Put the buzz back in your neigh­bour­hood

More peo­ple are learn­ing to ap­pre­ci­ate the cru­cial work bees do in the food chain, writes NZ Gar­dener deputy editor


Did you know that a third of the food we eat re­lies on pol­li­na­tion by bees? The hum­ble bee is es­ti­mated to con­trib­ute a whop­ping $5 bil­lion a year to the na­tional econ­omy. Yet num­bers con­tinue to de­cline at an alarm­ing rate all over the world.

The reper­cus­sions of a pop­u­la­tion de­cline are huge. If bees die out, so will hu­mans. But bees need us as much as we need them in or­der to thrive and sur­vive. And we haven’t made it easy for them lately.

Nat­u­ral sources of nec­tar and pollen are dis­ap­pear­ing as our neigh­bour­hoods be­come more built-up, leav­ing bees ex­hausted, vul­ner­a­ble and hun­gry.

Bug­man Ruud Klein­paste says many Kiwi gar­den­ers use pes­ti­cides that may be bad for bees, and our love of low­main­te­nance gar­dens lack­ing flow­ers hasn’t helped ei­ther. bird­bath or pop a saucer of wa­ter on your win­dow ledge.

Blue, pur­ple, white and yel­low flow­ers are favourites for bees – they can’t see the colour red! Sin­gle blooms make land­ing and re­triev­ing nec­tar much eas­ier too.

Plant flow­ers, shrubs and even veg­eta­bles in clumps to cre­ate a stronger vis­ual for bees – it’s a bit like a bill­board pro­claim­ing, ‘there’s lots of food over here!’

A more re­laxed ap­proach to gar­den­ing helps too. Leave your basil to flower and avoid mow­ing your lawns too of­ten to give clover and dan­de­lions a chance to grow.

Choose a range of plants that flower through­out the year. It’s im­por­tant that bees are fed all year round, not just in spring.

Neigh­bourly and NZ Gar­dener would love to hear how you get on. Email mail­box@nz­gar­dener.co.nz to tell us where you’ve sown your wild­flower seeds and we’ll mark it on our Plan Bee map. Come on, let’s get ev­ery neigh­bour­hood in New Zealand buzzing!

Nat­u­ral sources of pol­li­na­tion are dis­ap­pear­ing across the world.

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