Locals buzzz to support bees

The Friends of the Rivers of Hout Bay has called on the community to support the local bee population by avoiding the use of pesticides and encouraging and supporting organic produce where possible.

Late last year, the organisation hosted an interactive presentation by Tlou Masehela, of the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), in which he spoke about bees in general, and their importance to food production.

“Bees not only produce honey for production in managed hives, but are also used extensively by beekeepers worldwide to pollinate many diverse food crops. Many of our agricultural crops, such as canola, sunflower, lucerne, almonds, citrus, pears and apples trees, rely on hives being brought in by beekeepers for pollination,” Mr Masehela said.

“Due to urbanisation; forage removal; pesticides; theft and vandalism; increased competition for apiary sites; bee stress and restrictions of where hives can be placed, bees have taken a strain world-
wide.

“In South Africa, our bee populations have managed to remain stable, although there is still a shortage of honey, and much of our commercially produced honey is imported, mostly from China. The quality of this honey is unknown as there are not strict labelling laws.”

As such, he said, planting bee-friendly plants for forage; providing shallow water features for bees to drink from and not drown in; and being more aware of the importance of bees in people’s everyday lives would go a long way towards to sustaining these vital insects.

“We need to educate ourselves and our children on these issues, and not fear bees as they are not a danger if you do not bother them, and will only attack or sting if they feel threatened.”

The Friends urged residents to visit the Sanbi website to learn more about bees and how they can be protected. This can be found at http://www.sanbi.org/search/node/bees.