Here’s the buzz on be­ing bee friendly

Bees are vi­tal for keep­ing our gar­dens healthy and this month you can help them out by spot­ting them in your neigh­bour­hood, says NZ Gar­dener editor

Central Otago Mirror - - BACKYARD BANTER -

Septem­ber is Bee Aware­ness Month but many of you are prob­a­bly al­ready aware of bees and both the im­por­tant role they play as pol­li­na­tors and the com­pli­cated raft of chal­lenges they face.

Dis­eases and parasite, cli­mate change, pes­ti­cides, mod­ern agri­cul­tural prac­tices and nu­tri­tional stress have all taken their toll on our friendly bees.

Lots of Ki­wis are al­ready do­ing their bit to help bees out by fill­ing their gar­dens with nec­tar- and pollen-rich flow­er­ing plants, pro­vid­ing a fresh wa­ter source for these thirsty pol­li­na­tors and only us­ing sprays at dusk and avoid­ing flow­er­ing plants (or avoid­ing sprays al­to­gether). These are all great ways to in­crease the num­ber of ben­e­fi­cial bugs in your gar­den so I en­cour­age you to adopt them all (and if you are al­ready do­ing them why not chal­lenge other mem­bers of Neigh­bourly.co.nz in your area to do the same to re­ally get your street or sub­urb buzzing!)

But if you love bees, this month there’s an­other way to help them out and that is by tak­ing part in NZ Gar­dener’s Great Kiwi Bee Count.

The Great Kiwi Bee Count is like a cen­sus for bees, so sci­en­tists can find out more about where they are and how they are do­ing. It runs un­til the end of Septem­ber and par­tic­i­pat­ing is easy. Just visit www.stuff.co.nz/GreatKi­wiBeeCount on your smart­phone or de­vice at any stage over the month, then go out­side and watch any flow­er­ing plant for two min­utes, count­ing the bees and pol­li­na­tors you can see.

Not sure you can tell a honey bee from a hov­er­fly? There are pho­tos on the sur­vey form to help you ID the dif­fer­ent bees and pol­li­na­tors.

NZ Gar­dener is part­ner­ing with api­cul­ture sci­en­tists at Plant & Food Re­search to run this cit­i­zen science pro­ject with the aim of build­ing up a more de­tailed pic­ture of the range and be­hav­iour of some of our key pol­li­na­tor species.

You can do the count in your home gar­den, in a public space, in na­tive bush... pretty much any­where! And you can com­plete the count as many times as you like. Ev­ery com­pleted count helps us build up a more de­tailed pic­ture of how our bees are do­ing (plus each com­pleted count gives you an en­try in the draw to win a hose trol­ley set from Gar­dena worth $240).

The results of the Great Kiwi Bee Count will help us build up a re­gional pic­ture of what bees are where – there’s sur­pris­ingly lit­tle in­for­ma­tion about the dis­tri­bu­tion of three of the four species of bum­ble­bee that are found in New Zealand for in­stance. Plus we’re look­ing for the coun­try’s most beefriendly street and bee-friendly neigh­bour­hood... so bee sure the whole Neigh­bourly com­mu­nity in your area takes part too!

The more peo­ple who take part, the more in­for­ma­tion we will have – and the bet­ter in­formed we will ‘‘bee’’ about the chal­lenges fac­ing these vi­tal pol­li­na­tors and what we can do to help them out.

MIKE SCOTT

The Great Kiwi Bee Count is like a cen­sus for bees.

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