The South African Bee Industry Organisation (SABIO) has again this year set its pollination price guide for beekeepers servicing the agriculture sector based on the annual Western Cape Bee Industry Association Guide (WCBA), which today remains the industry norm to understand and calculate guideline prices.

In its recent analysis the WCBA recommended a pollination fee of R980 (excluding VAT) per hive for a pollination period of 14 days specifically applicable to deciduous fruit pollination for the 2020 season. (reference pollination sub-tab).

The pride guideline represents an average of 7% in price increase.

In their recommendations, the WCBA discussed several factors which influence the price that beekeepers are charging for pollination services. Extraordinary factors, such as the long-lasting drought experienced during the last five years has significantly affected both the availability of off-season bee forage and swarms harvested from nature. This in turn has affected the price at which swarms are made available for pollination services.

The cost of providing the service of pollination is affected by many factors such as:

  • Preparing and repairing broken hives and baiting them to catch swarms;
  • Permit costs for catch sites;
  • Transport and labour to catch the swarms needed;
  • Preparing the swarms for pollination by stimulation feeding;
  • Movement of swarms onto and off the crops;
  • Movement of swarms onto bee forage during off-season or artificially feeding to keep them from absconding;
  • Loss of swarms due to Capensis infestation;
  • Increased theft and vandalism over the last few years resulting in loss of swarms and hives;
  • High transport and wage costs.


Together these have significantly increased the cost of Pollination Service provision.

It has to be remembered that providing an effective pollination service rarely results in a honey crop for the beekeeper. The resultant loss in a honey crop therefore has to be taken into consideration when setting price guidelines.

How do we need to understand this price guideline in terms of other crops, specifically subtropical crops? As discussed above, many factors do contribute or influence the cost of pollination upwards. Similarly, other factors should be considered when negotiating the final price which are reasonable to justify a downward adjustment. These could include site security, availability of companion forage, off-season availability of replenishing sites, integrated pest management and more. In line with the price guideline as set by the Western Cape Bee Association, which has been set at R980 excluding VAT for a period of 14 days, the following price guidelines are suggested:

  • Blueberries: R980 per hive placing where six placings per season is practiced at 5 hives per ha.
  • Blueberries open pollinated to be calculated at R700 per period of 21 days at 5 hives per ha.
  • Avocados: R910 per period of 42 days at a recommended hive density of 4 hives per ha.
  • Macadamias: R980 per period of 48 days at a recommended hive density of 4 hives per ha.
  • Litchis: R655 per period of 28 days at a recommended hive density of 2 hives per ha.
  • Mango: R1035 per period of 42 days at a recommended hive density of 2 hives per ha.
  • Cherries: R980 per period of 21-28 days at a recommended hive density of 2 hives per ha.

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