Raising the Wertheim Village honey bees

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Every year, local beekeeper Johannes Schneider settles his colonies next to Wertheim Village to harvest fruity linden-blossom honey. Johannes runs a migratory beekeeping business, settling his bee colonies in terrains that provide special honey varieties. The green fields around Wertheim Village are a particularly valuable area for the beekeeper, who sells his honeys, along with other homemade products including beeswax candles and honey liqueur, in his typically Franconian farm store, 15 km from the Village.

We got the lowdown from Johannes on the bees that go about their business next door to the Village…

01

Tell us about the kind of bees you’ll find in a typical colony.

Every colony contains a queen, the only female that can lay eggs (up to 2,000 a day!) and therefore ensure the longevity of the colony. Then there are the workers, which make up the mass of bees in the colony. Workers are sterile females and – as their name suggests – they do all the work in the hive. There are also drones; the male bees that have one purpose only – to mate with young queens on their nuptial flight, after which they perish.

The queen is much larger than a worker bee and slimmer than the drones. The beekeeper marks the queen with a spot of colour on her breastplate, allowing him to recognise her quickly and, based on the different colours, identify when she was born.

The beekeeper marks the queen with a spot of colour on her breastplate for recognition.

Johannes Schneider

Beekeeper

02

How do you harvest the honey?

Most beekeepers work with magazine hives or boxes in which honeycombs are hung. The lower box (the brood chamber) contains the queen and her brood. The honey chambers are then placed on top of this. The boxes with the honeycombs are relatively easy to remove and transport to the extractor room, where the wax layer that seals the honey to the comb is removed. The open comb then goes into a centrifuge, where the honey is distilled and, finally, bottled.

03

What kinds of honey can be harvested?

Theoretically, any plant that produces nectar attractive to honeybees can produce a variety of honeys. We currently have blossom honey and summer honey from our towns in the lovely Tauber Valley, as well as several other varieties from numerous locations.

In Wertheim Village, we harvest linden honey.

04

What inspired you to become a beekeeper?

Initially, it started as a hobby inspired by the teachings of a beekeepers’ association. A few months later I had my first colony. But, really, ‘state-building’ insects have fascinated me since I was a child. How do the individuals know what they have to do to make the whole ‘organism’ work? After almost 20 years, I’m still learning all the time.

05

What about the challenges of beekeeping?

Just like any farmer working with animals, bees know no weekends, holidays or vacations. Nature – and particularly climate change – can also be challenging – sometimes you just don’t get the harvest you were hoping for. On the other hand, harvesting the honey in the early morning when the green sand lizard is sunning itself in front of a colony and the awakening birds start to sing, more than compensates for any challenges.

Visit the Hochhausen Beekeeping Farm near Tauberbischofsheim, just a 15 minute car drive away from Wertheim Village.

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