My South African Adventure

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by Zulu, Mar 16, 2011.

  1. Zulu

    Zulu Member

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    I made contact with one of the local beekeepers in the Southern Cape, this is in the region around Knysna, close to my dads home.

    They keep African Bee's , NOT Cape Bees around here and just last years started to see AFB in regions close to this (100 miles away) but not yet here.

    Corrie has about 70 hives in total , 12 on his own property and others on surrounding farms. He has grown his hives mostly by catching wild swarms over the last 6 years. The vegetation is mostly Fynbos, a unique floral kingdom concentrated around the Cape Town region of SA and up to 400 miles away. We were about 300 miles from Cape Town. In addition there are still many flowering Gum trees in the region. This is late late summer and there are flowers galore all around.

    He started making his own hives after buying two , and has used scrap wood from local saw mills. Now he has found a local supplier who will ship flats. He uses Langstroth Deeps and Med Supers, 9 frames in his Deeps. He is paying about $4 a deep (shipped)!!

    As he is a full time shop keeper , we could only head out to his farm at 6pm (Sunset about 7pm), so we did not open up a hive, but it was interesting how very observant the bees were when we walked up to the entrance, I was able to walk up slowly to about 3 feet and they all lined up and watched me, he warned me if a scout flew out - I must walk away quickly. He showed me a nuc that he thought he might be able to open for me, but the wood had a crack we didn't see, 10 secs after he tried to pry the lid off he got stung, and had about 10 scouts after him, but as I was standing still they flew right past me. Later I had two bees land on my arm while close to another hive, no issue. But he did warn he seldom works a hive without a full suit, he has tried no gloves and been stung, but knows of another local beek who does not wear gloves ever.

    Climate is moderate, while in mid winter you can get frost , you dont get a freeze and he says there is food all winter. He will feed weak hives if needed and has some clever cheap ideas (pics to follow). Mid summer temps are about 90 deg max with mid humidity. Water is local on the farm with both animal watering baths and a local river only 300 yards away.

    South Africa has strict laws and every Beek must register their hives (From pics you will he has his license # on each deep) and honey is graded and tested occasionally, if they find any impurities they can pull your license. The Chinese honey imported 4 years ago has been the scourge of locals, almost certainly brought in AFB as it was not seen before that. It is now totally banned, and thus a shortage of honey exists. I saw many bees returning to the hives as we arrived and they were carrying good pollen , but his hives were mostly a deep and only one super. He said he had not pulled much honey recently as they are in drought situation. (I read into this that flowers were not as prolific as normal)

    SHB and Verroa are both present in his hives but are not an issue , he did talk about another mite he has seen in a caught swarm, but did not know the name of it.

    He uses no chemicals at all on hives , but does treat wooden ware and frames for wax moth. It looked like the foundation he used was around 4.6-4.8mm , he did not know as it was the only foundation he could buy.

    Stealing of hives and honey is a big issue in this region as there is a fair amount of unemployment. He has tried to help locals and teach them beekeeping , but within two months had all his hives stolen, he is sure there was a link. Now his dogs are closer to the hives and his electric fence for cattle and horses is also around the hives.

    Will upload pics soon.
     
  2. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    :goodpost:

    Thanks. We will be awaiting the pics. Glad you made it back safely.
     

  3. Zulu

    Zulu Member

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    Not yet back, still in Africa for two more days..... back Sunday. Trying to get pics uploaded later tonight , headed out to dinner now
     
  4. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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  5. Murrell

    Murrell New Member

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    Sounds like a interesting trip, looking forward to pictures

    Murrell
     
  6. Zulu

    Zulu Member

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  7. rast

    rast New Member

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    Thank you Zulu. I really enjoyed the post's and the pictures.
     
  8. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Great pics. It's good to see how it's done in far away places. I really like the feeders. Nice to see the terrain, too.
    Thanks for the trouble you went to. It is appreciated.
     
  9. Bitty Bee

    Bitty Bee New Member

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    Wow, that is very cool. Thank you for sharing!
     
  10. Mama Beek

    Mama Beek New Member

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    thanks so much for sharing both your observations and the pictures!
     
  11. milapostol

    milapostol New Member

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    I read your report and looked at your pics. Thanks for sharing.

    I noticed the double entrance in one of the pics. Can you explain the reason for that? I am curious as I've never seen that before.

    With appreciation,
     
  12. Zulu

    Zulu Member

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    Sorry to take so long to reply, travelled back on the weekend and had to dive back into work, and then just to add some fun I was offered a complete hive Monday night, which I had to collect that night.

    Then been away on two days business trip.....

    so to answer about the entrances...

    Corrie said that as their weather was essentially temperate all year ... he kept the upper entrances (round ones) open until honey started flowing again, he was about two weeks away from the end of season flow he thought (mostly Gum Tree) ...I asked about robbing and he was not really concerned. I did notice that he was not consistent with these upper entrances as some hives had them open , others not.

    As for lower entrances , yes most hives have two entrances , one each side and I did not ask about it, but he did tell me he screwed the bottom boards to the deeps to make handling easier (???)

    I asked about checker boarding , and while he knew about it , did not practice it. He said he sees verroa , but it has never been an issue , same with SHB. Like I said above , the foundation looked small, but we did not have a tape measure or ruler to check size. Maybe this is the way they are hygienic. It was the only foundation available to them in SA.