Since spring 2022, we have been looking after our own bee colonies at CERVO Mountain Resort. Our beekeeper, Doris Kündig, lovingly looks after them. Learn more about Doris and her passion for beekeeping in an interview.
Who are you?
My name is Doris Kündig, I have lived and worked in Zermatt for many years and have been a beekeeper for 6 years.
Why did you train to become a beekeeper? What do you love most about being a beekeeper?
I came to beekeeping more by chance than anything else. While looking for a meaningful hobby, a former schoolmate told me that he had just completed a beekeeping course. After our conversation, I was sure that I wanted to learn that too. Because the work as a beekeeper is not only fascinating and complex, it allows you to work in and with nature.
Moreover, you have to work quietly on the colonies and take your time. This has the positive side effect that I am always completely relaxed after visiting the bees.
The reward for all this work is the satisfying feeling of having done something good and meaningful for nature and being able to harvest liquid gold / honey at the end of the beekeeping year.
How are the CERVO bees doing today after the winter? Do you see any changes in the animals compared to last year?
Two of the three colonies survived the winter very well. One colony was rather weak. The situation was aggravated by the fact that the ants were able to nest in this colony. To prevent the ants from having an easy time, I placed the colonies on a trestle. This allowed the colony to recover. It is now on the right track and at the beginning of July I will also be able to put the honey chamber there.
Otherwise I could not find any changes in the animals compared to last year. They are healthy, fly happily and enjoy the rich, varied and colourful flowers.
Did you also visit the bees during the winter?
Whether I visit the colonies during the winter depends largely on the weather conditions. Since the winter was rather warm and snowless and the bees flew out early, I visited them in between to see if they had enough food. If the bees do not stay in the winter hive and fly out, they need more energy and as they find a food, they consume more of their winter supply.
How did you prevent the bees from
starving during the winter months?
The honey we take from them at the end of July /
beginning of August would in principle be a large part of their winter supply.
That is why I feed the colonies with sugar water after the honey harvest.
If the bees are not brooding, they consume about one
kilogram of food per month; if they have to warm and care for brood, it is
about three kilograms per month. Accordingly, a commercial colony needs 15 - 20
kilograms of food over the winter.
What is your next work with the bees? (Timetable for the summer)
Since the two colonies on the left and right have developed well and quickly, I put up the honey chamber in mid-June. The colony in the middle has been nursed up and as mentioned before, it will get the honey chamber at the beginning of July. In the meantime, I regularly check whether the colonies are behaving calmly or are in a swarming mood.
And of course I also check whether they are producing honey. If the bees are producing a lot of honey, I give them more space by putting up a second honey frame.
Depending on the weather conditions and the availability of flowers, I leave the honey chamber on the colonies until the end of July or beginning of August. Then the honey is harvested and the colonies are first fed with sugar water.
Then the colonies are treated against the Varroa mite and prepared for winter at the end of September…