Are you looking for a new weekend getaway location? Off the grid in the Overberg’s picture-perfect Stanford Valley, where this beehive sanctuary allows you to suit up and spend a day in the life of a professional beekeeper.
Nestled in Africa’s southernmost valley, a honeybee sanctuary with a lot of heart is allowing South Africans and others to engage with everyone’s favorite pollinator.
Honeybees are an important aspect of global food production, pollinating the majority of the world’s fruits, vegetables, nuts, and other crops. However, because of agricultural and beekeeping negligence, these little fellas pose a significant concern. Honeybee Heroes was founded in 2020 on Willowdale Farm in Stanford Valley to help reverse the decline of South Africa’s unique Capensis honeybee by educating consumers on the importance of sustainably sourced foods and allowing ordinary people to sponsor a honeybee colony, which is cared for by the team’s expert beekeepers. Honeybee Heroes has already grown to be one of the country’s largest honeybee apiaries, with over 300 operational hives.
Through the organisation’s flagship Adopt-a-Hive programme, anyone can sponsor a beehive. When you “adopt” a hive, the Honeybee Heroes team will brand it your name and place it in a permanent location at Willowdale Farm or nearby, caring for it once a colony of wild bees moves in. With each adoption, you’ll receive a personalised adoption kit, including six jars (3 kg!) of raw Honeybee Heroes honey, an adoption certificate, and frequent updates on your hive. All proceeds go to setting up more honeybee hives, as well as to developing Honeybee Heroes’ upcoming community-run micro-apiaries, where they’ll be training low-income South Africans in professional beekeeping.
The Honeybee Heroes team offers free monthly beekeeping courses if you’re interested, but you don’t have to sign up for one of these to visit the farm and check out the hives. The sanctuary is open to day and weekend visitors, as long as you book in advance. So whether you’re already obsessed with honeybees, looking for a way to unplug and reconnect with nature, or if you’re just searching for a unique activity to do with your loved ones, Willowdale Farm is the perfect place to get away while giving back.
When visiting the farm, you’ll have the opportunity to suit up and visit the bees, get hands-on in helping care for the hives, and you may even get the chance to extract and bottle some fresh honey. The Honeybee Heroes team will also happily take you for a tour of the farm in one of their honeybee-branded, open-top Land Rovers.
Afterwards, you’ll head to the farm’s sculpture garden (say hello to the resident sheep along the way!) and enjoy a tasting of Honeybee Heroes honey, smothered on sourdoughs and ciabattas still warm from the nearby bakery and paired with cheese from the local Stonehouse cheesery and a bottle of red from Lomond Wine Estate just down the road. The Honeybee Heroes team will walk you through the varying textures and flavour profiles of honey harvested from different locations on the property, depending on where the bees have been munching amidst the farm’s indigenous fynbos, eucalyptus, lavender bushes, and blooming canola fields.
When you’re all wrapped up on the farm, it’s a quick drive into the town of Stanford, with its cozy pubs, river cruises, antique shops, and the monthly night market that draws the locals together for live music and homegrown food.
Less than two hours from Cape Town and just thirty minutes to Hermanus, Willowdale Farm is a great day trip or easy weekend getaway with your partner, family, or friends. With private beekeeping experiences available, it’s also a good place to host a corporate retreat, team event, or birthday party. The farm has seven, two-bedroom cottages for overnight stays.
The honeybees are waiting for you! Book your visit at www.honeybeeheroes.com.