Man’s fascination with bees dates back to the start of recorded history and our synergistic relationship with bees are found in rock paintings of honey-gathering dating back 130,000 years. Yes, there is a sting in the tail, but before you swat that annoying creature from the lip of your soda can, spare a thought for the fact that globally, bees are dying at an alarming rate. Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is a phenomenon that has no single cause but is probably the cumulative result of a number of factors: increased use of pesticides, the spread of diseases, decimation of habitat, as well as speculative causes such as genetically modified crops and cell phone radiation.
It is not just the guests who love Stonecutters Lodge in Mpumalanga, bees love Stonecutters too! With lots of blue-gums and fruit trees on the estate we often see swarms of bees and we have had many swarms settling into both suitable and unsuitable areas – down the chimney, under the eaves and in the electricity box. We finally encountered a guest, Ilse Uys who was a bee-keeping hobbyist and enlisted some help. With expert guidance and staff kitted out in bee-keepers uniforms, five swarms were rescued. We housed the swarms in new hives and we placed them well away from guests at the edge of a pine plantation close to an ideal foraging area – a blue-gum forest. We have put out sugar-water to help settle them through winter when food is not abundant. We wish them a long and productive stay and hope to have pure honey in summer which the guests of Stonecutters will enjoy- a win-win situation for the bees and the lodge.
If a swarm of bees settle in a garden, too many home-owners reach for a can of insecticide. More often than not the bees are merely resting and will move on, but should they stay, there is recourse to contacting the provincial beekeepers association, posting a notice on the national beekeepers blog firstname.lastname@example.org or contacting a local beekeeper. Bees should live happy, unstressed and protected lives, with the landowner enjoying the fruits of their labour – globally! For an interesting comment on how man made toxins affects bees check out the following article.