Over the last months, some of our provinces have been devastated by fires and drought. Most recently the destruction of both rural and urban areas from fires in the Western and Eastern Cape. There is going to be considerable rebuilding of lives, homes and environments – and through this process we now have the opportunity to recreate our gardens and farmlands with planting bee-friendly forage, and in so doing play a very real and positive role in changing landscapes that were previously limited in diverse forage for honey bees. By planting new forage with honey bees in mind we can change these landscapes to secure a better future for our honey bees.
Click here for Good Bee Food examples by Province, in South Africa. The list is by no means exhaustive, but is a super guideline to show you what your local beekeepers need to keep the honey bees healthy and well fed in your province, from trees to veggies! Also pop in to your local gardening store to explore an array of bee-friendly plants, and make your gardens bee-centric!
You may be asking why is this so important? We need honey bees to pollinate a large proportion of the foods we eat. In 10 years’ time estimates indicate we will need double the number of honey bees, currently estimated at over 80 000 hives, in order to meet an expected increase in the demand for pollination by them. Less honey bees = less of these foods. For honey bees’ optimum immune health they require a diverse diet, the same as humans. A lack of diversity in their diets is one of the main threats to bees.
Currently large monoculture farming environments are cutting into previous natural diverse food resources for them, and as Tlou Masehela, a Scientist at the South African National Biodiversity Institute says in an article he wrote and published in The Conversation in May 2017, “bees rely on a wide variety of both indigenous and exotic forage…[the] threat in some regions is the eradication of eucalyptus trees following a government decision to declare them an invasive species. This has particularly affected the South-Western Cape. The establishment of a forestry industry in the region towards the end of the 19th century provided good, reliable forage through various eucalyptus tree plantations. This contributed to the basis of current beekeeping. Research shows that eucalyptus trees are essential to the beekeeping industry.”
We need to look after what we feed our honey bees and support our local beekeepers by being mindful of planting bee friendly forage, so that these wonderful creatures can build healthy colonies that naturally split off with a queen bee, leaving around half a healthy swarm behind – as they head off to set up a new hive. A natural process that increases honey bee numbers, that we can support by creating diverse forage environments; on our farms, in our gardens, on our balconies. Bee-Centric. Be part of The Bee Effect.
Read More about how “Meeting the dietary needs of honey bees is tough for South African beekeepers” in the article referred from The Conversation.