Moritz Seidler’s colonies are spread across several locations in Berlin, from the center to the eastern outskirts of the city. For other varieties, he also takes the colonies into the surrounding countryside, to rapeseed fields or close to patches of sunflower. Moritz is fascinated by the nuances of individual locations, the influence of the soil and individual plant varieties, and the differences between years. That’s why he also deliberately spins the combs from the individual hives without mixing them afterwards with the varietal honey from another location – because that’s the only way to compare each individual honey.
For Moritz, honey is the essence of its environment. He takes great pleasure in making tangible these subtleties of taste.
Moritz’ “sunflower honey” has a firm consistency and a bright golden yellow color, boasting notes of citrus fruit. The honey is supplied by the busy little bees that pollinate the sunflower fields near Trebbin (south of Berlin).
About the beekeeper’s work
Moritz’s bees live in wooden hives where they build their own combs. Once Moritz extracts the honey, he returns the combs to the bees, provided the quality of the wax is up to par. In nature, bee colonies reproduce by swarming. As a rule, a hive starts to swarm when there are enough bees, brood and stores and they begin to run out of space within their hive. The bees then create so-called swarm cells to start raising new queens. But before these young queens hatch, the old queen leaves with some of the bees to look for a new home.
In the city, this is rather more challenging than in the countryside – and requires some extra work of the beekeeper. For this reason, beekeepers try to guide or even prevent swarming. Just how they go about this is a matter of individual philosophy and makes for quite some disagreements among the trade. Moritz’s strategy is to keep the brood nest compact so that the bees can keep warm more easily. He also likes to keep them busy, so they’re less motivated to go swarming elsewhere.
Like any beekeeper, Moritz also has to think about Varroa mite prevention. For this, he uses ants or oxalic acid, which is always something of a painful compromise to beekeepers as it is almost like subjecting the hive to a course of chemotherapy. His hope is that new breeding strategies will allow bees to enter a sort of harmonious co-existence with the mites. However, it is only a matter of time before new pests or unwelcome co-habitants (such as the hive beetle) are bound to arrive in our parts.