Natures' little helper needs a hand

By Cayla-Fay Saunders

5 comments
Bees pollinate a third of everything we eat, says the National Beekeepers Association.
Bees pollinate a third of everything we eat, says the National Beekeepers Association.

Northland bee enthusiasts are swarming to try to stop the disastrous consequences the world could face without bees.

Bee Awareness Month in September will highlight that bees globally are under threat. It's the second time the month has been dedicated to bee awareness, highlighting the plight of bees.

It is expected the month will be abuzz with the sound of bees and beekeepers. Their message is that bees in New Zealand fare better than bees in other places, but we still need to be careful if we want to ensure their survival.

Whangarei Bee Club president Kevin Wallace said bees were an important part of our lifestyle.

"We need to be real kind to our bees because we desperately need them," Mr Wallace said.

National Beekeepers Association chief executive Daniel Paul said people often don't realise the importance of bees.

"We want to continue to promote to the public that [bees] are a crucial part of our biosecurity.

"One third of everything we eat is pollinated by bees," Mr Paul said.

New Zealand honey is wanted worldwide, with half of our honey being exported across the globe.

Last year, honey exports were valued at more than $140 million. However, the bees are at risk.

The varroa mite feeds off live bee larvae and adults, and has spread across most parts of New Zealand since its discovery in 2000.

Mr Paul said the potential importation of bugs from overseas honey, pesticides, and reduced foraging for the bees also affected their survival rate.

"The more we turn our pasture land into clover for dairy and into pine forest, the less there is for the bees," he said.

"Worker bees will produce about one twelfth of a teaspoon of honey over their entire life, and without bees we would lose two thirds of our food. The more bees the merrier."

Mr Paul said the plight of bees was not yet as bad in New Zealand as it was in other parts of the world.

"It could become more significant than it is now and we want to avoid that."

Mr Paul said that there were a number of things the public could do to help the bees.

He asked that people avoided using pesticides in their gardens, but if they had to, to spray carefully and to spray flowers at dusk when the bees were sleeping, avoiding spraying flowers in bloom.

For more about Bee Aware Month check out www.nba.org.nz

- Northern Advocate

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