Its trees for bees time and National Arbor Week is upon us.
Each year SANBI highlight two indigenous species to focus on in our greening events during this week, one common and one rare. This year, 2020, the common species is Ekebergia capensis Cape ash, Essenhout; and the rare species Adansonia digitata Baobab, Kremetart.
Honey bees enjoy both the Cape ash and the Baobab for slightly different reasons.
The Cape ash is loved for its pollen value; a medium to large tree found in coastal or montane forests; it has small light green flowers with sexes on different trees. Interestingly according to bee observations there is a lot of honey bee visiting on the south coast and KZN, but none on trees planted in Pretoria even though the tree had great fruit sets. While this species is a source of pollen, there is a smaller rock ash, the Ekebergia pterophylla from eastern S. Africa which is known as a nectar source.
Now the Baobab, a rare species, is a known honey bee nesting site, sometimes shared with mopane bees, with honey hunters driving pegs into the soft bark to reach the hives. Bees have been seen to work the flowers well at times, with observations of nectar foraging. As we know these wonderful trees are found in our Northern regions and neighboring countries. A wonderful tale of this tree comes from a Burkina Faso legend which “tells that when God planted the baobab tree it kept walking, so God pulled it up and planted it upside down to keep it in place.” A lovely story too involves our sneaky hyena and it is said “that when God was planting trees on earth, he asked the animals to help him and gave every animal a tree to plant. The hyena was given the baobab, but was so disgusted by the tree, it simply shoved it in the ground upside down.” Click here for some amazing folklore surrounding this upside down tree.
It is Arbor week every year from 1-7 September, signally the start of spring, which we first celebrated in 1983 understanding the value and importance of trees in our lives and for our planet. While it started off as a single day of celebration, in 1999 the importance of this focus caused government to extend the celebration day into a National Arbor Week. A time for community greening.
The Bee Effect and our tree hive partners recognise this too. Click here and check out our Boland Trees for Bees programme and see what role you can play in planting trees for bees in selected Greenpop reforestation programmes that we are supporting.
(2008) Folklore and Tradition. In: The Baobabs: Pachycauls of Africa, Madagascar and Australia. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-6431-9_3