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Trees for Bees returns to Eastwoodhill

4 October 2013

Dr. Linda Newstrom-Lloyd (back right) with French interns from left Valentine Tournon, Jean Noel Gallio and Jules Boileau.

 
 

"Eastwoodhill is a veritable goldmine of diversity. The new discoveries will be a boon to those wishing to plant the best forage for their bee pollinators." Dr. Linda Newstrom-Lloyd.

In August 2013, scientists and interns working on the Trees for Bees NZ project returned to Eastwoodhill Arboretum for a second spring research season. They have returned because the diversity of species is so huge that they could not cover all the plants during the pollen collection work last year.

In the first spring research season at Eastwoodhill, Landcare Research associate Dr. Linda Newstrom-Lloyd and French intern Jean Noël Galliot from Agrocampus-Ouest, collected pollen samples from 54 species of trees and shrubs.

These samples were analysed in the labs at GNS Science by Dr. Karyne Rogers for their crude protein content. Identifications of the pollen were confirmed by Drs. Ian Raine and Xun Li, also at GNS Science. Nearly 20 of the 54 species investigated had high protein pollen (greater than 24% protein) while only about 7 species had low protein (less than 18%). The rest had medium levels. Pollen is the only natural source of protein for bees and is in short supply in spring and autumn when few species are flowering compared to summer.

Many of the Eastwoodhill species bearing high protein pollen are not commonly found on farms or in the current nursery trade. Using these species in bee forage plantations will give a great boost to farmers and landowners who wish to increase pollinators on their land.

By increasing the diversity of plants, bees will have a richer diet. This will translate into superior healthy bees and larger colonies that can serve in pollination for agriculture.

 

This year's work

By Dr. Linda Newstrom-Lloyd

Jean Noël has returned to continue the research and train two new visiting French interns: Jules Boileau also from Agrocampus-Ouest, and Valentine Tournon, from Université Joseph Fourier. Barry Foster, former president of the National Beekeeper’s Association, has placed bees in the apiary in Eastwoodhill again this year to support the team's pollen collection efforts.

In September the team was busy collecting bees from flowers to obtain pollen samples. They were taking macro-photos of the bees in the flowers along with plant vouchers for the herbarium, and flower and pollen samples to confirm species identifications.

In just the first two weeks of research, the team has collected over 20 new species and is preparing them to be sent to the lab for protein analysis. These new species will be important for building up the diversity of plants that can be used in bee plantations for spring-time build-up of the bee colonies and autumn-time preparation for winter.

The Trees for Bees NZ team is expecting a huge increase in the diversity of species on their list that will be made available to help improve bee health and numbers for agriculture.

Eastwoodhill is a veritable goldmine of diversity. The new discoveries will be a boon to those wishing to plant the best forage for their bee pollinators.

 

Bees amongst the trees seminar

By Rodney Faulkner

More than 40 people gathered at Eastwoodhill on a very wet September 1 to discuss how the home gardener and landowner could best provide for honey bees and other pollinators through planting the most suitable plants in their gardens.

The Trees for Bees research being carried out by Dr. Linda Newstrom-Lloyd is aimed at identifying the most beneficial plants for these essential little insects throughout the year.

Not all plants flower at the same time of year and not all produce pollen and nectar that is of high enough quality to be considered. Her selection will be screened to eliminate any species that could pose a threat to the environment by spreading on farmland or in native bush.

Barry Foster, a local bee keeper and past president of the National Beekeepers Association has bee hives at Eastwoodhill. He highlighted the importance of bees to the economy and the world’s food supply. Dr. John McLean, our busy “retired” entomologist, showed examples of the many different pollinators active in our environment.

During a short spell of fine weather we headed out to try and identify pollinators at Eastwoodhill. We also examined different flower structures and learnt why insects are able to extract nectar from some and not others.

A most interesting day enjoyed by all who attended! And a special thanks to all attendees, caterers, staff at Eastwoodhill, presenters and sponsors Native Garden Nurseries, Makaraka, Larsens Sawmilling and the Gisborne Farm Forestry Assn.