A beekeepers’ association in Germany has honoured one of its members for devoting 50 years of his life to looking after the fascinating insects.
Wilfried Schuette, 81, has been part of the Wiescherhoefen-Bergkamen Union of Beekeepers in Bergkamen, North-Rhine Westphalia, for five decades.
Schuette said he was pleased to see that young people and women are becoming increasingly interested in beekeeping.
He told the Westfaelischer Anzeiger (WA) newspaper: “When I joined the club aged 31, I was by far the youngest member.
“Back then, in 1972, you instantly got the impression that only elderly men would opt for beekeeping. I’m glad that things have changed in the past few years.”
The Wiescherhoefen-Bergkamen Beekeepers Union – which has 58 members – celebrates its 100th anniversary this year.
Asked to reveal why he turned to beekeeping as a young man, Schuette told the WA: “I thought about making the most of my large garden. Self-sufficiency had much more relevance in the old days.”
Today, the average age of beekeepers in Germany is 55, according to Torsten Ellmann, the head of the country’s Federal Association of Beekeepers.
The vast majority of them are hobbyists.
Ellmann recently revealed that more people than ever before were engaged in beekeeping in Germany.
He said: “We got an estimated 170,000 beekeepers across the country. I see a direct correlation with a growing consciousness regarding the protection of the environment.”
Around 1.1 million colonies of bees are currently managed by beekeepers all over Germany, according to Ellmann.
One colony – which consists of 20,000 to 50,000 bees – has the capacity to produce up to 25 kilograms of honey a year.