The Sarah Baartman Honey Bee Trust (SBHBT), which is funded as part of Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm’s enterprise development programme, is well on its way to success. The beekeepers, who are Trustees of the SBHBT, which launched a year ago, have already completed their first two harvests and will be operating 500 beehives by the end of this year.
An exciting development in this programme is the relocation of hives from Patensie, Loerie and Baviaanskloof to the Hankey area. “We are moving the hives, in order for the beekeepers, who predominantly live in the hamlet of Hankey, to easily access their hives, without the added cost and hassle of using transport,” explained Marion Green-Thompson, Economic Development Manager for Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm.
In addition to the active 300 hives that will soon all be settled in areas around Hankey, an additional 100 hives have been manufactured and another 100 are being delivered from the canola fields in the Southern Cape.
Moving hives is a delicate operation as bees can get stressed and hot if transported during the day. So, to avert bees dying, the hives are secured and moved at night, after the bees have returned at nightfall.
Once the hives have been relocated and the bees settle, the productive hives will be split to increase the number of active hives and make use of the currently empty structures. The beekeepers in fact built 100 of these hives themselves, making use of recycled wood from industrial pallets, which were donated by local companies.
The development of this local beekeepers trust included skills development, training and funding of equipment. 40 beekeepers started on the programme and over time 17 developed an affinity for bees, committed to programme and are now registered members of the Trust. This is an extraordinary enterprise development programme, initiated and sponsored by the wind farm, which has empowered and created a commercial opportunity for local community members whom were previously unemployed or seasonally employed.
The beekeepers have registered as commercial beekeepers with SABIO (South African Bee Industry Organisation) and have been equipped with the necessary tools, equipment and skills to operate successfully as commercial beekeepers.
Some of the harvested honey is being distributed to the local market and being sold to bulk honey buyers, who then process it and resell it into the retail industry. However, the Beekeepers Trust has developed its own brand and intends soon package and marketing their honey themselves, which the area of Hankey will surely be very proud of. This will ultimately increase their profit margins.
SOME HONEY BEE FACTS: