Bees in for a treat as special garden in Kapiti Village expands

Bees living in two hives in a garden area of Kapiti Village in Paraparaumu are in for a treat this spring and summer.

A wild flower meadow has been sown in the eco-diversity garden and an orchard and 100 small native trees are under way.

The native trees were donated by Gus Evans Nursery, which has been involved in the village for many years, and Metlifecare sponsored the seven fruit trees.

Thriving garden allotments add to the diversity of the area too.

“It is an exciting opportunity and project to be involved in,” said Dane Jensen, from Bark Ltd, which also donated wild flowers and 100 plant guards.

“Since Bark took over the [village] grounds this has always been an area that has needed redevelopment.

“Now with kind donations and the eco initiative and Fay Chedzoy’s enthusiasm pushing it forward, we can turn the space into a beautiful and diverse environmental asset for both residents and wildlife while also teaching our apprentices about revegetation processes.”

More work is planned for the area which could include further plantings and irrigation.

The eco-diversity garden, named the birds and bees planting project, is part of a range of environmental projects at the village.

Other projects include a predator elimination project involving the tracking and trapping of rats, stoats and so on.

The Dell Gardeners group is going strong and, over a few years, has redeveloped what was a garden waste collection area into a planted, paved area, with potting shed.

The group has also extended into development of more native plantings into established woodlands and an area featuring daffodils is looking impressive.

And the 25th anniversary planting project has seen a rhododendron bank and specimen trees planted while more garden benches and picnic tables have been handmade in the village.

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Wild and Free: Bees in Your Back Garden

If you grow top fruit, beans, almonds, coppiced hazel or willow, flowering crops of any kind, or just have plenty of wild flowers in your garden, you will already have bees as visitors, so keeping a hive or two of honeybees would seem like a great idea. However, while my own main interest is in honeybees, my first piece of advice to gardeners thinking of taking up beekeeping is first to spend some time addressing the needs of other wild pollinators, especially bumblebees and solitary bees.

It may seem romantic to have thousands of honeybees buzzing round your flower beds, but the reality is that they are not entirely without problems. If your garden is small and urban, you may need to think carefully before placing a box of fifty thousand insects equipped with stings close to a neighbor's territory. There may be pets, children and elderly people to consider. You may want to think about how you use the space in your garden and how your activities – such as sunbathing, eating al fresco or simply hanging out the washing – may interfere with their flight-path, which at times may make Heathrow look like a quiet backwater.

I say these things not to put you off, but to encourage you to think carefully about what your real reasons for wanting to 'keep' bees may be.

The chances are that flowering plants you grow are already being pollinated quite effectively by wild bees and other insects and unless you grow such crops on a large scale, adding honeybees to the mix will have only a marginal effect on yields. Exceptions to this might include areas where neighbours routinely spray with insecticides – with the result that wild insect numbers have been drastically reduced – or places where wild bee populations have suffered for other reasons, such as heavy pollution or habitat loss. Unfortunately, in these cases, you are probably in the wrong place to keep honeybees.

Compared to most livestock, honeybees need little attention, and so can be added to a garden, homestead or smallholding without fear of creating a serious drain on your time. However, as with any other creature that comes within our care, someone must give them the right kind of attention at the right times, if only to ensure that they are comfortable, replete with stores and disease-free. Honeybees are – and will always remain – wild creatures, unimpressed by our attempts to domesticate them, so 'keeping' them is really a matter of providing suitable accommodation and allowing them freedom to roam. Beyond that – especially if you have honey in mind – you have to consider the degree and style of 'management' you will endeavor to apply.

Addressing the needs of other native bees first will help ensure that you do not cause an imbalance by flooding the area with honeybees while the local bumble population is less than optimal. Exactly how this can be assessed is yet to be fully established, but if bumblebees …

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