The future of honey bees worldwide are being threatened due to various possible factors including diseases, climate changes, changing habitat etc.
The South African Bee Industry has also been impacted when 40% of the Western Cape honey bees were wiped out by an epidemic. This event had a large impact on various industries where honey bees are a key factor: pollination, honey and bees wax. Bees play an integral role in food security, according to the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) more than two thirds of the world’s food crops are dependent on bees for pollination. Honey bees need certain types of plants to fulfill their nutritional needs with regards to proteins (pollen) and carbohydrates (nectar).
What can we do to assist these little helpers?
- Plant bee-friendly plants for example Lavender, Basil, crops.
- Even small apartment gardens can make a small but valuable contribution with a few pot plants on the balcony or window sill.
- Developers and landscape architects can contribute by planting flowering plants and shrubs on sidewalks, at businesses, in cities and communal areas.
- Do not remove certain bee-friendly weeds unnecessarily. Examples are Cosmos and Wild Radish.
- The bigger the variety of bee-friendly plants in a specific area, the more bees will be attracted.
- Plant the plants close together – especially of the same variety – to cover a larger area.
- If your space is limited, choose plants with blue, yellow or purple flowers – bees might give preference to these colours.
- Fragrant flowering plants are better than less fragrant types.
- Plant plants that flower during different seasons – ensuring that there are bee food throughout the year in the process.
- Make water available for bees – any shallow water resource will attract bees.
- Do not use pesticides. If this cannot be avoided, only spray flowering plants after the flowering period (or long before).
- Colourful indigenous plants include: Agapanthus, Clivia, Gazania, Osteospermums, Aloe.
- Plant herbs for ex: Mint, Chives, Fennel, Oregano, Marjory, Rosemary en Thyme.
- Conservation of natural vegetation.
- Support local bee farmers.
- Become a small scale bee farmer.
- Education is powerful. Educate people on the importance of honey bees, the dangers we are facing if they should become extinct and the steps that can be taken to protect bees.
- Allow some of your vegetables and herbs to seed – especially near the end of the season.
- South African Bee Industry Organisation
- SANBI (South African National Biodiversity Institute)