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GOTG lends a hand to save Knysna’s bees

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Not entirely satisfied with tackling the gravity of the human impact of last week’s disastrous fires in Knysna, the Gift of the Givers (GOTG) will now work towards rehabilitating the Cape Bee.  The massive fires in the Southern Cape wrecked claimed the lives of seven people, and destroyed homes, businesses, pets, horses, livestock and the environment. More than 300 beehives were destroyed, with each hive holding roughly 60 000 bees.

After channelling huge amounts of donations from the corporate sector into relief efforts to assist fire victims, GOTG will donate R250 000 to support the rehabilitation of the bees.

“Those bees that survived are traumatised and hungry. They are in search of a hive and forage to survive,” says GOTG founder Dr Imtiaz Sooliman.

Dr Imtiaz Sooliman holds a specimen of bees

According to Dr Sooliman, the Cape bee is unique as she is the only honeybee in the world that can create a laying worker queen if their queen dies by accident or disease . She lays diploid and haploid eggs as the workers (female) and drones(male) and the female ( fertilized egg) can become the queen when a special queen honey cell is created for her .

“The Cape honeybee is a robust and hardworking species managing to overcome many of the diseases wiping out bees in other parts of the world,” Dr Sooliman explained.

The conservation approach to beekeeping in Knysna – not feeding them sugar, ensuring their apiary sites are not overstocked and keeping them close to a variety of foraging – is thought to be responsible for their resilience.

The Cape bees

The humanitarian NGO will sponsor the setting up of new hive stands, provide pollen and nectar substitute for feeding in the short term and plant perennial basil and borage plants as these are rich in pollen and nectar. The survival of the bees are imperative for rebuilding the eco system.

“We hope to rehabilitate a substantial number of bees in the long run. Our support is immediate with the first R250 000 payment,” added Dr Sooliman.

A honey comb

Dr Sooliman has been lauded for his approach to humanitarian disasters, and the focus on all life, not just human, is a key aspect of the organisation’s work.  Support for the bee project has come in from far and wide, with many locals hailing the organisation as a true embodiment of Islam.

Over the past week, the relief agency delivered water, food parcels, hygiene packs and blankets to thousands of residents displaced by the fires. Shoprite-Checkers came to the rescue and provided a two floor facility in Rawson Road, Knysna, to warehouse the hundreds of tons of items arriving from all over South Africa to Gift of the Givers.

Dr Sooliman also dispatched a medical team led by Drs Yakub Essack and Qasim Bhorat, comprising of five emergency medicine specialists, two paediatricians, two gynaecologists, two general practitioners, a wound care specialist and an advanced life support paramedic. The team responded to the urgent medical needs of residents of Knysna, George, Plettenberg Bay, Buffels Bay and wherever they are placed by the military.

If the bee project interests you please feel free to participate. Details at www.giftofthegivers.orgor Tollfree on 0800786777.


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