Improving honeybee forage management
Farmer's Weekly|October 22, 2021
Certain areas in South Africa face a shortfall of honeybees for the pollination of crops, particularly fruit. According to Tlou Masehela, a scientist at the South African National Biodiversity Institute, there is an urgent need to increase forage resources in order to boost honeybee farming in the country.
Tlou Masehela

FAST FACTS

Data suggests that in some provinces, such as the Western Cape, there is already a shortfall of honeybee hives to service the growing deciduous fruit industry.

Honeybees require a diverse quality and quantity of good forage resources in order to survive and produce.

One of the main threats to forage availability is the removal of invasive alien plant species that are important forage resources.

Honeybees are often in the news, and new studies constantly update what is known about their importance to the environment, biodiversity, economy and food security.

In South Africa, honey production from managed bees has long provided livelihoods, and over the past decade or so, pollination services to agriculture have also become a major source of revenue for beekeepers. It is estimated that honeybees pollinate over 50 crops in South Africa.

In just one province, the Western Cape, about 91 000 hives are currently required to serve the deciduous fruit industry, and this number is expected to increase to at least 100 000 over the next five years. In February 2020, the government’s beekeeper registration database recorded 77 088 managed hives for the province, more than 45% of the country’s total of 161 610. If these numbers are accurate, there is already a shortfall of hives in the Western Cape.

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