World Honeybee Awareness Day
Saturday 21 August
World Honeybee Day is celebrated every year on the third Saturday in August – a day where we recognise honeybees and beekeepers and where we encourage everyone to have a bee-friendly environment and to buy local honey.
There are heaps of interesting bee facts: honey is the only edible substance produced by any insect; it never spoils if stored properly; not all species of bees produce honey; honey is medicinal due to its anti-bacterial properties; beekeeping has been practised since 700 BC… the list continues.
Kristie Paine from Bushveld Bees is mad about bees! She is an experienced full time professional beekeeper and a gifted educator – looking after beehives, making honey, and running bee awareness courses. She considers her primary role to be keeping honeybee colonies healthy in order for them to produce honey and pollinate plants.
Bees in the Spotlight
“Having days like World Honeybee Day are really important to have in our calendar as it helps to keep bees in the public spotlight,” she says. “It allows us to bring useful info to people’s attention and make them aware of bees. Quite simply, without bees, we would die! They are an essential part of the food chain and vital for food security. They are the starting point for everything. Without bees, there are no seeds. Without seeds, there are no birds, and so forth…
“We are quick to kill bees, where it is far better to call in an ethical bee removal service to relocate them to where they can forage and thrive. We also don’t realise the harm we are doing when we use toxic sprays which kills entire colonies of bees, rather than use bee-friendly pesticides in our gardens.”
“We are moving into spring and thinking of planning our spring gardens. I would encourage people to consider bee-friendly plants to provide bees with a good food source. In fact, I just bought some packets of seeds (Mayford) who now offer a bee-friendly range – look out for the bee icon on their seed packs. Quite a lot of things we think of as weeds, are actually beneficial to bees, like dandelions and clover.
“Honey is in fact seasonal. In KZN we are fortunate to have two honey flows – in spring and in autumn, where most other places only have one flow of honey. It is to do with vegetation, plants and flowers – we are lucky to have spring flowers in KZN, and in autumn, the blue gums and Brazilian pepper trees flower which allow for a second honey flow.
“It is swarming season now,” says Kirstie. “When there is an abundance of food, a small section splits off from the main swarm. Typically, the Queen bee has not flown for a long time and needs to rest along her journey. The swarm will protect the Queen bee while they scout for a new home. They are at their most docile and won’t attack unless provoked. If you see a swarm visiting your garden, chances are they en-route to a new home and are just resting. So, give them a day or two before calling in a bee removal company.
“1000 Hills area has a diverse range of plant species and a healthy biodiversity. Many of the properties are fairly large and domestic beekeeping is becoming very popular. Having a hive really connects you to nature. Suddenly you are aware of what is flowering, you are conscious of the plants in your garden, and become mindful of harmful pesticides. All in all, you become more environmentally aware and more in tune with nature,”
Kirstie says swarms are a bit like unions – the worker bees run the show! In the case of bees though, the workers are all women – an interesting thought for Women’s Month! Contrary to popular belief, the Queen bee is not really in charge. She has one job to do – to lay the eggs – and will be replaced if she doesn’t perform properly.
The sole purpose of male bees is mating, once they have served their purpose, they die.
There are over 1000 different bee species, and only two produce honey. We tend to think of bees in large swarms, but many bees are actually solitary. Although the focus is on Honeybees, especially as we remember World Honeybee Day this month, we also need to remember the role bees play in the food chain and conservation eco-systems
Not only does honey vary from region to region, it also varies from garden to garden.
Honey is like a bee’s fingerprint – what happens in nature will reflect in time and place. There are endless variables which can change honey. For example, rainfall could affect the grass cutting schedule which impacts on how much clover is available which in turn affects the nectar flow for bees, which might change the colour, taste and consistency of the honey. The weather too – when it gets cold, the honey solidifies.
When shopping for honey, make sure it is 100 percent raw honey, locally sourced. The best is to support local beekeepers and producers. Make sure it is labelled “Made in SA” not “Packaged in SA”. Look out for “Irradiated” on the label too – all imported honey must be irradiated as a preventative measure against pests and diseases, and in so doing, loses much of its goodness.
Kristie runs beekeeping sessions for those interested in learning more about bees
5 Sep – Beekeeping for beginners
12 Sep – Beekeeping for beginners
19 Sep – Level 2 beekeeping
10 Oct – Beekeeping for beginners
24 Oct – Level 2 beekeeping
7 Nov – Beekeeping for beginners
14 Nov – Level 2 beekeeping.
Special offer: R650 per person for courses in Sept and Oct only
R750 from November onwards
One day course
Course offers both theory and practical components
Refreshments are provided
Bookings via firstname.lastname@example.org or Kristie@bushveldbees.co.za
Venue is Macnut Farm, 13 Lello Rd, Assagay.
Look out for Bushveld Bees: 100% Real Honey