An assessment of different beekeeping practices in South Africa based on their needs (bee forage use), services (pollination services) and threats (hive theft and vandalism)

Masehela, Tlou Samuel (2017-03)

Thesis (PhDAgric)--Stellenbosch University, 2017.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Two honey bee subspecies indigenous to South Africa, Apis mellifera capensis Escholtz (Cape honey bee) and Apis mellifera scutellata Lepeletier, are actively managed by beekeepers for honey production, other bee related products (e.g. bees wax) and to provide pollination services. Historic records show that managed colonies of both subspecies to rely on a mix of exotic - (Eucalyptus species, agricultural crops, weeds and suburban plantings) and indigenous forage (genera and vegetation units). However, their extent of use and importance for honey production, pollination, colony maintenance and swarm trapping (together referred to as beekeeping practices), have not been fully explored across South Africa. Additionally, acts of hive theft and vandalism have become a key concern for the industry, threatening and potentially limiting beekeeping in some areas. Related to this is also a concern that growers need more colonies for crop pollination than beekeepers can supply. Furthermore, beekeepers currently face challenges related with their industries’ organisation and governance. The broad aim of my study was to understand the multiple challenges facing the South African beekeeping industry and to contribute detailed knowledge on forage use for beekeeping practices in South Africa. The knowledge thereof would provide a practical understanding of these aspects and ultimately contribute towards the planning and decision making where beekeeping is concerned. Using two questionnaire surveys I determined: 1) the current status of beekeeping in South Africa based on beekeeper opinion; 2) forage use for honey production; 3) the use and demand for pollination services; 4) forage use for colony maintenance and swarm trapping; and 5) trends and implications of hive theft and vandalism for the beekeeping industry. The forage use survey captured the most managed colonies (50067) and respondents (218) compared to the hive theft and vandalism survey, which had 161 respondents constituting 48386 managed colonies. Results showed that beekeepers have concerns similar to those captured in previous studies and reports, with the lack and loss of forage being very important. Across all four beekeeping practices exotic forage was predominantly used, although the level of preference differed provincially. The important forage types and significant species were highlighted in each province on the basis of number of colonies using individual forage species and followed a similar trend to that of forage categories. Some species were both important and of significant use for more than one beekeeping practice (e.g. Eucalyptus grandis, Eucalyptus cladocalyx, Helianthus annuus, Macadamia spp. and Senegalia mellifera) in the same or different provinces. The preference of trapping swarms on different forage highlighted the value of this practice compared to hive splitting, removal of problem swarms and buying of colonies from other beekeepers. Also, the number of localities used for forage differed across provinces, although in some cases the same locality was used for more than one beekeeping practice. Furthermore, some beekeepers used localities situated in their neighbouring provinces. These results suggest that exotics remain the predominantly used forage source for beekeeping in South Africa, and that some forage types and sources are more important that others in their respective localities. Also, provinces have different forage needs in relation to the different beekeeping practices. Therefore, the planning, management and promotion of bee forage at regional or national level should consider all four practices. It was challenging to obtain reliable planting data (given in hectares) and number of colonies used for pollination per hectare for respective crops. This prohibited a thorough understanding of the relationship between pollination service provision and demand, highlighting the importance of formally capturing this data. However, the derived results indicated pollination demands to be stable at a national level while inconclusive for certain provinces (e.g. Free State). The Western Cape had the highest pollination demand overall, while crops such as oil seeds, deciduous-, subtropical fruit, and nuts had high pollination demands. Trends in hive theft and vandalism showed most losses to occur through human induced vandalism. Although the magnitude of losses varied between provinces, factors contributing to the losses were similar with respect to the positioning (agricultural lands) and visibility (medium) of the colonies within the landscape. This means that for these colonies to continue accessing forage for various beekeeping practices, various sites need to be protected from theft and vandalism.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Twee Suid-Afrikaanse heuningby subspesies, Apis mellifera capensis Escholtz (Kaapse heuningby) en Apis mellifera scutellata Lepeletier, word deur byeboere aktief bestuur om heuning, ander byprodukte (bv. byewas) en bestuiwingsdienste te verskaf. Historiese rekords dui daarop dat bestuurde kolonies van beide subspesies afhanklik is van ʼn mengsel van eksotiese (Eucalyptus spesies, landbougewasse, onkruide en voorstedelike aanplantings) en inheemse byvoer (spesies en plantegroei tipes). Nietemin is hul omvang van gebruik en belangrikheid vir heuning produksie, bestuiwing, onderhoud van kolonies en swerm-vang (staan saam bekend as byeboerpraktyke) nog nie omvattend in Suid-Afrika ondersoek nie. Bykomend, word die pleeg van korfdiefstal en vandalisme ʼn bekommernis vir die industrie, wat byeboerdery in sommige areas bedreig en moontlik beperk. Samehorend hiermee is daar ook ʼn bekommernis dat gewasboere meer korwe vir bestuwing kort as wat byeboere kan bied. Verder staar byeboere ook uitdagings in die gesig wat betref die organisering en regulering van hul industrie. Die breë doel van my studie was om die veelvoudige uitdagings wat Suid-Afrikaanse byeboere ervaar te verstaan, en gedetailleerde kennis oor die gebruik van voer in Suid-Afrikaanse byeboerpraktyke te verskaf. Kennis hiervan sou ʼn praktiese begrip van hierdie aspekte verskaf, en uiteindelik bydrae tot die beplanning en besluitneming in byeboerdery. Deur twee vraelys-opnames te gebruik het ek die volgende bepaal: 1) die huidige toestand van byeboerdery in Suid-Afrika volgens byeboere se menings; 2) die gebruik van byvoer vir heuning produksie; 3) die aanvraag en gebruik van bestuiwingsdienste; 4) gebruik van byvoer vir die onderhoud van kolonies en swerm-vang; en 5) die tendense en gevolge van korfdiefstal en vandalisme vir die byeboerindustrie. Die byvoer-gebruik opname het die meeste korwe (50067) en respondente (218) gelewer, teen die korfdiefstal-en-vandalisme opname wat slegs 161 responsdente, wat 48386 korwe verteenwoordig, gehad het. Bevindings het gewys dat byeboere se bekommernisse eenders was as wat vorige opnames en studies gelewer het, met die beperking en verlies van byvoer wat baie belangrik geag is. Regoor al vier byeboerpraktyke was die gebruik van eksotiese byvoer oorweeggend, al het die graad hiervan provinsiaal verskil het. Die belangrike byvoer tipes en betekenisvolle spesies van elke provinsie is vasgestel in terme van die aantal kolonies wat ʼn byvoer-spesies gebruik, wat ʼn soortgelyke tendens as die byvoer kategorieë gevolg het. Sommige spesies was beide belangrik en beduidend vir die gebruik van meer as een byeboerpraktyk (bv. Eucalyptus grandis, Eucalyptus cladocalyx, Helianthus annuus, Macadamia spp. en Senegalia mellifera) in dieselfde of verskillende provinsies. Swerm-vang wat verkies is bo korfverdeling, verwydering van probleem korwe en koop van korwe by ander byeboere, dui die waarde van hierdie praktyk aan. Die aantal plekke wat vir byvoer benut was, was ook verskillend vir provinsies, al was dieselfde plek vir meer as een byeboerpraktyk gebruik. Verder het sommige byeboere plekke gebruik in aangrensende provinsies. Hierdie bevindings stel voor dat eksotiese byvoer bly steeds die mees gebruikte bron vir byeboerdery in Suid-Afrika, en dat in sekere plekke sommige byvoer tipes en bronne meer belangrik is as ander. Provinsies het ook verskillende byvoer behoeftes vir spesifieke byeboerderypraktyke. Dus moet die beplanning, bestuur en bevordering van heuningbyvoer op ʼn streeks en nasionale vlak in ag geneem word vir al vier boerderypraktyke. Dit was uitdagend om betroubare aanplantings data (gegewe in hektaar) en die aantal korwe wat per hektaar gebruik word in te win. Dit het verhoed dat ʼn deeglike begrip van die verhouding tussen die lewering van bestuiwingsdienste en die aanvraag daarvan, verkry is, en dui aan hoe belangrik dit is om hierdie data formeel in te samel. Nietemin het die afgeleide bevindinge gewys dat die aanvraag vir bestuiwing stabiel is op ʼn nasionale vlak, terwyl dit onseker is vir sekere provinsies (bv. die Vrystaat). Die Wes-Kaap Provinsie het die hoogste algehele bestuiwingsaanvraag gehad, terwyl gewasse soos saadolies, sagte- en sub-tropiese vrugte, en neute ʼn hoë bestuiwingsaanvraag het. Tendense in korfdiefstal en vandalisme het gewys dat meeste verliese deur mens-veroorsaakde vandalisme plaasvind. Al het die groottes van verliese gevarieer tussen provinsies, was die faktore wat tot die verliese bygedra het eenders was met betrekking tot die plasing (landbou areas) en sigbaarheid (medium) van korwe in die landskap. Dit beteken dat vir die kolonies wat aaneenlopende toegang tot byvoer moet kry vir verskeie byeboerpraktyke, moet verkeie stande van korfdiefstal en vandalisme beskerm word.

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