While other 16-year-olds are focusing on the latest fashion fad or technology trend, Springfield Convent student Maxine Roeloffze is setting a standard for young ecopreneurs by running her own beekeeping business.
On her 16th birthday, Maxine started wondering what she could do to generate her own income. She explored the usual options like waitressing and retail assistance, but nothing resonated with her. A few years before, a couple of hives had been placed on her parents' Hout Bay Vineyards smallholding. While these had been largely forgotten, Maxine's new awareness of the plight of our bees and the importance of buying local, organic goods got her thinking about them again. 'I've become very passionate about the importance of bees and their role in the environment,' she shares. Maxine started tending to the hives, making sure they had a suitable environment. 'While the bees really do all the work, I check the hives to make sure nothing is disturbing them, and that there isn't any wax left in for too long. If the hives become unpleasant, the swarms will leave. And then of course there is the harvesting of the honey, which I love doing once the vats are full.' What started as a hobby has grown into a new commercial venture for the young eco-preneur. She started with four hives, and now tends to ten. She's also designed a logo and labels for the bottles. 'I've spent some time talking to people about the ins and outs of this kind of business, and while I've been selling a few bottles to friends and family here and there since last winter, I'm ready for my first real season after the harvest at the end of March.' Maxine hopes to get about 500 bottles of honey from her upcoming harvest, and to launch the business officially at the next Hout Bay Vineyards Open Day. But this is just the start of her journey ' she has drawn up a business plan for the next nine years, and hopes to have 4000 hives by 2025. 'My motivation is twofold: I'd like to do my bit to make sure the bees are okay, and to get people eating local, organic honey ' not just for the environment, but for the amazing health benefits too.' How you can help save our bees?
- Be sure to buy plants that aren't pre-treated with dangerous pesticides.
- Don't use any pesticides, fungicides or herbicides in your garden.
- Buy raw honey from local beekeepers.
- Grow bee-friendly plants like agapanthus, aloes, Cape violets, clivia, carpet geranium, Cape honeysuckle and vygies.
- Put a little water basin in your garden or on your balcony for the bees to drink from during the heat of the day. Placing a few stones and floating corks in the water will help make sure they don't drown!
- If the buzz gets you, install a hive in your garden or on your rooftop and learn how to become a beekeeper and make your own honey!
TIP: When buying honey, make sure you opt for unheated, untreated raw honey. Many people aren't aware that often the standard honey on a supermarket shelf has added sugar, is mixed with syrup or has been heat treated.