The idea of settling our own colonies of bees on the company’s premises came about following a gift from the roundtable of Verden businesspeople to our founder and CEO Wolfgang Reichelt. He received two colonies of bees as a surprise to thank him for his commitment following more than 30 years acting as chair of the roundtable.
BLOCK Bienen AG was founded as a result of this with its own employees. The employees were involved in the project right from the start, and have already learned a lot through supporting experienced beekeepers Karl-Wilhelm Meyer, who himself has more than 20 colonies of bees at home, and Heinrich Kersten. Employees also had the opportunity of attending a beekeeping course at the Achim beekeepers’ association. The colonies of bees presented as a gift are from the apiary of Heinrich Kersten, whose grandfather was a longtime personal acquaintance of Wolfgang Reichelt.
The bee project was officially launched at the end of March 2020 once the two young colonies of bees had moved in. Regular checks on the bees were required in April and May in particular in order to avoid the natural swarming of the bees. Swarming is a means of reproduction, however, it can result in a considerable number of bees flying away, meaning that fewer bees then remain in the colony to provide nectar. Two splits were formed for this reason, and these were initially nurtured at our Plant 2 An der Kleinbahn in Verden, before moving next to the two existing managed colonies in the summer.
The apiary at the company’s premises in Plant 1 was provided with a paved access road, suitable bases were procured for installation of the bee colonies, and the infrastructure was also created for extracting the BLOCK honey. At the same time, a beautiful flowering area was created for bees and other insects and small animals on the large green space of the plant premises in order to sustain the new “residents”. This means that as well as creating a habitat for our BLOCK bees, we have also ensured a food source for highly endangered wild bees.
The honey harvest was then the highlight of the season. BLOCK honey is now bottled in individual jars. However, some points in the process showed how it is not always possible to plan nature. In one split and in a managed colony for instance, the existing queens were not recognized and were rejected by their own colony. The induction (addition) of a new queen turned out to be difficult, especially with the managed colony, since the queens numbered 2 and 3 were also expelled again. However, a queen has “taken the throne” once again here in the meantime, providing plenty of offspring and ensuring that the colony is strong enough to survive the winter.
The last few weeks have been characterized by feeding up for the winter and providing treatment for the varroa mite. One colony was split and housed temporarily in Plant 2 An der Kleinbahn in the aim of ensuring gentle treatment with minimum use of chemicals. We also had to recognize once again here that there is little room for ethics in the animal kingdom. The split was obviously plundered by wasps or bees from other colonies. However, the queen from the remainder of the colony has already been in action once again, ensuring an adequate population of bees for the winter.
We are looking forward to seeing how the first winter will go for our bees, and how the bee project will develop for all those involved.