Would you bee-lieve that bees are responsible for around 30% of food production? That means for every three bites of food you take, bees are responsible for one of them. Though they may be small, these honey-producing, expert pollinators are vital to our entire eco-system and we should all be more aware of the part they play.
What Bees Live In South Africa?
South Africa is home to two types of bee; the African bee and the Cape honey bee. Any easy way to tell them apart is that African bees have orange bodies and Cape bees have darker bodies.
Why Are Bees Important?
“Mankind will not survive the honeybees disappearance for more than 5 years” – Albert Einstein.
From cashews and cauliflower to apples and avocados, bees and their pollination patterns are the reason for a third of our food production, especially regarding fresh produce. Should they disappear, agriculture would suffer severely as well as the general balance of our delicate ecosystem.
Why Should We Be Worried?
South Africa has seen an annual loss of honeybees sitting at around 20%. A German study conducted in late 2017 showed a drastic 76% decrease in flying areas in protected areas.
What is Impacting Our Bees?
General issues such as insufficient foraging, disease, fire, pesticides, pollution and drought all impact on our bee population as well as an increasing demand from consumers.
South Africa has been experiencing several bouts of drought and general dryness as well as what is now dubbed as ‘fire season’ wiping out bee colonies and their food sources. No rain means little to no germination and therefore poor nectar secretion for our buzzing bees.
As bees need around 20 kilograms of honey to survive, some bee keepers have resorted to buying in honey instead of their usual harvesting schedule to keep up with demand due to decreasing amount of production.
What Can Be Done?
A general transition toward more ecological farming systems and reduced chemicals will greatly benefit the bee population, but everyone can help the black-and-yellow brigade by doing the following:
- Supporting local and ecological farmers
- Buying organic food where possible
- Avoiding pesticides in your garden
- Planting bee-friendly flowers and herbs
- Leaving out some sugar water, especially on hot summer days
In Walkersons Hotel & Spa working herb garden we have a healthy list of frequent fliers who enjoy pollinating and taking nectar from our various flora species.