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Bees are an important part of our lives; many of our fruits and vegetables, but also flowers, depend on pollination by bees. A world without bees is impossible! That's why we recently placed two hives at our office in Rotterdam, with a beekeeper coming to check on the bees regularly. In just two weeks time, the hive is filled with healthy bees and rooms full of nectar. Our first harvest yielded 21 pounds of honey! Together with our beekeeper, we explain what we want to achieve with these hives.
Hives protect the colonies from predators and inclement weather, while they help raise young bees by nursing them on honey and pollen. Bees live about 6 weeks, which means that larvae must be reared continuously to stimulate the population. Bees need pollen for the larvae and nectar for the energy supply. They therefore fly from flower to flower and bring the collected nectar to the hive, then storing it in wax combs within the beehive. The remaining nectar thickens through evaporation, after which it is stored as honey.
Daan has been a beekeeper since 2011 and also takes care of the beehives at CARU. He states: “I don't even think the honeybee can survive in the wild anymore. They suffer from the Varroa mite. If you don't do something about it, whole bee colonies will die out." Did you know that if left undetected and untreated, this parasitic mite attacks the larvae, weakening and eventually killing most adult bees in the hive?
That is why Daan takes the brood out of the hive in the autumn, only leaving the queen inside. He then treats the bees against this Varroa mite in a biological way; with an incubation stop or an oxalic acid treatment. This leaves no residue in your honey or wax, so the honey can continue to be eaten safely.
Why did bees not suffer from the Varroa mite in the past, and now they do? The spread has significantly increased over the past 40 years, since people have taken the Asiatic honeybee to Europe. In Asia, honeybees can withstand this mite, because these bees take 20 days to go from egg to bee and in Europe 21 days. Since the Varroa mite needs 21 days to reproduce, it can cause damage to bees in Europe. That is why Daan also looks for the properties in the DNA to anticipate against the Varroa mite.
Due to the changing biodiversity, many insects are dying out. In the Netherlands, the honeybee hardly ever occurs in the wild, if at all, only in beehives. As part of our sustainability strategy, we want to contribute to the preservation and restoration of eco-systems and biodiversity. We have therefore chosen to place two beehives at our depot in Rotterdam. These hives are made to provide a home for the bees and their honey production, so that we can contribute to a better world.