New Zealand's beekeepers are calling on Kiwis to "Bee a Hero" this September, as the country celebrates Bee Aware Month.
Bee Aware Month is an annual educational campaign organised by Apiculture New Zealand and supported by bee lovers across New Zealand.
There were two key goals of the campaign, Apiculture New Zealand CEO Karin Kos said.
"We want to lift awareness of the critical importance of bees to New Zealand's environment, food chain and economy, and teach Kiwis some simple actions that everyone can take to improve bee health."
Green-fingered Kiwis could help by growing bee-friendly plants in their gardens, while non-gardeners could also do their bit, Kos said.
"Mowing your lawns less often is one really simple thing that can make a difference for bees. Weeds like clover and dandelions are great food for bees."
Kos also encouraged Kiwis to support beekeepers, or New Zealand's "everyday bee heroes," who, since the advent of Varroa, had become essential to the survival of honey bees.
"Our beekeepers work hard to care for and protect our bees. Buying local honey, especially some of our beautiful native varieties like rewarewa or kāmahi, or other bee products is a great way to back our beekeepers and their bees."
Listen to Jamie Mackay interview Karin Kos on The Country below:
It was also important to take care with garden sprays, said Kos, who recommended either avoiding garden sprays, selecting bee-friendly products or following the spray safe rules.
"Spray only in the early morning and evening when bees are less active; never spray when flowers are in bloom and always read instructions carefully before spraying."
The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) which is a key supporter of Bee Aware Month, sets the rules around when, how and where insecticides can be used.
"Insecticides play an important role in food production, but some are harmful to pollinators, such as moths, birds and bees," the EPA's acting General Manager of the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms group, Clark Ehlers said.
"Bee Aware Month is a great time for people to ensure they're following label instructions when using chemicals, or using alternative pest control methods, to keep our pollinators safe."
Throughout Bee Aware Month, Apiculture New Zealand and its supporters and sponsors will be sharing bee facts, running competitions and, where possible, organising community events.