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Intaka bee project a buzzing success

25 July 2016

Mark Collins from Bee-Pak (left) and Alan Liebenberg (Century City Environmental Manager)

Bee-Pak, the world’s first composite flat pack and insulated bee hive system, was introduced into Intaka Island as a pilot project three years ago. Since then the wetlands reserve has become the main test site for the award-winning hives which are now being exported around the world.

So successful in fact has the pilot project been that the founders and inventors, Mark Collins and the Bee-Pak team, are planning on adding a further 11 test hives to the existing four. 

Mark, who lives in Century City, said the driving force behind the design was to not only help stave off dying bee colonies so as to protect food sustainability but also to provide individuals and rural communities with the means to support themselves through honey production.

Unlike traditional bee hives, Bee-Pak is not made of wood but fiberglass and has an insulated core which makes them not only much lighter but also significantly increases their lifespan. 

“Bee-Pak hives also keep the temperature constant which adds to the productivity of the bees and have a moisture control valve in the lid to aid in the removal of any excess build-up of moisture .

“In addition they can be easily cleaned, disinfected and made disease free whereas wooden hives that get contaminated have to be burnt,” says Mark.

Bee-Pak has picked up major awards including the Popular Mechanics Inventor of the Year 2014 award and the 2014 SAB Social Innovation Award for improving bee management through their innovative design for the mutual benefit of both food security and sustainability as well as the potential it has to make a difference in the lives of people, particularly those living in rural areas.

Mark said they were now being rolling Bee-Pak out around the country and exporting elsewhere in Africa, to England, Europe and America. 

“We currently have an order book of more than 2000 units and are also exploring growing the business into China with a local partner.”

Mark says they were also now working with Elephant and Bees, an innovative charity project located in Kenya and Tanzania, which strives to enhance the economic stability of the local population against elephants raiding their crops. 

“’We have created a ‘fence’ of  Bee-Pak hives joined together with rope that acts as a barrier to the elephants. If the elephants try and cross this line, it rattles the bee-hives and the bees come out and sting the elephants who don’t try that again.”

Marc said the hives were also providing rural communities with additional revenue from the honey which was also helping to protect the elephants from poachers.

Mark says the honey being produced on Intaka is of an extremely high quality as a result of all the fynbos and lack of pesticides.

“When the full complement of hives is established on Intaka, the harvested honey will be sold to the public to raise funds for the Eco-Centre.”