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• Ensure any spraying contractor is fully briefed on your
requirements. Deliberately flaunting these guidelines is a
prosecutable offence and the prospects of a beekeeper
accepting a contract to pollinate your crops in the future will be
Being bee aware with hive location
Placing hives for good pollination is like selling a house; it is
location, location, location:
• Ensure hives are out of the travel path of any irrigator.
• Different crops have different requirements. For those crops
the bees want to work, like white clover, they will fly some
distance to seek pollen and nectar. Locating them over the
fence in a sheltered warm north facing site will do the job.
• Some crops are a little less palatable for the honeybee, like
kiwifruit, carrots and onions. In this instance, placing the
hives in the paddock or the orchard directly with the crop can
enhance the pollination strike rate. Again common sense will
prevail, the honeybee is a master pollen and nectar gatherer;
show them the opportunity and they will get on with the job,
Being bee aware in the urban environment
Much of the advice above applies equally at home in the suburbs
with gardeners. Making home gardens an inviting place for a bee
to visit increases pollination success:
• Use a mixture of bee friendly plants placed in your garden,
which encourage bees to fly in and do their job of pollination.
• Lavender in the vegetable plot or orchard is a great start and it
will flower right through the pollination period.
• Bee friendly gardening is just as important as bee friendly
farming. Keep it simple, keep it safe and bees will keep your
garden pollinated. ■
■ Without the incredible honey bee, two-thirds of the food we
take for granted would almost vanish, making life as we know it
“The reality is that no bees mean no food and no people. That’s
no joke because bees make civilisation possible,” says John
Hartnell, Federated Farmers Bees chairperson.
Federated Farmers and National Beekeepers Association have
been raising awareness about the importance of bees during the
past month. And it is clear – they are vital.
“If we don’t look after all natural pollinators and the honey bee
especially, we could see economic and social collapse. We
are truly tiptoeing around the edge of a global chasm,” says Mr
“One-third of the food all humans eat is directly pollinated by
honey bees. Nothing comes close to matching nature’s super
pollinator. It is why the honey bee is most indispensable animal
to modern society.
“When you eat your main meal tonight, just examine what’s on
your plate. Anything of colour, from avocados to zucchinis, are
only there because of honey bee pollination.”
According to Mr Hartnell, our diet would e severely restricted. He
says that without the honeybee, we’d be pretty much dependent
on an austere diet of fish, starch, grains and seaweed.
“In China, much of its pear industry relies on pollination by human
hand because the overuse of agricultural chemicals has made
the land hostile to the honey bee,” he says.
Last year, Syd Fraser-Jones was conferred life membership of
Federated Farmers Waikato after 57 years of service. He was
very clear on the importance of bees.
When accepting his life membership, Mr Fraser-Jones said the
three most important things to agriculture are the bees, the bees
and the bees – you’ve got to look after the bees.
Being bee aware with sprays
There are some very simple rules when we look at agricultural
sprays and irrigation and this is as applicable to lifestyle block
farmers and councils, as it is to working farms:
• If the crop is flowering and bees are flying and working the
crop, leave spraying until dusk and before dawn. This is
generally better than the day itself, with less wind and less
• While a chemical may be said to be ‘bee friendly’, do not take
the risk. Often, the ‘sticking agent’ mixed with the chemical
can be more dangerous to bees than the active product itself.
be with you
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