Beekeepers are calling on bee-lovers across New Zealand to take what actions they can to improve the health and resilience of Kiwi bee populations this September for Bee Aware Month.

Apiculture New Zealand, the national body representing beekeepers and honey producers, is asking Kiwis to Feed the Bees by planting bee-friendly trees and plants this spring.

“One of the best things Kiwi bee lovers can do for our bees is to grow bee-friendly trees, wildflowers or shrubs in their gardens or public spaces.  This provides essential nutrition for our bee population ensuring they can be resilient in the face of the many challenges they face,” says Apiculture New Zealand chief executive Karin Kos.

“We recognise that under Covid-19 Alert Level 4 bee-lovers might not be able to easily access bee-friendly plants right now, so instead we want to encourage Kiwis to get out into their gardens and find a spot for a bee tree.  Once our alert levels have changed then you can get the tree in the ground,” she suggests.

Throughout September, Apiculture NZ members and supporters will be sharing information about planting for bees. When choosing what to plant, Ms Kos recommends people visit the New Zealand Trees for Bees Research Trust website.  “Trees for Bees has done extensive work on identifying the best plants for bees and has produced regional planting guides, individual profiles of star performing bee plants and advice on planting for home gardeners and rural property owners.  They offer a wealth of knowledge to gardeners and bee lovers.”

“Some of the best bee-friendly trees are many citrus and pip fruit trees, or native plants like harakeke or rewarewa.  These offer bees excellent, ongoing sources of nutrition and well-nourished bees are better able to withstand threats like varroa, habitat loss, climate change and diseases.” she explains.

Bee Aware Month is a national educational campaign initiated and co-ordinated by Apiculture NZ.   Events planned for the month are currently on hold, but educational resources produced for schools, community groups and families to use are available on the Apiculture New Zealand website.

Apiculture NZ is also running a Kids’ Art Competition with the theme ‘Bees, Trees and Me’ throughout the month.  The 12 winning entries from this competition will be compiled into a calendar and sold to raise money for Apiculture New Zealand’s bee health research and education fund.