In our blog series "My commitment to environment & society", we introduce RCG employees who contribute to our environment and our fellow human beings in their spare time.
When Damjan Rak talks about his beekeeping hobby, he quickly goes into raptures: He started a good ten years ago, back then with just two hives. Today there are already 75, more than Damjan ever dreamed of. He visits them week after week, summer and winter, and feeds them when there is no food. Twice a year he then harvests the fruits of his labour in the form of delicious honey. What kind of quantity does it yield? "In the past, the honey yield was easily 40 kilogrammes per beehive, today it is maybe 10. For the bees, the help of a beekeeper is now essential for survival. They have to be fed and cared for, nature simply doesn't offer them enough for self-sufficiency anymore."
A give and take
For Damjan, harvesting the honey is not a matter of course. Regardless of the harvest, he leaves at least 4 kg in each hive, a good 20% of the natural forage for the bees. Even if that means that in some cases there is no harvest at all. Damjan: "We have to respect the bees. If we don't, they will disappear and we with them." Damjan has had to learn this respect thing painfully at times. One summer he was stung more than 100 times while extracting honey. Since then, the passionate beekeeper has been allergic to bee venom. He has to protect himself well to prevent anaphylactic shock or worse. But this does not diminish his love for bees.
Fascination with bees
When asked why he does all this, the huge amount of time involved, the high maintenance costs, or the danger of being stung, Damjan doesn't have to think a second: "Because the world of bees is magical. I admire how these tiny insects build honeycombs from their own wax plates with mathematical precision that no computer can match. Or how the queen bee regulates the number of eggs laid for the entire colony - depending on natural conditions, the available food supply in nature, the weather and the available cells in the combs. It's just fascinating!" Yes, that is indeed fascinating. Can the RCG take a leaf out of the book of the black and yellow helpers in terms of organisation?. Damjan has to grin. "I don't think anyone can come close to the bees... but right after that, here we come!"