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Planting strategically in order to feed bees can save both landowners and beekeepers money according to early results from the Strategic Bee Plantations project. The project is three-years in length and co-funded by the Ministry for Primary Industries. Other early results show that it can also benefit the environment, bee health and help to improve bee colony productivity and performance. 72,000 plants have been planted on 32 demonstration farms across New Zealand since 2012 by the NZ Trees for Bees Research Trust with assistance from MPI’s Sustainable Farming Fund. Three case studies have been released by the Trust which illustrate the impacts of planting forage for bees. A growth in demand for mānuka honey has resulted in the number of beehives in the country increasing from 350,000 to nearly one million since 2012. Despite the growth in hives, the food supply for bees has not increased simultaneously, meaning that beekeepers now need to provide supplementary feed for their bees at certain times of the year. Strategic planting creates balance by ensuring that there are sufficient plants flowering throughout the year, especially in critical times of pollen deficits in spring and autumn.
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