Southerns Beekeeping Association

Free swarm arrival

Here are some more shots of a swarm that just arrived in my open workshop – spring 2016.

I shook them into a brood box and let them settle. they still going strong!

Regards Norman Venn

Liquid Gold – a short video on the African Honey Bee

Recent TV Interview on the SA Bee Industry

Earlier this week SABIO and Croplife were invited to discuss the Bee Industry and Pollination Services on the Grootplaas Morning Show on the Kyknet Channel. Here is a copy of the programme for your interest and to distribute to your members for their information if you so wish.

Please excuse my husky voice [Mike Miles] but I had a raging sore throat and it was a live interview at 5.30 on the Monday morning. Dirk Uys, from Crop Life came across much better.

Starke Ayres spring news

Please find Starke Ayres, spring newsletter in the link below.

Starke Ayres Newsletter Spring 2017 EMAIL

Southerns Beekeeping Association would just like to thank Starke Ayres for the support of the bees and the Association. We are looking forward to planting more bee food.

Bees and Agriculture: The Connection, the Crisis, and How to Help

Millions of people shop organic for their own health, but society is just waking up to how food choices directly affect the planet’s health. From soil-depleting monocultural farming practices to the greenhouse gas-emitting meat industry, there’s no denying food’s environmental impact. One issue everyone should be concerned about is the impact of conventional farming practices on bees.

Bees are an important part of today’s food system. On top of native bees pollinating small farms, gardens, and wild plants, honey bee hives are rented in enormous numbers to pollinate the crops that appear on grocery store shelves. Without bees, crop yields and biodiversity would plummet as food costs rise.

However, bees’ livelihood may also be the greatest threat to their health. While there’s no consensus on why honey bee colonies are dying in record numbers, some of the leading suspects are related to how crops are grown.

Concern over the effect of agricultural pesticides on bee populations led to a temporary ban in December 2013 on three common neonicotinoid insecticides in Europe. Scientists believe that exposure to neonicotinoids, or neonics, can impact foraging ability, reproduction, and pest resistance in various bee species. Neonicotinoids are the most widely used insecticides in the world; almost all of the corn grown in the United States is treated with neonicotinoids, along with cotton, soybeans, cereal grains, rice, nuts, and most fruit and vegetable crops.

But pesticides alone aren’t responsible for growing annual hive losses. Monocultural growing practices — that is, growing a single crop in the same area — are also contributing to declining bee populations. In diverse environments, bees move between food sources as plants come in and out of bloom. But in a monocultural environment, food is only available at one time of the year. With no other food sources in range, this environment can’t support bee populations.

To compensate for monoculture, the agricultural sector employs large numbers of honey bee hives to travel farm to farm pollinating crops. Millions of bees are used every year to pollinate almonds, cherries, avocados, squash, and pumpkins, among many other fruits and vegetables. However, this method puts a lot of stress on bees as they’re transported long distances and sustained on sugar and pollen between farm visits. It also promotes the spread of viruses, mites, and fungi that can devastate colony health.

Among honey bee pests, the varroa mite is undoubtedly the most destructive. This pest feeds on developing larva and latches onto adult bees, spreading viruses from bee to bee and hive to hive. Another pest, a fungal parasite called nosema, interferes with bees’ digestive systems and can rapidly lead to colony collapse. It’s suspected that these pests, among others, play a role in massive bee die-offs.

For much of the threat facing bees, the answer lies in a shift away from monocultural farming practices that rely on pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers for production, and into bio-diverse growing environments that naturally attract and support pollinator life. While the opportunity for the largest impact lies with the agricultural industry, non-farmers have a role to play as well.

Average citizens can help bees by forgoing pesticides in their homes and gardens, buying from local beekeepers, and shopping for pesticide-free food and clothing — while keeping in mind that “organic” doesn’t always mean pesticide-free.

Another great way to support bees is with a pollinator garden. A backyard bee habitat is doable even for beginning gardeners, as the best pollinator garden is a wild, unmanicured space. Gardeners can get started by visiting a local garden center for advice on native flowering plants that attract bees. Native plants offer low-maintenance gardening as they’re adapted to the natural rainfall and soil type of a given environment. Gardeners should incorporate plants that flower in different seasons so that bees can forage in spring, summer, and fall. Once planted, the garden should be left to grow, flower, and reseed itself, providing a self-sustaining pollinator habitat. Check out for more tips for beginner gardeners.

Bee die-off is a major issue threatening the world’s food security, but it’s not a lost cause. With effort from agricultural corporations, farmers, and average people alike, bees, and biodiversity, can be protected.

Image via Unsplash

South African Bee Journal – March 2017

Dear All Beekeepers and Association Chairpersons / Co-ordinators,

The latest copy of the South African Bee Journal was published and distributed in March in hard copy to all paid-up members of SABIO.

The electronic version has now been placed on the SABIO website under Publications and Reports.  The direct link is as follows:

All comments and contributions are welcome and may be addressed to either the Editor at or to

Would Association Chairpersons / Co-ordinators please disseminate this message to all your members to keep them informed of industry issues and encourage them to support the work of SABIO.

You are also welcome to pass this link on to anyone else you know who has an interest in South African Beekeeping.

Kind Regards,

REG. # TA735
TEL: 011 476 5626
FAX TO E-MAIL: 086 775 2409
CELL: 082 456 4177

why should I have to pay for bee removals

Bee keepers who carry out pay bee removals provide a service to the community. Many people who ask for bees to be removed from their property complain when are advised that there will be a fee for this service. “I am giving you the bees, why should I have to pay for bee removals?” is the type of comment often made.

There are several reasons why a fee is justified.

First of all why is the request made in the first place? Because the person asking for the bees to be removed does not the expertise to do so.

Why you should pay bee removals.

A beekeeper who provides the community this service should be paid for the time and effort required. A swarm which arrives and hangs in a tree can easily be shaken into a card board box and then left on the site until dusk when all the flying bees will have gathered in the box, which the beekeeper can close and take the swarm to a place where he keeps his bees and put them into an empty hive. Those are the easy jobs.

The problem jobs are for removal of bees that have been living in a situation for a long time. Sometimes situations are easily accessible but in many instances they are not. Bees in Chimneys and in roofs for example. Most bee removals are for established colonies.

Sometimes bees live in situations that are high off the ground so there is a danger for the bee remover if appropriate equipment and safety measures are not in place.

To provide a bee removal service the beekeeper needs various tools and a suitable vehicle. These involve an expense to the bee remover. In addition a beehive is required to put the bees into. These are not cheap. A basic new hive without honey supers, but with new brood frames fitted with wax foundation sheets, is in the region of R1000.00.

Travel expenses can be considerable, as the beekeeper’s apiary maybe a considerable distance from where the bees were living. I have often driven fifty kilometres, some times more, to do a bee removal. Fuel does not come cheap!

Time is money. Many bee removals take hours to do. As removals of established colonies should only be undertaken as the light is fading, to avoid any disturbances in the vicinity by angry bees,  the bee remover of large colonies often arrives back home VERY late, when everybody has already gone to bed!

Thank to Tom Cain for the article and a very big thanks to our members for submitting the photos.

Eucalyptus gum trees and Bees

This booklet aims to help landowners protect or grow forage resources for honey bees, and understand why Eucalyptus trees are vital to the beekeeping and agricultural industries in South Africa.

Gums & Bees answers important questions such as:

  1. Why are Eucalyptus trees important to honey bees?
  2. Do I need to remove my Eucalyptus trees in terms of alien invasive species laws?
  3. What else can I do to help honey bees access good forage resources?

Where do eucalyptus come from?

Eucalyptus is a diverse genus of flowering trees and shrubs belonging to the myrtle family, Myrtaceae. There are no indigenous eucalypts in South Africa.

The genus, consisting of more than 700 species, is native to Australia.

Eucalyptus is one of three similar genera that are commonly referred to as ‘eucalypts’, the others being Corymbia and Angophora. Many species are known as ‘gum trees’ because they exude copious sap from any break in the bark. The generic name is derived from the Greek words (eu) = ‘well’, and (kályptos) = ‘covered’, referring to the lids that cover the flower buds.

Numerous species of eucalypts are cultivated widely in the tropical and temperate world because of their desirable characteristics such as:

  • being a fast-growing source of wood;
  • producing oil used for cleaning and as a natural insecticide;
  • their ability to dry out swamps, thereby reducing the risk of malaria.

Outside their natural ranges, eucalypts are both lauded for their beneficial economic impact and criticised for being ‘water-guzzling’ invasive aliens, leading to controversy over their total impact.

Bees and our food

Providing flowering plants for honey bees is crucial to South Africa’s food security.

Deciduous fruit, vegetable seed crops, subtropical fruit, nuts, oil-seeds and berries from 87 of the leading global food crops are dependent upon animal pollination, while only 28 crops do not rely upon animal pollination.

Insect pollination is worth over R10,3 billion per annum to South Africa.

South Africa’s honey bees are under threat. They face diminishing habitat and forage resources, attack by the Varroa mite pest and American Foulbrood disease, pollution from pesticides, and stress from being worked hard to provide a pollination service. For honey bee populations to withstand these stresses, a healthy diet is critical for a fully-functioning immune system.

This is my note: It is sad to see the removal of the Eucalyptus trees and I do feel for the bees but in the end it will be the humans that will suffer the most. Lucky we are human and seem to bounce back.