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Adding Value To The Business of Cropping

Selecting 'trees for bees'

Learning Intentions:

    Students will be able to:
  • find out when a selection of 'trees for bees' flower
  • graph the time of year that they flower
  • use their graph to choose trees to supply food for bees at the times they most need it.

What You Will Need:

  • Access to the Native 'trees for bees' Spotter Guide and the Introduced 'trees for bees' Spotter Guide below.
    Native trees for bees Spotter Guide. Click the picture to download the printable A4 pdf.

    Introduced trees for bees Spotter Guide. Click the picture to download the printable A4 pdf.

  • Ruler or graph paper to create the graph grid (or use photocopied versions of the one to the left)
  • Coloured pencils.

What to do

  1. Use the Native 'trees for bees' Spotter Guide to find when some New Zealand native trees flower. You will find the flowering times listed below the pictures. This selection is excellent for supplying pollen and nectar. 
  2. Using their flowering times, create a graph like the one below. Three of the trees have been filled in for you and two of the graph lines have been completed (green for Rātā and yellow for Kāmahi). You need to fill in all 15 flower types using different coloured bars.

    Graph template download (A4, landscape) 

  3. Now go to the Introduced 'trees for bees' Spotter Guide and choose up to six more flowering trees (or smaller plants) that might fill in times of the year when native tree flowers are in short supply.


  1. From your graph, in which months are the most native trees in flower?
  2. Lots of pollen is needed in spring when bee colonies are growing quickly. Do you think the native trees on your graph offer this?
  3. If you only planted native trees, which months of the year have the smallest number of flower types available for bees? Which non-native tree would you grow to help bees in these difficult months? 
  4. Do bees forage much in winter?

Hints and tips

  • Map out graph lines lightly in grey pencil first for checking that they are correct.
  • Use different coloured pencils to shade in the final graph lines.

Going further

  • Collect seeds from some trees that bees like, then germinate and grow them.
  • Make a plan to grow some 'trees for bees' at school, at home, or on the farm. First, you may wish to propagate some of your own trees, or find out where to buy them cheaply. Then, create a planting plan based on the size they grow to and their preferred sites. Finally, organise a working bee to plant them and follow up by keeping them watered and weed-free. Create a visual diary of your achievements.

Related resources

    Native trees for bees Spotter Guide article

    Introduced trees for bees Spotter Guide article

    Flowers for bees

    Pollinator pulling power

    Pollinators in New Zealand

    Trees for bees — keeping bees healthy

    External resource

    Top 17 trees to feed bees in New Zealand year round