Gardener's Glory - apiary and honey
It’s somewhat ironic that a man with a fear of bees would end up as a beekeeper. But Richard's story is exactly that. He describes his awakening to the world of beekeeping while watching the opening scene in a 1980s film adaptation of Robin Hood - Maid Marion tending to her hives. “It’s difficult to explain. But there’s something about it. Bees just represent something peaceful - living with nature.”
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Story by Deni Archer
How to overcome your fear of bees - become a beekeeper
It’s somewhat ironic that a man with a fear of bees would end up as a beekeeper. But Richard’s story is exactly that. “I’ve always been terrified of bees, but have always been fascinated by beekeeping,” says the co-owner of Gardener’s Glory. Even when he decided to take the plunge and do a beekeeping course, he was beside himself when he had to approach a beehive. “But now we are sitting not even ten metres away from a hive, and I’m completely fine.” Richard describes his awakening to the world of beekeeping while watching the opening scene in a 1980s film adaptation of Robin Hood; Maid Marion tending to her hives. “It’s difficult to explain. But there’s something about it. Bees just represent something peaceful - living with nature.”
Richard’s partner, Marjolijn, had never even thought about farming bees until Richard mentioned his interest to her. Being a lover of ideas and nature, the prospect really excited her. “There was something very romantic about it, and I liked the sound of it,” she says. The couple make a good business team – Richard’s an “ideas man” always dabbling casually in some craft or the other, while Marjolijn is “a manifester” who sees opportunity in those ideas and makes things happen.
Suburban beekeeping made easy
Gardener’s Glory is no ordinary bee farm. They’ve currently got seven garden hives dotted around Claremont, Newlands, Kenilworth and Somerset West - suburban garden honey. This is how it works: you offer a corner of your garden, Richard and Marjolijn bring in a beehive, set it up, and maintain it on an on-going basis. At harvest time, you get to keep 10 percent of the honey harvested (and a little extra if it's your first harvest). It doesn’t get easier than that. And it's even more special because it's a few kilograms of hyperlocal raw, unfiltered honey – which many say helps reduce pollen allergies (though there haven’t been any conclusive scientific studies to date).
It’s fascinating and rather exhilarating to try Gardener's Glory honey, which is cropped by suburb (kind of like a single origin coffee) – they differ in taste quite dramatically, and even look different, despite being cultivated in geographically close areas. The rich variety of different plants growing in gardens is the cause, and celebration, for the diverse flavours. As their apiary collection is still very small, Richard and Marjolijn also sell raw veld or wildflower honey (under the Heartveld brand) which is produced in Stellenbosch and the Karoo, and they’re looking to put some of their own hives in the Piketburg area of the West Coast.
A fun past time equals a future for struggling bees
This charming little suburban venture isn’t only interesting – it’s also ecologically supportive. Bee populations have been falling globally due to a disorder known as bee colony collapse. Bees are under threat from viruses and pesticides alike, and potentially genetically modified crops. Einstein said, “If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe then man would have only four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.” And experts agree.
The allure of the honeybee has always been strong in humans. Falling somewhere between danger and enchantment, the reward of the sweet elixir has always been worth the risk of the sting. Romance now aside though, the relationship has shifted. It’s no longer only us that need them. They also need us.
Marjolijn carefully removes the frames which hold the honeycombs from a hive in Claremont
When ready for harvest, the frames are 'de-capped' and placed in a centrifuge where the honey is spun out. It's collected into jars, and sold unfiltered and unheated i.e. pure as can be.
Richard and Marjolijn sell their wares at Starlings Cafe farmers' market every Wednesday.
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