Media advisory

18 May 2023

Bee engaged in pollinator-friendly practices: World Bee Day, 20 May 2023

Planting a range of bee-friendly plants and protecting pollinators is the focus of this year’s World Bee Day on Saturday 20 May.

“Not only does the honey bee provide us with a great source of natural food, but it also plays a critical role as a commercial pollinator in our agriculture and horticulture sectors,” says Karin Kos, Chief Executive of Apiculture New Zealand.

New Zealand has a flourishing population of honey bees cared for by 10,165 registered beekeepers with a total of 718,214 hives across the country. With the hard work of producing honey done for the season, honey bees will now be foraging for food to keep their hives fed through the winter.

Trees for Bees Farm Planting Adviser Dr Angus McPherson says during autumn it is critical for bee colony health that bees have access to plentiful forage ahead of winter.

At this time of year Kiwis can help local bee populations by considering bees when planting in their gardens and farms. Some foraging favourites that can be planted in May to help bees stock up on food for winter include herbs such as lavender, salvia, rosemary and oregano, and shrubs such as michelia yunnanensis and the native koromiko. Those with larger properties might like to consider yellow gum trees, lacebark or puriri.

Care around pesticide use is also important for keeping bees and other pollinators safe. If insecticides or other garden chemicals need to be used, spraying after sunset, in calm and dry conditions away from budding flowers can help keep neighbourhood pollinators safe.

Before spraying large areas with insecticides, landowners are urged to get in touch with owners of any beehives in the area and inform contractors of the location of nearby beehives. Bees commonly forage within a five-kilometre radius of their hive and may go further if food sources are scarce.


For more information on bee friendly planting, contact Dr Angus McPherson, Trees for Bees Farm Planting Adviser: (021) 832 933,

Check out the list below for more autumn planting ideas. Provided by The Trees for Bees Research Trust:

For more information on the safe use of insecticides and garden chemicals see the Environmental Protection Authority website:

For more on how to help bees see the Apiculture NZ website:

Gardens – autumn flowering shrubs:

Camellia species – simple flowers only
Gordonia yunnanensis – fried egg plant
Hebe stricta – koromiko (native)
Herbs – lavender, salvia, rosemary, oregano
Michelia yunnanensis – michelia

Gardens – spring flowering shrubs:

Ceanothus species – California lilac
Choisya ternata – Mexican orange blossom
Corokia cotoneaster – korokio (native)
Rosmarinus officinalis – rosemary
Thymus vulgaris – thyme

Gardens/farm – autumn flowering trees:

Eriobotrya japonica – locquat
Eucalypyus leucolxylon ‘Rosea’ – yellow gum
Hoheria species – lacebark (native)
Olearia species – native
Vitex lucens – puriri (native)

Gardens/farms – spring flowering trees:

Acer species – maples
Malus/Prunus/Pyrus species – pip and stone fruit.
Pittosporum species – native
Pennantia corymbose – kaikomako (native)
Pseudopanax arboreus – five finger (native)