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Bee Friendly Gardens A safe place for our pollinators

There are 28 native species of bees in New Zealand, along with other introduced species such as the honey bee

Native species are typically black and smaller than honey bees

Native bees are non-aggressive and very rarely sting

Best identified by their nests - a cluster of small holes in the ground, generally in sloping loose soil

Humans have relied on bees for 9,000 years

And as you can see, they are very smart little critters!

Insect pollination, mostly from honey bees, is critical to a third of the worlds food supply

Since early 2000's we have noticed huge declines in populations of bees with whole colonies collapsing.

One major factor is likely the Verroa Mite which attacks hives and causes the whole colony to collapse

Other factors could include pesticides, herbicides, lack of food, loss of habitats, predators and stress due to noise and transportation

Introduced wasps are definitely a major threat to both introduced bees and native bees

The introduced varieties of wasps are german, common and 3 types of paper wasps. Wasps are known to raid beehives, eat the bees and honey and they also compete for the bees food source

Wasps destroy or seriously damage 8 - 9 % of honey bee hives each year in New Zealand

So what can we do to help out these fantastic little pollinators?

You could learn how to keep a beehive

Not only will you get to have delicious honey, they will do a fantastic job at pollinating your garden for you!

You can plant bee friendly plants in your backyard

Honey bees like introduced plant species such as Lavendar, Rosemary, Lemon Balm and Thyme

Or most blue, purple and yellow flowering plants are their favourites- but they can't see red!

Comfrey and Borage are rich in nectar and so are the carrot family such as fennel, coriander and parsley so don't worry about some of your veggie garden going to flower!

Native bees prefer native flowers and are the best at pollinating them too!

Think Pohutakawa, Kowhai and Manuka

Native bees do not travel far so try keep their food source abundant and nearby their underground homes

You do not need to plant a bee friendly garden specifically, just pop a few extra natives and honey bee friendly plants in and around the veggie and flower garden you already have

And try to attract them by providing a substantial amount of flowers all year round

Also think about what you are potentially doing to harm them

Avoid using any pesticides and herbicides on your farm or garden. These sprays don't discriminate and although they are often targeting one pest species, they have the potential to kill 1,000 other non harmful species!

Buy organic wherever possible to ensure the production of your food hasn't caused too much harm to our lovely pollinators

Or better yet, grow your own vegetables and fruit organically!

Activities

Learn how to make a bug resort for good pollinator species

Many native bees are solitary so they would love this bug resort!

Play the Bee Drive Game below. The first to draw a full bee wins!

Credits:

Created with images by Aaron Burden - "untitled image" • Haley Owens - "bee on a yellow sunflower" • Shelby Cohron - "Four bees on their honeycomb. " • Denise Johnson - "Ready for liftoff" • J Williams - "Bee feeding on a rosemary flower" • Sandy Millar - "Paper wasp building a nest" • Dave Francis - "untitled image" • Rineshkumar Ghirao - "Variegated Paper Wasps (Polistes versicolor) building a nest " • Kai Wenzel - "Honey bees flying into beehive macro shot, macrophotography ( Apis, Apidae )" • Rowan Heuvel - "untitled image" • Pixamio - "rosemary aromas spices" • Mike Perry - "untitled image" • Guilherme Stecanella - "Hard Work" • jag2020 - "borage flower nature" • kimk88 - "kowhai nature trees" • Hans - "blossom bloom red" • KitKestrel - "pink pearl manuka tea tree leptospermum scoparium" • congerdesign - "white cabbage garden vegetable growing" • Jade Seok - "untitled image" • Herney - "spraying sugar cane sugar cane drone farm" • ShireShy - "carrot carrots produce" • jag2020 - "seedling gardening greenhouse" • Waldemar Brandt - "untitled image" • Markus Winkler - "untitled image"