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