Gerald The Bee Whisperer Of Cape Town

Bee HiveLast Tuesday I managed to get my grubby (and thereafter rather sticky) paws on more of Gerald’s addictive (and splendiferous) honey – lots of it.

He doesn’t have a shop, but sells the honey at markets and from his home in Lansdowne, which is where I ended up going.

Not only does Gerald the Bee Man have several hives around the Western Cape, he’s also on call for the municipality – for emergency bee removals!

And, seeing as he’d just been whisked off to perform precisely such a service, I didn’t get to speak to Gerald himself.

But, his wife was very helpful (and didn’t find it too strange – I hope) when I rattled off questions such as what constitutes an emergency bee removal, where the bee hives are, how it all works…

Gerald's HoneyI hadn’t previously given it much thought, but it’s pretty obvious that there’s going to be trouble when bees create their hive somewhere that brings them into direct conflict with us soft-skinned human beans.

They don’t really want to sting us (not much of a pay-off, really, seeing as they will die if they do so), but will if threatened, for the sake of the hive.

We don’t much like their stinging (especially those who are allergic, naturally), and will likewise retaliate, if stung.

That’s where Gerald comes in. He is the ‘bee whisperer‘ of Cape Town – there to get the bees and their hives out of conflict zones as quickly and as smoothly as possible, moving them to safer (friendlier) places where cans of Doom aren’t quite as prevalent.

Unfortunately, though, it’s not always that simple (if transporting a swarm of rather pissed off bees could ever be termed ‘simple’). Sometimes the crafty bees decide to make their home in an inaccessible spot, such as in the foundations of a building, which Gerald cannot reach. And they have to be exterminated. Ouch.

If he is able to remove the bees, though, Gerald brings them back to his own garden to settle down for a while (!), before moving them out to the countryside, where they get down to the work of producing his glorious honey.

Gerald’s bee-hives are apparently situated on several different farms, moving with the blossoms. Right now, the Eucalyptus trees are in blossom, so all the hives are on farms with those trees, and Eucalyptus honey is what’s available.

When the spring flowers bloom, the hives are moved to farms with plenty of those – orange blossom honey. And so it goes.

Gerald's HoneyMost interesting to me, though, was to hear that the bees are used specifically to pollinate our local canola crops. That’s also the time the bees get to munch on their own golden produce – no one sells canola honey – so fresh honey is harder to get hold of.

So, all in all, a very productive day. Not only did I get me four jars of delectable eucalyptus honey, I also found out where it comes from – a strategy I think we should all apply to what we eat.

*UPDATE 18 June 2010: find Gerald’s honey at the Holistic Market, Observatory, first Sunday of the month, or at the Kalk Bay Fresh Etc Market, third Sunday of every month.  Or, call him on 073 243 8431.*

Gerald the Bee Man sells his honey at the Constantia Country Living Market (next one coming up on the third Saturday of April). He can also be contacted on 073 243 8431. A tub the size of the ones in the photo costs R30.

*UPDATE*: The Constantia Country Living Market no longer exists, but you can find Gerald’s honey at the Constantia Valley Farmers Market at the 3Arts Complex on Main Road, Plumstead (on every Saturday, rain or shine).


37 Comments

  • amanda says:

    Mitigator Rules!
    I can recommend a new “scrub” product called “Mitigator Sting & Bite Treatment”; to say that it is terrific is an understatement! It actually removes venom by exfoliating the top layer of skin, opening the pores and drawing out the toxins. I had instant relief from pain and itching and all traces of the sting disappeared within minutes. I found it on the web at http://www.Mitigator.net which is their military website. I called and they sold me (6) ½ ounce packages for about $2.00/pack (each resealable pack treats about 20 stings or bites). The only thing that can create a problem is if you wait too long to apply it, it should be rubbed in vigorously within the first few minutes after the bite or sting – the longer you wait, the less effective it is. I’ve used it on bees, wasps, fire ants (no blisters even appeared), mosquitoes and chiggers. They say it works on jellyfish but I’m a long way from the ocean so I haven’t needed it for that problem. No smelly chemicals, works great and is even safe for kids (the scrubbing replaces scratching so – no secondary infections). I should make a commercial for them!

  • Samantha says:

    Fascinating stuff!

  • Jeanine says:

    Hi
    Can you tell me where I can get somebody to erect some bee hives on our farm in Stellenbosch? not too many, just enough to make some honey for ourselves and learn a bit more about bees.
    Thank you
    Jeanine

  • christine kellaway says:

    If you have a bee hive in or near to your home as we have and are looking on the web for someone to remove it, you may be put onto a person called Neville Spenser as we were, nearly two months ago. We called him in, paid our R500 and though we were suspect of his methods (Expanded foam – the web is correct they eat through it in days) (Non return valve – bees open it up) left our faith in him. BE WARNED we are still plagued by bees and Neville Spencer comes when he feels fit……..needless to say we are at out wits end being no closer to being able to use our outdoor patio as before.

  • Pia says:

    Jeanine: I’ve emailed you Gerald’s details (though they are above as well – 073 243 8431). Gerald is one the municipalities list of people they call to remove bee hives that would otherwise need to be fumigated. I imagine he would either be able to help you himself, or know of someone who could.

    Christine: that sounds awful! Gerald is a lovely guy – I bump into him all the time at markets. I’d say give him a call – I’m certain he could at the very least give you some advice!

  • Tanya says:

    Gerald is removing a swarm from my wine barrel this afternoon in Table View. Plse pray that they get removed safely as I was shocked how many people told me to just kill them. If we all just kill everything, what will be left?

  • Pia says:

    Yay! I’m sure he’ll get them out okay – he does this all the time. I met some of his bees when I went to collect honey at his home once… he keeps them in his garden for a while until they calm down, before he moves them again (think I mentioned as much in the post above). He said the pollination they provide makes a big difference to the garden – noticeable when they’re not around. It’s shocking how people treat bees… and many other creatures who’re just doing what they do. Well done for getting someone in instead of zapping them. I hope all went well today!

  • Hi Gerald,

    I am in the Simondium, Paarl area and have three trees in which bees have made their homes. One of the trees , a dying weeping willow will have to come down to make way for a new tree. I urgently need the bees from all three trees removed/transported to possibly one of your locations. Please email me on margotbrache1@telkomsa.net or phone me on my cell: 0828513236

    Thank you
    Margot

  • Pia says:

    Hi Margot

    I don’t know how often Gerald reads Mother City Living, so it would probably be a better idea to give him a call. I’ve emailed you his details, but they are also above: 073 243 8431. Good luck!

  • Robert Post says:

    Hallo all

    The association that Gerald belongs to is the Western Cape Bee Industry Association (a mouth full, just like our honey!)

    If anyone has any further questions about honey or bee removals, please do not hesitate to call on us. We have members all over the Western Cape and contacts throughout the country that deal with honey and bee removals, so you should never be stuck.

    Obviously, just like Gerald, most beekeepers will not want to erradicate bees, but love to keep them, so will do their utmost to keep them alive. Sometimes it is a bridge too far, but the beekeeper will explain to you why that is. If you doubt his word, give us a buzzz.

    We have recently received a press statement from the agricultural chemical association (we have very good links with them), that states that they will never register any chemical to kill bees: bees are just too valuable to us all.

    Stay as sweet as you are!

    Robert Post
    Chairman
    crpost@telkomsa.net
    Tel/Fax: (021) 971-1022

  • The bees are vitally important to us world wide. These is a disorder known as Collony Collapse Disorder that is killing off bees world wide. Go to:
    http://brigid-ariston.blogspot.com/2008/05/s-journal-of-natural-health-june-2008.html

    Brigid Jacksons last blog post..ARISTON – HISTORY

  • Robert Post says:

    To date the reason for CCD has not been identified.

    To date we have no sign of CCD in South Africa. Beekeepers are keeping a very close watch on this and are – obviously – quite alarmed and concerned.

  • Gerald Reed says:

    Jeanine If you have not been sorted with a few swarms on your farm I am sure I could make a plan . Gerald 0732438431

  • Pia says:

    Robert: thanks for visiting! You guys do such great work, saving our precious bees… That’s good news from the agricultural chemical association – it would seem somewhat counter-productive to kill bees, after all.

    Brigid: Yes, I’ve seen one or two doccies about CCD – a very scary thing, and I hope that it never makes it to our own shores.

    Gerald: Welcome to MCL! It’s about time I came and stocked up on some more of your splendiferous honey 🙂

  • Duncan says:

    I live in an isolated area in the Southern Cape and have a swarm in a tree. Im interested to know if there is a substance that bees find replusive. I have heard it said that jeyes fluid placed near the nest would drive them away. Is this a viable way of removing an aggresive swarm, which attack us and our pets constantly.

  • Brenda Mengel says:

    I would like to praise Gerald for the fascinating morning I’ve had. As he patiently and lovingly removed thousands of bees from a nest in my garden I was party to an incredible act of nature. My many questions were answered – not for the first time I’m sure – my camera captured every moment and Gerald, good naturedly, educated me on the life of the Cape bee.

  • Oddvar Moen says:

    hi,i hope you can help.i have a swarm of bees in a wooden drum at my work,im seeking some one to remove them and supply me with a second hand bee hive as i would like to try have my own as a hobby,i have a place to put the bee hive,thank

    Oddvar M

  • Robert Post says:

    We are currently developing our annual beekeeping winter school training course.

    If you have an interest please contact me directly on my email crpost@telkomsa.net

    I propose you do attend a course before managing bees. They are nice and furry little creatures, but do have a habit of being able to hurt.

    We also have many members of our association that will be able to help with your removal problem.

    Robert Post

  • Donnaveen Howe says:

    We are on a large property and have three swarms. We would like to erect hives for these swarms. Who can help?

  • Lee King says:

    We have many bees on our Basil bushes and wish to “install” (doesnt sound right somehow!) a hive-Milnerton area-

  • Oddvar Moen says:

    I have contacted Gerald in the 1st quarter of last year, I will be calling him shortly to transfer the bees to a hive, I just need to know the external dimension of the nee hive he will be supplying, as I must make a frame to protect the bees from vandalism. Thanks

  • Nizam says:

    would like to start as a hobby … need a queen and some workers? any ideas on where and who to ask….

  • margy says:

    –please can you advise me someone local– Hout bay. I am interested in making a hive– using boxes and clay. i know nothing about bees. Where can i start.I Have indiginous garden and potential topiary (in the garden)

  • Reggie says:

    Dear Pia

    I am so grateful for you for posting this helpful information.

    We had a swarm of red wasps that moved into one of the crossbars of our washing line (pics here: http://namibsands.wordpress.com/2011/10/24/spider-webs-and-wasps-nests-unexpected-hazards-near-the-washing-line/).

    We didn’t know how to get rid of them, so I phoned Gerald who came around this morning, and exterminated them with half a can of Doom Spray! He said there had been a lot of larvae in there and that they had started to hatch, so it was just in time.

    Thank you so very much to you for telling us about him!

  • Steven says:

    Hi we are moving into a new house in the Table View area, viewing the property i noticed that my new nabour has several beehives in his yard, i am not happy about this. my 2 year old and i are both allergic to bees can you please advise me what to do.

    Thanks
    Steven

  • maretha says:

    I have a bee swarm at my house in Melkbosstrand and it needs to be moved. where do I get help?

  • Pia Taylor says:

    Hi Maretha
    Please contact Gerald on (073) 2438431 – he’ll be able to help!

  • Pia Taylor says:

    Hi Steven
    The best would be to contact Gerald (073) 2438431 – he’ll be able to advise you further!

  • Pia Taylor says:

    Hi Reggie. Bit of a belated response, but I’m so glad Gerald sorted things out for you. Poor wasps, but I guess they picked a really bad spot for cohabitation!

  • Reggie says:

    Hello Pia

    No problem – in fact, we had to call Gerald out again a week or two later, as we discovered two very much *larger* nests just beneath the edge of our roof-tiles, a few metres away from their washing-line residence.

    From now on, we’ll have to keep a closer eye on our roof, and in fact all around the garden, as they clearly seem to like it here.

    Again, thank you for telling us about him, as it’s not easy to find bee-and-wasp removers.

  • @thembasweet Call Gerald to remove your bees: 073 243 8431 – http://t.co/eaVPp9KC

  • James says:

    Want bees removed, try Hanis on 021 7154 304, he is cheap.

  • Jean von Molendorff says:

    I would like to supply my Foodservice & Ship Chandling clients with your honey. I am a FMCG Agent and i work for myself selling peoples products to my customer base.

    Please contact me on my e mail or via mobile 0827846888.

    Many Thanks

    Jean von Molendorff
    Taste Thyme

  • Madeleine says:

    Hi – I have a recently built hive of two weeks under my patio in the cat’s basket . The hive appears to be the size of a rugby ball.

    I would like to have them removed asap. If no one removes them soon I will rid them myself with borax/fogger/doom.

    I live in Durbanville close to Tygervalley Shopping Centre

    Please have them honey and all.

    Thanks
    Madeleine 0721434455

  • @Fred_Roed Call Gerald – he rescues bees from urban sites and relocates them to pastures greener http://t.co/TIMBLBAh

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