PORT Alfred Garden Club hosted a talk by one of the bee farm legends Charles Friderichs at The NGK in Forest Downs on Tuesday.
Bees are flying insects closely related to wasps and ants, known for their role in pollination and, in the case of the best-known bee species , the western honey bee, for producing honey and beeswax. But there is more to bees that what we already know, they are more important to our well-being than we would like to think.
Friderichs has been in bee farming since 1975, and his talk gave the garden club crowd more information about the bee species.
“When I completed my training in the Transvaal, I decided to go to Sadara for two years. From then I went to work for Bankers Honey Incorporated which was an eye-opener for me because there were only three of us and we handled about 3, 400 hives, which was kind of overwhelming. But that is where I got to learn about bees and bee hive management and my interest grew from then,” Frederichs said.
In 1985 he decided to move back to Balfour in the Eastern Cape and that’s when he decided to start getting into the business of bee farming. He started his own business called Honey-Dawn Bee Farm, located in Port Alfred. It is a family run business producing and bottling the highest quality honey from the Eastern Cape flora.
The talk covered a lot of topics around bees and pollination. The talk also covered the two types of bees which are Cape bees and African bees. He also stated that 73 percent of the crops world-wide need Pollination, so that is why we need bees.
“One bee provides half a spoon of honey, In a good year we produce about 23-25 kg of honey. The African bee is a native to central and southern Africa, though at the southern extreme it is replaced by the Cape honey bee which is unique among honey bee subspecies because workers can lay diploid, female eggs, by means of thelytoky, while workers of other subspecies, have no reproductive organs. They also play a major role in South African agriculture,” Fredrichs said.
Some species, including honey bees, bumblebees, and stingless bees, live socially in colonies. Bees are adapted for feeding on nectar and pollen, the former primarily as an energy source and the latter primarily for protein and other nutrients. Most pollen is used as food for larvae. Bee pollination is important both ecologically and commercially; the decline in wild bees has increased the value of pollination by commercially managed hives of honey bees.
“Never work bees on a cold day, because they cling onto their frames and only come out during warm weather. We keep our bees in the mountains in Fort Beaufort because it’s warmer out there. They never survive the coastal areas because it is always windy and cold,” He added.