Many new diligent workers have just joined the ranks at Varo. About 80,000 bees are now diligently producing honey in two well-stocked hives on the company patio in the city of Lier.
Varo's bees will be producing an average of about 30 kg of honey a year in addition to the 100 kg they will consume themselves on colder days. To do this, they will search for pollen in a 1 km radius. “If necessary, they can fly up to 3km”, beekeeper Rik says. Rik takes care of the bees every week.
Finally, a honey harvest
At the end of July, the largest nectar-supplying plants stop flowering. When the nectar flow slows down, beekeepers will start extracting the honey from the comb. The bees will still find nectar to make honey, but that honey will be kept in the hives for the bees in winter.
Beekeepers Rik and Rudy dropped by to collect the harvest. When they opened the beehive, it became clear immediately that the rain and the cold had taken their toll. The rain had stopped the bees from venturing out as often as they would like and the cold had meant that they needed more energy to keep the hive at the right temperature and in order to produce this energy, they had to consume a lot of honey themselves.
The beekeepers of Amielo took the honeycombs back to the village of Boechout to spin the honey out of the combs in an extractor. The honey is then also sieved to ensure that the result is pure and wax-free. The honey is then left to ‘mature’ before being poured into jars. We can’t wait to find out how the honey will taste, because no natural honey ever tastes the same.
Harvesting the honey is not the only job of our beekeepers. They also check the beehives weekly, they spray the hives to protect them against mites and they give the bees sugar water that serves as extra nutrition after the honey harvest.
Why has Varo introduced the bees?
Varo knows that as a fast growing company, it has an important role to play in terms of sustainability and the environment. Varo was the first in Belgium to pioneer an intelligent, highly environmentally friendly LED lighting system at its logistics centre. It is now also the first company in Lier to embrace honeybees with the help of beekeeper Rik Janssens of Amielo.
The beehives will give the declining bee populations in Belgium some much-needed breathing space. This vulnerable animal is at the heart of biodiversity and plays a key role in the pollination of flowers and plants, but bee numbers have been falling dramatically. The reasons for this include the use of pesticides, the lack of appropriate plants and trees and all kinds of parasites and diseases.
“Our company’s collaboration with Amielo has nothing but advantages. The presence of bees is great for biodiversity and it is a wonderful thing to see. When customers visit our showroom, they can also take a look at the hives. If they get lucky, they may even receive a personalised jar of honey,” Varo CEO Jeroen Nys says.
Did you know that...
- 90% of bees in a hive are females.
- Each hive has its own scent due to the pheromone emitted by the queen.
- Bees look for food from sunrise until sunset.
- The honey’s colour and flavour is determined by the origin of the nectar.
- A bee will live only 6 weeks in the summer.
- A queen can live up to 5 years in the wild.
- A queen lays up to 1,500 eggs a day.
- The bees maintain the temperature of the hive constant at 35.5°C.
- The bees can raise the temperature of the hive by vibrating their flight muscles.
- The bees can lower the temperature in the hive by clustering on the outside of the hive in a process called bearding.