Honeywood Farm has been in the Moodie family since 1817 and borders the wild and wonderful Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve up against the Langeberg Mountains.
It is a nature lover's paradise and offers hiking, mountain biking, birding, horse riding, and swimming in rivers and pools all in a peaceful and secure environment.
The Moodies of Heidelberg can trace their ancestry back to the late 1500’s when William Moodie was the first Laird of Melsetter in Orkney, Scotland. Benjamin Moodie, the ninth Laird, arrived with 200 settlers on the ship “Brilliant” at Cape Town in 1817 and bought 2 farms at Grootvadersbosch, totalling 8600 hectares in size. The settlers on the 3 ships that accompanied Benjamin included, stonecutters, masons, cabinet makers, ploughmen, turners, tanners, mechanics, carpenters, etc. Small wonder, that the Western Cape area to this day, boasts so many able craftsmen. Through the years the Moodies of Heidelberg are often mentioned in South African history books. Donald Moodie translated Jan van Riebeeck’s diary into English, while his son George became Surveyor-General of the Transvaal Republic, earned a seat in the Cabinet and found gold on his farm in Barberton which made him a very rich man. Over a period of nearly 200 years the Moodies amongst other things participated in civil wars, fought on both fronts of the Anglo Boer War and served the country in two world wars. John and Miranda Moodie today reside on one of Benjamin Moodie’s original farms, now called Honeywood while his cousin Keith and his wife Michelle Moodie live in the original homestead on the adjacent farm, Grootvadersbosch. The farms on the Zuurbraak road are approximately 25 kilometres from Heidelberg and are a nature lover’s paradise, bordering the Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve up against the Langeberg Mountains. (Incidentally, Grootvadersbosch, as a settlement, is older than Swellendam itself. Abraham Schietekat, the Sailor-School Master conducted classes there for frontier children in the time when the old ”heemraden” were still searching for a site for the Drostdy. At that stage timber from the “Bosch” was provided to the Cape Colony).
I attended John’s presentation on Beekeeping and Alien Trees at the Swellendam Show and looked forward to my visit to Honeywood. John recalls how his father, General Graham Moodie started beekeeping. His first encounter with bees was when he removed honey from a wild hive under a “wag-‘n-bietjie-bos”. Graham had only a smoking roll of sacking, an old screwdriver and a knife, but managed to get some honey. He was badly stung and pricked by thorns, but the proverbial “gogga het gebyt”, and a lifelong passion began. Today John, his son, has bee hives on another farm near Albertinia and on various other farms in the Overberg. He also pollinates crops for fruit growers in the Langkloof. He was chairman of the South African Bee Industry Organisation (SABIO) for many years and is still an active member of SABIO and the Southern Cape Bee Industry Organisation. He is also the current chairman of the Grootvadersbosch Conservancy, which last year won the Cape Fox Award as the best managed Conservancy in the Western Cape. Before I leave, John tells me a story to illustrate the goodwill that existed between neighbours in the days before the Anglo Boer war. Pietie-, Neels-, Lafras- and Petrus Uys’ great grandfather, Cornelius Janse, was the neighbour of John’s great grandfather Donald. Cornelius avidly supported the Boers and Donald the Khaki’s. On the day that Cornelius left to join the Boer ranks, he visited Donald with the request: “Kyk asseblief na my vrou en kinders en my plaas terwyl ek in die oorlog veg.” Cornelius later became Veldkornet. Needless to say that Donald heeded this request like any good neighbour on a farm would! John and the Moodies before him, have been longstanding members of SSK. SSK is proud to have played a part in the long history of the Moodies of Heidelberg.
Two Day Short Beekeeping Course
Beekeeping in South Africa, notes and books will be provided for reference purposes.
Food and accommodation are provided at Honeywood Farm
Course will be run in English – Afrikaans explanations and discussion welcome