The hum of bees is the voice of the garden.
May 20 is World Bee Day, a day to pay homage to these tiny little miracles of nature that not only pollinate our flowers but are largely responsible for our crops and food. If there were no bees there would be no more pollination, plants, animals or man.
World Bee Day reminds us of that and acknowledges the critical role bees play in our ecosystem.
It is estimated that a third of the food we consume relies predominantly on pollination by bees … but our tiny heroes are under threat. Across the world there has been a growing concern about the decline in the bee population, mainly due to intensive farming, loss of habitat, improper use of pesticides and climate change.
The theme for World Bee Day 2021 is ‘Bee Engaged’. Let’s take a moment to learn a little bit more about bees and our new ‘Adopt-a-Hive project.
Let it bee
The team at Community Conservation Fund Africa (CCFA) has been hard at work to help prevent the colony collapse of bees and, in 2019, relocated and introduced 120 new bee hives onto three Mantis properties in the Eastern Cape: Hopewell Conservation Estate, Founders Lodge and Intle Boutique Hotel. With an average of 50 000 to 75 000 bees per hive, this has created a habitat for around 9 million bees. And, in addition it’s given bees a new base from which to buzz, dance, pollinate and produce honey and save the world. The project has also created much needed employment.
CCFA is extending its bee project to the Western Cape by installing 70 beehives at two sites: The Honey House on Willowdale Farm in Stanford and on Hazendal – a Mantis property located in Paarl.
Be part of the solution
Most of the world’s food crops – like fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds – that form an integral part of our everyday diet, depend on bees and other pollinators to exist. The adopt-a-hive project, in collaboration with Honeybee Heroes, offers you a simple, hands-off way to help honeybees and nature’s pollination process.
For an investment of £100 (R2 000) you can adopt a honeybee hive and, in return, besides being a bee hero, you receive:
- A personalised plaque on your beehive (this can either be for yourself, a partner, business or a gift for someone special)
- An official adoption certificate
- Hive progress updates
- A Beekeeping Experience (*T&Cs apply)
The honey produced will be stocked and sold at Mantis properties, with the profits reinvested into the development of more hives.
The buzz about bees
Not all bees are the same. There are an astonishing 2 755 bee species in sub-Saharan Africa and about a third of these are in South Africa. Here are 10 fascinating facts about bees:
- To produce 1.6kg of honey it takes 556 worker bees and 2 million flowers
- The average honeybee makes only one twelfth of a teaspoon of honey in its lifetime and visits 50 to 100 flowers during a collection trip
- A honeybee can fly, up to 9km at an average speed of 25km/hour
- A colony consists of worker bees, drones and one queen. Worker bees are female, they live for about six weeks and do all the work. The male honey bees (drones) do no work, all they do is mate
- The queen bee lives for about 2 -3 years, she is at her busiest in summer when she lays 2 500 eggs per day
- Honey bees communicate with each other by ‘dancing’
- The bees’ buzz is the sound made by their wings which beat 200 times per second
- The honey bee is the only insect that produces food eaten by man
- Honeybees never sleep
- Honey is incredibly healthy and includes enzymes, vitamins and minerals. It’s the only food that contains “pinocembrin”, an antioxidant associated with improved brain functioning.
Did you know?
- Bees can see a colour imperceptible to humans and known as ‘bee’s purple’. It is a combination of yellow and UV light
Building on the initial bee relocation and bee-keeping project in the Eastern Cape and the setting up of these beehives in the Western Cape, CCFA aims to continue creating small micro-businesses. The goal is to set up 1 000 micro-apiaries all over South Africa, donating hives, bee-suits and basic tools to rural South Africans in need, in order for them to start up their own businesses.
Once installed, the hives and bees belong to the community and the honey produced will be sold back to CCFA to sell through Mantis properties and local businesses. This will provide jobs and income for the local community.
In addition, as part of its immersive environmental activities for guests, CCFA and Mantis will be adding a Beekeeping Experience to its tourist offering. This includes a three-hour edutainment session with a hive tour and lunch at Willowdale Farm (*T&Cs apply).
‘Bee Engaged’, join us in the fight to protect our hard working little bees who contribute to complex, interconnected ecosystems that allow a diverse number of different species to co-exist. After all, bees keep the world sweet.
If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe then man would only have four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.
To adopt-a-beehive, donate to the project or learn more about environmental projects, contact the CCFA.
(*T&Cs: the Beehive Experience excludes transport to/from Willowdale Farm in Stanford and is for a minimum of four people.)