Sweetree's HaBEEtat - Background and Pond Creation

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!


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