Monday, 6 June 2016

Lucerne and the honey bees at Safari Ostrich Farm

Safari Ostrich Farm has 312 hectare of Lucerne under flood irrigation.  We would not be able to produce Lucerne without the help of bees. The Lucerne produce on Safari Ostrich Farm is mostly used as food production for our ostriches.  The Lucerne of the Oudtshoorn district is also highly regarded for its nutritional value and its seed sold all over the world.  There are more than 100 known species of bees in Southern Africa.  The one that we are interested in is the honey bee or Apis mellifera. South Africa is home to two sub-species or races of honeybees which are indigenous to the country: Apis mellifera Scutellata (or “African bee”) and Apis mellifera Capensis (or “Cape bee”).  Bees pollinate most of the food you eat. Locally the indigenous honeybee is regarded as the most important pollinator of many of South Africa’s food growing crops. I the Western Cape alone, Ransom estimates about 60 000 hives are required to service the numerous deciduous fruit and seed crops in the province alone.  Interesting facts of bees are
They live in communities of between 20,000 and 80,000
Bees have 3 castes – Queen Bee (only one position); Worker Bee (all female and do all the work); Drone Bee (male layabouts only interested in food and reproduction)
Bees do different jobs depending on their age. Young bees are cleaners, baby sitters and guards.  Older bees are involved in production – fetching pollen and sap for honey.  Engineers make the honey combs. Scouts survey and map the area in which they live. Bees are able to fly upto 800 kilometers in their lifetime pollinating flowers and collecting pollen to make honey.
The next time you eat fruit, nuts, rooibos tea and vegetables, just remember that without bees it would not be possible to do so.

 Sources SABIO, Southerns beekeeping association