The beauty of bee keeping

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F is for Fearless February! Dare to do something different and come buzz on the wild side with Life is a Garden as we explore the beauty of beekeeping. Whether you live on a plot or farm, townhouse or flat – the enchanting world of beehives, honey extraction, bee courses and baked goods are all available to you. Here’s the basics to get you going. 

 

Beekeeping has a few rules 

Before we fly on, there are specific by-laws for beekeeping stipulated by the Metropolitan Municipality Public Health. You can’t own a hive on your balcony in the suburbs, for example, but you can go on an epic beekeeping course and tend to a hive away from home. For our plot and farm dwellers to have sufficient space, here is a brief overview of the current laws:

  • No person may keep bees on any premises unless that person is the holder of a permit authorizing that activity and every beehive is situated –
  • A minimum of five metres from any boundary of the premises.
  • A minimum of twenty metres from any public place or building used for human habitation or from any place used for the keeping of animals.
  • The bees are kept in an approved beehive and the beehive is kept in an area inaccessible to children and animals, kept in the shade at all times, and supplied with a source of drinking water within five metres of the hive.

 

It is important for beekeepers to register with The South African Bee Industry Organisation (SABIO) so that your set-up is in accordance with the regulation standards. This is to ensure all bees live a happy life and to prevent accidents or injuries to your neighbours. Now that we’re all clued up, let’s look into the benefits of starting a beehive and what treasures could be yours! 

A Bee-Friendly Backyard

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This month, Life is a Garden is taking part in the important global conversation about the need for urgent bee conservation. Like you, we are gardeners on a mission! And this month our mission is to #PolliNationSA and gather all the green fingers we can to join us in creating nation-wide, bee-friendly backyards. Here’s how you can help our crop crusaders by planting their faves, making small adjustments to your current garden, and even building homes for these hard workers.

 

Let’s speak bee

We are inviting gardeners to awaken their inner eco-warrior and consider the bee as an essential service to mankind! The balance of Mother Nature and Her creatures are in a delicate little dance with humanity, with the bees playing an ever-important role in sustaining the following:

  • In South Africa alone, over 50 different food crops are dependent on bee pollination.
  • The honey bee not only pollinates our fruit and vegetables, but they also improve the weight and quality of them.
  • Bees sustain our wild flora, which in turn supports the growth and preservation of almost all biodiversity and ecosystems in South Africa.
  • These guys are THE most important group of pollinators visiting over 90% of the leading 107 crop types worldwide.
  • Bees also contribute to job creation and employment on a beekeeping and farming level.
  • Honey offers many medicinal benefits such as anti-bacterial and diabetic properties.
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Planting for bees

Welcoming honey-makers into your garden is easier than you may think. Once you know how to cater for bees, planning your next flower pot or gardening project becomes super easy. Similarly, a few simple additions to your current garden could make all the difference. Here’s what you can plant for bees:

  • Herbs such as sage, fennel, lavender, thyme, and rosemary
  • Flowers such as sunflowers, coneflowers (Enchinacea purpurea), Cape Daisy (Osteospermum ecklonis), dahlias, roses, Cape Forget-me-not (Anchusa capensis), and cosmos
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  • Shrubs such as Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis), Aloes (Aloe spp), proteas, September Bush (Polygala myrtifolia), and porkbush (Portulacaria afra)
  • Fruits and veggies such as watermelons, cucumbers and pumpkin are a bee-fave!