BRING IN BEES

NZ Gardener - - GARDENING ODDS & SODS -

• Plant blocks of the same flower

at least a me­tre wide so they are easy to find and the bees don’t need to move very far be­tween each bloom.

• You don’t need to plant a ded­i­cated gar­den plot for bees. Just in­clude bee-friendly plants in among the veg­eta­bles, flower beds and around fruit trees. Grow flow­er­ing trees, shrubs and hedges.

• Plan a suc­ces­sion of flow­ers

so there is food avail­able all year round. Pollen is rich in pro­tein and is es­pe­cially im­por­tant in spring when lots of young bees are raised to in­crease the hive pop­u­la­tion num­bers. Both pollen and nec­tar are needed over sum­mer. Nec­tar is stored over au­tumn as honey to pro­vide food for the win­ter.

• Or­na­men­tal flow­ers,

veg­eta­bles, herbs, shrubs and trees – na­tive and in­tro­duced – can all pro­vide bee food. So can weeds. Be mind­ful of bees be­fore spray­ing or erad­i­cat­ing flow­er­ing weeds. Gorse and broom, for ex­am­ple, sup­ply pollen in early spring when there is a short­age.

• Sim­ple, open, sin­gle

tra­di­tional flow­ers give eas­ier ac­cess to pollen than highly mod­i­fied, dou­ble-petalled mod­ern cul­ti­vars. So do the flat­topped flower clus­ters on mem­bers of the Api­aceae fam­ily (car­rots, fen­nel, pars­ley, co­rian­der, parsnip) which act as land­ing pads for pol­li­na­tors.

• Bees need wa­ter too.

Pro­vide clean, shal­low wa­ter with a land­ing plat­form for easy ac­cess and a beach gra­di­ent so bees can climb out if they fall in.

• Don’t spray at all

or if you must, spray early in the morn­ing and at sun­set when bees are not around. Don’t spray when plants are in flower and don’t let spray drift con­tam­i­nate bees’ drink­ing wa­ter.

• Bees find their hive

us­ing vis­ual cues. If there are sev­eral hives side by side, bees will find their own home more eas­ily if the hive boxes are painted in dif­fer­ent colours.

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