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

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