Riverside Sun's unusual hotel guests

01 Nov 2012

Riverside Sun Resort located in Vanderbijlpark, Gauteng recently hosted very unusual guests - 20 000 bees who occupied the property's sixth floor.

Herman Muller, general manager of Riverside Sun Resort, says it was unusual but not a surprise that 20 000 bees wanted to experience their warm, friendly and accommodating service – the property’s hospitality extends to everybody including the Queen of Bees.

Until Queen Bee and her family descended upon the property’s sixth floor a while ago, Riverside Sun Resort has always played host to corporate, leisure and conference guests.

While hotel guests pay from R1 200 per night, the bee family enjoyed the property’s amenities at no cost.

The bees have checked out from the hotel without any incident and they are wished a good journey settling into their new chosen home wherever that might be.

Owned by Johannesburg Stock Exchange listed gaming and entertainment company, Tsogo Sun Holdings, the property can now happily add to its profile: “We had the honour of accommodating Mother Nature in the form of approximately 20 000 bees.”

The bees chose a prime spot on the sixth floor and produced a hive that spanned three storeys – situated between the two concrete blocks of the main building with access was through a small hole on the side of the building.

Herman Muller, general manager of Riverside Sun Resort, says it was unusual but not a surprise that 20 000 bees wanted to experience their warm, friendly and accommodating service – the property’s hospitality extends to everybody including the Queen of Bees.

“Life is about experiences and memories, creating these by protecting and relocating the bees was an opportunity not to be missed, it was an easy decision for us.”

He explains that in line with the group’s strategy to conserve nature, protect guests at the same time and embed environmental practices into their daily operations, it was not a difficult decision to spend funds to safely and environmentally relocate the bees.

The Queen Bee secretes a pheromone that attracts other bees to her and this is how a new hive is formed and, over a short period of time, established.

This involved the combined efforts of the hotel, local fire brigade, the private sector and Hannes Kruger from Kopanong Environmental Services, an expert in bee removal and relocation.

Kruger explains that the Queen Bee secretes a pheromone that attracts other bees to her and, this is how a new hive is formed and over a short period of time, established.

“The most environmentally friendly way to relocate a beehive is to use the opposite pheromone, which repels the bees and the Queen from the immediate area.”

The pheromone is sprayed into the area in a slow and precise manner to avoid any panic or defensive behaviour from the bees and the swarm slowly feels irritated and simply flies out and does not enter the hive again.

Kruger says the pheromone does not affect any other bee populations in the immediate area but does prevent the re-establishment in the same area of a hive for up to 20 years.

The timing of removing the swarm was another critical factor to consider hence the project taking place now during spring.

“What a privilege to be of service to Mother Nature in protecting our pollinators of flowers, without bees not only will the world be poorer, we will also not survive,” says Muller.

He says while it is not always possible for everyone to change the world, each of us can contribute to change in the communities in which we live and work in.

“For me and my team, hosting the bees for a couple of months and then safely and in an environmentally friendly way relocating them was just our way of contributing towards change -  a contribution that makes the world a richer place,” he adds. – Denise Mhlanga

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