About 20 km North East of Pretoria’s central business district you will find Kameeldrift and it is the people living here who makes this community magical.
Meet Sidwell Matome Banne, the man behind Honeybadger, a beekeeping training college and equipment supplier in Kameeldrift. He believes that bees can provide the opportunity to alleviate poverty and create jobs.
Sidwell was a key role player in his previous employer, the ARC’s, empowerment programme – BEE Power. He educated poor people in the deep rural areas of South Africa on beekeeping and how to work with nature in order to generate an income. Today, as owner of the Honeybadger, his mission is much the same.
Every first Saturday of the month Sidwell educates those interested into becoming successful beekeepers and on the third Saturday he offers an advanced and more practical course. To date he has trained over 8 000 people and is proud of the job opportunities he created. One such success story, coming through the Honeybadger-mill, is that of Werner Muller. After being trained by Sidwell, he made bees his business and now manufactures hives and also sells beekeeping equipment.
With a revived focus on healthy living, South Africans consume approximately 4 000 tons of honey every year, while local production of the commodity falls far behind at only 2 000 tons per year, thus creating a huge opportunity for our own beekeepers to fill the gap.
Sidwell warns that getting started is quite an expensive exercise and that one should operate on the right scale to make a decent profit. From 20 hives, a beekeeper will be able to harvest a ton of honey 3 to 4 times a year and at the current price of R90 / kg, a substantial income could be generated.
In the Kameeldrift
area, Sidwell is the one to call when an unwelcome swarm of bees move in at
your premises. He also offers ‘pollination services’ and warns that without
bees agriculture could not survive. The sector is totally depended on bees to
pollenate its fields and orchards. Farmers who make use of external pollination
services have reported yield increases of some crops by more than 50%.
am filled with gratitude towards the Kameeldrift community for supporting me
over the past 15 years since I started at Honeybadger. They helped me to
take my destiny into my own hands,” says Sidwell.