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Unlike humans, fat bees are healthy bees

23 August 2012

Unlike humans, fat bees are healthy bees

Federated Farmers is highlighting how everyone can make a difference to whether bees are healthily ‘fat’ or sickly skinny.

“Just like with all livestock, the health of bees reflects the protein and energy sources available to them,” says John Hartnell, Federated Farmers Bees spokesperson and an exporter of bee products.

“Good protein and nectar produces fat bees and in nature, fat bees are healthy bees. Federated Farmers I guess is standing up for the right of bees to become fat.

“We are keen to work with anyone and everyone to provide positive environments for the honeybee to flourish.

“After several years’ work, Federated Farmers Trees for Bees now has ten regional planting guides available for anyone to create a bee friendly space. While they are available from a number of websites, all you have to do is type “trees for bees” into Google.

“Federated Farmers is now working with the Sustainable Farming Fund (SFF) and other industry groups to understand the true pollen value of every plant available to the New Zealand bee industry.

“You can say we are trying to see pollen through the two compound eyes of the bee.

“Under the leadership of Dr Linda Newstrom-Lloyd from Landcare Research, this project is called ‘Trees for healthy bees’

“We now have farms in the process of being planted with ‘bee friendly’ trees and shrubs. This will allow scientists to monitor the health of honeybees from an unfriendly environment, to one which has a good balance of pollen bearing trees and shrubs.

“The knowledge we will gain will feed into future planting guidelines for both the North and South Island’s. These guides will be suitable for town as well as country.

“Even in deepest suburbia, our Trees for Bees planting guides can suggest appropriate trees and shrubs for homes and schools to plant. Farmers can even plant bee friendly plants on unproductive land, like fenced off waterways, tight corners and even steep hillsides.

“Low maintenance concrete landscaping in-town maybe popular, but it is alien to bee life. As are I need to add are farms where all sources of pollen have been removed.

“While gorse is a problematic weed, its pollen is like Berroca to bees while providing a sheltered flight path.

“My key message is that if you don’t have to remove a gorse hedge, then bees will reward you with increased pollination. When cutting or trimming gorse hedges, leave one side each year to flower providing a much needed pollen source for bees.

“If you plant or look after trees for bees, your home and your farm will benefit,” Mr Hartnell concluded.

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