13 August, 2009

Bees and proteas

Today we drove up the Dasklip pass.

We passed some bee-hives, mounted on poles, to protect them from badgers. They seek out the bee larvae as a protein source. Wild-life friendly consumers like us, can then buy honey labelled badger friendly!

Next time you buy proteas as cut flowers – this is where they live. Each bloom is packed in its own bag, bringing you a pristine flower, undamaged by insects or birds. This is a more environment friendly solution than poisoning the birds, as they did before. (I’d be happy with a flower slightly nibbled by bugs, and visited by sugarbirds …)

When we first came to Porterville, they kept asking have you met the other Swiss. “The other Swiss” keeps bees for a hobby. We may not keep bees in town, so most of his hives are at Piket-bo-Berg (that is Piket on top of the mountain, as opposed to Piketberg which is the name of our neighbouring town, and their mountain.)

Here you see two Swiss disappearing off into the orange grove to visit the bees.
When the bees are tired of orange blossom, there is a field of lavender, and in the distance on the mountain slopes is fynbos – so they always have something to eat.

We also have wild bees in our garden. It is in the nature of things that to the crab/flower spiders, bees are just same old same old dinner. We have carpenter bees, who leave those elegant circular holes in the rose leaves. Imagine – cutting a perfect circle with your teeth! And there are bumble bees. Carmine bee-eaters – vividly coloured birds, that we see passing through.

So far our bees are healthy, but the beekeepers do check for diseases and problems.
We have badgers, which are a “problem animal” because they rip into the beehives to get at the larvae as a source of protein. Many badgers were killed until our favourite food supermarket, Woolworths sourced badger friendly honey. Now the beehives are perched on top of poles – which protects the bees from badger predation, AND the badgers from “farmer predation”.


  1. I'm not ready for that 4 letter word yet.

  2. My father was a beekeeper. When I was a child I thought this was a pain. Literally! :-) Now I wish we had bees! We have proteas locally. Lovely flowers! Val

  3. Fascinating to see this landscape, and the protrected plants.
    Sounds like an infinitely better solution than poison! You must have one rugged vehicle!
    Proteas are becoming increasingly popular in gardens here in Northern California. Right over my fence in fact, a neighbor has a productive small bush that produces a trove of cut 'flowers'....

  4. Snow cap mountains wow! I saw them once in Pokhara, Nepal... it was awesome! Have a great weekend.


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