Spring is Here and the Bees are Getting Busy!

Spring is definitely in the air in Nelson. The trees are budding and our region is suddenly full of fluffy blossoms and brightly coloured flowers. With the warmer weather you’ll notice that bees are starting to get out and about more, but spring is not without its challenges for these tiny creatures. 

In springtime we have to take special care of our bee friends. The longer, warmer days mean that our queens are busy increasing egg production. That means the bees need extra food to support their growing numbers.  

At this time of the year colonies can grow very quickly, doubling or quadrupling in size in readiness for the summer harvest. While there might seem to be plenty of flowers about, bees can actually starve if they’ve consumed all their winter stores. We have to keep a close eye on the weather and make sure that our bees have plenty of food to keep them going if conditions deteriorate. 

Unfortunately, spring weather is notoriously unpredictable. If it’s pouring with rain — as it has been over the last few weeks — the bees will stay tucked up in their hives. While they do venture out in windy weather, they stay low to the ground and don’t forage very far from their hives. When you think about it, they’re actually a lot like us humans — a picnic in the howling wind is nobody’s idea of fun.

Bees thrive when they can find great sources of pollen and that’s where we can all do our bit to help. September is ‘Bee Awareness’ month so it’s the ideal time to think about adding some bee friendly plants to our gardens. 

We’ve created a handy list of plants that bees adore. These bee ‘superfoods’ include easy-to-grow plants like Rosemary, which flowers almost all year round. Growing  Rosemary is the perfect choice, because you’ll always have some on hand for use in the kitchen.

Many of the plants that bees love, like citrus, herbs and pumpkins, are great for feeding our own families as well. Turning your garden into a bee banquet is surprisingly easy and there are other simple things you can do to help bees along.

Native plants also play an important role when it comes to feeding our tiny friends. The pollen from Harakeke, or flax, is incredibly high in protein, making it a brilliant food source for hungry bees. 

Spring is an exciting time of the year for us beekeepers — we’ve got a whole new season ahead of us. It’s always a joy to see our bees working happily among the flowers — it’s one of those special little things that makes our job so worthwhile. Of course, with recent events, it’s not just the bees who are craving some fun in the sun. 

Here’s hoping that all Kiwis can soon have the freedom to enjoy the warmer weather in the company of our friends and family. 

While the level three and four lockdowns were fairly short in Nelson, we’re very much looking forward to level one, and getting back to our Nelson market stall. We miss being able to catch up with our regular customers in person, as well as the happy buzz of our local markets. 

Our hearts really go out to the people who’ve been doing it tough in Auckland during the lockdowns. Here’s hoping that freedom for everyone is just around the corner, and that we can all enjoy a relaxing summer in this beautiful country of ours.

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