Shenfield Game Farm – Riebeek East – Eastern Cape

A Safe Haven for honey bees.

Shenfield is close to Grahamstown & the village of Riebeek East, deep in the game farming region of the Eastern Cape.  When the settlers first arrived in the region nearly 200 years ago, vast tracts of the eastern cape wilderness was burned and cleared for traditional stock farming.  You cannot tame climate however, and the regular drought cycles impacted on the viability of maintaining irrigated lands, resulting in thousands of hectares in the eastern cape moving from traditional stock farming to game farming in the past 50 years.  With the environmental damage from this farming disappearing as land recovers, along with the wildlife & plant life, the land offers a rich biodiversity in a mixture of sweet, sour, thorn and mixed bushveld with small forests in the deep valleys. Shenfield is a thriving game farm with a herd of Nguni cattle being the only nod to traditional farming. Nguni are from Africa, are adaptable & hardy and need little, if any, of the management required for cattle farmed from other parts of the world. No toxic dips or doses required.

As the region recovers back to the wilderness, veld flowers and flowering trees that have not been seen for decades have appeared again…..and with them the bee population has grown. With plenty of forage making space for more honey bees.

It is against this history that Shenfield provides a 800 hectare Safe Haven for honey bees, secure and free of toxins, with healthy diverse forage available to support healthy hives and swarming. All under the dedicated eye of our local beekeeper, Herman Lamprecht. With this, our second safe haven for honey bees, we are expanding hive numbers and increasing committed land that is safe and secure.

Shenfield is uniquely a collaboration between Herman Lamprecht and Dr Claudia and Volkher von Lengeling (Bon Tempo Bees & Honey).  Claudia and Volkher specialise in removals of swarms; these swarms are then settled on their farm just outside Grahamstown, once settled some of these hives are to be moved to Shenfield as their permanent home.

Buzz about the Bees

2018 : 3rd Quarter saw the placement of the first 16 hives moved from the Kirkwood area (as such moved within the hybrid zone).

The Hybrid Zone

Shenfield falls into a hybrid zone, a zone within which by law honey bees may not be moved in or out.  As such maintaining a healthy honey bee population within this requires the acute management of population health and development.  The Riebeek East area and the area around Grahamstown are special as the honey bees in the zone are natural hybrids between the African honey bee (Apis mellifera scutellata) and the Cape honey bee (Apis mellifera capensis). This zone, which is a narrow strip with Grahamstown and Riebeek East in the middle, stretching west, is a key component in managing honey bees in South Africa, as even a few capensis bees can cause colony collapse in scutellata bee hives, literally wiping them out. Only within the hybrid zone do they appear to have found a way to benefit from each other.

If you are keen to know more about this zone and how the African and Cape honey bees interact read: Honeybee hybrid zone in South Africa M Beekman et al

Towns on the borderline that divides the African and the Cape honeybees : Bizana, Flagstaff, Mt Ayliff, Mt Frere, Mt Fletcher, Matatiele, Maclear, Eliot, Indwe, Glen Grey, Sterkstroom, Tarka, Cradock, Graaff Reinet, Murrysgurg, Beufort west, Fraserburg, Williston, Calvinia, Van Rhynsdorp and Vredendal.
No person is allowed to move or keep the Cape honey bees (Apis mellifere capensis) north of the line or the African honey bees (Apis mellifera scutellata ) south of the line without written approval from the executive officer in terms of Regulation R.858 of the Agricultural Pests Act, 1983 (Act No.36 of 1983).


Images ©Halima Beale Photography