As busy as a bee on Mother’s Day
MFOR a Hilton mother, there will be the usual buzz around her house today.
Tending to beehives in her backyard is what Kristie Paine, the owner of Bushveld Bees, and her sons will be doing.
Although Paine has been kept busy since she began her commercial beekeeping business two years ago, she still makes the effort to foster female empowerment in this male dominated industry. Paine’s dedication to saving bees and keeping industry fluid is well supported by her husband Brian, of Kwazulu-natal Game Breeders, who tends to their two sons when work and empowerment programmes take her away from home.
She said people were often startled to see a female beekeeper, as there were few farming commercially.
Some people who engage with her tend to say: “But you’re a woman!”
“It goes to show just how male dominated this industry is, but it is changing,” she said.
Paine said moving from beekeeping as a hobby to a commercial enterprise happened quickly for her. She had been a conservationist for much of her life and also worked as a safari guide, before she decided on a career in beekeeping.
Her Bushveld Bees operation has trained more than 100 beekeepers in the province. Although Paine has been stung a thousand times, it has not deterred her. She looks beehives on various farms.
“We need to get farmers invested in the plight of the bees and get them on board with what all beekeepers are trying to do – secure food sources for bees outside of pollination.
“We advise what plants to plant, creating biobanks – where a diverse range of naturally occurring flowering plants are grown as food for bees. We also maintain the health of the hives on a monthly basis.”
She said the partnership with farmers includes the development of beekeepers in their respective locations.
The production of honey is dependent on the rainfall and soil. after 400
Paine said each beehive was unique and was all for consumers choosing local syrup over imports.
Sindi Ngwenya from Jozini, a student of Paine, has ambitions to export her product overseas.
Ngwenya said through Paine’s guidance, she had overcome her fear of bees.
She realised that without bees, crops such as apples, melons and broccoli could not be produced and some fruit, like blueberries and cherries, were almost entirely dependent on pollination by honeybees.
“I have learnt of new business opportunities through this initiative and I’m collaborating with Kristie (Paine) to start a bee farm,” said Ngwenya.