Bee the Change: Save SA's Bee Population and Local Businesses

First Choice launches honey in an effort to save and increase bee population.

Image Credit: Supplied

One of the largest dairy manufacturers in South Africa and industry leader in sustainability, Woodlands Dairy, has recently launched Orange Blossom Honey, Multi Floral Honey and Creamed Honey under their First Choice brand. This is part of their plan to support small businesses and ensure the sustainability of the bee population in the Eastern Cape.

Marketing executive for Woodlands Dairy and First Choice, Marisa Maccaferri explains: “Sustainability is at the core of our business and we invest substantially in our various initiatives. The world’s honeybee population is declining at a rapid pace, and we need to protect them as a matter of urgency. It’s an honour to work with beekeeper Gavin Botes to ensure the well-being of our environment. The greatest contribution of bees and other pollinators is the pollination of nearly three quarters of the plants that produce 90% of the world’s food.”

According to beekeeper, Gavin Botes, bees are vital for ecological balance and biodiversity in nature. “A third of the world’s food production rely on bees as every third spoonful of food depends on pollination. By doing so, bees protect and maintain ecosystems, animal and plant species, as well as contribute to genetic and biodiversity. Bees act as indicators of the state of the environment. Their presence, absence or quantity tell us when something is happening with the environment and that appropriate action is needed. By observing the development and health of bees, it’s possible to gauge changes in the environment and implement the necessary precautionary measures timeously.”

Honey varies in its nutritional content based on the origin of the nectar used to make it. In general, it contains trace amounts of local pollen along with other substances, such as amino acids, antioxidants, enzymes, minerals and vitamins. “Studies have shown that eating locally produced honey may help reduce seasonal allergy symptoms, a benefit that is enhanced by honey’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Sugar must be ingested before being broken down. Honey contains enzymes added by the bees, so the sugars are already partially broken down and easier to digest,” Botes explains. 

He continues that the colour, taste, aroma and texture of First Choice Honey will vary depending on the season and flora it is produced on. “This is proof that our honey is untainted by cheap imports and only pure South African honey is supplied to the customer. Each flow of pollen and nectar produces a unique honey, depending on the flowers the bees worked on. Spring brings pale, very sweet citrus honey, summer an amber toffee flavour produced on indigenous bush, autumn honey is a dark multi-flora, while quick-crystallising canola honey is harvested in winter and whipped into delightful creamed honey.” 

Production times for a bottle of honey can vary greatly. In general, bees require six weeks to produce enough honey to warrant harvesting. After that, the extraction and bottling process takes at least another week.

Botes says his father’s passion for bees was a compelling force. “My dad was one of the first commercial apiarists in South Africa, so it was impossible not to know and love bees since childhood. We can all make a difference to the bee population by planting bee-friendly gardens. Furthermore, bee and environmentally friendly products are available to both farmers and consumers.”

He concludes: “It’s a privilege to take hands with a company like Woodlands Dairy, supplier of First Choice branded products. Through their investment and support, our honey comes with the assurance that everything possible is done to grow and maintain the bee population, as well as preserve the availability of this precious commodity for generations to come.”

First Choice Orange Blossom Honey is sweet, thick and golden in colour and produced from the nectar of the citrus blossoms. 

First Choice Multi Floral Honey varies greatly in colour, flavour and consistency depending on the kind of blossom from which the bees have gathered their nectar. Orange Blossom honey is harvested in Patensie and the surrounds of the Gamtoos Valley, while Multiflora is produced on the indigenous bush along the Eastern Cape coast. 

First Choice Creamed Honey has a luxurious texture that is perfect as a spread, but with all the goodness of raw honey. It is lighter in colour than liquid honey of the same floral type, with a delicate flavour and delicious melt-in-the-mouth consistency. Raw honey from the hive is poured into a container and allowed to crystallise naturally. When this process is complete, the honey is whipped to break up the crystals – the smaller the crystals, the smoother and creamier the honey. The result is a delicious spread that caresses the tongue but offers all the health benefits of natural, unadulterated honey.

100% natural and proudly South African, First Choice Orange Blossom, Multi Floral Honey are available in recyclable 575g containers and Creamed Honey in a 380g tub.


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