All around the world, bees are in decline due to pesticide misuse, as well as habitat degradation taking away the bees' food sources of nectar and pollen.
There are three simple steps you can take that make a huge difference:
The number one thing you can do is to avoid spraying harmful pesticides that are having a dire effect on bee populations across the globe. Neem granules are a great alternative, effective against a range of sucking insects, including aphids, thrips, whitefly, mealybug, scale and mites. Add granules to the soil around the drip line and water in. Repeat every couple of weeks until resolved. If you really must spray, you can minimise harm by spraying at sunset, when the bees are less active.
Just as important is providing plants that feed bees bee-friendly plants and flowers. Seeds, such as bee balm, hollyhock, penstemon, salvia, sweet alyssum, wildflower mixes, or zinnia, are great. Or pick up seedlings from the garden centre> Great edible choices include rosemary, basil, mint, sage, thyme, fennel, parsley, coriander and nasturtium. Bottlebrush and camellia are both wonderful for attracting bees, as are natives such as New Zealand flax, cabbage tree, koromiko, renga renga, hoheria, and rewarewa.
An often overlooked need is water – you can also help by leaving a small saucer or bowl of fresh water for bees to drink from in the garden. It helps to leave a few pebbles in there for them to rest on while they sup.
Want to do a little more? Perhaps you want to give your veggie garden a boost, or maybe you just like the idea of helping out the local bee population? Why not set up a bee nesting box? orderings.co.nz has some beautiful options, but you can make them yourself or have a look in your local garden centre or DIY store. Want to bring some bees into your garden but worried about pets or little ones? Leafcutter bees are ideal; they pollinate most fruit and veggies, and they are safe around children and pets, see https://beegap.co.nz for more info.