CAPE TOWN – A commercial bee farmer says the devastating fires outside Nelson Mandela Bay killed up to 10,000 wild swarms of bees.
A blaze swept through the area three weeks ago, killing two people.
The pair’s neighbour, Thornhill farmer Malcolm Botes, says the inferno has also gutted his farm, destroying around 20,000 hectares of vegetation, which served as nutrition for the Cape honey bees.
He says commercial farming bees make up 10% of South Africa’s bee population.
“If I’ve lost about 400, imagine the number of wild swarms that’s been taken out. I would say between 6,000 and 10,000 and if you look at the devastation and destruction these fires have caused, they couldn’t get out there… you’d think a bee would fly away but there was no way they could do that.”
Botes has combined forces with project coordinator Jackie Hume to start addressing the situation, which will take years to rectify.
Hume says they are in the process of setting up a non-profit organisation, which will collect funds to provide food for the remaining bees.
She adds they will also be running projects in the community.
“To be able to create many projects in the community to teach people to make hives. Where we can have woodwork projects where people can make hives and we can start using those hives to try and catch more wild swarms and start repopulating that area with bees because they are all dead.”
(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)