Placeholder image

How Can I Help Save the Bees?

Bees need healthy, pesticide and herbicide free flowers. If you have a garden, bees are essential to pollinate the flowers that give rise to your crops. Your crops won't be in bloom all summer, but bees need to eat all summer. Here are a few tips to ensuring bees have a variety of flowers to get all the nutrients they need so they can stay strong and healthy, and be ready to pollinate your garden and gardens for miles around.

Thumbnail Image 1

Plant a Bee-Friendly Garden

Bees need pollen AND nectar to succeed in a year. They love options too. So plant lots of different kinds and try to keep something blooming all year long.

Look for 'bee-friendly' or 'pollinator-friendly' signs at your local plant or seed store. If you don't see any, just ask!

For more suggestions on bee-friendly flowers, check out Trees For Bees NZ (see below for more links).

Thumbnail Image 1

Invest in Herbs and Perennials

Most of the websites I found recommend herbs and perennials. My bees LOVE lavendar. This year I'm trying out a few more herbs. If you're ok with the initial investment and you have the space to let them grow, perennials are ideal. Sometimes you can find seedlings for a few dollars. With a little TLC they can grow into a yearly reliable meal for your bees.

Thumbnail Image 1

Plant Some Wildflowers

No time to mess with a garden? Sprinkle some wildflower seeds and wait for a surprising burst of colour to emerge where once there was lawn. You can find wildflower seed mixes specifically created to attract bees!

Thumbnail Image 1

Leave the Flowering Weeds

Weeds are often the first sources of nectar and pollen for bees in early spring. Leave them until your garden blooms. Some ground nesting bees rely on weeds to help relocate their home. See the YouTube video I recorded after I had disturbed this solitary bee's search image.

Thumbnail Image 1

Encourage Bees to Build Nests

Did you find a bumble bee colony in your yard? Don't panic - bumble bees do not swarm, are not aggressive, and rarely sting. Bumble bee nests are temporary - lasting only until late autumn when new queens will fly off to hibernate on their own.

You can encourage bumble bees to build nests in your yard. Above is a small box filled with dry grass. Circled in red is a bumble bee queen searching for an ideal site to initiate her nest in early spring. Bumble bee queens prefer to use abandoned rodent holes, so sprinkle a few rodent droppings in the box to make the space extra attractive! You can find more tips here and here.

You can also encourage solitary bees to nest in your garden. Ground-nesting bees are looking for undisturbed habitat to build their nests - so leave some of the garden debris on the ground. Other solitary bees prefer to nest in hollowed out tubes. There are a variety of websites that post steps to make a do-it-yourself Bee or Insect Hotels like here and here.

Thumbnail Image 1

Keep an Eye Out for Solitary Bees

In New Zealand, honey bees and bumble bees are all introduced (though still important) species. There are three genera of native bees, all of whom are solitary. Solitary bees are often smaller than honey bees, but if you see one in your garden, it means they might be nesting nearby. That's because they don't tend to forage too far from home. Solitary bees are at a high risk of dying out, so if you have one in your yard - good job! You have a bee-healthy garden!

The most commonly seen native bees in New Zealand are 18 species of Leioproctus. These bees are robust and hairy, looking similar to honeybees but smaller (5–12 millimetres long). All are black except for the South Island species Leioproctus fulvescens (shown above), which is covered with dense orange–yellow hair. They are often seen in summer carrying pollen on their back legs, like honeybees and bumblebees. Photo courtesy of Jay Iwasaki.

Check out i-Naturalist or Bug-Guide to upload photos of bees that you find in your yard, or to discover what types of bees might be foraging in your area.

Placeholder image

Websites to find pollinator friendly plants and more information

Remember - not all flowers are the same. What is native and/or nutritious to bees in some regions can be a noxious weed or unattractive to the bees that live in others. Be sure that the plants you are planting are appropriate to your region.

General Information about Bees and Wasps

Information about Bees and Wasps in NZ

Bee Friendly Plants and Flowers for NZ

Bee Friendly Plants and Flowers for U.S.