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Beekeeping in Walzenhausen

Construction of the Apiary

In the advanced age I decided to go back to the young days, at least to "young beekeepers". The motivation came from our flowering cherry tree on which not a single bee was found. Without bees no pollination, and without pollination no cherries. Investigations revealed that south of Downtown Walzenhausen not one beekeeper was holding bees. So a real gap in the market for nature was found.

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Thus I started with the construction of the apiary, and soon the first few bees have been attracted.

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But the bees have not been lazy, and multiplied themselves diligently through swarms so that soon an extension of the apiary by a platform with bees hives was necessary.

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Exactly 2 years after the groundbreaking ceremony the first honey was harvested. The honeycombs are spun in a centrifuge, the honey from the combs runs out and can be bottled.

What is a swarm of bees and what is its use?

Around the longest day of the year, a bee colony has the largest number of bees. If there are about 10'000 bees in the winter, then it can be up to 50'000. It gets tight in the hive, and if also the nectar supply of the flowers is not very abundant, the bees are under-employed.

Then the colony splits up and flies away with its queen in search of a new dwelling, i.e. it swarms. The swarm impulse serves the natural aspiration of a colony to multiply by division, thus ensuring survival.

In order for the so-called mother colony to survive, a new queen is needed, as only the queen can lay eggs and produce offspring. To this end, about two weeks before the swarming, the bees build larger queen cells, so-called Weisel cells, in which the former queen lays eggs. By feeding the larvae with a special juice, the royal jelly, potential queens grow up. That is a bee queen is not produced by heredity or special genes, but solely by the nutriment. On the 16th day after oviposition, the first new queen hatches and annihilates all other competitors. Therefore, somewhat earlier, the old queen raves, specifically from the ninth day on, when the queen cells are capped, thus ensuring their further existence.

She leaves the hive suddenly with a quarter to half of all bees and flies in a huge, buzzing bee cloud to a nearby location, usually a tree, where scouts are sent out, so-called spur bees, to search for a suitable new dwelling, for example a hollow tree. This can take a few hours, rarely even days.

During this time, the beekeeper has the opportunity to capture the swarm, and to lodge it, or to pass it on to a colleague who needs more bees.

I have made a vídeo of a swarm as it forms, flies to a nearby apple tree, forms a cluster there and then is caught again by me.

Further Projects

Practice is one thing, theory another. After more than 30 years of scientific activity, I naturally wanted to include the theory in my new job as a beekeeper.
The five main projects are:

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Date Link Title
5. Juli 2016 PDF Varroa Products: Criteria for Varroa impact, comparison between different products against Varroa
5. Mai 2015 PDF Swarm prevention: advantages, disadvantages, measures.
3. Nov. 2012 Video of 30 Min. length directly to view or to download The Website of the Association of Beekeepers St.Gallen - Appenzell: what good is it to me?
3. Nov. 2012 Video of 30 Min. length directly to view or to download
Africanised bees (commonly known as killer bees): Ethnicity, properties and beekeeping options.
3. Nov. 2012 Die Website des Imkerverbands St.Gallen - Appenzell: Was nützt sie mir? 
3. Nov. 2012 Afrikaniserte Bienen (vulgo Killerbienen): Abstammung, Eigenschaften und Imkereimöglichkeiten

© P. Fritz,