Bees of Crystal Springs

The African honeybee and the Cape honeybee are two subspecies of honeybees found in South Africa. These honeybees are facing threats as their exposure to pesticides and insecticides increases. They are also under threat due to loss of habitat and climate change. Though they are tiny and may appear to be insignificant, they play a huge role in balancing the planet’s ecosystems. The threats they are facing could lead to ecosystems and our food supply being greatly affected; especially fruits, nuts, and vegetables. So, we have decided to make an effort toward maintaining a thriving bee community at Crystal Springs Mountain Lodge.

You might have noticed the beehives hidden away in the forest on the Crystal Springs grounds. This is a joined initiative between Crystal Springs and Floris (one of the local beekeepers). Floris looks after all the hives on the premises, making sure the bees are healthy, that new colonies are established, that the hives remain clean, and that the honey is collected. He, along with African Blessings, who own some of the beehives, then processes the honey collected from the African Blessings hives to sell in selected curio shops, as fundraising for their charity projects.  In turn, the bees help pollinate the trees and gardens of the Resort to create a healthy ecosystem for Crystal Springs.

Floris is also our go-to person when a bee nest has to be moved from a chimney, or other public space. First, he will locate the queen bee and very carefully move her into a portable hive. Most of the time, the worker bees will swarm to their queen though, on occasion, Floris will safely move them into the new hive, as well. The new hive will then be relocated within the wilds on the premises, where they can safely establish a healthy colony.

Why are bees important?

As mentioned above, ecosystems and our food supplies rely on the existence of these bees in order to survive. According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), almost 90% of wild plants and 75% of leading global crops depend on animal pollination. One out of every three mouthfuls of our food depends on pollinators such as bees. Without them, there would be a substantial decline in the availability and diversity of fresh produce, and human nutrition would likely suffer. They also make great contributions to our health. New research even suggests that melittin found in honeybee venom suppresses growth receptors in breast cancer.

In our case, as Crystal Springs, bees and forest beekeeping also help strengthen every aspect of forest ecosystems by providing pollination which improves the regeneration of trees, flowers, and other plants. Bees play a vital role in conserving the forest’s biodiversity.

Bee part of the change

You can also do your part in saving the bees. You can grow pollinator-friendly plants like basil, cucumbers, lavender, rosemary, and thyme in your garden and avoid using pesticides. These plants will attract bees to your garden, and it’ll help keep their life cycle going. Farms are encouraged to leave fields “wild” to allow grasses to flourish and bloom, providing additional support to the bees; you could implement this idea in your own garden, too. During the summer months, and particularly heat waves, think of the bees and leave a shallow dish of water outside for them to rehydrate when out and about. Additionally, you can support local beekeepers by purchasing organic honey products. (Local bee farms prioritise nurturing bee populations.)

Every bit of effort helps and, hopefully, our African bees will continue to buzz happily.