Beecon 2021



A short Review of the Bee Industry’s Operating Environment

Where are we as an Industry and Industry Body?

What do you know about:

  • The ARC vision 2050?
  • The DALRRD and the National Development
  • Plan 2030?
  • The IDC Youth Pipeline Development
  • Programme?
  • NEPAD Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want?

Perhaps we should at least take note of these strategic documents as they will surely impact our beekeeping operating environment. Over the past few years, we as an industry, have witnessed a growing interest in beekeeping in South Africa.

This is due in part to increased use, availability and promotion through social media platforms within the hobby and small-scale beekeeping sector. If SABIO wants to stay ‘relevant’ we must find ways to reach these beekeepers.

Furthermore, SABIO needs to consider more effective regulation of beekeeping in this country. Models are available in other countries (or even other industry bodies operating in South Africa), that demonstrate how beekeeping is monitored and strictly regulated, based on competence to carry out beekeeping activities.

Stricter measures need to become more important in all sectors of our industry, from the bee removal business, which is totally unregulated, uncontrolled and currently inundated with persons claiming to be “bee removal specialists”, to specialised pollination services. If we, as an industry, do not take the initiative other industries will do so on our behalf.

Perhaps the biggest concern is how we should ‘accredit’ or ‘approve’ industry members, be they bee removers, pollinators, trainers or simply beekeepers selling honey and needing to have their honey authenticated.

Beecon 2020

Covid-19, Covid-19 and again Covid-19…… When you open websites, postponement and cancellation of events have become the order of the day from the12th International Pollination Symposium originally scheduled for September 2020, Association meetings, to our Flagship event, the annual Beecon being affected.

We trust 2021 and beyond will be kinder to these activities!

Bee Journal

This year we welcomed a new editorial team under the leadership of Prof Robin Crewe and Dr Hannelie Human. Their contributions and work had a huge impact on the publication of the Bee Journal; from the overall look to the content. Extremely positive comments have been received from beekeepers.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Robin, Hannelie and the team. As Chairman, I do appreciate these contributions and, most importantly, it alleviates one of the biggest headaches of any chairman in office. Not only did we catch up on last year’s outstanding edition but we shall close this year with all editions printed and distributed. For making this possible I wish to thank all our contributors as well as every advertiser, big and small and in particular Bayer, Starke Ayers and Consol. Also, to Jaco Wolfaardt for buying 200 bulk copies per issue to re-sell at different outlets.

Perhaps the most frustrating aspect in terms of the Bee Journal this year has been the late arrival of copies to your post box. We forgot that the postal services were closed during much of the Covid-19 period. In this regard Kobus Kemp holds the record for his journal arriving 3 months after it was posted!

Of the journals mailed only 7 made it back to the sender, the others are still somewhere in the distribution loop.

Board and Board Meetings

Board meetings started off well with the first meeting held in November 2019, followed by another in January 2020 after which we made the trip to Paarl for the March Board meeting.

At this meeting the Western Cape Bee Association Chairperson Dr Tlou Masehela and Mike Allsopp of the Agriculture Research Council joined us. Some Board members also used this opportunity to attend the Western Cape Bee Association Annual General Meeting to meet and interact with members.

Unfortunately, Board meetings thereafter collapsed due to Lockdown and travel restrictions. Although Zoom meetings were arranged these were unsatisfactory as connections were not as reliable as one would prefer.

Capensis Workshop November 2019

The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) (formerly DAFF), assisted by SABIO Board member Louis van Zyl, organised a well-attended Capensis workshop during November 2019.

One of the outcomes of the workshop was that, after almost 30 years post the emergence of the Capensis bee problem, few beekeepers understand the background and origin of the calamity.

It was therefore decided that SABIO and DALRRD would join forces and publish a special edition of the Bee Journal devoted to this subject.

SABIO wishes to thank DALRRD for carrying the printing cost of this special edition.

Covid-19 and Bee Movement Permits

Perhaps one of the most controversial topics during the Covid-19 Lockdown has been the issuing of bee movement permits. The Minister of Agriculture recognised the importance of beekeeping at commercial level and announced the need for bee movement permits via national television.

Nonetheless, SABIO received strict instructions from DALRRD for permits to be issued on a ‘needs basis’, especially during the Level 5, 4 and 3 periods. At the time of Lockdown Level 3, DALRRD gave permission for provincial Beekeeping Associations to assist SABIO in issuing permits to beekeepers.

No applications received by SABIO were rejected. The system of permits received international support from the FAO, Apimondia as well as professional and other beekeepers alike.


The SABIO finances are in good order and, at present, we have added almost R300,000.00 this year to the kitty, with all expenses paid up to date. The question should then be asked, what will SABIO do with these accumulating funds?

Although these are not millions (as is the case with some other industry bodies), it does allow us to initiate one or two smaller projects such as:

  • a beekeeping census – the last partial census was conducted about 2008
  • re-publication of the POSA North Guideline on pollination practices which is desperately needed at
  • this point in time support for one of the beekeeping development projects, fake honey awareness campaign including symposiums/workshops
  • establishing guidelines for a Code of Ethics

These suggested smaller projects also touch on the proposed Constitutional changes as well as an agenda item requested by Mike Miles, namely remuneration of SABIO officials.

Honey Judges Guild and Honey Show

The beauty of our honey varieties was on show at the Honey Show that preceded the SABIO AGM.

I would like to congratulate all those who made time to enter, stage and at the end judge those entries. Congratulations to all our winners.

A separate report will be circulated by the Honey Judges Guild. Results are available under the Honey Judges Guild.

Impumelelo and Fake Honey

The flow of emails between Impumelelo and SABIO has been open and a good exchange of information has taken place. Once again, official meetings were abruptly made impossible due to the Covid-19 Lockdown.

One issue that needs desperate attention is the question of who is to pay for analysis when fake honey is reported and, following that, to whom will the results be made known?

I strongly believe to fight this will need a determined effort by both SABIO and the retail industry to educate beekeepers and the public at large, supported by DALRRD as the enforcer and Impumelelo as the designated inspector.

To give just one example on how difficult this is: one of the biggest alleged fake honey suppliers changes labels before we even receive test results from the laboratories which then forces those complaining to test each and every newly labelled product on the market.


Membership has increased significantly and now stands at approximately 340 members, including 30 professional and 5 corporate members.

SABIO Website

Updating the SABIO website is one activity we have completed during this year. It is vibrant, with new pages, new content and many, many new photos.

One of the big surprises is the special section that recognises our professional and corporate members. This is already viewed as a quick reference/confirmation guide for growers looking for pollination providers.

The latest addition is the special webpage dedicated to honey under the umbrella of the Honey Judges Guild.

Beyond 2020


With the Centenary of Organised Beekeeping in mind, we should perhaps make use of this opportunity to take SABIO to different regions to connect with beekeepers and the Beekeeping Industry. At present we combine all these activities in one single national event.

Why not have multiple events in different regions which would make SABIO more visible and accessible to members?

Potential meetings that could achieve this objective are:

  • World Bee Day – 20 May 2021
  • Royal Show 2021 – May 2021
  • Beecon 2021 – June 2021
  • SABIO AGM 2021
  • National Honey Show 2021
  • Nampo Alpha – September 2021
  • Regional Beecon 2022
  • Apimondia Ufa, Russia – Aug 2022

I thank you for giving your attention to this 2020 Chairman’s Report.

Adriaan du Toit (Ph.D.)
Chairman SABIO Board of Directors


Dr Bing Wiese was the Director of the Agriculture Research Council’s Plant Protection Research Institute (PPRI) for almost thirty years. With his interest in beekeeping, the PPRI became the official “home” of beekeeping.

During this time, Dr Wiese fostered bee research capacity in South Africa and established the Apicultural Advisory Committee, to coordinate bee research in South Africa. He served as Patron of The South African Bee Federation, the forerunner of SABIO.

The Dr Wiese award was instituted by the SAFBA to recognize technical contributions to beekeeping practise and has only been presented twice. First to Dr Adriaan du Toit in 1999 for establishing a practical methodology to calculate sufficient pollinator numbers on row crops during seed production (sunflower, onions and carrots) which is still used today. The second recipient was Mr Sidwell Banne in 2007 in recognition of his coaching and mentoring of development beekeepers throughout South Africa.

Dr Hannelie Human was honoured at the SABIO AGM on 5 December 2020 with the Dr I.H. (Bing) Wiese award for her outstanding technical contribution to beekeeping in South Africa. This award was made by the SABIO Chairman in recognition of Hannelie’s work during the COVID-19 lockdown period.

She kept the SABIO Board up to date on local as well as international developments concerning COVID-19 and its potential impact on local beekeeping activities by following the pandemic unfolding in the international beekeeping environment.

Hannelie was responsible for developing the SABIO website page on COVID-19 and instrumental in drafting the South African Beekeeping Covid-19 Code of Practice for beekeepers to follow when working bees.

She kept in contact with Apimondia officials and country members as well as FAO in reporting and providing survey feedback on our unique circumstances in South Africa. Using this information and in particular producing the Beekeeping Covid-19 Code of Practice enabled SABIO to approach DALLRD with a proposed a bee movement permit system. This proposal was accepted by the Department.

South Africa was one of a few countries where controlled beekeeping practices were able to continue during a full level 5 Covid-19lockdown period as well as during times of a curfew. The South African bee movement permit system received international recognition from Apimondia as well as the FAO.

Hannelie is well-known in the local and international bee research environment and has published more than 30peer- reviewed research papers, 35 popular research articles and contributed to 4 book chapters on honeybees.