Two weeks at the ELGON Center

Sibylle and Wolfgang Kempf, Germany:

Erik Österlund made us welcome at his home and in his bee yards when we visited with him in July 2018.

I had asked him for an insight into his resistant breeding project to get some education and learning.

As we found out he and his wife Gunvi do not only love to share food! Between coffee breaks we had two weeks of constant work with bee colonies, breeding queens, harvesting, cleaning frames, sorting out combs and whatever work the season wanted us to do. Exactly what I wanted to see and had hoped for.

 Working the mini mating nucs with Erik and Radim. Wolfgang on the left.


Also a pleasure was that we met Radim, Eriks friend, who shares some work with him.

Decapping and extracting the honey combs.


Most amazing to me was the work flow and how fast and careful it was done with such a high number of hives and mini-mating-nucs compared to my small enterprise.

Sorting out badly drawn combs.




This work was shared by my dear husband who took most of the pictures. Erik made him a very good beekeeper too!



I learned how to graft in a perfect way and the result was not bad, I believe!My saying is: a good teacher produces a good pupil.

I even got a try on the bee blower.

Me using the bee blower after Erik had put on a bee escape earlier. That´s really tough work, lifting all the boxes! Respect! That is work my husband does much better than me.


One more action I wanted to see was the mite monitoring by alcohol wash to check the varroa level. I took part in this and got a wonderful lecture about how to evaluate a colonies state beside counting, so to know when to act on the infestation or wait a little and check again.

Erik giving me a lecture about mite monitoring. One of the most important actions with respect to resistant breeding in my eyes.


We did treatments too, since oxalic and formic acids are a no-go with me. I consider taking out brood or using thymol with the susceptibles if I ever have to do a treatment.

My thanks go to Erik and Gunvi! You made us more than happy. I feel much more sure and approved as a beekeeper and you made us feel like a part of your family.

We enjoyed the beautiful landscape and even took many swims in the lake where we had rented our little cabin.


The lake at which side we had our cabin. This is heartbreaking beautiful.


Clover, fertilizers and bees

In Wanganui Chronicles in New Zealand April 14 there’s an article by Rachel Rose titled Bees play vital role in food chain. In New Zealand they know bees are important for dairy and meat production. Yes, for dairy and for meat production! For pasture! White clover is an important part for good pasture. It takes nitrogen from air into the food chain, producing fertilizer without cost. Organic! And you shouldn’t use artificial fertilizers on pasture fields if you want natural continuation of white clover there. With rich pollination of clover it produces seeds that fall off and lay in the ground for years and germinate up to 10 years and keep the white clover there fertilizing the pasture, for ”free”, organic.


But you need a lot of bees to pollinate big pasture fields. And for pollinating seed production for use in new pastures, organic and other.


If bees don’t disappear entirely, but “only” have severe problems, they maybe are barely enough many to pollinate the almonds, but are they enough many to also help organic farming continue and grow?