Landcare Research scientists have found a further way to provide pollen for bees that increasingly lack sources of nutrition because of spreading afforestation and dairying.
Scientists analysed satellite images to demonstrate that in just one five-kilometre-square piece of land near Ashburton, the unused borders of the 10 irrigation ponds they identified there could provide almost 3.5 hectares of land to support more diverse plant and animal life.
An arable crop farmer in Ashburton, John Evans, has planted 1557 bee-friendly trees and shrubs on the five-metre-deep border around his irrigation pond - enough, he says, to provide food for about a third of the bees he requires.
He says the planting is making use of a hard-to-use area and has improved the look of his farm.
The National Beekeepers Association has designated August "Bee Aware Month" with the aim of educating the public about how important honeybees are to the economy and the many challenges to their survival.