All abuzz about bee conservation

Cas demonstrates how he would spray sugar water onto a swarm of bees in an inconvenient location. This calms them as they love the taste and lick it off one another, making this task a little easier for the bee farmer.

Cas Olivier would like to create as much of a buzz as possible about conserving bees and relocating them, rather than killing swarms in Madibeng. He is calling on anyone interested in helping him.

Cas, who is a well-known bee-farmer from Hartbeespoort, is one of just a handful of bee lovers in the area, very well-acquainted with these hardworking but often feared little insects and very knowledgeable about the do’s and don’ts regarding their wellbeing.

“I was called out to Brits to remove a swarm of bees from an electricity box,” Cas explains. “The fire department’s workers and myself stopped there simultaneously, and as we spoke, I learnt that although there is a moratorium in place prohibiting them from killing bees. They do not really have the necessary equipment and know-how when it comes to relocating big swarms and eventually do end up killing them.”

Cas would thus like to extend an invitation to anyone who is willing to learn and is interested in bees, to sign up for some training with him. “It will, unfortunately, cost around R4000 to start off,” he explains, “but it would be great if we could get some sponsorship from companies.”

The starting fee would be to purchase the necessary protective clothing to remove bees, as well as for the building of a wooden hive for the interested candidate to use. Cas builds the hives himself and welcomes all wood off-cuts from people.

“I will train people to remove and relocate swarms and this could very well become an earning profession,” he explains. “The candidates should have a definite interest in bees and always have their best interests at heart,” he explains.

There is also the possibility of, like Cas, retrieving and selling raw honey from the honeycombs accessible from the hives.

Cas says that he has also been offered an escort into ‘dangerous’ areas by the fire department or even the police when there are bees to be removed.

Why this love for bees? Cas says he just loves bees and hates to see them being killed when it really can be prevented. In conversation with him and seeing how keen he is to share information about these black and yellow workers, it is evident that this is his passion. “It has been said before that without bees we couldn’t survive. Bees are responsible for a whole lot of pollination which takes place across several plant types, naturally helping their reproduction, including beans, pumpkin, certain aloes and so on.”

Olivier has designed, what he calls, a “bee-vac.” This is used to remove hives of between 60 000 – 90 0000 bees in inconvenient places in one go by gently sucking them out of their hives into the wooden box hives.

On the one end is a small round hole for the pipe of a vacuum-cleaner, and on the other side a hole for the pipe inserted into the hive through which the bees are transferred to the wooden hive.

From there, the bees are transported to their new location and the Queen bee is found using a “sifting” method.

This is just one of the interesting steps Cas is willing to convey with practical and intellectual knowledge to interested, potential “bee farmers.”

Cas asks that anyone who is knowledgeable in this field, already trained to remove bees, or even has a farm or open space where they would be willing to allow bee farmers to keep bees, to contact him on 083 259 2857.

In conclusion, Cas encourages estates and individuals to plant more bee food, including avocados, litchis, “Vaderland Wilgers,” “Aloe transvaalensis”, “Blinkblaar Wag-‘n-bietjie” and “Aloe davyana, among others”.

Cerise Mtshatsheni

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