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 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.

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.

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.

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!


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.


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

August is Bee Aware Month!

Written by Stephanie on August 1st, 2013.      0 comments

BeeAware LogoBees 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


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
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.

New Bee Ambassador
New Zealand bees and beekeepers have a new ally! Celebrity free range cook, Annabel
Langbein, has joined the NBA as an ambassador for bees. Annabel will be supporting the
NBA by using her profile to draw attention to the importance and plight of bees.

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

For more information on how you can help NZ bees go to 'Helping Our NZ Bees'
Topics: , Bee Friendly

Disappearing Bees and What We Can Do

Written by Stephanie on August 20th, 2012.      2 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?

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

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