African Killer Honey Bees
A honeycomb built by wild bees here in SA
Africa is well well known for its wild
scutellata bees (African killer bee )
They are very dangerous bees and if you disturb
them in their nest they swarm out and attack you.
I had a couple in my garden hedge a while back
and moving past with my lawn mower upset them.
I soon had a whole bunch of them flying around my
head so I switched off the mower and went inside until they had gone away.
Fortunately I was not stung and the bees
left the hedge after a couple of days.
If you happen to be allergic to
their sting it could be fatal for you.
The African killer bee was imported into
the USA and has become a big problem in California.
They often swarm and move to new places.
They are very aggressive and apparently attack and kill the local bees.
Here in SA it is a common sight to see a swarm of bees coming your way.
Thousands and thousands of them all flying in your direction.
Some beekeepers catch the queen if they can
and place them in hives on their farms.
A while back my elderly mother had a swarm arrive
in her garden and take refuge in a tree.
To get rid of them before they made a nest
she turned a hose on them causing some of
them to leave.
While the queen bee is around they will not budge.
She eventually sprayed them with
an insecticide and killed thousands of them.
Very brave or very stupid for a eighty two year old granny with a gammy leg.
Once they move in it costs a fortune to
have them removed by a professional.
Certain beekeepers have been experimenting
with the killer bee here in SA and have developed
a very docile bee which apparently gives
33% more honey than the wild variety.
It's a tame variety of the African killer bee.
The bee is so tame that you can take the lid off the hive
and watch the queen bee laying eggs.
You cannot do that with the normal bee.
For me a bee is a bee and it has a sharp point
at one end that means extreme pain.
I just stay away from them.
Beekeepers use bees in various ways. Many of them have
hives which they hire out to fruit farmers to
assist with the pollination of their apple crops.
This is very hard work as the beekeeper has to move
his bees into an area and out in a short time (normally at night).
Moving hundreds of hives is no joke especially at short notice.
If apple farmers detect a fungus or something on their crops
they spray and if the bees get in the way its their problem.
The honey produced by these bees can also contain
a residue of the insecticides used in the orchards.
Hiring out bees is not their only income. Some beekeepers
also farm with the honey and wax products produced by the bees.
One beekeeper in Cape Town has two hundred colonies of bees
which he places in different locations around the city .
By doing this he is able to take advantage of the different
types of vegetation in different areas. For instance
if you have many bluegum trees you end up
with a honey tasting of Eucalyptus.
This farmer produces 20 different flavours of honey.
Here is a description of two more varieties.
Mountain flower honey comes from wild flowers
(wild geranium and buchu) that grow in and
around Simonstown. The honey is amber
coloured and has a musky flavour.
Another honey is the fynbos variety. This honey
is coloured dark red to black and has a bitter
spicy flavour. Some people like it, others don't.
The darker the honey the more minerals it contains.
Its easy to go out and buy honey but does anyone know
that its a dangerous job getting the honey into the jar.
There are many ways of approaching bees.
Certain people dress up in protective clothing,
others don't bother.
To get to the honey you have to open
the hive and move the bees out of the way.
As smoke drugs the bees it is used to pacify
them while the beekeeper is working in the hive.
You won't catch me doing this even if the bees are drugged.
I'm a ” Bang Jan “. ( Afrikaans for Scared John.)
Beekeeping in SA is big business. The industry is
said to generate a hundred million Rand per annum.
Thats a lot of bees, a lot of honey, and plensch money.
When you visit our country do not forget to try the honey.
Email : Geoff Fairman
6 Bothma Street, Monte Vista 7460 South Africa
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Page updated 8.5.2015