A regional association of farmers has become the latest institution to fund a honeybee colony by taking part in a local beekeeper’s sponsor-a-hive venture.
Herbert Lebitsch, the head of the Styrian Association of Farmers’ Hartberg-Fuerstenfeld district department, said: “We want to make aware of the close ties between agricultural businesses and apiaries. Bees are of great importance for all of us.”
Lebitsch – who took office last April – added: “We want to support Styria’s beekeepers wherever we can. We take their demands and needs very seriously. Beekeeping is a crucial element of domestic agriculture.”
The association chief also pointed out that many hives were located on farming premises.
The sponsorship agreement is part of an initiative by Poellau-based beekeeper Victoria Prinz.
Prinz – who manages around 30 colonies in the area and sells her products online – has tried to create more interest in beekeeping by revamping the trade’s slightly rusted image since starting out around three years ago.
Prinz has already managed to convince 20 companies and individuals to sponsor a colony of honeybees, according to the MeinBezirk news portal.
Prices for the different mentorship agreements offered by Prinz start at EUR 49 (GBP 43).
On her website (https://vibee.at/), the young apiarist says: “My hobby has been converted into a passion for those small lifesavers.
“Only four years after the potential extinction of bees, there will be no life on earth.
“Beekeeping is a very time-consuming and cost-intensive activity. By agreeing to sponsor a colony for a year, you do not just ensure the existence of honeybees. You also support local biodiversity.”
The eastern district of Hartberg-Fuerstenfeld – where her hives are located – is among the top three locations for beekeeping in Styria as far as the number of registered colonies is regarded.
Compared to Austria’s eight other provinces, Styria comes third behind Upper Austria and Lower Austria.
One colony of western honeybees – the most common honeybee species in the world – consists of 20,000 to 50,000 bees.
Around 4,100 tonnes of honey were produced in Austria in the 2020/2021 business year, according to Agriculture Minister Norbert Totschnig.