BEE curious when you go to the Midlands!
South Africa is known for its rich insect diversity, one of which are bees.
According to the ARC (Agricultural Research Council, there are 2 755 recorded bee species in sub Saharan Africa. Approximately 1 400 are found in SA, and it’s a fact that we have been drooling over honey for centuries.
These “little guys” really need to be protected and given an environment they can thrive in for the sake of us as a species on this planet.
There are many steps that we, as gardeners, can take to create environments that are more accommodating to bees. By planting a diversity of flowering plants, including native plants, we can ensure that all bees, social and solitary, have an opportunity to forage, nest and breed successfully in our gardens. If possible, try leaving some parts of your garden to grow naturally to create nesting sites for bees that make their home in the soil or in wood and lots of flowering plants that bees love.
So, when heading to Granny Mouse Country House & Spa, why not explore the many honey spots en route – you won’t be disappointed.
The most well-known is of course Peels, and this wonderful story began in 1924 by Jack Peel who operated his apiary as a happy hobby. He began selling small amounts of honey to friends and local neighbours and then, due to demand, he grew his beehives.
In 1956, Jack met up with John Smith, a local beekeeper and then they went on to become partners. After Jack died, John continued his legacy. Their sales would take place from the boot of their car and, after a while, they built a wooden kiosk and the rest is history. It’s the oldest honey brand in South Africa which is something of a feat. You can find their new shop on the left side of the road on the R617 Underberg and it’s a fantastic new store. You will certainly shop till you drop in this honeylicious store
There is also Pyes honey in Lions River and their honey journey spans 3 generations, starting with Fredrick Pye in 1948. His son Graham Pye joined him in 1953, after he left school, who then officially registered the brand in 1959. Graham’s son Trevor also got “stung” by the honey bug from a very young age and started building his own hives and, once he finished school, he also joined the family tradition. You can find them at Lions River, Midlands.
Another honey hotspot is definitely Wedgewood crafted confectionery. There is quite a story here, which was found on their website – after the dad of the house got cancer, his wife, Gilly Walters, would hold music concerts at the family home to bring in income and, being passionate about good food, she began to create recipes for attending guests.
At one concert, she decided to test her nougat skills. Took a bit of time but she went on to perfect her well-loved nougat recipe and began selling it at the local farmers market. The products proved incredibly popular and before long became a big family business, with both sons getting in on the baking and running thereof.
The many nougat recipes and flavours are still handmade 20 years later, whilst its team of staff is now at over 100 folk, and in 2021 they launched their Handmade Box Project that employs people with disabilities living in their local community. The idea was born from their need for beautifully crafted handmade boxes, as well as a request from the community to find jobs for previously disadvantaged people – and for the past ten years, they have been working hard to create sustainable beekeeping partnerships with local beekeepers and farmers, making sure the bees who are doing all the hard work live happy lives, and local communities who care for them benefit too.
Pop into their stores at 12A Birnamwood, Merrivale or at their Midlands store at Piggly Wiggly, 103 Midlands Meander.
Our beloved “Mouse House” do support local, and you can catch some of the “local honey” in their tasty treats.
For more info, go to www.grannymouse.co.za for your next dining experience!