Property Flash


July 5 2023

Emira Property Fund, the diversified listed group is helping to sustain bee wildlife across SA.

Since 2020, the JSE-listed real estate investment trust (Reit) has installed 16 beehives at eight of its properties in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal and more are planned, the group said on Wednesday.

Ulana van Biljon, chief operating officer at Emira said the fund was driven to help the environment around its buildings whenever possible.

“The beehive project was chosen to address the decline of global bee populations, which contribute so much to society, as well as the biodiversity of our properties,” she said.

Bees are vital for pollinating plants, including food crops. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), a full third of global food production depends on bees as pollinators.

All life on the planet relies on bees, but they are increasingly threatened by human activity, under grave threat from habitat loss, pesticides, air pollution and climate change.

“Our bee conservation project is a holistic approach to reducing the impact of environmental degradation, which goes beyond planting trees,” said van Biljon.

The first hives were installed in August 2020 at Knightsbridge office park in the Bryanston business node, and at Hyde Park Lane, in Sandton.

These sites were selected because of their safe site location, the biodiversity of the surrounding landscape and the abundance of flowering plants which provide the nectar flow for the bees to produce honey.

Beehives have also been introduced at Wonderpark Shopping Centre in Pretoria North, One Highveld industrial premises in Centurion; Springfield open-air retail centre in Umgeni, Durban, Park Boulevard local shopping centre in Durban North, Albury Park, a garden-life office environment in Dunkeld, Johannesburg and Epsom Downs Office Park near the William Nicol offramp in Sandton.

Emira’s beehives are managed in a safe, controlled environment, away from areas of heavy foot traffic and clearly sign-posted, while beekeeping activities take place at night. 

The results so far have been sweet says van Biljon.

The bees have produced 85kg of honey to date from five hive sites: Knightsbridge (8kg), One Highveld (15kg), Hyde Park Lane (19kg), Wonderpark (20kg) and Albury Park (23kg). 

The honey collected from the different properties has tasted unique. Bees tend to collect nectar within 3km of their hive, which meant Johannesburg honey was crafted largely from exotic garden ornamental plants like jasmine, lavender, rosemary and jacaranda trees. Meanwhile, Pretoria North, where hives are situated at Wonderpark Shopping Centre, has more indigenous plants, acacias, and grassland flowers, meaning honey made there is darker and contains more flavourful herbal tannins.

The honey is not for sale, although Emira is investigating charity initiatives as their buzzy new tenants continue to upscale production.

“Biodiversity is vital for healthy ecosystems, which support human well-being and the economy,” said van Biljon.

“Healthy ecosystems form the ecological infrastructure of the country, providing clean air and water, fertile soil, and food,” she said.

As part of Emira’s dedication to good environmental, social, and governance (ESG) practices, it has committed to a “No Net Future Loss” policy, conserving and promoting biodiversity across its portfolio and reducing the company’s impact on the environment.

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