, even if you don’t want to have a hive and har­vest honey.

There is a fan­tas­tic pub­li­ca­tion pro­duced by the Ru­ral In­dus­tries Re­search and De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion about plant­ing for bees, called Bee Friendly: A plant­ing guide for Euro­pean honey bees and Aus­tralian na­tive pol­li­na­tors, by Mark Leech. You can go to their web­site and down­load it for free, or you can pur­chase a printed copy on­line there, too. Most of the in­for­ma­tion here is taken from that pub­li­ca­tion.

Bees need pollen and nec­tar, so we need to grow a range of flow­er­ing plants. Like hu­mans, bees need a bal­anced diet so plant lots of dif­fer­ent va­ri­eties to sup­port healthy bees. Also, like hu­mans, bees need food all year so we need to have plants in flower year-round, too. Bees seem par­tic­u­larly at­tracted to blue, pur­ple, vi­o­let, white and yel­low flow­ers, but they will visit flow­ers of any colour.

Flow­ers planted in clumps about one me­tre wide of each species seem to at­tract more pol­li­na­tors than in­di­vid­ual plants scat­tered through a gar­den. In­clude flow­ers of dif­fer­ent shapes to suit dif­fer­ent pol­li­na­tors.

Open or cup-shaped flow­ers pro­vide easy ac­cess, and short flo­ral tubes are im­por­tant for honey bees, but other pol­li­na­tors will ben­e­fit from dif­fer­ent shapes.

Bees also need easy ac­cess to wa­ter, so pro­vide fresh wa­ter but make sure that the bees can ac­cess it with­out drown­ing. Bowls con­tain­ing wet sand or peb­bles are rec­om­mended.

Some good plants to in­clude in a bee-friendly gar­den in­clude basil, co­rian­der, oregano, pars­ley, laven­der, lemon balm, sage, thyme, alyssum, celosia, corn­flower, cos­mos, echi­nacea, fox­glove, gera­nium, marigold, rose, sun­flower, zin­nia, camellia, an­gelo­nia, salvia, ba­copa, tea tree, brachy­come, scaevola, gre­vil­lea, eucalypt, lemon myr­tle, cal­lis­te­mon and cit­rus trees.

Bees are sen­si­tive to chem­i­cals, in­clud­ing pes­ti­cides, her­bi­cides and some chem­i­cals found in non-or­ganic fer­tilis­ers. Choose fer­tilis­ers based on or­ganic ma­te­ri­als. Learn to tol­er­ate a bit of dam­age to your plants. If you do need to spray, start with the soft­est op­tion first, and al­ways fol­low the in­struc­tions on the pack­age. See a hor­ti­cul­tur­ist if you need ad­vice.


THE HONEY BEE HAS BEEN AROUND FOR 30 MIL­LION YEARS Aus­tralian na­tive bees and Euro­pean honey bees all con­trib­ute to pol­li­na­tion.

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