Plan your planting for the bees
Helen English can think of nothing nicer than lying on her lawn, looking up through the blossoms of her flowering cherry, watching the bees.
‘‘The noise they make is just amazing - you almost feel like you’re buzzing yourself.’’
Helen keeps a couple of hives on her Oxford farm and is a committee member of the Christchurch Hobbyists Bee Club, but does so not for honey, but out of a sense of responsibility.
‘‘They need all the help we can give them. I keep a puddle in our driveway full all year long, so they’ve got somewhere to drink.’’
Helen has changed the way she gardens since she became fascinated with bees.
‘‘I love double petunias, but I only plant singles because the bees get into them easier. Buxus is nice, but there’s nothing there for the bees. We need to be planting good old-fashioned bedding plants.’’
She speaks regularly to garden clubs about the benefits of bees in the garden, and says people just need to be reminded about what bees need.
‘‘If you’re looking for something for tea, you don’t go to a lolly shop. If a bee is looking for tea, it’s not going to fly into a garden with no flowers. We’ve become fifty shades of green, but there’s nothing in it for the bees. They need flowers.’’
Helen swears by thyme, crab apples and flowering cherries.
‘‘You don’t need a big garden - you just need to plant things that the bees will eat like herbs and flowers.’’ Helen also only mows her lawns once the day has cooled and the bees have gone to bed.
‘‘I used to mow around all the patches of daisies but that got a bit tiresome.’’
Michael Coulter keeps a 3/4 acre backyard nursery in Christchurch and says he always leaves some of his vegetables to go to seed to feed the bees.
‘‘They love brassicas. Cabbage, cauliflower, kale. It doesn’t make for great honey, but it gives the bees the food they need in the spring.’’
Coulter, who is without bees for the first time in 20 years because his hive was decimated by wasps earlier this year, says he lives in harmony with his garden companions.
‘‘I grow exhibition chrysanthemums, so need to spray, but I do it in perfect harmony with the bees. I use bee-safe sprays and only ever spray once the bees have gone to bed. ‘‘
Bees love thyme and thyme makes great honey, according to North Canterbury beekeeper, Helen English
Helen English loves bees and has two hives on her farm in Oxford