9 May 2014

Researchers identify bee friendly plants

5:11 pm on 9 May 2014

Researchers have made big strides in identifying the plants and trees that provide the best food for bees.

Beekeepers, farmers and farm foresters are catching up with the latest developments at the second trees for bees conference which started at Eastwoodhill Arboretum, near Gisborne on Friday.

Honey bee showing pollen sacs on legs, Canterbury, New Zealand

Honey bee showing pollen sacs on legs, Canterbury, New Zealand Photo: PHOTO NZ

Landcare Research scientist Dr Linda Newstrom-Lloyd, who's been based at Eastwoodhills for the past year, said they had now identified about 200 trees and plants that provide the protein-rich pollen that was essential to honey bee health and survival.

"Honey bees need to have the protein in order to raise their brood to develop new adult bees and last year we found 50 species and we came back this year because we had only scatched the surface of what Eastwoodhill National Arboretum has to offer."

"We collected over 100 new species on top of the 50 we had, so that puts our whole plant list for which we've got protein analysis of the pollen at almost 200 species."

"So it's been a great boost to increase the diversity of the candidate plants that we have to offer farmers and other landowners on what they can plant for good bee food."

Dr Newstrom-Lloyd said the Trees for Bees programme will move to Palmerston North next, where Plant and Food Research maintains a gene bank of willows.

"If you can put enough diversity of willow species on your plot of land or farm then you can extend the flowering time so it's good for the bees.

Dr Newstrom-Lloyd said farmers and landowners could find out about bee-friendly plants on the trees for bees website