MAY 20 is World Bee Day - an important occasion to raise awareness around our declining bee population, and to recognise how integral these pollinating powerhouses are to our planet’s sustainability.
Candide, the free community gardening app that connects gardeners, is making a big buzz on the day by launching #PolliNationSA - a 10-month campaign that runs until March 2021. It aims to recruit a minimum of 100,000 South Africans to become bona fide bee protectors.
It’s as easy as A-Bee-C. All one needs is the Candide app and a pollinator-friendly plant.
“There’s no underestimating the importance of having a healthy bee population,” explains Candide market lead Shani Krige.
“At Candide we’re devoted to helping gardeners create nurturing spaces in all shapes and forms, so it makes sense that we ensure our beloved bees are part of this mix.”
It’s an indisputable fact: we need bees to survive. They pollinate more than a third of all our food crops (that’s one in three mouthfuls) and around 90% of wild flowers.
“That apple a day, those carrots and cucumbers, garlic, grapes, olives, onions, strawberries, watermelons and nuts… they’d all be gone, along with many more daily dietary items, if our bees disappeared,” says Krige.
Two of the early supporters from the Western Cape to come on board for the #PolliNationSA movement are Cape Town’s Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden and Garden Route Botanical Garden in George.
According to Dr Tlou Masehela, Scientist (GMOs & Honey-bee Research) at Kirstenbosch, it’s important for us to take care of bees as they also take care of us.
“Bees for nature, food security and sustainable livelihoods,” he reminds.
Over at Garden Route Botanical Garden, acting curator Corne Brink adds: “South Africa is one of the few countries in the world that has a stable indigenous population of honey bees.
“However, our solitary bees and wild bees are threatened by various honey farming practices, destruction of habitat, and predatory wasps.
“Helping our indigenous bees and insects is as easy as introducing one or two locally indigenous plants to our gardens, which flower at different times of the year,” she concludes.
The #PolliNationSA campaign is for everybody and getting involved couldn’t be simpler.
1. If you’re not already part of the Candide community, download the free Candide app, available on the Apple Store and Google Play Store.
2. Snap a pic of a bee-friendly plant growing in your garden, on your stoep, windowsill or balcony. Bee-friendly plants and flowers include Aloe, Vygies, Clivia, Daisies, Protea, and Rosemary.
Candide has loads of information on pollinator-friendly plants - you may also want to consider more than one plant to ensure there’s something in bloom for the bees throughout the year.
3. Share the pic on the Candide app using the hashtag #PolliNationSA.
4. Once posted, you’ll receive a #PolliNationSA icon that will be added to your Candide profile pic confirming your pollinator status.
You’ll also automatically be added to the campaign’s countrywide map depicting the spread and reach of this growing movement.
“The more people we get involved, the more bee-friendly spaces we create,” says Krige. And to assist you, here are some tips to ensure that what you create, attracts these busy little guys... like bees to honey.
• Bee Diverse: plant as many different flowering herbs, plants, shrubs and trees as possible.
• Bee Creative: make your own bee hotel, find the simple steps on how to build one on the Candide app, then hang your hotel on a sunny wall, sheltered from rain.
• Bee Careful: avoid using insecticides, pesticides and chemicals that are toxic to bees and leave some garden areas wild.
• Bee Aware: know your weeds, and make sure you don’t get rid of the ones that are great sources of pollen and nectar.
• Bee Sensitive: don’t swot the swarm, rather contact an eco-conscious beekeeper to relocate them to a safe home.
• Bee Kind: look out for and protect natural bee habitats.
• Bee Social: consult the Candide app for more advice, and to share your own findings.
• Bee Vocal: spread the word!
• Bee Supportive: buy local honey!
“With #PolliNationSA we’re hoping to leverage off the existing awareness and provide an opportunity for everyone to get involved in something truly worthy,” concludes Krige.
So go on, make a beeline for your phone, get onto the Candide app and help create the hive of activity that will make #PolliNationSA a home-grown success.
Bee in the know
• Bees collect and transfer male pollen to female plant parts so that plants can reproduce, thrive and multiply.
• Around one third of all the food we eat depends on bees for pollination.
• Bee products are beeswax and honey.
• There are approximately 20,000 different bee species worldwide.
• In South Africa, the two main species are the Cape honey bee (Apis mellifera capensis) and the African bee (Apis mellifera scutellata).
• Modern industrial agriculture, chemical pesticides, mono-cropping, habitat loss, disease and climate change have had a massive impact on bee numbers around the world.
Support Plett lass’s locally-brewed bee initiative
Another interesting site on the subject is the brainchild of Plett local Eve Puttergill, whose World Bee Day focus this year in on the Boland Trees for Bees Pledge Fund (click on https://bee-effect.co.za/the-bee-effect-program/boland-trees-for-bees/). Email