The Buzz Blog

Welcome to our blog 'The Buzz'.  Here we will keep you updated on what is happening in the world of bees and honey and anything else that we think you would be interested in.  If there is a topic you would like to hear about drop us an email and I'll see what we can do.


Sweetree HaBEEtat - More Tree Plantings

Written by Stephanie on May 18th, 2017.      0 comments

You may recall that in 2013 we dug out a swampy area at the back of our property into a pond to create habitat for native birds and for our bees, it's our Sweetree HaBEEtat.  Over the last few years my stepfather has been growing and tending to native plant seeds and together we have planted hundreds of native flax, grasses and trees around the pond.  The pond is now looking fantastic and is the home to quite a few ducks, frogs, pheasants and the occasional visit from Tui.  As the trees grow we hope to see more native birds down there and that it will provide food for our bees throughout the year.

This weekend we had a working bee where friends and family joined us to plant over 250 plants.  Here's some photos of the day, it's coming along nicely!

IMG 1889  IMG 1896
pond3  pond2
    IMG 1901


 

Read More:

Topics: Bee Friendly Enviromental
 

Wild Flower Seeds Help NZ Bees

Written by Stephanie on October 7th, 2016.      0 comments

wildflowersThanks to all those that have purchased the Bee Friendly Wild Flower seed mix from us.  In total Sweetree has raised $2013 from sales of these seeds to help NZ bees.  We will continue to sell these so it's not to late to encourage bees to your garden!

Bees are vital for the pollination of many flowers. This mixture has been composed of flowers that are proven bee favourites in our gardens.

Bees will forage on these flowers for nectar and pollen which provide carbohydrates and protein for growth and energy. Well nourished bees are more capable of fending off disease and parasites. Wildflowers are naturally organic—they are not susceptible to bugs or diseases, can help control garden pests and they attract bees and beneficial insects into the garden. The mix contains annuals that will provide food for bees all season long.


Purchase Bee Friendly Seeds here





 
Topics: , Bee Friendly, Enviromental
 

Herbs as Bee Food in Your Garden

Written by Brownyn Lowe on September 30th, 2016.      0 comments

Plant some herbs this summer to attract bees to your garden. With some pre planning and planting you are guaranteed to have bees buzzing in your garden patch all summer long.  Even when our herb garden was in it's first year of growth we had bees galore.  A bee keeper once told me that bees love blue flowers and I have found this to be true.

Some good plants to start with include:

Borage Borago officinalis, is a blue flowering annual herb that can be planted from seed or you can often buy plants, from your local herb supplier. Borage has abundant star shaped blue flowers that bloom throughout the summer and attracts many bees. Once you have a borage plant in your garden it will often seed itself and you will have new plants each year as soon as the soil warms up.
 
Thyme Thymus vulgaris, there are many different varieties of Thyme, all equally loved by the bees. Three good Thyme plants to have in your garden would be pizza thyme, (with its vigorous growth it can stand regular picking) Lemon thyme, (with its silver foliage makes a nice contrast and flavour to your dishes, It also has a pleasant lemon scent). And the common garden thyme which is the most widely-known and used.
 
Sage salvia officinalis, with its blue flowers, is a bee favourite. Easy to grow, there are two common sage plants that you may know. The green sage is the most commonly used for culinary purposes. Red sage is mainly used medicinally although it can also be used for culinary purposes, it also makes a lovely carpet-type cover in your garden.bee-on-rosemary
 
Rosemary rosmarinus officinalis, have you heard the old wives’ tale that if the rosemary plant is thriving in the front garden the woman of the house is the boss?  Maybe it just meant that the garden was well cared for, which in turn would lead to a healthy garden for the bees.  Rosemary is another blue flowering plant, easy to grow, just don’t over-water it. Make sure to pick often to prevent it getting too spindly. Pop some flowers into your salad for a taste sensation just leave some for the bees!
 
Catmint nepeta faassenii, is a pretty blue flowering plant that can be used as a ground cover and a companion plant. Ideal for planting around roses (which the bees also love).
 
bee-on-orange-flower


Although we have concentrated on blue flowering plants, bees do like other flowers, last year in our garden they loved the echinacea flowers, we often saw them on the calendula and bergamot flowers. The pineapple sage with it’s bright red flowers was a favourite.
 
All these plants are common and readily available at your local garden centre or herb supplier.  Plant for the bees and have some fun in your garden this summer! As an added bonus the monarch butterflies seem to love these flowers as well.





This article was written by Bronwyn Lowe, Medical Herbalist, from the 'Herbal Dispensary' in Raglan.  At the Herbal Dispensary they are passionate about assisting you and your family achieve optimum health and vitality.  Their wonderful shop in Wallis Street is filled with wonderful natural products - you'll find all you need to support your health naturally. Their health clinic can provide you with a comprehensive, individualised natural health service including herbal medicine, nutritional and dietary, analysis testing, mineral assessment, etc. 

Check out their website here to find out more, purchase online, read articles and much more.
 
Topics: , Bee Friendly
 

Avoiding Insecticides that Affect Bees!

Written by Stephanie on September 23rd, 2016.      0 comments

One of the biggest threats to bees is the use of insecticides in home gardens, farms, orchards and market gardens.  They are designed to kill good and bad insects, including bees so please avoid them.  Sprays and coated seeds containing neonicotinoids are linked to bees disappearing around the world.  Unfortunately they persist in the environment for a long time, so keep on affecting bees.  The European Union have banned neonicotinoid insecticides for two years until further studies have been carried out.  This is fantastic! 
 

neonicotinoids food chain-392-696Avoid products that contain these:

  • Acetamprid    
  • Imidacloprid  
  • Thiacloprid   
  • Thiamethoxam


Tui, one of New Zealand's gardening suppliers, says that “the solution is to reduce the risk of insect attack, by keeping plants healthy, well watered and well fertilised to maintain a strong plant. Insects are more likely to attack weak plants. If insect problems do occur, choose one of the natural based insect control options available”  In NZ you can purchase natural based insect controls such as Tui Natural Plant Protection Range  or go to your local Palmers Garden Centre , who sells a range of bee friendly pest solution such as Easy Trap, Kiwicare and Yates products.

Or you can make your own all-purpose garden spray by using ingredients from your kitchen cupboard.  
 

If you have to spray:

  • Spray carefully and spray in the late evening with bee friendly sprays after bees have gone to bed.       
  • Don’t spray while plants are flowering.
  • Don’t spray insecticides for a fortnight before flowering.      
  • Avoid spraying plants that bees are feeding on.

One major problem is that there are many pest controls, including neonicotinoids, used on produce and as a seed treatment, there seems to be no restrictions in place.   How can we stop this happening?  We can:
  • Grow our own fruit and veges    
  • Preserve your own food    
  • Buy from your local farmers market and ask the producer how they handle pests
  • Eat organic produce and food.  Hopefully this will then increase the supply of organically grown food and decrease the amount of sprays being used in crops.
 

Read more on looking after our NZ bees here:

Topics: , Bee Friendly, Enviromental
 

Feed The Bees - Plant Bee Friendly Plants!

Written by Stephanie on September 16th, 2016.      0 comments

As you may know this month is 'Bee Aware Month' and with spring upon us it's a great time to focus on making sure our Kiwi bees have plenty of food to keep them buzzing!

Bees forage on flowers for nectar, which provide carbohydrates, and pollen, for protein. These are important for growth and energy. Well-nourished bees are more capable of fending off disease and parasites.  And you may be aware there are more and more diseases and parasites that affect bees in New Zealand, it is becoming a big problem.  We don’t want to end up like other countries and have many of our bees disappear, we would lose many of our crops if bees disappeared!

But what can we do?  There is plenty we can do, we can plant bee friendly plants, not use bee harmful chemicals in our gardens and supply water for them.  I'll be covering these aspects in blogs this month.
 

First I’ll cover what you can plant at your place to feed the bees.  Here’s a list of some plants to get you going:


wildflower panarama
 

Herbs:

Basil Chives Lavender Rosemary
Bergamot Coriander Lemon Balm Sage
Borage Dill Marshmallow Spearmint
Calendula Echinacea Oregano Tarragon
Caraway Garlic Chives Parsley Thyme
Catnip Lamb’s Ears Rocket Verbena
 

Wildflowers:

Wildflowers are naturally organic—they are not susceptible to bugs or diseases, can help control garden pests and they attract bees and beneficial insects into the garden. We sell a wildflower seed mix with all the following flowers included, and the great thing is all proceeds go to the National Beekeepers Association for research into helping our NZ bees.
 
Calendula Plains coreopsis Toadflax Baby Blue Eyes
China aster Forget-me-not Blue Linum Corn Poppy
Mixed cornflowers Blanket flower Sweet Alyssum Sweet Mignonette
Farewell to spring Globe Gilia Virginia Stock  
 

Other Plants / Shrubs / Flowers:

Abelias  Foreget-me-nots  Lavender  Seaside Daisy
Balsam  Fuchsias  Marigolds  Sumacs
Begonias  Geranium  Michaelmas daisy  Summer phlox
Butterfly bushes  Giant Hyssop  Nasturtiums  Sunflower
California Bluebell  Gladioli  Penstemon  Sweet Alyssum
Carnations  Globe thistles  Petunias  Sweet Peas
Cornflowers  Gorse  Phacelia  Wild Lilac
Cosmos  Hebe  Poppy  Wild & Old Fashioned Roses
Crape myrtle  Hollyhock  Salvia  Zinnia
 

Trees:

Australian Gum Hazelnuts Napaka Three Finger
Alders Heketara NZ Jasmine NZ Tulip tree
Bottlebrush Kanuka  Oaks Tupelos
Cabbage Tree Kohuhu Pohutukawa Viburnum
Camellia Koromiko Rata Weeping Kowhai 
Cotoneaster Lacebark Rewarewa Willows
Five Finger Lemonwood Sycamores Wisteria
Harakeke, NZ Flax Manuka  Tawari  

bee in vege-945-485-507

Vegetables:

Buckwheat Cucumbers Spinach
Capsicums Eggplant Sweetcorn
Carrot Pumpkins, squash Tomatoes
Courgettes Silver Beet Zucchini

Please note: growing flowers among your vegetables is a great way to encourage bees and discourage pest insects.  Find out more about companion planting.


Fruit & Berries:

Apple  Crabapples  Lemons  Peaches
Berries  Elderberries  Limes  Pear
Blackberries  Flowering quinces  Melons  Persimmons
Blueberries  Grapefruit  Oranges  Plub
Cherries  Kiwifruit  Passion Fruit  Strawberry

Cosmos flower and bee-74-912Of course there are many more, so do some more research for plants in your area.  Garden catalogues often make note of which plants attract bees.  Here’s some tips for choosing plants:
  • Look for flowers with single layers of petals instead of doubles or triples
  • Select simple traditional flowers that are not highly modified
  • Choose flowers that have big open ‘bowl’ type flowers, that give bees easy access to the nectar and pollen
  • Choose sunny spots with shelter from the wind, over shade.

Remember that bees are attracted to abundance & quality of pollen and nectar, density of flowers, size of plant, fragrance and easy access to the flower's insides.  So choose plants carefully, plant in large clusters of the same species of plants together.   Include different sized and shaped flower.  Try to plant flowers for each season so bees have a source of nectar and pollen all year round.
 
Read more on what else you can do to help the bees in NZ
Where would we be without bees
Helping our NZ bees
Avoid insecticides that affect bees
What else can we do to help NZ bees?
 
Topics: , Bee Friendly
 

Where Would We Be Without Bees?

Written by Stephanie on September 9th, 2016.      0 comments

Some people may think bees are just a summertime nuisance. But these small and amazingly hard-working insects make it possible for many of our favorite foods to reach our tables. From apples to almonds to the blueberries in our blueberry pies, we have bees to thank.

Here is just some of the foods that we need to thank bees for:
 
  • Apples
  • Almonds
  • All Spice
  • Apricots
  • Asparagus
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Brazil nuts
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cacao
  • Coffee
  • Carrots
  • Cashew Nuts
  • Cauliflowers
  • Celery
  • Cherries
  • Citrus fruit
  • Coconut
  • Cucumber
  • Dill
  • Egg plant
  • Fennel
  • Garlic
  • Grapes (wine)
  • Kale
  • Kiwifruit
  • Leek
  • Macadamia Nuts
  • Mustard
  • Onions
  • Passionfruit
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Peppers
  • Plums
  • Pumpkin
  • Rasberries
  • Strawberries
  • Sunflowers
  • Tangerines
  • Tomatoes
  • Tea
  • Watermelon


This is what our supermarkets would like like if we lost our bees!


Grocerys without beesPhoto from http://ecstatictruthpdx.blogspot.co.nz/2013/10/grocery-stores-without-bees.html

Very sobering thought isn't it!  We need to protect this amazing insect that we rely on so much.  Find out what we can do to help our bees.
Topics: , Bee Friendly, Enviromental
 

Bee Aware Month

Written by Stephanie on September 2nd, 2016.      0 comments

Bee Aware MonthSeptember is the month we dedicate to celebrating our New Zealand bees!  It's a great time to remind us all how important bees are to New Zealand's environment, biodiversity and economy.
 

Show Me the Honey

This year ApiCulture NZ has set the theme as 'Show Me the Honey'.  Over $5 billion of New Zealand agricultural exports depend on bees and bees pollinate about 1/3 of everything we eat!  Honey is a wonderful natural healer with multiple uses.  There are some many different types, flavours, textures and aromas.  NZ produces approximately 7,440 tonnes of honey each year (and increasing every season), with about half of this being exported.  And of course our special manuka honey is some of the highest valued honey in the world!  NZ honey is something to be celebrated!
 

Bee Populations in NZ

The great news is that, according to ApiCulture NZ, New Zealand's bee population has increased substantially over the last few years, with more hobby beekeepers and small & large beekeeping business coming into the arena.  NZ is nearing 700,000 beehives (up from 300,000 15 years ago) and there are close to 7,000 beekeepers in NZ and that number is growing.  

This is fantastic news but we can't sit back and expect this to continue, there are signs that the varroa mite is becoming resistant to treatments and with such a high demand for honey, like manuka, there is a risk of bees health declining if bees are not taken care of properly. 
 

Bee Health

Bees around the world are in trouble. A world without bees would be a very bleak place indeed. Much of our food depends on pollination by bees as do our gardens and a lot of other products we rely on. 

Bee numbers worldwide are in decline and we must do all that we can to protect them.  Bees are being attacked by a number of major pests and diseases. There are also suffering from a decline in nutritional forage for bees. Nutritional stress is considered to be one of the main factors behind large-scale bee losses. Lack of food also compromises the bees’ resistance to pests and diseases. Another major problem are pesticides and sprays which harm bees in a number of ways.

While New Zealand bees are not as threatened as bees in other countries, events like Bee Aware Month are crucial to raising public awareness to prevent similar losses occurring here.


How can we help?

One of the best things we can do is make sure there is enough food for our kiwi bees. We can do this by planting ‘bee friendly’ plants; in our gardens, on our farms, in our public gardens and even along our roadsides. For a list of bee friendly plants go to www.treesforbeesnz.org/garden or check out our list of plants to grow.

We can also be careful how we use pesticides in our gardens. Try to avoid using any chemical sprays in your gardens at all. But if you have to spray make sure it is in the late evening after bees have gone to bed. Don’t spray while plants are flowering and avoid spraying plants that you see bees feeding on. You can also check the labels on garden sprays and avoid products containing neonicotinoids.

There are lots of other ways to help our New Zealand bees, read our 'Helping NZ Bees' article on other ideas.
Topics: , Bee Friendly
 

Bee Aware Month Winners!

Written by Stephanie on October 9th, 2015.      0 comments

'Bee Aware' month is officially over but hopefully it has given everyone inspiration to carry on looking after our NZ bees ongoing and planting in our gardens to feed the bees.

Over Bee Aware month we had a couple of competitions and we would now like to announce the winners!

Drum Roll Please!!
 

The winners are:

  • Milind Bangera won the Facebook competition of goodies worth $100 with these comments: 'Love to win this for my wife, as she is an awesome person. Every year after winter she prepares the garden and plants lots of different color flowers (yellow, blue, purple and pink) she also keeps water in the bird bath for the bees (I never knew bees get thirsty) and she always uses chemical free sprays in our garden. these are the little thing that can help the bee population:)'.  We loved that his wife plants a great variety of flowers for the bees, has a drinking station for them and doesn't use chemical sprays and we loved that he thinks his wife is awesome!!!
  • These were the winners of the colouring competition:
Under 6 years - Isabelle Blackmore
Colour-Comp-6-years

7  years & over - Emily Steel
colour-comp-7-years

Congratulations everyone, your prizes are on there way!

 
Topics: , Bee Friendly
 

Kid's 'Bee Aware' Colouring Competition

Written by Stephanie on September 8th, 2015.      0 comments

Hey Kids,
 

Did You Know That:

  • A lot of our food comes from bees pollinating the flowers?
  • In a bee's lifetime it makes 1 teaspoon of honey?
  • Bees are in need of our help to survive?


How Can you Help?

  • Plant Bee friendly flowers in your gardens.  Your parents can purchase bee friendly seeds from here or get them to check this list of bee friendly plants.
  • Make sure your parents aren't spraying flowers with pesticides.  But if they have to then suggest that they do it in the late evening, when the beds have gone to bed.  Your parents might like to read more about how bees are affected by sprays here.
  • Provide water for the bees in your garden.  You might like to place pebbles or twigs in a saucer of water, so bees have something to stand on and drink.

We can all make a difference!

 

Be in to win

By colouring in this picture of a bee and sending it to us by 30 September to: Sweetree Honey, P O Box 21 031, Rototuna, Hamilton or scanning and emailing to info@sweetreehoney.co.nz, you could be in to win:
Colour-Comp-0-6-803
 
  • 6 years and under:  a packet of honey stick beeswax crayons and a packet of bee friendly seeds.




Colour-Comp-6-10-310
 
  • 7 - 10 years old:  500g jar of Kirikiriroa honey (from the Hamilton Gardens, Hamilton Zoo and Taitua Aboretum) and a packet of bee friendly seeds.

Download the colouring competition here!
 
Topics: , Bee Friendly
 

Flowers for Bees in the Winter

Written by Stephanie on May 29th, 2015.      0 comments

I've recently been asked what are good plants to have flowering in the garden over winter for the bees.  It was a very good question!  It's good to have plants flowering in your garden all year around for the bees. 

Bees actually spend most of the time in their hives over the winter and eat the stores of honey they have collected over the summer time.  Having said that if it's a nice warm sunny winters afternoon they will pop out for a little while.  I'm not a gardener but have done a bit of research and it seems these are good flowers to have in your garden over the winter for bees:

Salvia-Blue-Bedder
  • Alyssum - white, pink, purple
  • Calendula - orange or yellow flowers
  • Candytuft
  • Salvia Blue Bedder
  • Rudbeckia

 
Topics: , Bee Friendly
 

Plant Trees for the Bees in Spring!

Written by Stephanie on May 15th, 2015.      0 comments

Autumn is the perfect time to plant trees and plants so they are ready for the bees to feed on in spring-time! 

Good carbohydrate (nectar) and protein (pollen) sources are critical to the honey bee’s survival and good health.   They need a good supply of flowers with good protein-rich pollen in spring for raising young bees and then diverse and abundant nectar sources throughout summer.

A poor diet and malnutrition compromises the bee’s ability to withstand long term stresses such as Varroa and to resist diseases.  If we can all plant some good sources of pollen and nectar for bees it will make a big difference to their survival.

Planting these trees will help NZ Bees:
 
  • Wattles
  • Kotukutuku
  • Lemonwood
  • Five Finger
  • Ngaio
  • Putaputaweta
  • Pohutukawa
  • Rata and Southern Rata
  • Lacebark or Ribbonwood
  • Eucalypts
  • Willows
  • Bottlebrush
  • Cabbage tree
  • Harakeke, NZ Flax
  • Koromiko 
  • NZ Jasmine
  • Rewarewa
  • Tulip tree 
  • Wisteria
wattle
Wattle is a good source of pollen in spring-time
Topics: , Bee Facts, Bee Friendly
 

What Can We Do to Help NZ Bees?

Written by Stephanie on September 10th, 2014.      0 comments

National Beekeepers Association created 'Bee Aware Month', a major campaign designed beeto educate New Zealanders about the importance of the humble, often overlooked, honey bee. Bees are critically important to New Zealand and to the New Zealand economy – much more so than you might think!

Without bees, our gardens would be without many of their plants and flowers, and our major agri-export industries (worth around $5 billion) would be in severe trouble and a huge 2/3 of our food would disappear!  The 2/3 of our produce that depend on honey bees for pollination provide 35% of our calories, most of our minerals, vitamins, and anti-oxidants.  What would happen to our nutrient food intake and in turn our health if our bees disappeared?  Albert Einstein said “If the Bee Disappeared Off the Face of the Earth, Man Would Only Have Four Years Left To Live".

Honey bee colonies are dying or disappearing in record numbers in USA.  Thriving colonies disappear overnight without leaving a trace.  The bees seem to fly off never to return, leaving the queen bee and mother of the hive to starve to death.

Things aren’t quite so bad in New Zealand, yet, but New Zealand bees are increasingly threatened with the long-term effects of varroa mite and other new diseases.  Added to this is the misuse of pesticides that affect bees in gardens and on farms, the loss of habitat for shelter and the lack of flowers for bee food.
 

Here’s what can we do to help our precious New Zealand bees survive:

 
  • Go organic or at least limit pesticides in our gardens.  If you struggle with that idea then look for bee friendly sprays and use them at dusk when the bees are back in their hives.
  • Grow plants in your garden that attract bees.  Bees love plants with ample amounts of pollen and nectar wildflowersuch as lavender, rosemary, calendula and forget-me-not .  Remember bees are attracted to these colours: yellow, blue-green, blue and ultraviolet flowers.    You can purchase wildflower bee friendly seeds here.   All the money from these seed sales go back to the National Beekeepers Association to help NZ bees.  Also check out the Urban Trees for Bees pamphlet showing planting suggestions.  
  • Create a shallow pond in your garden where bees can land on the edges to collect water.
  • Don’t mow you lawn too often, leave clover and dandelion in the lawn for a while for bees to forage on (if you can stand it).
  • Eat more organic food to encourage producers to limit pesticides on crops.
  • If you come across a swarm of bees please don’t call the exterminators but instead call your local beekeeping club.  The National Beekeeping Association have some contact numbers on their website.  Having said this you do want to destroy wasp nests as they rob beehive stores.  You can pour petrol on their nests or contact a terminator.  Make sure you learn the difference between a wasp nest and natural beehive though!
  • Find out more about the honey you are eating and make sure it is from beekeepers who care about their bee’s health and not just about production.
  • Spread the word by letting people know this information and support any petitions or change in policy that further protects our bees.

“When the flower blooms, the bees come uninvited.”  by Krishna, Rama

Information for this blog post was sourced from The National Beekeepers Association and The Telegraph
Topics: , Bee Facts, Bee Friendly
 

September is Bee Aware Month

Written by Stephanie on August 31st, 2014.      0 comments

bee-aware

Bees around the world are in trouble. A world without bees would be a very bleak place indeed. Much of our food depends on pollination by bees as do our gardens and a lot of other products we rely on. Over $5 billion of New Zealand agricultural exports also depend on bees.

Bee numbers worldwide are in decline and we must do all that we can to protect them.  Bees are being attacked by a number of major pests and diseases. There are also suffering from a decline in nutritional forage for bees. Nutritional stress is considered to be one of the main factors behind large-scale bee losses. Lack of food also compromises the bees’ resistance to pests and diseases. Another major problem are pesticides and sprays which harm bees in a number of ways.

While New Zealand bees are not as threatened as bees in other countries, events like Bee Aware Month are crucial to raising public awareness to prevent similar losses occurring here.

 

How can we help?

One of the best things we can do is make sure there is enough food for our kiwi bees. We can do this by planting ‘bee friendly’ plants; in our gardens, on our farms, in our public gardens and even along our roadsides. For a list of bee friendly plants go to http://nba.org.nz/about-bees/beneficial-plants-for-bees

We can also be careful how we use pesticides in our gardens. Try to avoid using any chemical sprays in your gardens at all. But if you have to spray make sure it is in the late evening after bees have gone to bed. Don’t spray while plants are flowering and avoid spraying plants that you see bees feeding on. You can also check the labels on garden sprays and avoid products containing neonicotinoids.

There are lots of other ways to help our New Zealand bees, read my 'Disappearing Bees and What We can Do' blog on other ideas.

 
Donate

The National Beekeepers Association is the main advocate for bees in New Zealand. The NBA wants to raise money for research that will help bees. You will be able donate during Bee Aware Month by going to www.beeaware.org.nz

For more information on how you can help NZ bees go to 'Helping Our NZ Bees'

Topics: , Bee Friendly
 

Sweetree HaBEEtat Update

Written by Stephanie on November 14th, 2013.      0 comments

Well the grass seed is growing around the pond area and the fence is finally up to protect the plants from wandering stock.  The fencing was quite a big job in the soft soil, at least making sure that the posts were in solid. We put in a 4 wire post fence with electric top and third wire. Nice big wide gates for getting the bees in and out. Here's a photo of the fence going up.
Pond-fencing

The boys are loving the pond area and get down there as much as they can, they call it 'Mud Island'.  They are especially enjoying the raft that Martin made for them.  They have plans for a teepee, palisade, small jetty and fireplace.
Pond-raft

On the home front I cleared out the herb garden area of a huge amount of weeds , trimmed some shrubs and put down wet newspaper and mulch. It looks so much better!  I ran out of time to plant more herbs.  There are a few things flowering that the bees are loving - Borage, Sage and some shrubs.  And of course when the Rosemary grows they love that.  It will be great when there are more flowering herbs in.
Herb-Garden

I'm now recovering from an operation so can't do anything on the garden for a couple of weeks which is rather disappointing as I was getting into a good rhythm.  Oh well it will still be there for me in a couple of weeks!
Topics: , Bee Friendly, Enviromental
 

Sweetree's HaBEEtat - Background and Pond Creation

Written by Stephanie on September 25th, 2013.      0 comments

We live on a 10 acre block just outside of Hamilton.  We purchased it 11 years ago from a well renowned gardener in the Waikato.  The gardens were beautiful.  Unfortunately with starting a family and a business we didn't have enough time to spend on the gardens and they are not in the same state they were back then.  The structure is still there and now that the children are older we are starting to get it back into shape.  

Considering we are beekeepers I have felt a little embarrassed by the lack of flowers in our garden for the poor bees!  We have lots of trees on our property and the odd flowering plants in the garden, which of course provide nectar to the bees.  But I dream of having a property loaded with bee friendly blooms to keep the bees happy, especially in spring.  We would love to create a wonderful 'haBEEtat' at our home apiary.

I have been thinking about it for a year or so but with such a busy life it has been hard to fit the gardening in.  So I thought I would do a little blog about it in the hope that it will make me accountable to do at least a few things off my list.  The problem is I'm not a gardener, I want to grow plants that can fend for themselves (we are on roof water so they need to be hardy without the need of watering if possible), look stunning and come up each year.  I hope it's possible, I'll soon find out!

Martin has always fancied having a pond in the back paddock of our property.  It has always been a boggy area that lends itself well to a wetland.  A friend who was selling his digger business had a few days free and recently came and started digging out a pond. Wow what a transformation in a short few days!

digger

You can see from the photos below that the wetland pond has began and a hard stand suitable for our beehives as been created.  Grass seed is down, so hopefully that will be up soon.  There is even a small island for the kids! Its a great project and Martin is looking forward to working with the bees in this very sheltered, sunny area.

We've been through the Trees for Bees planting list for the Waikato and books such as 'Know Your New Zealand Trees', 'Nectar and Pollen Sources of New Zealand' and 'New Zealand Native Trees', to look at what bee friendly trees and plants we could establish down there.  The list includes: flax, cabbage trees, fivefinger, lancewood, hebe, bottlebrush and lemonwood, to name a few.  Thanks to my stepfather, who has been through a similar project and a great conservationist, we already have some flaxes and cabbage trees and he has been growing other plants for us as well.   Both Mum and Jim have been wonderful help in getting the weed mat down and planting these out.  These will be a useful pollen source in Spring.

Next we need to fence the area before the stock come back into our paddocks and carry on with the planting.

pondPond-and-bees

On the home front... I have planted some rosemary and a couple of other plants the bees will love and sown some bee friendly wild flower seeds in one of our gardens. Next on the plan is to get into some weeding and garden preparation.  Then I'll sow some vege and herb seeds and plant some lavender.  Hopefully the weather will be kind to me!

Watch this space for an update soon!
Topics: , Bee Friendly
 
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