The Minister for Greater Christchurch Regeneration, Megan Woods, has announced that the Residential Red Zone will become the new breeding ground for the embattled global bee population.
May 20 has been declared World Bee Day by the United Nations.
Dr Woods used the occasion to announce the initiative to protect and grow native bee stocks.
Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) has created a trial in the Residential Red Zone after an extended search for appropriate and safe areas to place and grow beehives.
The first trial involves 10 beehives with around 600,000 bees at a Dallington location, but that number of locations can be increased in the future.
“This trial is another wonderful example of a transitional project to use the red zone effectively and created eco-friendly activities in this area until the final regeneration plan has been formed,” says Dr Woods.
“The Government recently extended the amount of time red zone land can be used for community projects.”
Christchurch beekeeper Simon Phillips, who manages the hives on behalf of LINZ, says declining bee numbers are a worldwide problem. “
It is a constant battle, with new diseases appearing every month, so we constantly have to develop new treatments to deal with each new virus.”
Jeremy Barr is General Manager of the Canterbury Recovery Group of LINZ, responsible for managing the red zone areas.
“It is only a small first step, but with this trial LINZ wants to do its bit to protect and grow the local bee population,” he says.
Mr Phillips has timed the introduction of bee hives with the end of the honey season, before splitting his strongest hives in two new hives.
“We then introduce a new queen from our breeding programme and hope the new hive will grow to house around 60,000 bees each by next year.”
Mr Phillips says the red zone is the ideal area to grow bees.
“Normally we would have the hives on farms or in open fields where there is not always much for them to feed on, but the red zone is full of fruit trees that will be able to sustain the bees.”
Despite the large open spaces in the red zone, Mr Barr says that the project team had to be careful in deciding on the location for the hives.
“We are trying to keep them out of sight of the public and places with no traffic and little pedestrian traffic,” says Mr Barr.
The hives will be well sign-posted and fenced off after LINZ conducted a robust health and safety assessment.
Mr Phillips says that the hives only need 10 to 20 square metres. “But we wanted to make sure there will be no safety concerns, for the public, and the bees.”
A video interview with Mr Phillips can be seen HERE.
Source: Minister for Greater Christchurch Regeneration