Bees at Bastiaanskloof
We were thrilled to discover that bees have finally decided to swarm one of our hives at Bastiaanskloof this past weekend. We had placed 3 hives in November 2015 at the Estate in the hopes of attracting swarms naturally to them and after patiently waiting for 6 months we were delighted to discover that one of our hives has been occupied!
Roger is our staff member in charge of beekeeping and now has the task of keeping them happy and hopefully we will be able to provide our guests with some of our own honey during their stay in the near future. If staying with us at Bastiaanskloof, Roger will be happy to show guests who are interested, how this fascinating colony works.
We have done mass planting near the hives of plants with flowers that will be attractive to bees like lavendars, thymes and our indigenous ericas, which is especially important to supply them with during the summer season when food becomes scarce for them here in the Western Cape. The hives have been placed near one of our streams for a constant water supply year round – a hive can consume 20 litres of water a day.
The culture of bees in Southern Africa
In the Xhosa culture, when there is a swarm of bees in the house they believe it is the ancestors. In order to appease the ancestors and get rid of the bees, one has to make umqombothi (a beer made from maize, maize malt, sorghum malt, yeast and water) and communicate with the bee swarm.
In rock art, one sees depictions of nested U-shapes with bees. Bushman shamans interpreted this particular shape as a honeycomb because bees are a Bushman symbol of potency.
In the Kalahari, Bushmen dance when bees are swarming because they believe that they can harness their potency for a particularly effective dance.
Conservation status and what the future holds
While the Cape honeybee is officially classified as not threatened, they are experiencing threats, including diminishing forage resources, pests and diseases, as well as problems arising from misuse of pesticides and insecticides in the environment.
With American Foulbrood disease having hit the Western Cape in the last 18 months, bees here are having a tough time and we hope to provide these VIP guests, so crucial to our ecosystem, with the respect they deserve!