The servant of bees

Bienenzüchtungkunde von Prof. Dr Ludwig Armbruster, 1919 – Kapitel 25 & 26


The servant of bees


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translate here!

Translation by „Golden Farm“,
of the French adaptation of A. Mousty,
Published in
the British Bee J.,
1933, (??) ?-?

The expectation of the impossible is the lot of people.  I think it’s the thought that the publisher had made, when I said he wanted an interview of Brother Adam.  The atmosphere of a convent is the opposite of that of the world and state of confinement seems impossible for an interview inquisition.  Can I hide my impertinence and place me in the things of Buckfast? Will I see Brother Adam to talk alone?

He found the task much easier than I imagined it was me.  Bees are more than half the life of Brother Adam.  Apart from the abbey itself, it lives only for his hives.  It serves the church he loves so passionately to the work among the bees.

— Have you always loved bees, Brother?

An inimitable smile which seems to him said he had always kept bees.

— It was when I was in the kitchen after the masonry work of the building had appeared too strong, that I began to help Brother Columban in the small group he had hives in the garden.  Brother Columban became old and had many occupations, cooking, and I had to do what I could from the bees.  There were little and all sorts and found it fun to do everything in order.

There was a smile on my face now.  Columban Brother could not have found a better way to interest his young assistant that let him start by putting in order.  He was young at that time, just twenty years.  He had left his home and arrived at the Abbey at the age of eleven years.  He had heard tell the great adventure when Mittelbiberach left and traveled on the Rhine and across the country and black unknown.  I know Biberach, warm country friendly people, its medieval buildings, streets and sunny courtyards closes.  A place where pears hang to all branches of each wall.  An enchanting place.

— Do you like to become a Brother?  Did you want to be a monk?

— I loved to serve and I wanted to serve God.

A child of eleven years!  He wanted to serve.  This is the key to beekeeping.  This servant bees are just a servant of the abbey.  The abbey is his crusade.  Bees are his means to serve.

When I found that I can no longer wonder why he does everything so carefully.  It’s his religion, his mind.

As young man – he was more enterprising – began to put in order, and he began to study the bees, because supposed to order the study.  When it was over-educated, he increased the number of colonies.  The Honey also increases.  It was too much honey for its needs.  Pelgrims bought the Abbey and they did business together.  More bees were kept and honey as well.  And now 15 tons of honey and clover 7 to 10 tonnes heather honey is a normal harvest.  It sells easily.

— Now tell me, Brother, do you?  What is the secret of your success in beekeeping?

There was now a real smile, almost laughing.

— But there is no secret.  This is normal, and certainly, there are no secrets!

— Well, tell me Now!  How do you say to a so beautiful result?“

— Simply by the care and work.  Bees are like other things.  They can not do that if they are well cared for.

— But you have 260 beehives of production and 400 fertilization nucs.  How can you treat a so large amount?

— But, you know.  I do nothing else in the good season and everything is ready in advance.  And without doubt, I began very early in the morning, working until 8, and 9 AM to even 10 at good season.  But Brother Gabriel helps to harvest and Brother Wilfrid helps sometimes apiary and there are others who do small things from time to time.  However, we are extremely busy.

— But do you look at your hive every week?

— Yes, yes, every week!

— And you have 400 virgin queens in the moor all the time.

— Yes, all the time.

— And you graft new cells immediately after they are fertilized?“

— Yes, 300 at a time.

— And you are shipping to customers immediately.

— Yes.

— And you remove their supers, carry home, you extract the honey, transporting hives to heater, requeening all, bring them back, extract the heather honey and feed them for the winter.

— Oh, no.  Brother Gabriel extract honey and when we transport the hives to the heather, a number of us lend a hand.

— But you visit to prevent swarming and you graft cells.  You put the supers, you ship the joung queens and you enter the virgin queens in fertilization nucs?“

— Wonderful.

— Now tell me, Brother, how are you doing to avoid swarming?

— I don’t warn.

— But you don’t have a lot of swarms.

— No, not a lot.  I replace all the queens after my hives have returned from the heather and the only swarm disorder happens to me when I have a half-breed queen in a hive.  My own queens do not.

— I believed that all the bees swarm!

— Yes, but not when queens are young.  All my queens are less than a year.  And the purebred queens swarm less than hybrids.

— Do you have any diseases?

— No, no.  This is something that I have not had.  I never saw the foulbrood.“

— Give this to your young queens?

— Yes, partially, and partially to the new frameworks, and partly to the care and cleanliness.  Any disease like dirt and although I do not say that the foulbrood was due to the dirt, you will help you keep the cleanliness.

— And how do you overwinter your bees?

— What do you mean?

— Do you use the tile, or planks.  Do you use double-walled or wrap your hives (called the packing) and feed you high?

— I use division boards, for all my hives, and all my hives are modified Dadant, 12 frames, single wall.  But I would be sad if I give you some impression that I consider the modified Dadant single walled the ideal type of hive.  The town and the beekeeper factors are changing, and what I can serve in Devonshire may well be wrong in Westmorland.  The Advisor of the Ministry of Agriculture, who knows all the districts where I do not know of one, strongly advocates the idea, and I am the first to say that this opinion is allowed and very large weight.  The beekeeper and the district are doing.  Thus, for food, I ensure that all my colonies still have enough to keep 30 to 35 pounds of honey (14 to 16 kg) when winter is over and the first pollen enters the hives.

— Is not it too?

— No, not really enough.  I have very early spring in addition.  I give each hive a feeder with a hole for the whole time a little nectar enters to hold the breeding in the process.

— Is that why you invented a feeder?

— Without doubt.

— What do you serve before?

— Boxes sealed lid and a hole in the lid.  But you see: we progress.  I wanted a very slow feeding in the spring, it requires lots of 2 boxes and more boxes required housings, and the cooled syrup and sometimes they flowed and caused robing.  „

— So you invented the feeder actually on the market?

— Yes, but I did not invent for sale.  I invented for myself.  Others said it should be patented.

— However, it’s your patent?

— Oh, yes, indeed.

— And the benefits you back?

— Certainly, they return to the Abbey.  A little.  But in the early costs were heavy and the income is small.  We do not wish to do so expensive that beekeepers can not buy it.  We wish them the most be done carefully and we can do, even if it is patented.  I see it is well done and I take care that gives satisfaction.

Daylight came, the Dart River flowed at our feet and the last bees soon would return to the hive.

The monk had become like us, just a beekeeper.  I had forgotten his frock and his monastic and solitary life.  We were talking about bees and the conversation would have lasted forever if the bell of the abbey had begun to ring.  I asked him if could go to church with him and attend the last service of the day.

He led me gently through the cloister, found for me a place in one corner secluded and then joined his brothers.  I was listening to Gregorian chant under the arches, I saw kneeling hooded figures.  Brother Adam, beekeeper, was among them.  Then the Abbot fire with his blessing and they spent in their cells.  And I, in mine, because I spent the night at the monastery.  But sleep was slow in coming.  My mind traveled around the world discussed with Brother Adam.  All was silence around me.  The peace of God?

Notes by the translator.  The monastery is located at Buckfast (Devon, England).  It is inhabited by the Benedictines, whose parent is in Biberach (Germany), as the Benedictines of Maredsous (Belgium) had their headquarters in Germany .

Let me draw attention to the means used by Brother Adam to prevent swarming: annual replacement of all queens, purebred queens.  I had the opportunity to exhibit the same verse this year, at several conferences.  Frankly, I had have the very clear impression that I was looked askance — and not with favorable eyes.  Boards of Brother Adam are to be read and reread, even by most scholars.

Published in
the British Bee J.,
1933, (??) ?-?
Translation by „Golden Farm“,
of the French adaptation of A. Mousty,