Hive Ecosystems’ 10 month progress

'Hive Ecosystems' 10 month progress' is written in white and orange in the bottom right. There are three pictures overlapping including a picture of the spekboom nursery, one in-field, and one of the trees planted on the farm.

Hive Ecosystems was established in 2021 to restore degraded land in South Africa and sequester carbon.

The team will be planting over 9 million spekboom plants on our 7,000 hectares of farmland.

This is the progress from the past ten months… 

You can find a text version of the in-video captions below the Hive Ecosystems video.


Biodiversity delegates joined us for a workshop.

Invasive cactus plants, originally from gardens around the farms, were eradicated.

Rhodes University donated 170 indigenous thicket trees. These trees will be planted around the farmsteads.

We began clearing invasive alien plants. They were then chipped to produce mulch for compost making.

The installation of the irrigation system in the nursery was successfully completed.

The newly installed automated irrigation system has its own solar power source, meaning the system is completely off the electricity grid.

Fifty cubic meters of high quality manure-based compost was delivered to the farm for our special soil mix to be used in planting trays.

The team tested different % of soil mixes for the planting trays as part of a suitability test for spekboom cuttings.


Local experts supported us with drone photogrammetry. The aim was to determine the 3D vegetation cover on the farm.

Comparison between the orthophoto and the Digital Elevation Model (DEM) taken by the drone of the same area.

A historic moment: The first 98 spekboom cuttings were planted in the first tray at the nursery.

Hive Ecosystems’ unique soil mix recipe is used to create optimum plant growth.

A few hundred thousand spekboom cuttings were planted in planting trays in the nursery.

Recently constructed cut-off drains around the nursery area, working effectively after the first thunderstorm.


The nursery is in full production.

The root development on spekboom cuttings after five weeks – the cuttings were planted in in two different cavity sizes.

During November we collected a few hundred thousand seeds from local trees. We have already started planting at least four species of tree seed into the planting trays. These trees will be used in future to improve river functionality.

Hive ecosystems planted over 60 of the donated indigenous tree species.

Testing the neighbour’s hammer mill to grind biochar into smaller particle sizes, improving production.

17 farmers from the Steytlerville district visited Hive Ecosystems to find out more about carbon farming.

We installed three-phase water filtration units at the houses on the farm.

The fencing around the farm infrastructure was completed, and some of the old gates were repaired.

Setting up an automatic weather station on the farm, donated by Rhodes University Research Group.

The team were also busy repairing the large storage dam on the farm. The dam will be use for both irrigation and recreation.

Visiting the planting teams on Kwandwe Private Game Reserve to get practical information on their planting methodology. We work in close collaboration with Kwandwe PGR to develop new methodologies.


The nursery is now in full production. Some of the plants are ready to be planted out in the field and planting will begin towards the middle of January 2023.

Work started on fixing the electrical entrance gates to The Aloes.

We planted 16 Fever trees on both sides of the entrance road to the farm. We will start rehabilitation across the area by adding erosion control measures and planting grass seed.


The Hive farm received very welcome rain, over 50 mm. The grass and herbaceous vegetation layers are recovering well on the two properties where most of the game and livestock were removed. The 26 indigenous trees that we planted are growing very well.

More than a hundred indigenous trees have been planted around homesteads, labour cottages, farm entrances since October 2022.

We started to move some of the planting trays to the hardening area (no overhead shade) to get the plants ready for in field planting.

The in-field planting involved the un-plugging of the rooted cuttings from the planting tray, they were then stacked into plastic crates. These crates are transported to the in field planting sites where runners carry the crates to the planting teams.

A historic moment: The first in-field planting of Hive Ecosystems’ nursery propagated plants.  This is our future carbon stock starting to accumulate/sequester carbon dioxides.

We began ‘sediment trap planting’ at the Hive farm. This is a process of planting with narrow spacing between cuttings. These barriers are planted diagonally, across the direction of the overland runoff water. The idea is to slow down the water and ultimately trap topsoil sediment.

We started harvesting large spekboom truncheons and transplanted them to an old irrigation land, close to the nursery. We will use these cultivated truncheons as a source for future cuttings for the nursery, saving transport time and relieving the pressure on the nursery.


Field data and measurements were completed. The data was formatted and sent for quality control and statistical analysis. This will allow us to determine if there is enough plots to be representative of the different vegetation types.

The nursery is running smoothly, with about 800,000 rooted cuttings growing. The first 100,000 plants with fully developed roots have been planted in-field on 10,4 ha of the farm.

The target from May 2023 will be to plant around 350,000 plants per month.

We continued planting large truncheons. These fields will be used as future areas to harvest cuttings for the nursery, reducing travelling time and the minimising the impact on natural stands of spekboom in the current harvesting areas.

We recently dug control hollows that prove to be working very effectively after a thunderstorm. They trap water, which will prevent further sheet erosion on these areas.


A portion of the farm experienced a heavy thunderstorm (41mm of rain in 20 minutes) with an associated hail storm in March. Some of the planted spekboom cuttings showed signs of damage, but they are recovering well.

During March, Ross (Hive’s Head of Investment Finance), Colin (Hive’s Director of Middle East, Africa, Indian Oceans) and colleagues from Hive Carbon visited the farm. They were shown the biochar inoculation process, the future harvesting truncheons, planting, and the nursery operation.


The management team in their newly branded uniform.


During May, we put effort into planting indigenous trees around the nursery area for wind protections and to improve the aesthetics of the area.


Both cottages occupied by our two permanent workers were upgraded, repainted, and tiled during June.

An 8kW system has been installed on the The Aloes farm. This be a great help to keep the lights, fridges and Wi-Fi on during the frequent power outages.

Approximately 90 additional base line survey plots were measured and data was collected in June to ensure that the final VERRA Project Document can be submitted by August.