An initiative for bees, man and nature
Honeybees and other pollinators have a vital role to play in nature. Various stress factors repeatedly lead to regional and global colony collapse. Through its work, the Mellifera Association wants to contribute towards ecological apiculture that is in line with the insects' natural instincts, as well as the protection of bees.
In addition to the entrainment of global bee diseases and a dwindling supply of flowering plants, the excessively intensive form of apiculture also contributes to bee mortality. Without the constant use of pharmaceuticals or additional feeding with sugar water, many bees would perish. To counteract this development, Mellifera has developed ecological alternatives which are based on the natural needs of the bee colony and avoid extensive interventions in the colony as much as possible.
Mellifera has already initiated a number of exemplary projects, initiatives and networks in order to sustainably ensure healthy bees, establish a sense of enthusiasm for bees in society and raise awareness of the importance of bees for our ecosystem, especially in children and adolescents. One of the many initiatives is the Fischermühle teaching and experimental apiary, which since 1985 has been a driver of innovations in the field of ecological beekeeping in line with the insects' natural instincts. There a special air-conditioned box is being designed in which the bees are to be set free without pharmaceuticals and only through the use of the warmth from mites. Another project is the "Bienen machen Schule" ("Bees as a role model") network, which promotes the exchange of experience between teachers and beekeepers and communicates concepts for the integration of bees into lessons. In addition, different media channels - from the website, through the newsletter to social media sites - report daily on the work of the association. And beekeepers and anyone who is interested can also inform themselves about ecological apiculture through numerous seminars, courses and conferences.
What projects does Mellifera implement?
With a BeeGood sponsorship it is possible to "adopt" bees from the Fischermühle apiary for €35 a year. As a token of gratitude, the sponsors receive a jar of Demeter honey made by "their" bees. These sponsorships are used for public relations and represent a major contribution towards financing the work carried out by Mellifera.
At the Fischermühle teaching and experimental apiary, methods have been researched and developed since 1985 for ecological beekeeping that is in line with the insects' natural instincts. The reason for the establishment of the apiary was the first period of colony collapse caused by the spread of the Varroa mite in Germany at the time.
The "Bienen machen Schule" ("Bees as a role model") network promotes the exchange of experience between teachers and beekeepers, offers advanced training courses and is committed to raising awareness among children and young people of the important role played by bees in our ecosystem. The network brings together practical interdisciplinary concepts for the integration of the bees in lessons or extracurricular subjects for children and adolescents.
The Flowering Landscape Network is committed to improving the food supply for the pollinators. More than 40 nature conservation organisations, beekeeper associations and companies are actively involved in this national network.
The Alliance for the Protection of Bees is a cooperation of German and European beekeeper associations. The aim of the alliance is to protect bees, man and nature against the negative effects of the agricultural industry through pesticides and genetic engineering.
The Bienenkiste ("Beebox or Beekiss Hive") offers a successful and innovative concept for keeping bees with little effort in a stress-reduced manner in the city. Here it is not the amount of honey produced which is the main priority, but the environmental benefits. The project was launched in 2006 and is a pioneer of the "Urban Beekeeping" movement in Germany. In January 2015 the project was voted one of the "100 most imaginative sustainability initiatives in Germany" by the Council for Sustainable Development. The bee boxes are manufactured in a workshop for the disabled. (www.bienenkiste.de)
The Schwarmbörse ("Swarm Exchange") provides an introduction to beekeeping by placing excess swarms of bees in the immediate surroundings with anyone who is interested using mobile phone texts and e-mails. In the meantime more than 6,900 participants have registered for this free platform - including both new and experienced beekeepers, as well as fire brigades and police stations.
What is planned for the future?
There are quite a few things planned for the future, especially at the Fischermühle teaching and experimental apiary: a new beekeeper has been recruited, so that the research work and advanced training of beekeepers and laymen can be continued more intensively than before.
For example, the association is planning research into the vitality parameters of bee colonies in terms of exposure to pesticides, as well as the documentation of the effects of different methods of beekeeping. For this purpose, collaboration with various universities is already being prepared. For this purpose, collaboration with various universities is already being prepared. Here the main focus will be on the organic development of the colony, the microclimate in the hive and management of the hive which requires as little time as possible, while at the same time ensuring very good yields. And the special air-conditioned box developed by Mellifera, in which bees can only be set free by the warmth of mites, is to be further developed. Since the mites multiply in the breeding cells, the Association is working on the development of an effective treatment with the use of warmth during the summer when the colonies are caring for their young.
In addition, advanced training courses are to be offered throughout Germany for teachers on how to incorporate work with bees into school lessons.
What are the funds of the MAHLE FOUNDATION specifically used for?
The funds provided by the MAHLE FOUNDATION have made a significant contribution so far towards measures in the field of public relations and the organisation of events. Moreover, a reference book on ecological apiculture is being compiled by master beekeeper Thomas Radetzki with the help of the MAHLE FOUNDATION.