Honeybees have taken up residence at the König + Neurath factory.
The two beehives are tended by our former colleague Jürgen Uebel, who has been a beekeeper for many years. He took on 20 beehives that used to belong to his father-in-law. Although plenty of new bee colonies have populated the hives over the years, he still keeps, rears and raises them on the meadows surrounding Karben – producing top-quality honey in the process.
Interview with Jürgen Uebel Former colleague at König + Neurath and passionate beekeeper
Mr Uebel, why do we need bees?
We need bees to pollinate our trees, meadows and fields. Domestic bees are more effective pollinators than wild ones. They are a peaceful and efficient variety of their wild cousins, who live in small groups or individually. If you have a roller blind casing, a wild bee might sometimes move in – unfortunately their habitats and nesting places are becoming increasingly scarce.
Are the bees happy living on our premises?
You can’t tell whether bees are happy. However you can see that they have enough food by the fact that the queen lays enough eggs. Bees have a flight radius of around 1.5 kilometres, which means they cover a distance of up to three kilometres when searching for something to eat. They fly to wherever the food is most plentiful. To ensure that they can safely do this, I sometimes ask farmers to try and spray in the evenings when my bees are back at the hive.
Can anyone become a beekeeper?
Yes, theoretically they can. But in practice, beekeeping is a trade that has to be learned. You can take a course for instance at the Institute of Beekeeping, and even qualify as a master of beekeeping or gain an engineering diploma in this field. Beekeepers like me also train beekeepers. Unfortunately not many of the new beekeepers starting today stick at the job. Beekeeping is a lot of work.
How healthy is honey?
Honey is a natural product. If you buy a German honey produced in accordance with the “Honigverordnung” or honey directive (which is like the German Purity Laws for brewing beer), you are purchasing a pure product that has only been stirred and not altered in any way. Honey contains antioxidants and can be used for wound-healing thanks to its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Regional honey is good for allergy sufferers because it contains small amounts of flower pollen: when they eat this honey it trains the immune system, which has a similar effect to desensitisation.
Why should we opt for local honey?
Honey that’s made in Germany with the “Imkerbund” beekeepers’ association label is produced in accordance with the honey directive. You only get that in Germany. Our honey is only stirred. If you buy industrially processed honey from abroad, you have to assume that it has been heated to high temperatures to ensure that it remains liquid. This process destroys many of the beneficial ingredients. The other thing is that any product without the “Imkerbund” label may be contaminated with up to 90% toxic substances. That’s why Gerti König has been buying her honey from me for years.
Is there good and not so good honey?
German honey that is made according to the honey directive is premium quality. In the USA and China for example they practise forced pollination. This industry no longer has pure varieties, everything tastes the same. The bees die off during pollination, for which they are driven around the country. Also the honey is extremely impure and contaminated. Other beekeepers in Germany talk to farmers like I do and come to an agreement so that our bees and the quality of our honey are not at risk. It’s easy to talk to each other, working together is paramount!
Did you know …
- … that you can take an apprenticeship in beekeeping?
- … that the bee colony is also involved in deciding when the queen is dethroned?
- … that the bees in the USA are transported across the entire country to pollinate the flowers?