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Hamburg Beekeepers 1

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Georg and Hilke Baesler – Hamburg Beekeepers (1)

I first met the Baesler's at their home in Hamburg in the summer of 2005 while I was 'on tour' (www.Loonarthouse.com) with a group of international artists exhibiting at Castle Boernicke, just outside Berlin proper. We then toured to Hamburg where we were 'hosted' for a week by the organizer of the exhibition. Hilke and Georg Baesler were their friends so a wonderful afternoon was spent enjoying the Baesler's garden and bees, wonderful chocolate cake and brew and especially their honey. The Baesler’s had their hives in the back yard and sold their honey out of the house.

Hilke Baesler handles all the marketing and bottling of the product while George Baesler works the bees. The honey is remarkably good – a choice of two: a white smooth and a golden amber.

The Baesler’s charge 3.75 Euros on their one pound/500g regular glass bottle– Springtime honey (garden flower or rape flower). 4.00 Euros for Summer honey - Hilke and I have been friends ever since.

In Hilke's words:

"We are beekeepers by hobby besides our jobs. And I don´t know if it is interesting for you to take our reports. We are not professional beekeepers. We have been bee keeping for about 15 years and we do it to be close to nature and to do something for our environment and, of course, to have our own healthy honey!!! We started with 3 hives because our 14 years old son wanted to have bees. Now we have just about 10 hives. This year we lost one hive in wintertime. This August 2010 Georg is going to retire . So maybe next year he will have more time for more bee hives."

Unlike us, the Baesler’s do not distinguish between the kind of honeys because in Hamburg an analysis would have to be made by the agricultural board at a costly charge to the beekeeper. With this in mind, the Baesler’s will simply call one crop "Summer Honey" - as the linden tree blooms not far from where the hives are, it is safe to assume that that is the food source – and the other Springtime (garden/raps) Honey : hence: Springtime Honey and Summer Honey it is. There is no moving from one 'crop' to another as we do.

George Baesler Baesler Garden Malte Baesler

"At moment it is warm outside and the bees are working and working. And it happens day by day something new. As the hives are standing in our garden, we`ll see it at once. It seems to be that our bees are healthy. Of course we have got the mite too. But we took care in August/September last year and we always reduce the male comb in the hives. So there are only a few left. The problem is the rotten Amercan Foul Brood (Faulbrut in german) The eggs in the comb are sick. At moment we are not allowed to move our hives because we are in a restricted area. But it seems to be our bees are healthy. They made analysis."

Baesler hives Baesler - swarm catching Baesler - swarm Baesler - swarm

"Saturday/ June 8 / we are going to take the first time honey and we cannot believe our bees have been so busy in that short time !!!! I am very sorry for what has happened with your bees and with the environment. It makes me afraid. May be you should ask the indians and healers in this district to clean the enviroment and heal mother earth and the nature. I am healer here and if one is sick I try to help them . It is possible to do a lot in this sphere. Do you have 'Bachblossoms' Take rescue drops or little balls and put them on your hives. This is the first aid."

Baesler - frame Baesler - queen cell Baesler - bee flight

"After a very strong and long winter we thought we will not get a lot of honey. It is still too cold for this season. And it was raining very strong . But since about a week the sun shines more and more and it is getting warmer. And we are very astonished how much honey the bees have carried into their hives. One week before the hives were almost empty. In about 3 weeks we are going to extract the springtime honey from the fields and from our garden. About 2 weeks later we are going to fill it up in glasses. Springtime honey is getting very fast strong (not smooth) because the bees like the seeds of rape fields which are situated all around of us."

Baesler - Rap's field

"And rape-honey gets very ripe and strong fast. About 7 days before we fill the glass jars we have to stir the honey about 3 times a day for about 10 minutes. That way the honey stays smooth. And then you`ll get the fresh honey from us and the summer honey from last year! Summer honey will be finished about October, November or December."

Baesler - extraction

"We hope next weekend our rape-honey will be ripe so we will take it off the hives. This is always a little party with us. Neighbours , friends and buyers are invited to come and watch how their honey comes out. I`ll tell later. Greetings Hilke"

Questions & Answers

  1. Q. For MITE control... what kind of 'preventative' do you use to cut down on their numbers, if you have them?
    A. After the last harvest we use formalic acid and in December oxalic acid.
  2. Q. How often do you split the colonies? and if so when?
    A. We never feed in wintertime. The bees woul not take the food
  3. Q. Do you see trachea mites?
    A. No, we don`t have trachea mites becaouse of using formalic accid
  4. Q. Do you have hive beetles?
    A. No hive beetles. Please don`t send them to us !!!!!!!!
  5. Q. How much foul brood do you see and how do you deal with the situation?
    A. We personally don`t have any foul brood. But closed to us there is very often foul brood. Fortunately, contrary to the USA, we are not allowed to use antibiotics. The colonies here have to be terminated, the frames have to be burned and the boxes have to be sterilized.
  6. Q. Are you using plastic frames? If not why? We found that the bees prefer black to white frames and they spend more time on honey and building colonies than 'creating' new chambers (commercial beekeeping :when we take off honey we do not have the time to 're-create' the frame each time nor does the bee – we have more than 10-20 hives of course).
    A. We are not using plastic frames and I think the bees also don`t like them. Plastic contains toxin. Also we think the bees like to create new chambers. After taking off their honey the chambers are repaired in one day. In spring-time when they get new and fresh frames they create them in a few days.
  7. Q. Do you remove drone brood?
    A. Yes we remove drone brood.
  8. Q. How is your swarming or is it an issue?
    A. Yes it is an issue. Due to their naturally instinct, the bees intend to swarm if possible and if their resources allow to split the colony. We try to prevent swarming by adding addional boxes and by making nucs. However, although we check the hives each week during swarming time. Sometimes we don`t do it or we don`t find all the queen cells and then the colony swarms. This year we lost one swarm and 3 or 4 strange swarms came to us !!!
  9. Q. How many hives do you loose each year/season?
    A. It depends how strong the hives are. This winter we lost 1 hive of 8. The lost hive was a nuc.
  10. Q. How much honey do you get from a hive?
    A. 30-50 kilos.

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