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.

Last Minute Christmas Shopping?

Written by Stephanie on December 18th, 2016.      0 comments

If you've left it a bit late for Christmas shopping don't worry you can still get hold of a taste of Waikato with a Sweetree honey!  It's too late for us to courier to you, if you're outside Hamilton but you can pop into one of our stockists near you and pick up a jar or two, here is a list of our stockists.

Surprising Horsham Downs

Written by Stephanie on December 12th, 2016.      0 comments

With summer here we are sharing some special Waikato spots we have found in the areas where our honeys are harvested.  This time it's the Horsham Downs area, our home base.  Horsham Downs is just north of Hamilton City and surprisingly has a few things worth checking out!  

HD Golf Course-892-72Horsham Downs Golf Course

Tucked in between the Waikato River and River Road in Hamilton lies an unexpected gem for golf lovers. Only 3 kilometres from Flagstaff in the northern suburbs, Horsham Downs Golf Club is well known for its challenging yet picturesque layout. It also deservedly has the reputation for being the friendly club of the Waikato.  Read more about the golf club.

Fruitdale Orchard

Fruitdale Orchard is nice and close to the Hamilton City boundary, located on Osbourne Road.  They grow strawberries, sweetcorn, peaches, nectarines, plums, tomatoes, blackberries, apples, pears, feijoas and cherries.  Throughout the season you can pick your own, which makes it a great day out for the family, especially when you can have fresh fruit ice cream in the shop afterwards!  Find and more and get directions.

Te Awa River Ride

This scenic 70km river ride is under construction between Ngaruawahia and Horahora, 20km south of the Mighty River Domain at Lake Karapiro. The route will weave through rural and urban landscapes, taking in waterfalls and historic Maori sites as well as trendy shops, cafes and wineries.  

At present (late 2016) the cycleway starts at Horotiu (across the bridge from Horsham Downs), and winds it's way beside the river to the Hamilton City Gardens.  Along the way you pass Hinterland Adventures (laser tag, paintball, clay bird and archery outdoor centre), Fonterra Dairy Factory and Waikato Equestrian Centre.  Ending at the Hamilton Gardens gives you a great place to have a rest and re-energise.

Find out more about the River Ride and view maps.

Other Places to Visit Nearby:

Purchase Horsham Downs Honey here!  Please note not all our honey varieties are available all the time.
Topics: , Waikato

Fun To Be Had In Hamilton City (Kirikiriroa)

Written by Stephanie on December 1st, 2016.      0 comments

Summer is here!  A great time for us to share some special Waikato spots in areas where our honeys are harvested.  This time I'm going to focus on Hamilton City, Kirikiriroa (the Maori name for Hamilton).  Make sure you don't overlook The Tron if you are in the area, it has lots to offer!  Three spots that are special to us, and our beehives are:

The Hamilton Gardens

The Hamilton Gardens has a large array of unique and stunning gardens including Tudor, Tropical, Chinoiserie, Indian Char Bagh, Italian Renaissance, Japanese Garden of Contemplation, Chinese Scholar's, English Flower, Modernist, Sustainable Backyard, Herb and Kitchen gardens.  It truly is beautiful and a great

Garden - Italian-413

place to spend your day walking through the different gardens, then have a picnic on the extensive lawn or eat in the Gardens Cafe.  The lawn gives you the opportunity to kick a ball around, fly a kite or just relax in the sun.  You can hire a bike or ask for a tour of the gardens and if you go to the information centre you can ask for an orienteering map. There are often events in the pavilion or within the gardens that add more variety to your visit such as flower festivals, expos, shows, arts festival, etc.  There are also daily events for the kids for example a tudor trail, discovery trial and bingo, ask at the information centre for more details.  There is fun for everyone at the Hamilton Gardens!  Get more information here.

Hamilton Zoo

The Hamilton Zoo is a fun day out for the whole family.  With over 600 native and exotic animals set among 25ha of lush and tranquil surroundings it is a great escape within the city.  Just some of the mammals you will see are Black and White Ruffed Lemur, Brown Capuchin Monkey, Cheetah, Chimpanzee, Fishing Cat, Giraffe, Meerkat, Zebra, Red Panda and Sumatran Tiger.  There are a variety of geckos and skinks, red-eared slider tortoises and Hochstetter's frogs.  With the largest free flight aviary in New Zealand you get up close and personal with a number of native and exotic birds such as Parakeets, NZ Pigeon, Scaup, Shoveler, Kaka, Weka, Kingfisher, Tui, Macaw, Parrot, Galah, Lovebird and Lorikeet.  Find out more here.

Taitua Aboretum-630Taitua Arboretum

The Taitua Arboretum is the perfect place for a gentle walk and a tranquil picnic, giving you the opportunity to escape the hustle and bustle of life.  The arboretum has a collection of mature trees covering 20 hectares of open pasture, lakes and woodland gardens which are linked by a network of meandering walking paths. With great views and wonderful bird life, the arboretum is ideal for a family outing or Sunday stroll.  Read more and find out how to get there here.

Some other great things Hamilton offers are:

Waikato Museum

On the banks of the Waikato River the Waikato Museum's 13 galleries host more than 25 new exhibitions and 100 public events annually, including history, culture, art and environmental.  There is always interesting exhibits, artwork, talks, events and children's programme on throughout the year.  The Exscite science gallery aims to foster a learning experience in an exciting and engaging environment for the kids. Exscite is jam-packed with interactive, science based activities for young people to actively learn while having fun.  Our boys love it!
Find out more here.

Hamilton Lake

The Hamilton Lake (Lake Rotoroa) is situated in the heart of the city.  It has a path meandering around the lake that is 3.4km long.  After a walk you can eat at the cafe or have a picnic on the lawn.  The kids will absolutely LOVE the playground.  It includes a network of small water features that children can pump water into, dam up and release water, this is a hit with the kids! Make sure you bring some bread to feed the ducks!  Find out how to get there.


Claudelands Events Centre
Our new Claudelands Event Centre is where a lot of our entertainment is hosted in Hamilton.  Not only is it the location of live music, performance, sport, conferences and expos, it hosts the weekly Hamilton Farmers Market in the barn!  Sweetree has a stall at the Hamilton Farmers Market every Sunday 8am -12noon.  Find out more about Claudelands Events Centre and the Hamilton Farmers Market.


Purchase Kirikiriroa Honey here!  This honey comes from the Hamilton Gardens, Hamilton Zoo and Taitua Arboretum.  Please note not all our honey varieties are available all the time.
Topics: , Waikato

Sweetree's Gift Range For Christmas

Written by Stephanie on November 20th, 2016.      0 comments

It's that time of year again!  It's so hard to believe we are at the end of the year already!  If you haven't already sorted Christmas presents there's not much time left!  But don't worry we've got you covered.

For the artisan honey lover or for that special someone, our gift range is perfect!  We have an extensive range of gifts including Waikato honey, gift boxes, books, honey wraps, candles, honey sticks and collectable stamps.  Check out the gift range here.

Or if you are looking for corporate gifts for your clients or staff look no further, check out our great deal for a Waikato gift boxes.
All Gifts A

Picturesque Four Brothers!

Written by Stephanie on November 11th, 2016.      0 comments

With summer around the corner we are sharing some special Waikato spots we have found in the areas where our honeys are harvested.  This time I'm going to focus on the Four Brothers Reserve area.  The Four Brothers Reserve is between Hamilton and Raglan at the top of the deviation.  It's a beautiful scenic drive from Hamilton to Raglan with quite a few gems to see along the way, including:  

Village-farm-shop-photoThe Village Cafe & Farm Shop

Either on your way out of Hamilton or on your way back it's definitely worth stopping into the The Village Cafe & Farm Shop.  The Village Cafe is a rural rustic delight.  Set in a picturesque garden environment complete with a back to basics styled playground, a truly fun experience for children while the caregivers relax. 

The Village Farm Shop is a locally owned and operated co-op venture.  They aim to offer local growers and producers the opportunity to provide delicious food and beautifully crafted giftware at an honest price, benefiting both the makers and the customers.  Enjoy their delightfully bright space packed with wall to wall local goodies!

There's even a Village Boutique if you need your hair cut or a visit to a beauty therapist.

Four Brothers Reserve Walkway

Start at the Four Brothers Scenic Reserve car park on the Hamilton-Raglan highway.  This is a moderate 15 minute climb through bush that leads to the reserve's southern boundary with open farmland and good views.

Karamu Walkway North

Carrying along the farmland at the end of the Four Brothers track you follow the white posts and orange markers along the main ridge to Old Mountain Road.  There are great views of the Hakarimata Range in the north, Karioi and the coast to the west, Pirongia to the south and Hamilton City to the east.  This walk is 1.5 hours one way.

There is the Karamu Walkway South starting at Old Mountain Road or Limeworks Loop Road as well, check the details out here, this is a 3-4 hour walk.

Please note these walks are on private land with sheep, these tracks are closed from August - November due to lambing.

Ed Hillary Forest Reserve, coming

At the location of our original apiary site will be the home of the Ed Hillary Forest Reserve.  The farmland beside Four Brothers Reserve is being planted out in natives to encourage more bird life.  The plan is to connect the Karamu Walkway through the new reserve to create a new loop track.  This is something great to look forward to in the area!

Te Uku Roast Office

Pop into the old Te Uku Post Office for a coffee or cuppa to go. They are open from 6am!  Also check out the gallery with local artist's work and stock up on supplies at the general store.

Pipiwharauroa Walking & Biking Trail

This track goes over privately owned farmland and paper roads on the Wharauroa Plateau and is an 18 kilometres return trip (about 4 hours to walk or 2 hours to cycle).  At 430 meters above sea level, the trail winds over theTe Uku Wind Farm site which gives amazing 360 degree views across the greater Waikato to Raglan, Kawhia and Aotea Harbours and Mt Taranaki (on a clear day).  For more details on this trail check out this website.


Bridal Veil Falls

This is a lovely track through native bush to 2 viewing platforms before descending down 261 stairs to the base of the waterfall, with another platform half way down the stairs.  The waterfall looks like a brides veil, hence the name.  It takes about 20 minutes one way from the carpark to the base of the water fall.  To get there turn left into TeMata Road, just before Raglan, and follow the signs to the start of the track. 

Raglan Area:

There is so much to see and do in the Ralan area, including:
  • Walks along the beaches
  • Water sports including swimming, kayaking, paddle boarding, wind surfing, kite surfing, boating, fishing and of course surfing!
  • Horse Riding
  • Shopping, there is a great variety of craft and clothing shops
  • Cafes
  • Walks such as the Wainui Bush Park, Three Bridges Reserve and for the more adventurous there's Karioi summit tracks.

Check out this great guide to walks in the Pirongia and Raglan area.

Make sure you pop into the The Herbal Dispensary on Wallis Street in Raglan.  They are open 7 days a week and have some yummy healthy delights for you, including Sweetree Honey!

Much of this information and more is found on the Department of Conservation Website, check it to plan your weekend get aways.

Purchase Four Brothers Reserve Honey here!  Please note not all our honey varieties are available all the time.
Topics: , Waikato

Recycling Week

Written by Stephanie on November 4th, 2016.      0 comments

This coming week is 'Recycling Week' in New Zealand.  It aims to raise awareness about recycling and to help us improve our recycling habits.  It encourages us to think about a different recycling habit each day of this week.  For example:

Procurement Monday: Only purchase things that can be recycled such as paper, glass and aluminium (these are best).  If plastic is the only option then choose types 1, 2 & 4, as they are more easy to recycle.

Waste Free Tuesday:  Make a conscious effort to not use your rubbish bin.  Try to recycle or compost items instead.

Reusable Wednesday:  Go to work or school with a waste free lunch.  Try and go with zero packaging and only use recyclable containers.

Rinse & Clean Thursday:  Clean all containers and packaging to be recycled.  Uncleaned products often don't get recycled.

Reflection Friday:  Keep all waste items and weigh it before disposing of it at the end of the day. Multiple the weight by 365 to see how much you could recycle in a year. Imagine how much NZ could recycle if we all did out bit!

Spring Clean Weekend:  Identify everything that can be reused, re-purposed, recovered, recycled, etc.  Take any unwanted items to your local salvation army store or clothing bin.  We support the Ngaruawahia Community Care Centre, they sell second hand goods and all the proceeds go to buying food for their food bank.  They are always needing more donations of goods so don't be shy!

Go to the Recycling Week website to find out more.  If you click on the daily icons they give you ideas of what you can do each day!

This two and a half minute video provides a great overview of why more recycling is needed in New Zealand and how we should go about it.

Topics: , Enviromental

Timeless Marokopa!

Written by Stephanie on October 28th, 2016.      1 comments

With summer around the corner I thought we could share with you some special Waikato spots we have found in the areas where our honeys are harvested from.  This time I'm going to focus on Marokopa.  

You may wonder where Marokopa is!  It's about 3/4 of an hour west of Waitomo, right beside the rugged west coast.  When you drive into the settlement you feel like you are going back in time.  It is a wonderful place to escape the hustle and bustle of life and just relax!  It's famous for it's fishing and white-baiting. 


When driving from Waitomo Village to Marokopa there are a variety of short walks including:

Mangapohue Natural Bridge

This is the highlight on the scenic drive from Waitomo to Marokopa.  The 20 minute track follows a boardwalk through an amazing limestone gorge that takes you under an impressive natural bridge.  If you look up you will see the ceiling is studded with stalactite type formations.  It truly is a beautiful and unique setting.  The track continues over farmland where you can see 25 million year old fossilised oysters in the limestone outcrops.  You will find the natural bridge along Te Anga Road between Waitomo and Marokopa (about 25km from Waitomo).


Piripiri Cave Walk

This short 5 minute walk takes you through native bush, past some limestone outcrops and down some stairs to one of the few free caves open to the general public.  A platform allows you to view into the cave, remember to take a torch!  You will find the start of the track along Te Anga Road between Waitomo and Marokopa (about 29km from Waitomo).


Marokopa-FallsMarokopa Falls

This is an easy 20 minute return walk through a native tawa and nikau forest to the beautiful Marokopa Falls.  The 35mm high waterfall is said to be one of the most beautiful falls in the country so it worth checking out.  The waterfall divides Marokopa River into two, making it a popular trout fishing area, so bring your fishing rod!
The start of the walk is sign posted on Te Anga Road between Waitomo and Marokopa (about 31km from Waitomo).

​Here are some other great things to see in the Marokopa area:

Kiritehere Beach

You'll find Kiritehere beach just south of Marokopa.  Not only is the surf good but it is a great place to look for fossils!  The limestones on the beach are filled with fossilised clams, mussels and scallops that are more than 200 million years old.

Waitomo Area

There is so much to see and do in the Waitomo area, including:
  • Waitomo Glowworm Caves
  • Ruakuri Caves & Bush Scenic Reserve
  • Waitomo Museum of Caves
  • Cave adventures: abseiling, black water rafting, etc
  • Opapaka Pa Walk
  • Waitomo Walkway
Check out this great guide to walks in the area.

If you're looking to purchase some food or supplies while you're in the area make sure you stop at the Waitomo General Store just down from the Museum!  They are a licensed cafe and sell groceries, souvenirs, etc. 

Much of this information and more is found on the Department of Conservation Website, check it to plan your weekend get aways.

Purchase Marokopa Honey here!  Please note not all our honey varieties are available all the time.


Topics: , Waikato

Did You Know That Bees Dance!

Written by Stephanie on October 21st, 2016.      0 comments

Bees dance to communicate to other bees in their colony where food sources can be found, possible new homes, etc.  The dance is called a 'waggle dance', it's fascinating!  A bee returns to the hive fully loaded up with honey and pollen and then uses the waggle dance to tell the others the location of where she has just visited.  The dancing bee makes a figure eight and waggles her body at the same time to relay information.  The information she gives includes the location, quality and quantity of the nectar and pollen. 

The direction she waggles indicates the direction of the location in relation to the sun.  If the bee waggles straight up the honey comb the other bees fly towards the sun.  If she waggles on the left the bees are to fly to the left of the sun and if she waggles to the right they head to the right of the sun.

The rhythm of the dance explains the distance to the location from the hive.  The faster she waggles the further away the location is.  The pollen and nectar she has collected gives the other bees information on the type of flowers, their quality and quantity.  Aren't they clever!

Here's a wonderful video from National Geographic showing this dance in the hive! 
Topics: , Bee Facts

Duties of Bees

Written by Stephanie on October 14th, 2016.      0 comments

Have you ever wondered what the honey bee gets up to when it's in the hive?  Did you know that a bee is allocated a job depending on its age?  Here are the jobs they are allocated:
Days Old
Role Duties
1-2 Housekeeper - Cleans cells, starting with the one it was born in
- Caps cells
- Keeps the brood warm
3-5 Nurse - Feeds older larvae with honey and pollen
- Attends to the queen
6-11 Nurse - Feeds the youngest larvae with royal jelly
- Attends to the queen
12-17 Hive Builder & Food Management - Receives and stores food
- Ripens honey
- Performs undertaker duties
- Produces wax, read how bees make beeswax
- Builds comb
18-21  Guard - Protects the hive entrance
- Ventilates the hive
- Takes exercise and orientation flights to learn to fly and locate the hive
22-onwards Forager - Flys from the hive collecting pollen, nectarpropolis and water, pollinates plants, etc.

Topics: , Bee Facts

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).

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

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

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 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

Types of Bees

Written by Stephanie on August 26th, 2016.      0 comments

Did you know there are three types of bees in the beehive?  They are the queen, worker and drone bees.


The Queen

The queen is fascinating!  As a growing larvae she is feed exclusively royal jelly.  Royal jelly, with it's special proteins, is responsible for giving the queen bee a long, long life plus an elegant and large body, which make her very fertile.

As a new queen her first job will be to fight and kill any other queens in the hive.  There could be an old, weak queen or one or two new queens hatched around the same time.  The worker bees create queen cells when the pheromone of their existing queen is getting low, therefore at the end of her life.  

The young queen will then take her virgin flight, mating with an average of 7-17 drone bees in mid air, she may take about 1-3 flights.  She will have enough sperm (about 5-6 million) stored in her sperm pouch to fertilise all the eggs she will spend the rest of her life laying.  She will not leave the hive again, unless she swarms, and will lay about 1500 eggs per day over her four to five year life.

The queen will determine how many worker and drone bees the hive needs. She will lay unfertilised eggs for drone bees and fertilised eggs for worker and queen bees.


The Worker Bees

The worker bees are all females and they are called worker bees for a reason, they are hardest worker creature I can think of!  The worker bees carry out all the jobs in a hive, except laying eggs.  The job they are allocated will depend on their age.  There are so many jobs to be done including carrying away waste, cleaning out cells and preparing them for new eggs, feeding larvae, tending to and feeding the queen, building wax, guarding the entrance of the hive, collecting pollen and nectar, fanning honey to dry it, capping honey cells, etc.  

Worker bees generally live for 15-38 days in the summer, 30-60 days in the spring and longer in the winter.  There main job in the winter is to keep the queen alive and warm but clustering around her.  The colder the temperature the more compact the cluster becomes.  The worker bees create heat by shivering and they also move back and forth between the inner part of the cluster and the outer part.  In this way no bee will freeze in very cold climates. 


The Drone Bees

Drones are the only male bees in the hive, their role is to mate with the queen.  They seem to have no duties in the hive and do not forage. They do not have pollen baskets, wax glands or stingers, so therefore can not sting.  

Once sexually mature, around 12 days old, they fly out of the hive looking for queen bees and will either mate with their queen or another queen from another hive.  Once mating is complete the drone will, as the penis is torn from his body after he falls away from the queen.  Any drones that do not mate live for a few weeks but if conditions get tough and food storage starts to dwindle the drones are kicked out of the hive, as they have no purpose once the queen has been mated and are just taking up space and resources.

Types of Bees (from Britannica
Types of bees from

Of course there also different varieties of bees.  Have a look a this link and find out more about the different varieties of bees, hornets and wasps around the world! 
Topics: , Bee Facts

The Anatomy of a Worker Bee

Written by Stephanie on August 19th, 2016.      0 comments

Bees, like all insects, have three body sections - the head, thorax and abdomen.


On the top of the head the bees antennae is it's sense organs, they are responsive to both touch and smell.  It has five eyes, 3 compound eyes and two simple eyes on the top of the head that are sensitive to light.  Bees have a keen sense of smell, the guard bees smell each bee that enters the hive and they can tell if the queen is healthy by the smell of pheromone she produces.  Their proboscis is uses like a straw to get nectar into their mouth and is flexible to allow a lapping motion.  The mandibles are used to fight, mould and cut wax, and cut at flowers to get the nectar.



The thorax has two wings and three pairs of legs. The back legs have combs for collecting pollen and moving pollen to the pollen baskets for storage until the return back to the hive.  The forelegs are used to clean the antennae. 



The bee has a crop (or honey stomach), where the worker bee can store one third of it's body weight in honey.  At the end of the abdomen is it's stinger, only the females have stingers.  The worker bee's stinger has a barb so it can only sting once, as the barb and some of the abdomen is left in the victim.  The queen bee's stinger is smooth so she is able to sting over and over, but don't worry she doesn't leave the hive (unless she swarms with her hive).

Bee Body Map (from Britannica
Bee anatomy from


Topics: , Bee Facts

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