In our new “Why did you adopt?” blog column, we’re chatting with some of the honeybee heroes who adopted a hive with us, to find out what their adoption means to them. We are incredibly grateful to all of our hive sponsors, who make it possible for us to keep doing what we love — and keep saving more bees — every single day.
When an unexpected detour led Jason and Karisa Wakefield to the Overberg’s Stanford Valley, Jason discovered a sweet surprise waiting for him — a honeybee hive of his own, gifted from his wife.
When Jason Wakefield got into the car with his wife last October, she told him they were headed for a day trip in Hermanus. The couple works in Johannesburg, where he’s a sales representative for a software company and she’s a consultant for a chemical cleaning manufacturer. But they had flown to Cape Town for the week to celebrate their 4th wedding anniversary.
Only when they started turning down dirt roads did Jason realise something was amiss, and began questioning Karisa about their plans for the day. He didn’t know it yet, but Karisa had secretly changed their Google Maps destination to Willowdale Farm in nearby Stanford Valley, home of Honeybee Heroes.
Karisa had discovered the honeybee sanctuary through friends who had adopted their own hive, and knew that it would the perfect gift for Jason.
“A close friend of ours has been doing beekeeping for a while,” Jason says. “He’s a game ranger and birder, and he’d always told us about keeping his bees. And where we stay at my sister-in-law’s place, they’ve got a hive there. So we’ve been interested in having one for a long time.”
When they pulled up to the farm, Honeybee Heroes founder Chris Oosthuizen was waiting for them, and surprised Jason with the hive, which was personalised with their names. The three of them spent the day touring the farm together, checking out the many active hives on property, and even dug a hole next to their hive to plant a young tree, as part of Honeybee Heroes’ new tree planting initiative. The couple spent the whole day in Stanford before heading back to Cape Town, exhausted and happy.
Jason says they were both thrilled with how much they learned in just a few hours with Chris. He taught them all about the working of a honeybee hive, but also about honey laundering, and why it’s so important to check the sources of your honey.
“Chris explained that the honey most people are buying isn’t always honey, especially if it comes from overseas, like China,” Jason says. “So not only is it not real, but then these suppliers underprice and undercut local suppliers. I had never even thought about that.”
“The other thing that really hit home,” Jason continues, “is how we should think about honey the same way we think about wine. I was totally taken aback when Chris explained that. If people looked at honey the same way they look at wine—meaning that the honey should taste and look different based on where it was grown, when the bees produced it, and what trees and plants were there, just like wine itself with different grape and climates—they’d be willing to pay more for honey based on the quality, location, and flavour. It’s such a strange thing that it’s not marketed that way.”
Now, Jason says, they both pay a lot more attention to honey in the shops, to see what kind of honey is out there, where it’s from, and how it’s marketed.
The more, the merrier
Since Jason and Karisa adopted their hive, several members of their family have followed suit. Jason says they’ve already ordered another three kilos of honey from the farm, because they love the flavour so much that they quickly plowed through their first three kilos, which all hive sponsors receive as a thanks for adopting. “We try not to have sugar, so we eat a lot of honey and use it in our cooking,” he says. “It’s healthier but it also just tastes so much better.”
Jason says they’ll often buy honey bottles from Honeybee Heroes for friends and family, who soon want refills, too. “They keep asking, ‘When can we have more?’” he laughs. “It tastes so different than what they’re used to. You notice the difference quite quickly.”
The couple is already excited to get back to Cape Town to check on their hive. In the meantime, Jason says he’s excited to watch the Honeybee Heroes sanctuary grow from afar. “I hope it keeps growing like it is right now. I think it will. I really do.”
Adopting a beehive is a unique gift for any occasion, whether it’s to celebrate an anniversary, honour a late loved one, to contribute to a sustainable future, or to surprise a friend. Whether you’re sponsoring a hive on behalf of a loved one or adopting one for yourself, your hive will keep a bee colony safe for years to come, making it a gift that keeps on giving. Not to mention the 6 bottles of raw fynbos honey that every sponsor receives as thanks from our resident bees!