A few years ago, we asked ourselves how honey could be “organic”. You can place bees in front of an organic field, but the bees can travel up to 10 kilometers in each direction to collect pollen and nectar. There are no such large organic areas in this country. As a matter of principle, however, we bought the regional organic honey and kept asking ourselves whether it made sense.
"What we then learned about beekeeping shocked us."
We only understood the difference when we considered keeping bees ourselves. Not to harvest honey, but for the pollination of our plants. What we then learned about beekeeping shocked us. The natural swarming out is prevented by targeted measures, the insemination takes place artificially and the honey, which is ultimately the bees' pantry, is usually completely removed. The bees themselves have to cope with sugar water as a supply. This does not have the same nutrients as their own honey, which has been produced with a lot of work. The bees are not resistant and therefore more easily exposed to their natural enemies. Unfortunately, antibiotics are also used generously here. Furthermore, the bees were bred in such a way that they can hardly defend themselves. The beekeeper no longer needs to fear getting stung, but it is bad news for the bees, which can no longer defend themselves as nature intended.
"This means that things get into the honey that we don't want to smear on our bread. In the organic sector, there are clear restrictions and limits."
Chemical clubs are used against the Varroa mite. This means that things get into the honey that we don't want to smear on our bread. In the organic sector there are clear restrictions and limits. Anyone interested in the challenges associated with bees should watch the documentary "More than Honey". This will raise your awareness of the dangers current beekeeping poses to people.
Nevertheless, we don’t want to throw stones. Beekeepers have to earn a living from this activity. Unfortunately, it once again raises the same conflicts as for other agricultural activities - conventional vs. organic practices and animal welfare standards.
Den erhobenen Zeigefinger möchten wir dennoch schnell verschwinden lassen. Imker müssen mit dieser Tätigkeit Ihren Lebensunterhalt verdienen. Hier gibt es leider die gleichen Konflikte, zwischen konventioneller und biologischer Haltung sowie beim Tierwohl und wie bei allen anderen Bereichen der Landwirtschaft.
In conclusion, we decided to keep bees ourselves. In a way that respects nature and the species. Since our main focus is on pollination, we decided on single-room hives. These complement our values and objectives and are also less labor-intensive. Most of the work is left to the bees. In return, they are allowed to keep most of the honey. We make use of the surplus, after all, bees are busy.
"This has added a new dimension to garden planning for us. We have to ensure that there are always enough pollen and nectar sources available for our bees."
We have certified our honey according to Demeter guidelines. However, we do not sell honey because it doesn’t even meet our own needs. We supplement our own honey with products from Demeter beekeeper Günter Friedmann.
This has added a new dimension to garden planning for us. We have to ensure that there are always enough pollen and nectar sources available for our bees. Achieving this is currently more difficult in the countryside than in the city. The permaculture garden is a perfect solution.