The art of beekeeping: Falk and his bees.

Falk Meyer has been a passionate beekeeper since he was twelve. With his Mercedes-Benz Vito, he transports a new batch of frames to his bee colonies in order to increase the space available to them.

A heart for honeybees.

A white Vito turns into a wooded area of land. Between the trees there are more than a dozen beehives grouped together. Falk Meyer gets out and fetches his metal bucket, hive tool, broom and a protective jacket with veil from the load compartment of the Vito. While the bees continue to rhythmically buzz around, Falk pulls on his protective clothing and starts releasing smoke from his smoker in order to calm the bees. There's already a lot of toing and froing at the hives: the bees are flying around and set off from the entrance hole in search of flowers. The hard-working creatures arrive incessantly, fully loaded with yellow pollen, and land on the landing boards before making their way into the hive. Falk carefully removes a honeycomb full of bees from the hive and analyses it closely. The passionate beekeeper knows why he's loved honeybees for such a long time.

Falk's ultimate tips for helping the bees.

1.    Avoid cutting the grass short like in a traditional English garden: bees feed on nectar and pollen. In short lawns, there's nothing for them to feed on and nowhere for them to make their nest.
2.    Sow wild flowers: (local) wild flowers can be planted in the garden or flower pots on a balcony can be turned into a bee meadow which serves as a source of food for insects.
3.    Buy or build a bee hotel for the garden or balcony: this is also good for the wild bees which, just like honey bees, are also endangered.
4.    Buy honey from your local region: in doing so, you'll be supporting both local beekeepers and a species-rich natural environment.
5.    Become a (hobby)beekeeper yourself: take part in a training course for newcomers at your local beekeepers' association. Getting to know an experienced beekeeper to show you the ropes and teach you the theoretical side of things is also crucial at the beginning. It's especially useful to have an expert by your side when you start putting the theory into practice.

The art of beekeeping with the help of a Vito 4x4.

No bees, no pollination, no plants: bees are absolutely crucial in ensuring our ecosystem remains intact. Since he was 12, Falk Meyer has devoted his spare time to honeybees. Alongside his full-time day job as a banker, he uses his hobby to come down from the stress of the daily grind. For his beekeeping work, the Mercedes-Benz Vito 4x4 is the perfect companion: its high ground clearance and all-wheel-drive system can tackle any forest path or mud track with ease. The large loading capacity of the van is ideal for safely transporting frames, colonies of bees and buckets of honey.

A banker during the week, a beekeeper at weekends.

Falk Meyer has been running his beekeeping activities since he was twelve years of age. His passion for apiculture started by chance 20 years ago when he stumbled across a pile of old, strange-looking boxes in an overgrown garden – and from that point on, his interest was aroused. At an information event in his village, he met experienced beekeeper Willi Arbeiter – whose surname rather fittingly translates as "worker"! He taught the young novice the basics of beekeeping and was on-hand to help whenever needed. "At the beginning, you make mistakes which the bees sometimes manage to fix for you. But the mistakes also allow you keep expanding your know-how and getting things right the next time round." What may look like a full-time job is in fact a leisuretime activity for the passionate beekeeper. The banker sees apiculture as the perfect way to compensate for his desk job. "That said, it is a hobby which requires a great amount of specialist knowledge and time. Setting up a bee colony in the garden and leaving the bees to their own devices just doesn't work."

The Imkerei Meyer apiary stands for home-made honey from happy bees.

Together with cows and pigs, bees are among the most important working creatures on our planet. Through the course of a year, Falk's bee colonies pollenate several millions of flowers and thus make a valuable contribution to maintaining trees and other plants. What is the philosophy at Imkerei Meyer? "For me, it's important that the bee colonies are kept in accordance with nature." With that, the beekeeper means that his actions must be consistent with the development of the bee colonies and he shouldn't disrupt his bees more than is strictly necessary. It's also important to him that he treats the honey with care too. "Just like there are special rules concerning the brewing of pure beers in Germany, there is also a so-called Honey Ordinance for the production of honey. This states that beekeepers are permitted neither to add products to the honey nor to remove products from it." The honey which lands in the jar is exactly the honey which the bees produced, without any changes. "And foodstuffs really don't get much more natural than that." Falk also confirms that you can taste it in the honey: "Depending on the location, you can taste the regional differences."

A passion which pays. 

"It gives you such a good feeling every time you collect your own honey. When the centrifuging room smells like honey and you try the honey for the first time, it's a phenomenal moment."

The gold standard in beekeeping.

In the meantime, Falk now looks after 50 bee colonies spread across five different locations. He has an online shop and even delivers the collected honey to various traders in the local area. "When I started out, I gave the honey to my family or friends as gifts, and it was all very manageable. But when you've got 20 populations, you just can't get through that amount of honey on your own. And that's how my customer base grew over the years." Further to this, Falk also dedicates a good amount of his attention to breeding Buckfast bees – a race which comes from the Buckfast monastery in England. "Breeding queens is the pinnacle of beekeeping disciplines. It brings together all of the competence which a beekeeper must have in order to establish good and well-performing bee colonies, and thus ultimately success." Alongside all of his other activities, the beekeeper is also part of a program to tackle fatal mite infestation of bees, as this currently represents a major reason behind the disappearance of bees. After completing his work, Falk gets back into his Vito and drives home with a good feeling – his bees are working hard to produce honey which he will be able to collect in summer.

Home-made honey with the help of the Vito.

For bees, the year is very varied and follows the rhythm of the bees themselves. Falk's Mercedes-Benz Vito is on-hand to help with any work that's required.  
·      The bees are mostly left in peace at the start of the year. From February, they are only checked to see if they have enough to feed on. "If I have to drive out to my bees through the fields or forest, the all-wheel drive of the Vito is an absolute necessity."  
·      "The bee season starts in April and with it a whole lot of work." To ensure that the bees have enough space for stocking their honey, honey rooms are added onto the hives.  
·      From April onwards, it's also the right time for bees to tour around the rapeseed or the fruit blossom. "The bees need to be kept cool during transport. The windows in the load compartment of the Vito enable good air circulation."  
·      From May, the swarm check ensures that the bees aren't swarming out uncontrollably. As that would mean that around half of the colony would look for a new hive.  
·      The crowning glory of the work is when the honey is collected from June onwards. "The Vito has a long wheelbase and so I can load even more which is useful when fetching back the bee populations."  
·      When the lime trees are in blossom, honey collecting stops. Now the bees are treated against the varroa mite. After treatment, the bees feed more so as to ready themselves for winter. And then the vast majority of the work is complete.  
·      Falk sums up: "The load compartment of the Vito offers plenty of stowage space. The uncomplicated technology and the all-wheel drive also mean that it's a great vehicle for using on a daily basis."  

Safe transport.

For Falk, the Vito is ideal for transporting his beehives, frames, honey buckets and other equipment safely to its destination.

Handled with care.

Honey directly from an apiary which keeps the bees in accordance with nature.

Natural effects.

Depending on the location and the flowers blossoming there, the honey tastes different each year.

Busy bees.

Falk's bees have already diligently started producing honey which will soon be able to be collected.

Photos:

Maren Wiesner

More links to discover:

Imkerei Meyer - imkerei-meyer.com, @Facebook

The conversions shown were made by independent third-party providers. The providers and the conversions were not checked by Mercedes-Benz. The photos in no way serve as an evaluation by Mercedes-Benz of the provider and/or conversions in question.

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