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South African Bee Journal

Editoral

This issue of the SABJ represents a bit of a change.  Most of the regular columns have been put on hold (actually, nothing received, if truth be told) and in their place the Working for Water (WfW) and bee keeper conflict regarding Eucalyptus trees has been addressed in detail.  For those that are as yet unaware of this emerging conflict the new amendments to the Conservation of Agricultural Pests Act (CARA) lists most of the economically important gum species as weeds or invasive aliens.  Hence, these trees are now subject to various legal restrictions and possible removal.  Not surprisingly (but belatedly) the Western Cape beekeepers have become decidedly concerned that their livelihood is at risk.  These concerns have resulted in a number of meetings between the interested parties, these meetings thus far having borne only stunted fruit.

As the new CARA act has now been promolgated, it is opportune to publish the entire amendment in this issue of SABJ (pages 77-99).  It could be argued that this represents a waste of space (all those tables!), but beekeepers will be surprised at how many 'good beekeeping' plants are subject to this legislation.  Consider the list of affected plant species with care.

In addition to just publishing the new legislation, some of the affected parties (Western Cape Bee Industry Executive, South African Federation of Bee-Farmers Associations,  //        SA Professional Bee-Farmers' Co-Operative Ltd, Deciduous Fruit Producers Trust and the Working for Water Programme) were extended an invitation to comment on the new amendments and the developing conflict.  they were asked to comment on the seriousness of the situation;  does it really matter, or is it just a storm in a teacup.  All but the Working for Water Programme responded (pages 65-69).

My personal perspective on the issue?  In my opinion, it is a serious issue and beekeepers have cause to be concerned.  But it also provides an opportunity for beekeepers to raise the profile of their charges and to demonstrate their (both the bees and the beekeepers) importance and may well be a blessing in disguise.  We have to be realistic about this, the gums are coming down in many parts of South Africa, WfW programme or not.  In the Western Cape, gums are simply not planted anymore, and any removal of gums by the WfW programme simply brings forward the time when beekeepers are going to have to contemplate their future without the existing stands of gums.  This together with loss of other forage (fynbos) through development and urbanization, requires a holistic and comprehensive response from those that depend on honeybees; beekeepers, growers, and the general public (a fact most of whom are blissfully unaware).  The equations are simple. The Western Cape of South Africa for that matter, needs a certain number of healthy bees to service its agricultural activity and natural flora.  And these bees require a minimum level of good bee forage to provide this service.  Fall below this level, and all will suffer.  Increasingly, worldwide, pollinators are being treated as a bio-security issue, every bit as important as water or topsoil.  And among these pollinators, honeybees are the first among equals.  Beekeepers need to use this current conflict to demonstrate their worth, and to secure their future.

To other matters; there has still been practically no response to the badger survey, or to the request for bee-disease samples, or to participation in varroa monitoring or other research programmes.  And we now have a multitude of beekeepers, including some of the biggest, openly using illegal products in the treatment of varroa mites in their colonies (more on this in the next issue).  How can the bee industry ever hope to have anyone (goverment departments, for example) take them seriously if they, as an industry, fail to face up to their responsibilities and to better their industry?

Better news is that registration of beekeepers has gained momentum, plans for Apimondia are in place, and rain in the Cape means lots of wild mustard and happy bees.  Long may it continue. 

Mike Allsopp                                       8th June 2001

 

Contents page for June 2001
Vol 73, No. 2
 
Editorial            54 
Letters to the Editor

55

Association News 57
Practical Beekeeping - Sonneblom se waarde vir byeboerdery 60
Historical - The modern beehive and how it came to be invented 63
Beeplants of South Africa/Legislation - the Working for Water/Beekeeper Eucalypt conflict 66
From Honeywood's Kitchen 70
Small's 70
Apimondia Sponsor Promotional Article - Le Toit 71
Legislation - Amendments to CARA (1983) 77
Bee-Bodies 96
 
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