Create a bee-friendly garden with indigenous plants
DID YOU KNOW?!
South Africa has been recognised globally as a bee diversity hotspot, with close to 1 000 bee species, many of which are endemic to the Fynbos and Succulent Karoo biomes.
Honeybees specifically are often in the news these days. Research constantly updates what’s known about their importance to the environment, biodiversity, economies and food security.
Honeybees are not only managed by beekeepers to allow for honey harvesting; are you aware that they are also important pollinators of many of our indigenous flowering plants (including many of our fabulous thorn trees) - helping to maintain various ecosystem functions.
It feeds on pollen and nectar of flowering plants, while at the same time providing the essential service of transferring pollen from one flower to another – thereby facilitating pollination and the reproduction of flowering plants.
Honeybees also pollinate about 50 (insect pollinated) commercial crops across South Africa, including sunflower seeds, apples, pears, blueberries, canola and subtropical fruit found in the northern region of South Africa.
Imagine your world without all the fruits and vegetables we rely on for a healthy diet!
Let's talk food:
According to Tlou Masehela (scientist, South African National Biodiversity Institute) via theconversation.com :
in just one province, the Western Cape, about 91,000 beehives are currently required to serve the deciduous fruit industry. And this number is expected to increase to at least 100,000 in the next five years.
These honeybees (but also other indigenous wild bee species) require a diverse quality and quantity of good forage resources to survive, to produce and to go on with their important job as pollinator.
But unfortunately their food resources are under threat these days.
It’s important to know that South Africa’s honey bees rely on both indigenous and exotic species, flowering crops, AND suburban plants to provide important forage sources all- year round.
And this is where YOUR garden comes into the play!
Bees will usually forage within 3km from their hives, but it is also known that they can fly as far as 12km in search of healthy food sources.
By planting just a few bee-friendly flowering plants in your own garden, you can do your part to help these very important little friends of ours AND you’ll be nurturing and cultivating an environment that supports biodiversity.
Here's a great list of Indigenous plants that provide food for honeybees:
Herbaceous perennials & groundcovers:
Lessertia frutescens (=Sutherlandia
Rhus spp. now Searsia
Agathosma ovata (& cultivars)
Searsia lancea (=Rhus lancea)
Searsia viminalis (=Rhus viminalis)
*Plant flowers in clumps: Flowers clustered into clumps of one species will attract more pollinators than individual plants scattered through the habitat patch.
*Bees also appreciate a drink – provide fresh water in a shallow source like a bird bath or shallow pond.
*Avoid using harmful pesticides and chemicals.