Gorgeous Green House

The Renovation Journey of a 1940’s ‘Traditional’ to 2015 ‘Contemporary, Green & Gorgeous’


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House and Leisure, Sunday Times and Top Billing

This months House and Leisure feature the Gorgeous Green House in its ‘Sustainability Supplement’.  You’ll need to flip to the end to find us on p.162.  Glynis Horning has described our journey well.  Pity the photos that were selected don’t link in a cohesive way to the copy.  Not sure what sustainability/green message there is in our bed image and where is the eco pool, veggie garden, bee hive….?  (sigh, Sally took so many amazing photos).  However, the vertical and roof garden do look spectacular and hopefully that will draw people in.  (Scroll to end for image of vertical garden).
Sunday Times

This Sunday the Sunday Times are doing an ‘Eco’ feature. It will be interesting to so how they present our home and lifestyle.

Lastly, for followers outside of South Africa and those of you who may have missed the Top Billing TV coverage, here are the first 7 minutes of the show:

https://www.youtube.com/embed/t4iThlXZVzs“>http://

House and Leisure image


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Bee Keeping and the Perils of Wax Moth

Peter, our apiarist

Peter, our apiarist

Bees worldwide are under threat with colonies collapsing on a frightening scale. The main culprit that has emerged is a new type of insecticide, a neurological toxin that affects information processing in the bee’s brain.  After a while they can’t navigate home.  Foraging bees die before they can get back to feed the babies or they pass it onto the babies and queen.

Einstein pointed out:

“If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live.”

Bountiful harvest

Bountiful harvest

DSC00538There is a strong possibility that if we don’t change our agri-industry practices that use these insecticides, our urban bees may be the only the survivors. It will be the urban bee keepers who will be called on to re-populate our rural/agricultural areas when we are forced to return to earth friendly farming methods.

Bees-keeping is fun and the harvest of course a wonderful treat.  It can also be a good source of income as our son has experienced.

When we moved to the Gorgeous Green House there was no question of the bees not coming with us.  Not an easy task to transport.  The process has to be done at night as the swarm are out foraging during day and it would be rather cruel to take away their home before their return.

Lugging Hive up the Hill

Lugging Hive up the Hill

...and along the path

…and along the path

Our experience of bee keeping (other than the odd sting)  up until a few weeks ago had all been fairly uneventful.  We had been encouraged to add a second hive.  To our dismay we noticed that one hive suddenly had no activity.  On inspection we discovered the dreaded wax moth.

Wax moth

Wax moth

Wax moth larvae

Wax moth larvae

As you can see they have completely obliterated the brood and the adults have departed with all the honey they could carry.  Apparently swarms are vulnerable when they are still small as stronger colonies will evict the moth larvae. It seems it is also very important to make sure there are no additional access points other than the main entrance.

Another unwanted visitor:  millipede

Another unwanted visitor: millipede

Cacoon's and all sorts of nasties

Cocoon’s and all sorts of nasties

When we pulled out all the frames we discovered a few other unwanted visitors like this millipede.  There were also cockroaches that scuttled off before having their picture taken.

Frames into fire pit.

Frames into fire pit.

Goodbye wax moth

Goodbye wax moth

We did go into a bit of a panic. Mostly out of concern for the other hive and thought best to destroy all the frames so into the fire pit they went.  We have learned subsequently that this was an overreaction and all we needed to do was tie them up in black bags and let bake in sun for  a few days.  Alternatively, if you have a large freezer they can go in there.

We are not daunted by this small set back however.  And please don’t let this put you off if you are considering bee keeping.  The rewards are well worth the effort and we’ve learned a bit along the way.  Its the old story, prevention is better than cure, so we will be plugging up our entrances and taking more care in the future.


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Avaaz Helps Create Breathing Space for Our Bees

Bees worldwide are under threat.  Bee colonies are collapsing on a frightening scale. The main culprit that has emerged is a new type of insecticide which is a neurological toxin that affects information processing in the bee’s brain.  After a while they can’t navigate home.  Foraging bees die before they can get back to feed the babies or they pass it onto the babies and queen.  In SA we are now using these toxic insecticides even though they have been banned in Germany, France and England.

Bees pollinate two-thirds of all our food.  Their contribution to the SA citrus industry alone accounts for 1.6 million rand in value.  When scientists noticed that silently, they were dying at a terrifying rate, Avaaz swung in to action, and kept on swinging until they won. This week’s victory is the result of two years of flooding ministers with messages, organizing media-grabbing protests with beekeepers, funding opinion polls and much, much more.

As Einstein pointed out:

“If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live.”

Bernie, the huge inflatable bee, helps deliver the 2.6m strong petition to Brussels

Some good news.  Avaaz’s activism has convinced the politicians in Europe to ban these lethal insecticides.  Vanessa Amaral-Rogers from the specialist conservation organisation Buglife, says:“It was a close vote, but thanks to a massive mobilisation by Avaaz members, beekeepers, and others, we won! I have no doubt that the floods of phone calls and emails to ministers, the actions in London, Brussels and Cologne, and the giant petition with 2.6 million signers made this result possible. Thank you Avaaz, and everyone who worked so hard to save bees!”

However, the EU ban is only in place for 2 years pending further review. In South Africa and across the world there’s lots of work to do to ensure sound science guides our farming and environmental policies. 

PS: Let’s keep this going — chip in to ensure we can launch rapid-fire, multi-tactic campaigns on the issues we all care about: https://secure.avaaz.org/en/bees_victory/?boAYgab&v=24668