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
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.
8th June 2001