Threats to honey bees face from pesticides and varroa have prompted a Landcare Research scientist to start a three month "trees-for-bees" project at Eastwood Hill arboretum southwest of Gisborne.
Dr Linda Newstrom-Lloyd says she wants to identify which of the 3500 species in the arboretum show potential for planting on farms to increase the food sources for bees.
"Bees are very threatened - there's pesticide problems, disease problems and pest problems, like varroa," she says.
"One of the ways to help the bees is to make sure that they've got good nutrition ... we are looking for high-potein pollen in trees.
"We're thinking that there will be some overlooked or old-fashioned plants that are not used any more that will be very high in their protein," says Dr Newstrom-Lloyd.