Our apiary started about 35 years ago with 2 colonies. Today, it has developed into a modern apiculture company, to which my heart and my passion are attached. Even though our farm is tightly organized and planned according to agriculturally optimized production techniques – you cannot beekeep with reason and rationality alone!
As everywhere in animal breeding a high degree of animal understanding and instinct is necessary, both things can only be learned to a certain degree. This statement is especially true for bees, because many breeding parameters cannot be measured objectively and are evaluated very differently by different breeders. In this respect, beekeeping is a very individual activity and each queen breeder has his or her personal signature. Every beekeeper would select differently – mostly for a homogeneous appearance and for gentleness. However, this alone can never be the basis of breeding efforts.
If you want something like this, the only way to do it is through your own small breeding. Our scientific adviser in the European Community, Prof. Dr. Job van Praagh, who has died in the meantime and whom I greatly admire, expressed it as follows: Make your bee, make your best!
A serious and respectable breeding is based to a great extent on the qualities of the selector. There are extremely few good, far-sighted selectors. I know maybe 4-5. Brother ADAM is one of them. They can rely on their intuition to a certain degree. However, one thing these beekeeping geniuses have in common is that they would never reproduce on a broad scale and thus do basic work for the Buckfast bee.
The friendly networking with recognized breeders is one of the great advantages of our company. Through the exchange of queens and visits to various mating stations we can indirectly access many colonies and put our breeding on a broad basis. In Northern Germany we can currently use nine excellently managed matings stations for our breeding work – that is unique!
Besides all economic interests, our main concern must be to do everything possible to ensure that our bees continue to have a permanent place on this planet. In this sense we beekeepers bear a great responsibility. Beekeeping is by its very nature a displacement breeding, e.g. if you select only on gentleness and swarm inertia, the vitality and health inevitably decreases. Nevertheless, almost all of us afford the luxury of gentleness, well aware of the possible consequences.
Nowadays, the problems of decades of Varroa treatment are becoming increasingly evident. Only the most aggressive mites have survived, completely independent of the treatment method. These, increasingly the viral secondary infections, are presenting us all with ever greater problems. For this reason, we will slowly change our selection criteria and, after a transitional period, in the future we will only work with queens that exhibit above-average hygiene behaviour. As things stand today, this does not mean that all proven Buckfast characteristics have to be abandoned. Our queens are still gentle and the guarantor for high honey yields.
However, up to the hereditary anchoring in breeding, the hygiene behaviour has the highest priority in our breeding efforts. We regard it as our task in the coming years to establish or maintain this balance.
You are cordially invited to support us in our work.