Tauranga, 28 March 2017:New Zealanders are being urged to plant bulbs, wildflowers, herbs, vegetables and trees in their gardens this autumn as part of the mission to preserve the bumblebee.
The New Zealand Bumblebee Conservation Trust (NZBCT) was created in 2016 to educate New Zealanders about the action required to protect our bumblebees for the continued production of food crops, now and in the future. Its goal is to ensure that New Zealand is continually plentiful in bumblebees and other pollinator insects.
Co-founder Geoff Brunsden says one of the best ways to achieve this is to plant wildflowers – and that’s something everyone can do, wherever they live.
“Wildflowers create a beneficial and varied food source for bumblebees,” says Geoff, who is New Zealand’s leading exotic wildflower landscaping expert and has worked with promoting wildflowers for bees and landscape beautification for 35 years.
“Bumblebees are one of the best pollinators on the planet. They are 50 times more effective at pollinating than honeybees, and many Kiwis don’t realise how crucial they are to our food crops.
“Extinction would see a dramatic decline in the whole food production industry, and loss of variety of crops. Food prices would increase and the country would be more reliant on imports, which in turn would further increase food costs.”
Geoff and NZBCT co-founder Helen Johnson are on a journey to educate New Zealanders on the vital importance of the bumblebee, and say it’s easy to take action now and make a difference.
“Autumn is a great time to sow wildflowers. These will grow all through winter and in early spring, popping up in August, which is the perfect time for bumblebees when food is scarce,” says Geoff.
“March and April are the perfect months to plant bulbs in your garden, which will begin to flower in mid to late winter. Bulbs, such as daffodils, bluebells and crocus are easy – you just plant them and then let them be.”
It’s not necessary to have a large garden to make a difference – even those living in apartments or retirement villages can plant herbs or flowers in pots.
“NZBCT encourages the sowing of any type of flower, all year round,” says Geoff.
“Bee-friendly, nectar-rich flowers such as lavender, borage, geraniums, herbs and wildflowers, are fantastic for bumblebees.
Geoff also encourages letting your garden go to seed, which provides a critical resource for bumblebees, especially at the end of winter when food is harder to find.
Pollinators play a crucial role in the food chain and the survival of mankind, but they are under threat due to a variety of factors.
“New Zealand experts are expressing concern about the number of bumblebees due to a ’perfect storm’ of factors including reduced greenscape, disease, increasing use of toxic pesticide spray, loss of food resources, genetic modification of seeds and flowers, pests, and even some of today’s farming practices,” says NZBCT co-founder Helen.
“Our landscape has transformed from an insects’ paradise into clay and concrete.
“What we’re doing at the NZBCT is encouraging people to look at bumblebees and pollinators in a new light and understand the significant contribution they make to the horticultural industry and the production of food crops.
“Something you can do to make a difference straight away is to plant some flowering trees or herbs in a corner of your garden, and it will become a haven for bumblebees”.
To find out more about the NZBCT, or become a member, please go to