An average beehive produces around 67kg of delicious, nutrient-rich honey a year. In fact, eating honey from your own backyard beehive can help reduce the symptoms of Hayfever over time by building a tolerance to local pollens!
Honey, beeswax, propolis and royal jelly are all beehive bi-products that can be put to good use in a range of different applications. There are hundreds of uses for beeswax, from restoring old furniture to candles to water-proofing leather.
Propolis was used by the Assyrian’s to treat burns and wounds, while the ancient Egyptians and Romans used honey itself to treat war wounds as the liquid gold is also a natural antibacterial. It is so good, you can still eat the oldest honey on earth – some 3,000 years old found in King Tutankhamen’s tomb! Better still – Manuka Honey, made right here in NZ is a proven more powerful, natural anti-bacterial honey that can ward off colds and bacterial infections.
Most importantly; Honey bees are the chief insect pollinators for a wide range of flowering plants and without these little insects many species of plant struggle to accomplish fertilization.
Many of the plants in your garden may be entomophily pollinated plants (where pollen is distributed by insects) including almost all of the plants in a typical vegetable garden! This means plants aren’t the only beneficiaries of the great job these little insects do. Around one-third of what we eat is the result of bee pollination.
The role of the humble bee is essential in our primary sector, New Zealand is dependant on our horticulture and agriculture industries, which means “we are more dependant on pollination from the honey bee than any other nation on earth.”
The problem is: bee numbers around the world are dropping… and fast!
Mites, introduced parasites, pesticides and global warming, which causes plants to flower earlier or later than usual, are some of the reasons why our bees are struggling, dying and abandoning the hives on mass.
But there are ways in which you can help.
You can find information on honey bees and how to start your own backyard beehive through the National Beekeepers’ Association of New Zealand – www.nba.org.nz, or you can even play a part by planting bee friendly plants and finding alternative solutions to pesticides.
Attracting Bees to Your Garden with Bee-friendly Plants
Try planting in large clusters and plant flowers for each season to maintain a readily available source of nectar and pollen. Try introducing the following flowering plants into your garden to attract bees.
Balsam. It grows best in damp conditions and tolerates shade.
Asters, with their very pretty form and generous offerings of colour.
Penstemons, which not too long ago made a bold come-back in the garden.
Phacelia, or purple pansy which are very nectar and pollen rich and acts as a strong bee lure.
Salvia, with so many species and varieties to choose from they are great for both bees and people alike!
Sweet alyssum, an easy to grow moulding plant which produces an abundance of fluffy, fragrant, snow-white flowers.
Zinnia, which is also great at bringing Monarch butterflies into the garden.
Don’t forget, so many herbaceous plants including vegetables and herbs, trees and shrubs benefit from bees. Recent research has shown that even anemophilous plants (where pollen is distributed by wind) benefit from bees in the garden! Remember. The more bees you have; the better it will be for your garden – the better it will be for you.