Little Creatures – III

Last Friday, April 22nd, was Earth Day. In celebration, here is a series of pictures of bees doing their thing in the autumn roses that spill on to our veranda. Why, you might ask, is my attention on such an apparently insignificant little creature?

Last Friday, April 22nd, was Earth Day.  In celebration, here is a series of pictures of bees doing their thing in the autumn roses that spill on to our veranda.


Why, you might ask, is my attention on such an apparently insignificant little creature?*


Well, it is these creatures that are responsible for ensuring a goodly supply of food and wine for the world.  Bees pollinate most food and fruit crops that are not self-pollinated or pollinated by other means, like wind.**


They disappear into the depths of flowers collecting pollen and doing the very important job of fertilising the plant.


Bees, however, are threatened.  Virtually world wide.  Ironically, the African bee, and particularly the Cape Honey Bee (Apis mellifera capensis) is aggressively invading hives, not just north of the Cape Province of South Africa, its home, but north of us, where it is is invading the the hives of African Bees (Apis mellifera scutellata).


In Europe, it is Apis mellifera scutellata that is invading the hives of European Honey Bees (subspecies Apis mellifera mellifera, A.m.carnica, A.m.caucasia, or A.m.linguica).  It is hybrids of these species, i.e. A. scutellata and one of the European bees that has given rise to the Africanized Honey Bee, colloquially known as killer bees.

Ironcially, while Africanized bees are wreaking havoc on the American continent, it is American foulbrood, a larval disease of honeybees, caused by the Paenibacillus larvae bacterium, that is killing off our Cape Honey Bee (A Capensis).


You may remember our goal of having our own bee hive?  Well, that was not to be.  Bee Keeper came to fetch his hive:  bee-filled hives are much in demand around us during spring.  They are located in their dozens along the perimeters of vineyards and orchards.  Not for pollen and nectar collection, but rather to ensure that each of the beautiful blossoms is visited by bees so that come summer and autumn, there is a harvest.

Every day is Earth Day.

* except for those who may have been stung, and more particularly, if they are allergic….
**grain crops, like wheat, oats, or corn, which are grasses, are usually wind pollinated;  figs are pollinated by wasps.  That’s another story, though.


South African Bee Industry Organisation
Times Live:  American disease threatens South African bees
Introduced Species Summary Project: Africanized Honey Bee (Apis mellifera scutellata)

© Fiona’s Favourites 2016

15 thoughts on “Little Creatures – III”

  1. Why don’t you have your own hive? I did a course last year on beekeeping and it’s not hard – really very little work, and so satisfying. I’m hoping to get my own hive set up this year.

    1. We wanted to. We had one, but no swarm took up residence. If you follow one the links you’ll see that story. Gonna try again. The real challenge is finding the right spot/inviting hive. In our garden there is no shortage of bees. We will carry on trying..

      1. Hmmm … The way it works here is, you get the hive and physically deposit a new swarm into it. So in my case I’d let my friends at the bee club know that I’m looking. They (the ones with experience) advertise their services to people who have an unwanted swarm in their back yards.

        1. We may well try to do that. Seems, though, that with American Foul Brood, it’s not so easy. Something else to persue this winter. 🙂

          1. Ja, if you get foul brood you have to burn the hive and the bees. Horrible! But we have it here, and beekeepers just deal with it. I’m really excited about getting bees … Love the idea of helping them, and of having lots of little jars of honey to give as gifts… 🙂 I may do something with the wax as well.

          2. And what about honey still in te comb, on hot toast? I was also thinking about the wax. Here the commercial comb is jolly expensive. I gather one has to be patient. I do remember honeycomb from hives that had to be removed from a roof of a place we were living, notmlong after we moved to Grahamstown. I must have been about 7…. Keep us posted on developments?

          3. Sorry, Fiona – didn’t see this, I don’t know why. WordPress only just let me know I had an unread message! Yes, comb honey is wonderful. I will for sure post on bees when I get them. Things aren’t good with my Mom, though, so probably that project will wait until next year.

          4. Ah, so sorry, Val, to hear that. I had been wondering how she was. Strength to you all. Let me know when you’re in SA and perhaps we can have another catch-up if we happen to be in the same place at the same time again.

          5. Yes, I will definitely be in touch. I very much enjoyed meeting you … Had hoped to be a better friend, but my emotional capacity is just a tad limited right now… :/

          6. The circumstances dictate all. No apology necessary. Look forwared to whatever circumstances allow. You and your mom must be your priority. Best to you and Mr Took.

  2. No one likes to be stung, but bees are quite important. We owe it to them that we get to enjoy lovely flowers and succulent fruits. Thanks for reminding us Fiona. What gorgeous roses you have! <3

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