Can 1.2 grams make an impact on our diet?

They merely weigh 1.2 grams, but their impact on the ecosystem and our diet is momentous. But bees are in grave danger. Pesticides and increasing urbanisation are just a few reasons. Christian Krüger is a passionate beekeeper. His mission: the mutual coexistence between man and bee.

For Christian Krüger bees are not just a hobby. The 38-year-old prefers to actually interact with the animals. "Healthy beekeeping is not about setting up a few bee colonies in the garden or in a flowering meadow and consider yourself to be a bee-rescuer," explains Krüger. Monocultures, toxic pesticides or radiation are not the only big threats to bee colonies, he says, but inexperienced amateur beekeepers too. In Germany, hunting and fishing require a licence, he criticizes, but there are no checks and balances for beekeepers. "To bees, three weeks of flowering strawberry fields are like three weeks of eating the same fast food for us humans. After a diet like that, we are not only highly supersaturated but also ill," explains Krüger.

Bees are not aggressive or dangerous, and they do not sit on pieces of cake or grilled steaks.

Christian Krüger
Christian Krüger

Christian Krüger has been keeping bees for several years. His bee colonies live in the species-rich Mettmann nature reserve, and soon they will also buzz around in eight beehives on the grounds of the METRO Cash & Carry store in Krefeld.

The passionate beekeeper is taking his bees to Krefeld to promote human understanding of bees and improve cohabitation. "Bees are not aggressive or dangerous, and they do not sit on pieces of cake or grilled steaks", he says.

Unfortunately, too many people associate this image with bees - rather than ascribing it to their less pleasant yellow-striped contemporaries, the wasps. "We are not only fighting to remove these stereotypes, but we also want to show how beekeeping is done the right way."

His passion for bees is contagious: Many employees in Krefeld are voluntarily training in species-appropriate beekeeping to take better care of their new colleagues. Additional support comes from Mellifera e.V., an association that has been committed to organic, sustainable and ecological beekeeping since 1985. Krüger is also engaged in dialogue with local and regional farmers. Honeybees easily cover more than 50 square kilometres on their hunt for tasty pollen. The farmers in the area have agreed to offer the bees a variety of green areas in the future. "The Krefeld METRO store and the regional farmers are now setting up an ecosystem that will ultimately not only benefit bees and farmers," says head HoReCA at METRO.

The harvested METRO honey is not part of the assortment. "We don’t have a real commercial goal. We want to make a difference and correct the mistakes that are made over and over," says Krüger. To do things differently is his main motivation. Different means above all means better: Better for the bees, better for the people and better for liveable and sustainable ecosystems, from which everyone benefits in the end. "You have to do it right," Krüger begins his plea for a prudent approach: It's not quantity that counts, not nice words, but the chance to really change something for the long term. Word for word, conversation after conversation. Saving bees is a task for the entire society, and with the first UN World Bee Day the United Nations will establish a platform for it on 20 May 2018. But simply more hobby beekeepers is not the right solution for Christian Krüger: "Everybody can affect real change without owning their own beehive: Sowing flowering plant species on balconies or in gardens, refraining from spraying chemicals in your own garden, not mowing the lawn until the evening - that would be a good start."

Bee mortality - current figures

  • Of the 25,000 known bee colonies, only 9 species are able to produce honey.
  • The pollination output of bees is estimated at around 2 billion euros per year in Germany alone.
  • Around 80% of domestic plants depend on pollination by bees.
  • Varroa destructors (Varroa mites), foulbroods and harmful pesticides decimate the bee population year after year.
  • 50% of the bee colonies did not survive the 2017 winter.
  • The remaining 585 wild bee species are particularly threatened.
  • Reasons include the intensification of agriculture, which reduces the habitats and food supply of wild bees, the use of harmful pesticides on fields and in gardens, and increasing urbanisation.