We all depend on the survival of bees
The 20th of May is "World Bee Day"
Bees and other pollinators, such as butterflies, and birds, are increasingly under threat from human activities.
Bees and other insects help make our food by pollinating plants, fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Many of our native plants also rely on pollinators. We will be sharing information here on our Garden Journal about New Zealand’s pollinators, and how you can help them.
Meet Our Pollinators
Bees are probably the best-known pollinators. As well as honey bees, we have four types of bumblebee and 28 types of native bee. Native bees are generally smaller and blacker than honey bees and bumblebees, which were brought here from England. Other pollinators include many flies, native butterflies and moths, and the flower longhorn beetle. Our nectar-eating birds, such as tūī and bellbirds, are thought to pollinate around one in twelve of New Zealand’s native plants.
We need to protect our Bees
New Zealand’s population of honey bees are generally in better shape than many other countries, thanks to our strict biosecurity laws and monitoring pests and diseases. Research shows that some types of intensive agriculture affect our native bees. And, across New Zealand, all of our pollinators face the problem of loss of habitat and potential poisoning, if exposed to pesticides and other chemicals.
Pollination is, however, a fundamental process for the survival of our ecosystems. Nearly 90% of the world’s wild flowering plant species depend, entirely, or at least in part, on animal pollination, along with more than 75% of the world’s food crops and 35% of global agricultural land. Not only do pollinators contribute directly to food security, but they are key to conserving biodiversity.
To raise awareness of the importance of pollinators, the threats they face and their contribution to sustainable development, the UN designated 20 May as World bee Day
The goal is to strengthen measures aimed at protecting bees and other pollinators, which would significantly contribute to solving problems related to the global food supply and eliminate hunger in developing countries.
We all depend on pollinators and it is, therefore, crucial to monitor their decline and halt the loss of biodiversity.
How can we do more?
- Planting a diverse set of plants which flower at different times of the year
- Buying raw honey - support local beekeepers
- Buying products using sustainable agricultural practices
- Avoiding pesticides, fungicides or herbicides in our gardens
- Protecting wild bee colonies
- Making water readily available for bees - we have a great one available here - see our picture below for ideas for water for your bees
- Helping to sustain forest ecosystems
- Raise awareness around us by sharing this information within our communities and networks - The decline of bees affects us all!
- Leave patches of garden to grow wild and don’t spray chemicals there. Some flowering weeds are valuable food sources for pollinators. Leave areas of long grass as shelter for insects.
- Cut your lawn less, and mow smaller areas at a time.
- Make clean, pesticide-free water available for bees and insects to drink.
- Don’t disturb insect nests.
- Have some banks of earth or bare soil in your garden. Native bees nest in these.
- Chat with your neighbours, family and friends about looking after pollinators.
- Share cuttings and seeds from pollinator-friendly plants to reduce costs.
- Find out about looking after your pollinators on community land or in schools.
Plant for Bees & Butterflies
As beekeepers, or farmers by:
- Changing how we use pesticides and look for organic friendly alternatives
- Diversifying crops as much as possible, and/or planting crops attractive to bees around the field;
Get young children learning about Bees, other pollinators and the importance of gardening so that they can grow up in a world enjoying the pleasures that our bees and pollinators currently provide us with.
See below a few great ideas to introduce Bees and Gardening to children as well as a few fantastic bee themed products that we have available for lovers of all things bees.
Beehive Making Activity
We made the little beehive below with some littlies... Simply get a bowl and use a glue gun to wind the rope around the bowl. We used some little bees from the $2 shop and a felt pen to colour in the door - simple, low cost but fun!
A Bee Drink Station
Make sure that you keep a dish of water out for bees particularly during the hot summer months. The below is a great dish for bees. Fill with some pebbles or something that the bees can clamber onto when having a drink.
Plant for bees
Use this fantastic mix of bee friendly flowers in this seed bomb mix - especially designed to attract bees to your garden these flowers will set seed and continue to provide not only your bees but also yourself with loads of flowers year after year - you can purchase these seed bombs here
Learn About Bees
This gorgeous book Hello Honeybees is the perfect way to educate little ones about Honeybee and the book when open turns into a hive - see the book here
Build A Bee Hotel
This nifty little "Gift In A Tin" range contains an easy to-build-kit to create a home for solitary bees in the garden. Fascinating to watch as bees lay their eggs in the holes and young ones emerge. You can either hang it on a wall or fence or sit it on a ledge or a tree stump in the garden. You can find this great little kit here
Bee social. Help raise awareness about bees by talking to your friends and neighbours - you can also post photos on your Instagram account with the hashtag #ilovebees