We got to know Arno Löbe through Jens & Jule from the Ahrensdorfer Kräuterwelten. That’s right: that’s Jens Wyllegala and Jule Winkler, purveyors of the best German strawberries and tomatoes. Although the fields of Jens and Jule are within the flight range of Arno’s bees, Arno always provides them with a scion or a swarm of bees on request, so that nothing can go wrong with the pollination of the plants. In the direct surroundings of the two main locations there are plenty of maple, linden and fruit trees on offer for Arno’s little friends, while the fields around Ahrensdorf are certified organic, meaning that no pesticides or mineral fertilisers are used. In addition, there is a large number of wild herbs to be found in the crops, which is much appreciated by the bees. At the Siethen site, there are extensive stands of black locust (commonly called acacia) and linden, as well as a portion of organically managed cropland as well.
Phacelia (also called bee friend or tussock beauty) for phacelia honey blooms in the fields of organic farming, sometimes mixed with other crops as an intercrop for soil improvement as well as for seed production. Depending on the sowing date and the duration of flowering, the flowering of Phacelia coincides with that of other plants that are pollinated (e.g. linden trees), which helps to shape the aroma of the honey.
Phacelia honey has a mild and typical floral aroma with a gentle smell of warm wax.
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About the beekeeper’s work
Arno Löbe works exclusively with wooden hives. Of course, his bees are allowed to build their own honeycombs. Initially, he bought his middle walls (wax plates with the cell pattern) at regular beekeeping store, until he realised that production methods and sourcing of the wax used weren’t always transparent. Since then, he has had his middle walls made from his bees’ own wax by a certified company in the Bavarian Forest.
Arno works mainly with Carnica bees and multiplies his colonies mainly by creating scions with stand mating as well as swarms from his own colonies. Inevitably, his queens are also mated by drones of other breeds. The result is a slightly different coloring of the resulting bees, but this does not have a negative effect. To freshen up the gene pool every once in a while, he brings in queens he buys from breeders.
When he is not taking care of his colonies, Arno works to maintain and promote the upkeep of unused areas and strips of fallow land that are so important for the diversity of flora and fauna in the region. Such abandoned, wildly overgrown fields, meadows, roadsides, as well as fallow and remnant areas are often the only or last refuge for a variety of wild plants and thus also for wild bees, bumblebees and butterflies. In these areas, wild bees are important pollinators and take care of the first plants to sprout in nature. While honeybees are still mostly in their winter quarters at temperatures below 10°C, some of these little creatures are already scurrying around the countryside and pollinating both wild and cultivated plants together with bumblebees. Those remnant/untended areas are not always to our “order-loving” compatriots’ taste, yet they are essential so that flowering plants can form seeds to regenerate themselves and provide food and nesting opportunities for wild insects.