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All about bees

Compiled by Elise-Marie Steenkamp


The deciduous fruit industry is almost totally dependent on a healthy honeybee population and a viable beekeeping industry.  The relationship between beekeepers and deciduous fruit growers will more often than not be described as complicated, taxing, and laborious.

Yet, both parties recognise that they need each other to survive and to grow their businesses. In the next couple of months we will speak to beekeepers, researchers and growers alike, and unpack the challenges, successes of this relationship and the way forward. We will also discover the secret world of bees and why these little guys are essential for not only the future of the industry but also for our survival on earth.


In 2017 the deciduous fruit industry signed a Bee & Pollination Charter to address the plight of bees in South Africa. The initiative came amid global concern about honey bee populations which have seen drastic declines and fears that the species might face extinction. The scale of the problem is massive as between 50% and 80% of the world’s food supply – fruits, vegetables, seeds – is directly or indirectly dependent on honey bee pollination.

Hugh Campbell, Hortgro Science General Manager, said at the time that bees are an integral part of the industry supply chain and without bees, production capacity would be diminished.

“It’s strategically important that they are protected and the charter forms a framework around which we can ensure that we can have a sustainable bee population in the South African context,” he said.

The Charter was signed by representatives of Hortgro Pome and Hortgro Stone. At the time the Western Cape Bee Association (WCBA) said that the agreement will prevent producers from spraying pesticides while bees are active and that chemical company representatives will provide clear instructions to producers regarding spraying when hives are in the orchards.

Download the Bee & Pollination Charter here


Mike Allsopp, from the ARC’s bee research unit, says that commercial pollination is a critical component of integrated orchard management practice. Obtaining optimal fruit set requires the correct orchard design (selection and positioning of pollinisers), flower management (pruning and thinning), control of alternative forage, as well as the proper introduction and usage of adequate strength honeybee colonies. Growers need to understand how pollination works and why it is important to only use registered beekeepers.

Download your pollination guide here


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