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Bee Friendly Trees to plant in South Africa Now

Bee Friendly Trees to plant in South Africa Now

No Bees No Life!  By now, you should be aware of the devastating evidence that there is a great shortage of honeybees in South Africa and in fact, worldwide. This will have a negative effect, and impact on many things including food security. Bottom line is that we need bees for life!

In this article we take a look at what is threatening the bee population and what we collectively can do to help, focusing on which trees are to be planted to provide nourishment for bees.


BEES are being threatened by

  • Bee Diseases
    • Bacterial Diseases
    • Fungal Diseases
  • Viruses
    • Acute Bee Paralysis
    • Deformed Wings
    • Sacbrood
  • Pests
    • Braula or Bee Louse
    • Bee Tachinid
    • Small Hive Beetle
    • Large Hive Beetle
    • Deaths Head Hawk Moth
    • Wax Moths
    • Ants
  • Parasites
    • Parasitic Cape bee
    • Varroa Destructor
    • Honey Bee Tracheal Mite
  • Pesticide Poisoning

To find out more, in detail, as to what is hindering our honey bees, look at the website of the South African Bee Industry Organisation

SABIO - South Africa Bee Industry Organisation

How can you help BEES?

Apart from the obvious, don’t spray or use poisons in your garden or around your home, you can plant bee-friendly trees and flowers to attract bees.

4 of the Best trees to plant for BEES

Buffalo Thorn Tree (Ziziphus mucronata)

Indigenous / Natural Forage

Attracts bees, birds and butterflies with its marvelous show of little yellow-green flowers filled with nectar. They grow well in summer rainfall areas and produce their flowers at various times depending on the region.

  • Mpumalanga – September to November
  • Northern Cape and Gauteng – October to January
  • Kwa-Zulu Natal – October to February
  • North West Province – December to January
Buffalo Thorn Tree (Ziziphus mucronata)

Hook Thorn (Acacia caffra)

Also known as the Cat Thorn, with a dark bark and often crooked trunk, fine bright green foliage and becomes covered in long pale-yellow flowers. Its branches have small thorns.

Depending on the region they flower at different months through Spring and Summer:

  • Northern Cape August to October
  • North West Province – September to October
  • Eastern Cape and Limpopo – September to December
  • Free State and Gauteng – October to January
Hook Thorn (Acacia caffra)

Karree (Searsia lancea)

An evergreen tree that is drought and frost resistant. It can reach up to 8 meters in height with a canopy of 5 metres across. The flowers are tiny, yellow-green in colour and usually flower in late summer. The tree produces edible berries.

Depending on the region they flower at different months:

  • Northern Cape – February to April
  • Free State – April to May
  • North West Province – April to July
  • Mpumalanga – July to August
  • Kwa-Zulu Natal – August to September
  • Limpopo – September to November
  • Western Cape October to May
Karree (Searsia lancea)

Wild Olive/ Olienhout (Olea europaea subs. Africana)

An evergreen tree which is a protected species in the Free State, North West and Northern Provence. It thrives in full sun, is drought and wind resistant.  It is slow growing with tiny white flowers and an edible fruit. It is considered a medicinal plant with huge benefit to insects, animals, people and the environment.

The Wild Olive flowers at different times in each of these regions:

  • Northern Cape – January to March
  • Eastern Cape – January to December
  • Western Cape – May to August
Wild Olive/ Olienhout (Olea europaea subs. Africana)

SANBI has published the Plants Important to South African Beekeepers Honey Bee Forage which is a great reference. 

If still unsure as to what to plant, when to plant and/or where to plant these trees, do pop in to your local nursery or garden club for advice and perhaps recommendations too, which is best suited to your area. They are sure to provide you with great ideas for your garden and advise on how to create a favorable environment for bees.

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