A white Vito turns onto a wooded property. Between the trees there are over a dozen bee hives arranged in small groups. Falk Meyer gets out and fetches metal buckets with a chisel, broom and a protective jacket with a veil from the Vito. While the bees are humming rhythmically, Falk puts on his protective clothing and brings his smoker to fume and soothe them with the smoke. The hives are already busy: Bees buzz around and launching from the flight hole towards the flowers. The industrious animals constantly land fully loaded with yellow pollen on the approach boards and seek their way inside the hive. Falk carefully pulls a honeycomb, covered with bees, out of the hive and looks at it carefully. The passionate beekeeper knows very well why his heart has always belonged to the honey bee.
“It is a very uplifting feeling every time you harvest your own honey. When the extractor has that fragrant aroma, then you try the honey for the first time, it’s phenomenal.”
Falk Meyer has been a beekeeper ever since he was twelve years old. He started beekeeping 20 years ago quite by chance: In an over grown garden, he found a bunch of old, strange boxes that aroused his interest. At an info-event in his village he met an experienced beekeeper called Willi Arbeiter, who taught him the basics of beekeeping and actively supported him. “In the beginning you make mistakes which the bees partly offset. But the mistakes always lead to you gaining even more knowledge and then you do it right the next time.” What looks like a full-time job is in fact a hobby for the committed beekeeper. Beekeeping is the perfect counterbalance to a full-time job in a bank. “However, it is a hobby that requires a great deal of specialist knowledge and time. Putting a colony of bees in the garden and leaving the bees to themselves does not work.”
Bees, along with cattle and pigs, are among the most important domestic animals on our planet. Falk’s bee colonies pollinate several million flowers over the course of a year, making an important contribution to the conservation of trees and other plants. The philosophy of apiculture Meyer: “It is important to me that bee colonies are kept according to their nature. This means the beekeeper’s actions must be in harmony with the development of the bee colony and that he disturbs his bees as little as he possibly can. It is also important for him to treat his honey with care.” In Germany there is of course a purity law for beer, but there is also one for honey – the honey regulation. This says that beekeepers may not add or remove substances to honey. Just as the bee stores the honey in the honeycomb, it later lands in the honey glass. “You simply cannot produce food more naturally. ” And you can taste that, says Falk: “Depending on the location, you can tell the between different regions.”
Meanwhile Falk takes care of 50 bee colonies at five locations. He has an online shop and delivers his own harvested honey to numerous traders in his area. “At the beginning, I just gave the honey away to relatives or friends, that was still all manageable. But with more than 20 colonies you can no longer consume the honey alone. So, my clientele base has built up over the years.” In addition, Falk devotes his attention to the breeding of the Buckfast bee, a breed that comes from the English monastery Buckfast. “Breeding the queen is probably the ultimate discipline in beekeeping. It combines all the skills a beekeeper needs to master in order to maintain good and efficient bee colonies and ultimately to succeed.” Additionally, the beekeeper is involved in a program that aims to tackle the fatal mite infestation of bees, which is a major cause of bees dying. After his work is done, Falk climbs into his Vito and drives home with a good feeling – his bee colonies are already busy producing honey, which he can harvest in the summer.
The bee’s year is varied and depends on the annual rhythm of the bees. His Mercedes-Benz Vito helps Falk with the necessary work.