The honey bee is one of the world’s hardest workers. In NZ bees about $3billion of GDP is directly attributable to the intensive pollination of horticultural and agricultural crops. They also contribute indirectly by pollinating clover which is ten sown into our farm land to grow better fodder for animal food.
Of all the food we eat about one third of the calories and three quarters of our biodiversity rely on bees for pollination.
Throughout the world bees are in trouble. Bees are being attacked by pests (e.g . varroa mite) and diseases. Also many of the traditional flowers from which bees collect pollen and nectar are in decline.
One constructive way to help bees is to plant a variety of trees and shrubs that provide food for the bees.
Below are two lists of plants, shrubs and trees suitable for South Island conditions here in New Zealand. The first is a list on NZ native plants and the second is imported plants. There are different sized and shaped plants for different situations. Choose some to plant at your place in or other public or private areas.
Native plants are the best choice to increase native biodiversity and benefit both the honey bee and the environment.
Cabbage tree (Cordyline australis) --- Tree, 15m, Oct-Dec
Five-finger (Pseudopanax arboreus) --- Tree, 8m, Jun-Aug
Hebe (Hebe spp. e.g., gracillima) --- Shrubs
Horoeka (Pseudopanax crassifolius) --- Tree, -6m
Kānuka (Kunzea ericoides) --- Tree/Shrub, 15m, Sep-Feb
Karangū (Coprosma lucida) --- Tree/Shrub, 4m
Kohuhu (Pittosporum tenuifolium) --- Tree, 6m, Oct-Jan
Koromiko (Hebe salicifolia) --- Shrub, 3m, Jan-Feb-(Apr)
Lemonwood (Pittosporum eugenioides) --- Tree, 10m, Oct-Dec
Manuka (Leptospermum scoparium) - Tree/Shrub, 5m, Sep-Mar
Matagouri (Discaria toumatou) --- Tree/Shrub, 5m, Oct-Jan
Narrow-lv lacebark (Hoheria angustifolia) --- Tree, 10m, Dec-Mar
NZ flax (Phormium tenax) --- Tufted, up to 5m flw. stalk, Nov-Dec
Ngaio (Myoporum laetum) --- Tree/Shrub, 8m, Jul-Apr
North Island broom (Carmichaelia australis) --- Shrub, 2m, Oct-Feb
Pink tree broom (Carmichaelia glabrescens) --- Shrub, 3m, Dec
Scented broom (Carmichaelia odorata) --- Shrub, 3m
South Island broom (Carmichaelia arborea) --- Tree/Shrub, 3m
Sth. Rata (Metrosideros umbellata) --- Tree/Shrub, 15m, Nov-Jan
Tree fuchsia (Fuchsia excorticata) --- Tree/Shrub, 12m, Jun-Jan
Weeping kowhai (Sophora microphylla) --- Tree, 10m
Exotic plants are good choices because many are multi-purpose and have excellent pollen and nectar.
Apple (Malus ×domestica) --- Tree, Sep-Nov
Bottlebrush (Callistemon splendens) --- Shrub, 2m, Oct
Grevillea (Grevillea spp. e.g., ‘Clearview David’, or ‘Victoria’)
Horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) - Tree, 36m,Oct-Nov
Lavender (Lavandula stoechas) --- Shrub, 1m, Sept-Dec
Pear (Pyrus communis) --- Tree, Sep-Oct
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) --- Shrub, 1.5m, Sep-Nov
Tree lucerne (Chamaecytisus palmensis) Tree, 5m, May-Oct
Blue gum (Eucalyptus globulus) --- Tree, 40m, Sept-Dec
Ribbon gum (Eucalyptus viminalis) --- Tree, 40m, Jul-Apr
Silver dollar gum (Eucalyptus cinerea) --- Tree, 15m, Dec-Feb
Snow gum (E. pauciflora subsp. niphophila) --- Tree, 18m, Sep-Nov
Swamp peppermint (Eucalyptus rodwayi) --- Tree, 15m, Mar-Jun
White ironbark (Eucalyptus leucoxylon) --- Tree, 30m, Mar-Nov
Yellow box (Eucalyptus melliodora) --- Tree, 30m, Dec-Feb
Weeping Willow (Salix babylonica) --- Tree, 25m, Aug-Sep
Material for this article was taken from Federated farmers brochures and website.