Bloemfontein, Free State South Africa

083 701 34 30 / 083 7070 0327

About Us

Francois van den Berg (Frans), owner and bee conservationist

Our founder, Frans van den Berg’s first encounter with bees was on his late grandfather’s farm in Sterkstroom, Eastern Cape. The farm had a few hives, but since his family had no knowledge on the harvest of honey, they relied on external help. This person was not always available to assist, leading to Frans and his friends taking the matter into their own hands. To his parents’ surprise, it took only a bee suit, a smoker and the courage of a 13-year-old to harvest honey. And that’s where his journey with bees began.

He convinced his father to give him a loan to purchase beehives and studied the almost 400 pages of the Bee Bible ABC and XYZ of Beekeeping by author I.E. Root (even his English improved!). His adventure of collecting bees began, in the most surprising of places – under floors, in roofs, in ant heaps and even in holes in the ground. By the time he reached his final year of school, he had a bee business consisting of 100 beehives in apiaries on several farms in the district.

This allowed him to repay the loan to his father and to also sustain himself during his university studies.

Unfortunately, the safeguarding of beehives has always been a problem. One by one the apiaries were attacked, vandalised or set on fire. The remaining hives were relocated to the farm where he lived but were later destroyed by a runaway veld-fire. After completing his studies, he started his teaching career in Barkly East.

During his teaching career there was little time to re-build the apiaries, especially considering the continuously challenge safeguarding the bees. Many different possibilities were considered, from devils fork to barbed wire. The breakthrough came in a Farmers Weekly article on the ingenuity of a fellow beekeeper, Mr Louis van Zyl of Mummy Honey who replaced wooden hives and manufactured his own concrete hives. Due to the cold climate in the north Eastern Cape, the concrete hive was adapted to provide more insulation against the harsh climate.

Since Frans’ retirement from teaching in 2017, he focused on building concrete hives in Barkly East and Sterkstroom with his son, Soon, expanding into the Free State. At this point, NECTAR has more than 400 functioning concrete hives and have achieved the first step of the bee repopulation project – ensuring sustainable and reliable beekeeping.