June: Honey Moon

To prepare for the cold days and freezing nights of June, bees spend spring and summer collecting nectar and building up reserves. Their honey formed a nutritious and integral supplement to the diets of the indigenous people of South Africa.

Honey also plays an important role in the cultural beliefs and practices of many peoples. In San rock art, bees and honey gathering are often featured. In the mythology of Ancient Greece, the nymph Melissa (whose name derives from the Greek word for honey) fed honey to the baby Zeus, and later taught humans to eat honey and in so doing civilized them. The Christian Bible describes the promised land as “flowing with milk and honey”. In Islam, an entire chapter of the Qur’an is called an-Nahl (the Bees) and honey is promoted as a nutritious and healthy food. In Hinduism, honey is one of the five foods of the gods. In Jewish tradition, honey is a symbol for the new year, Rosh Hashanah.

South Africa has a thriving industry built around honey production and the supply of hives to pollinate fruit trees.

Place names associated with honey:

Heuningberg (honey mountain) in the Bergrivier Local Municipality of the Western Cape Province is situated is situated at the confluence of the Berg and Vier-en-Twintig rivers 15 km from Porterville. The name was derived from the Dutch Honing Berg, ‘honey mountainʼ.

Heuningbos (honey bush) is a place in the Hessequa Local Municipality of the Western Cape Province about 12 km from Stillbaai-Wes, ‘Stillbaaiʼ, ‘Quiet bayʼ. The name ‘honey bushʼ is said to be taken from Syndesmanthis viscosus the flowers of which are rich in nectar.

Heuningspruit (honey stream) is in the Modimole Local Municipality of the Limpopo Province 12 km from Vaalwater ‘vaalwaterʼ, ‘grey waterʼ. There is a railway siding by the same name near Kroonstad (crown city) in the Moqhaka Local Municipality of the Free State Province.

Heuningvlei (honey marsh) is a settlement in the Cederberg Local Municipality of the Western Cape Province between Clanwilliam and Wupperthal.

Heuningvlei Pan (honey marsh pan) is a depression in the John Taolo District Municipality of the Northern Cape Province. The name is said to be a translation of the KhoiKhoi ‘Chueʼ, ‘honey valleyʼ.

Honeydew is an urban area in the Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality of the Gauteng Province. The name has several possible derivations which can be found in the source.

Honingklip (honey stone) is in the Overstrand Local Municipality of the Western Cape Province near the costal town of Kleinmond ‘small mouth – of the riverʼ. It is a wild flower farm and considered by many to be the originator of wild flower exporting in South Africa.

Inyosi is a stream in the Bushbuckridge Local Municipality of the Mpumalanga Province. It is situated north of Acornhoek and the name in isiZulu meaning ‘place of beesʼ.

In the period 2020 –2200, the Honey Moon occurs only four times: on 2072 June 30, 2102 June 30, 2121 June 30, and 2159 June 30.

The first Full Moon in June is the Sisters Moon.

On a clear crisp evening during June, look towards the north-west soon after sunset for the Beehive star cluster, marked on the accompanying star chart.

Diagrams produced with Stellarium.

Further reading

  • Hollmann, J.C. (Editor) Customs and Beliefs of the /Xam Bushmen. Wits University Press.
  • Lewis-Williams, J.D. (2015) Myth and Meaning: San-Bushman Folklore in a Global Context. UCT Press / Juta and Company (Pty) Ltd.
  • Picker, M., Griffiths, C. & Weaving, A. (2004) A Field Guide to Insects of South Africa. Struik Publishers.
  • Skotnes, P. (2007) Claim To The Country. The Archive of Lucy Lloyd and Wilhelm Bleek. Jacana Media.

Heritage Full Moons in South Africa

MonthFirst Full MoonSecond Full Moon
JanuaryMantis MoonLeopard Moon
FebruaryDassie Moon——
MarchHarvest MoonOchre Moon
AprilDiamond MoonGold Moon
MayFrost MoonFire Moon
JuneSisters MoonHoney Moon
JulyMeerkat MoonProtea Moon
AugustPeace MoonDusty Moon
SeptemberSpring MoonBlue Crane Moon
OctoberWhale MoonElephant Moon
NovemberMilk MoonWool Moon
DecemberSpringbok MoonEland Moon

Protecting South Africa’s astronomical heritage

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