Learning from Wild Bees

Cape honeybee on pink protea photographed by Bianca Gubalke

How to remove and relocate a honey bee hive

IMAGINE you’re going for a walk in Nature and you come across a banal concrete telephone box in the ground – would you even take note of it? However, should you suddenly hear some wild sounds inside, you’d certainly be so intrigued – perhaps even alarmed – that you’d take a closer look while keeping a safe distance . . .

Surprise in a Telephone Box

And then the discovery: Bees zooming in and out, their gentle buzz vibrating right through you. Time to call the bee experts before anyone from the telecommunication agenda or anyone else panicking can harm them.

Here in Noordhoek, South Africa, we turn to scientists Jenny Cullinan and Karin Sternberg who specialize in the Cape Honeybee (Apis mellifera capensis). This species pollinates 85% of the Cape fynbos flowers, ensuring the survival of the precious so-called “richest floral kingdom in the world” and of those who are blessed to live within it.

Lifting a concrete ‘telephone box lid’ is a heavy affair, especially when you see what comes up with it! Be prepared for a surprise!

The Bee Hive

WOW! And here’s a picture of the bee colony as Jenny and Karin lift the mighty lid . . .

Think about it: the master animal communicators of the insect world choosing – of all possibilities – a telephone box in the ground! And what a massive hive it is!

Wild Honey Bees

It took a lot of planning and preparation to find a suitable new ‘home’ and then move the mega honeybee family gently into it to get them to a safer place.

Bees in a Box

The relocation to a safe and idyllic spot in our magical garden happened smoothly at dusk, once all bees had returned home from their foraging expeditions. The top was sealed off for the time being and even the two entries at the bottom where ‘barricaded’ with some twigs, so that the bees wouldn’t storm out in the early morning thinking they were still in the same place and then get disoriented. In this way, they immediately noticed that something had changed . . . investigated . . . and got used to their new environment: A garden filled with trees and flowers that wild honey bees love (lavender, rosemary, acacia, eucalyptus, fynbos to name some). The pictures below were taken early the next morning:

Wild Honey Bees in Noordhoek, SOuth Africa

. . . with the morning sun warming their new home. It would be in the shade over the course of the day, which is perfect for the hot South African summers, and then catch the evening light of the setting sun again, its last golden rays leading them straight home!  A spot where they are protected from strong winds and any major movements or intrusions, be it by people or machines (noise).

Wild Honey Bees in Noordhoek, SOuth Africa

The ‘telephone bees’ were out and about today, coming home with rich golden ‘knickerbockers’ on their hind legs! All seems well – thank you to the caring Ujubees!

Learning from the Bees Conference

If you are interested in honeybees and you care for their place in the world, and if you’re living in Europe, you might want to attend the event “Learning from the Bees” from 31st August to 2nd September 2018 in the Landgoed Zonheuvel Hotel in Doorn, Netherlands.

Moderated by Jonathan PowellJenny Cullinan will be one of the speakers, besides renowned scientists like Professor Thomas D. Seeley and others.

“It will be the first of its kind – bringing together natural beekeepers, scientists, nature conservationists, artists and bee-lovers from all over the world. Together, we will shift our gaze from contemporary apicultural practices towards a Culture of the Bee, exploring together what that may look like, and how best to listen to the messages these pollinators are giving us about ourselves and about our relationship with the land (or with nature). In this way we hope to weave a strong international network of initiatives, which share the common objective of returning health and resilience to the honeybee worldwide.

During the three conference days there will be an exciting mix of plenary addresses by notable bee advocates from around the world as well as a series of parallel sessions with expert explorations of specific themes. The Bee will be celebrated artistically in various media. A fascinating evening programme will round off the offerings of “Learning from the Bees”.

Rewilding Honey Bees

Please feel free to share it with overseas’ family and friends. It’s crucial to create awareness and save the bees – our survival depends on it! Thank you!



If you want to read more about our wild Cape honeybees and their magic and learn about a stunning fact revealed by the Ujubees, go to NEW HOME FOR HAPPY HONEYBEES!

I also dedicated an entire chapter in my visionary fiction novel, BORN WITH WINGS, to these amazing creatures that have fascinated mankind since the beginning of time!