Agriculture Minister, Hon Damien O’Connor, has officially launched the 10th annual Bee Aware Month, a nation-wide celebration of bees and their importance to our ecosystem, food chain and economy.

Minister O’Connor inspected the Prime Minister’s beehives based at Premier House in Wellington this afternoon to mark the beginning of Bee Aware Month.  He told young beekeepers from Te Aro School that bees were the most important animal in the world and needed our protection.  “Without bees we wouldn’t have pollination, and without pollination we wouldn’t have food.  If we look after the bees then they can look after pollination.”

Bee Aware Month is coordinated by Apiculture New Zealand, and the theme this year is: ‘Love our Bees’.  New Zealanders are being asked to show their love by taking some simple steps to improve bee health such as: planting bee-friendly plants like wildflowers, providing clean water for bee rehydration, choosing bee-friendly pesticides and spraying safely.

Bees also provide the much-loved sweet treat, honey, and Bee Aware Month is also an opportunity to celebrate of the wide range of delicious and unique honeys produced here in New Zealand.

Apiculture New Zealand chief executive Karin Kos is asking New Zealanders to support our hard-working bees.  “We are lucky to have a healthy bee population in New Zealand, but we can’t be complacent.  Bees need our help to stay healthy and Bee Aware Month is all about encouraging people to do those small, but vital things, that make a real difference.”

Bee Aware Month is possible with the generous support of sponsors DeWinkel, the Environmental Protection Agency, Mitre 10 and Ecrotek.  The EPA’s acting General Manager of the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms group, Clark Ehlers, says, “Bee Aware Month is a great opportunity to remind people of the importance of keeping our pollinators – including bees – safe.

“We help protect bees and other pollinators, such as moths, butterflies, and birds, by setting the rules around when, how and where insecticides should be used. It’s vital that anyone using insecticides follows the rules, to protect our pollinators.”

Events to celebrate bees will be held across New Zealand, with a growing list of events available on the Apiculture New Zealand website.  Kiwis are also encouraged to hold their own ‘Pollinator Parties’ through the month when they gather friends together, share some kai and plant bee-friendly plants in an unused area of garden or berm.

The annual Bee Aware Month Schools’ competition is well under way with students busily creating videos of two-minutes or under on the theme ‘Love our Bees’.  Twenty-five councils around the country have signed up for Bee-Friendly Council Garden Challenge.  Apiculture New Zealand supplies these councils with wildflower seeds so they can transform civic spaces into bee havens or share the seeds with their communities.

New Zealanders can learn more about bees and Bee Aware Month by checking out the Apiculture New Zealand website or by following Bee Aware Month on Facebook or Instagram.

Agriculture Minister Hon Damien O’Connor inspects the Prime Minister’s beehives at Premier House with young beekeepers from Te Aro School Issac Holback, Izy Iversen-Stenning, Saffanah Rahman and Sterling Williamson. Bee Aware Month starts on Sunday 1 September. Image credit: Simon Edwards, Federated Farmers