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Buzzing over bee month

New Zealand’s bees and beekeepers are calling on everyone 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.

Apiculture New Zealand CEO Karin Kos says there are two key goals of the campaign.

“We want to lift awareness of the critical importance of bees to New Zealand’s environment, food chain and economy, and teach Kiwis simple actions to improve bee health.”

Green-fingered New Zealanders can help bees by growing bee-friendly plants in their gardens, while non-gardeners can also do their bit, Ms Kos says.

“Mowing your lawns less often is one really simple thing that can make a difference for bees. Weeds such as clover and dandelions are great food for bees.”

Ms Kos encourages everyone to support everyday bee heroes — our beekeepers.

“Since the advent of varroa mites, beekeepers have 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 kamahi, or other bee products is a great way to back our beekeepers and their bees,” she said.

Another important thing everyone can do is to take care with garden sprays.

Ms Kos recommends 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,” she said.

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) is a key supporter of Bee Aware Month.

EPA sets the rules around when, how and where insecticides can be used.

EPA’s acting general manager of the hazardous substances and new organisms group Clark Ehlers says “insecticides play an important role in food production, but some are harmful to pollinators, such as moths, birds and bees.

“Bee Aware Month is a great time for people to ensure they are following label instructions when using chemicals, or using alternative pest-control methods, to keep our pollinators safe.”

Bee a hero: September is Bee Aware Month, the time of the year where everyone in New Zealand is reminded of the important role bees play in the environment. Picture by Liam Clayton