PHOTO ABOVE: Claudia Monin shows off her “hat” of bees

With over 30 years’ experience in beekeeping, KwaZulu-Natal apiarist, Michel Lenferna has now concluded the first in a range of courses aimed at passing on his extensive knowledge on the profession.

Delegates at the beekeeping course earlier this year assess a frame of honeycomb

Passionate about bees and with extensive knowledge in commercial beekeeping, as well as the intricate ecology of hive life, Lenferna said he realised it was finally time to share his knowledge with others.

“For many years I have procrastinated, put off, delayed, diverted, found excuses such as being too busy to run a course to share my beekeeping knowledge. This year I ran out of excuses. I set a date, advertised, accepted bookings and was committed. It had to happen.”

Lenferna said due to the looming pollination crisis, particularly in crops such as macadamias and avocados he felt it was time for more than just an introductory course to the subject.

School student, Daniel Bekker decaps a full frame of honey

“I felt the course must be comprehensive. I wanted to attract the serious, committed and potentially professional beekeeper rather than the hobbyist. I felt that a smaller group offered a greater chance of individual attention especially as I also wanted to include a far more practical and hands-on experience rather than just an introductory overview.”

With a truly diverse group of people turning up for the course at his Baynesfield home outside Pietermaritzburg, Lenferna said regardless they all had the same aim: “they were all passionate about the health of our bee colonies and wanted to learn more about beekeeping”.

Rob Moxham brushes bees of Claudia Monin’s safety suit

Claudia Monin, who together with Joshua Henderson have launched an organic farming project on the South coast of KwaZulu-Natal, said the course was a gamechanger. “We learned so much. I feel there is so much more now that I must still learn. The course was very practical, very hands on. Michel’s way of explaining was very good. The next step for Joshua and I is to put catch boxes out to catch some swarms to get us started. We can’t wait to make our own honey,” Monin said.

Siyabonga Mdlazi assists Joshua Henderson to de-cap a comb filled with honey

The course ran from a Monday to a Friday starting at 8am and finishing at 4pm. “We were hard pressed to complete the curriculum in the allotted time. You know, the bee is the most studied insect in the world and with all that research now that there is a pollinator crisis worldwide there was a risk of information overload,” he quipped.

Subjects covered in the course included an investigation of the members in a hive and the roles they all play in the colony, the anatomy of the bee, safety equipment, hive components, ideal hive placement, bee feeding, seasonal management, handling, harvesting, queen rearing and brood diseases to name but a few in a long list of topics.

Contact Michel Lenferna to book for his next course at

Daniel Bekker and Wynand Lourens watch Michel Lenferna as he makes lip salve from honey and wax