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The Importance of Bees in our Garden
The world’s bee population is in decline, which has a potentially devastating effect on our eco-system. Bees are vital to food production because they pollinate our crops and flowers. All bees play an important part and work tirelessly to pollinate the edible plants in our gardens and they greatly benefit flora in our urban environments and yards.
At King’s Plant Barn, we are dedicated to the long-term sustainability of our natural environment, and as part of that have launched Plan Bee, a campaign focused on educating the public on how to care for bees to ensure their survival. We have ongoing free events in stores, educational talks with beekeepers, free resources in store to show you how to create a bee friendly garden. We’re also really excited to be partnering with For The Love Of Bees to help make positive changes to gardening practices in all communities.
Bees require a plentiful food source throughout all seasons to survive. More flowers, means more bees. More bees means more fruit & veggies.
HOW YOU CAN...
1. Bee Food in the Garden all year round
Habitat loss is still having a large effect on all bees worldwide. This means that food sources have become scarce and can result in hungry bees. The good news is that it's easy to help provide our lovely pollinating friends with full bellies. Consider planting a few bee-friendly plants around your garden, or chuck a small handful of Kings Seeds Beneficial Insect Blend into an empty part of your garden. Your garden won't only burst to life with beautiful flowers and beneficial insect activity, it will also attract bees to your other plants that can be pollinated, such as blooming fruit and veggie plants.
Honey Bee on an Echinacea flower
2. Healthy Soil
The key to offering healthy bees the best flowering plants is by starting with the foundation. Your soil's quality is extremely important to your plants health and the flowers it produces. Did you know that a whole network of microbes underneath the soil can determine how well an ecosystem grows and survives? Plant companion plants to balance out HP levels, and offer an even larger selection of bee-friendly plants in your garden.
Mix in organic mater when planting including compost, sheep pellets and seaweed
3. Access to Water
Although bees don't drink water for hydration like humans do, they do still need it for digesting sugars and for temperature control within colonies and hives. If you have a birdbath or small water feature, make sure to add small rocks for them to perch on. Once bees find a reliable source of water, they will return regularly.
Two bees taking water in from a birdbath - Flickr
4. Beeing Spray Wise
Some pesticides have synthetic chemicals which leave lasting residues that kill bees and other beneficial insects. Choose a natural alternative, don't spray bee friendly plants when in bloom and if you do need to, always spray plants in the evening to minimise harming beneficial insects.
Bee can still be affected by natural sprays if sprayed at the wrong time of day - Flickr
5. Organic Approach
Using organic products with your plants is a great idea, especially if the end result is to harvest fruit, vege and foliage from them. This is the same for bees. Use organic matter and food such as sheep pellets, compost and Aquaticus Garden Booster. In smaller urban residences try using a Bokashi compost bin, the compost breaks down fast so you can dig it easily into your urban garden patch and use the liquid extracted for an organic plant food!
For more information on 'Growing your own soil', CLICK HERE
Natural and organic fertilisers
6. Bee Project: Insect Hotel
A fun project for the whole family! Gather together old pots, wooden crates, straw, wood, bamboo sticks and pinecones to make your very own. These provide a natural shelter for solitary bees and beneficial insects. A cheap and fun way to reintroduce pollinators back into your own backyard!
Our Bee, bug and insect hotel at our Forrest Hill branch
Types of Bees
There are 41 species of bee found in New Zealand.
The most mainstream of these is the Honey Bee which reside in around one million colonies around the country. These bees live in hives and are bred to pollinate and produce honey. When these bees swarm in spring they are the least interested in humans, following their queen on full bellies from a large helping on honey, they're only interested in finding a new place to live.
Our wonderful Honey Bee
The Bumble bee is an extremely hard worker who is out from dawn til dusk, in the fog, wind and even out in light showers. Bumble bees also have colony’s of up to 200 bees and have a queen bee. When a new queen is born she will wander outside and hibernate in the ground over winter before remerging to establish a colony of her very own.
The hardworking Bumble Bee on a Salvia - Flickr
The Solitary bee can come in the form of Leafcutter and Mason bee.Leafcutters, named after their circular cuts they make in leaves to use as nesting material. Males of this species have no stingers and females rarely sting at all, setting up shop in only one small hole they use as a nest. Considered one of the best pollinators they use their entire fuzzy belly to collect and distribute pollen throughout the garden.
Mason bees find abandoned insect holes and cracks in wood and buildings for their nests, adding their own creative flare with sealing the nests with dried mud.
A leafcutter bee, taking plant material back to it's nest
Last there is our own New Zealand Native bee. Most of these bees are solitary, excavating small holes in loose soil banks and burrowing into plant material, they nest in clusters preferring their brothers and sisters as company. These special bees will venture only up to 100m of their nests so it is imperative that they have access to readily available bee-friendly plants.