History of the WCBA

The history of South Africa’s regional beekeeping associations is difficult to piece together because there is no complete or definitive record, apart from occasional mentions in various publications over the years.

According to records from the South African Beekeepers’ Journal, however, the Western Province Bee Journal and du Preez (2010), the Western Cape Bee Industry Association, the WCBA, was established in 1912. It was named the Western Province Beekeepers’ Association, which was then changed in 1995 to the current one. 

Cover of 1919 edition of the Western Province Bee Journal
Henry Attridge, who authored a widely circulated publication in 1890 entitled “South African Bees and their Practical Management in Movable-Comb Hives”

The WCBA was among the initial beekeeping associations to be set up in South Africa. The first was the  Transvaal Beekeepers’ Association, founded in 1907, followed by the Natal Beekeepers’ Association  in 1909. All three associations were represented under an umbrella organisation,  South African Beekeepers’ Association (SABA), which later became the South African Association of Beekeepers (SAAB).

One of the WCBA’s pioneering members, Walter Hartman, was instrumental in formal discussions in the early 1980s around commercial crop pollination and the setting of a minimum recommended tariff, which was then only R24.00 per hive!

Among some of the association’s other highlights are:

  • Establishment of an association apiary in Constantia (1968-1974);
  • Lobbying against the cutting and removal of Eucalyptus or gum trees;
  • Constructive, educational, informative and practical field days for members;
  • Continuous promotion of professional pollination services, which includes determining the annual pollination tariff ;
  • Instrumental in safeguarding honeybees from pesticides related deaths; and
  • The development of the Beekeeping Industry Strategy (BIS) in 2017.