WanderlustThe extraordinary world of bees

Interview with Jumeirah Frankfurt’s beekeeper, Andreas Wolf

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The guests aren’t the only ones with a fabulous view of the city at Jumeirah Frankfurt. 100 metres above street level, beekeeper Andreas Wolf is responsible for Jumeirah’s colony of ‘skyline’ honeybees. Established when the hotel was built in 2011, the colony’s honey is used throughout the hotel. Here Andreas, a beekeeper since 2005, tells us more about beekeeping, why he became a beekeeper and how his art collective Künsterlergruppe Finger uses honeybees as part of their art and social projects.

 

Jumeirah Frankfurt's beekeeper, Alexander Wolf

 

How many skyline honeybees make up one bee colony?

On the roof of Jumeirah Frankfurt, we have two honeybee colonies. In winter, each colony has about 10,000 skyline honeybees. In summer, the peak is about 60,000 to 70,000 skyline honeybees per colony.

 

How much honey do Jumeirah’s skyline honeybees produce every year?

This varies from season to season. In general, each honeybee colony can produce up to 50kg of honey per year.

 

How far can honeybees fly?

The flight radius of a honeybee is about 5km. The distance is limited by the capacity of the bee’s honey stomach. This can contain as much honey ‘fuel’ to allow the honeybee to fly up to 12km. If a honeybee flies less than 12km, the rest of the nectar is gathered in the honeycomb.

How high can honeybees fly?

We don’t know exactly, although we do know that the Jumeirah skyline honeybees happily fly up to their beehives on the roof, which is about 100 metres high.

What was your motivation to become a beekeeper?

The bees literally came to me. I live in a rural area and on my property there was a hollow tree where honeybees nested naturally. It didn’t take me long to figure out that working with honeybees brought me a lot of joy and so I started cultivating more bee colonies. All of them were initially free-living swarms that came to me.

What is the connection between your art projects and honeybees?

The Künstlergruppe Finger is an art project that I have run since 1998 with Florian Haas. When I started working with bees, Florian and I decided to integrate beekeeping as a whole into our art projects. We wanted to use honeybees, which are a state-forming animal, to address social processes. Since 2006, all our projects have been related to honeybees in one or another way.

How many bee colonies do you look after?

We have set ourselves a maximum of 50 bee colonies to look after. This is a tiny number compared to beekeeping on an economic scale. For us, the honeybees are an essential part of our art project and not intended for commercial success. In the same way that other artists use their brushes, we have our honeybees.

 

Jumeirah Frankfurt's beekeeper, Alexander Wolf

 

What has been your favourite project with honeybees?

We like to focus on the evolution of our projects and how they relate to now, however I would like to emphasize the Honeybee Race we held in 2017 with Jumeirah Frankfurt and the Museum for Modern Art in Frankfurt, which is still, to my knowledge, a unique global event. For the race, we invited beekeepers from all over the world, whose colonies flew from the roof of the Jumeirah Frankfurt to the Museum.

What can we do to protect honeybees?

The only thing that actually helps is to vote for political parties that focus on environmental protection and agriculture. Despite that, cities are already a paradise for honeybees due to the high variety in flora. To support species-appropriate beekeeping, it is a good idea to buy honey from local beekeepers, for example at farmers’ markets.

What is your favourite way to consume honey?

I prefer my honey dissolved in water with a little lemon. Perfect to energize you during a racing bike tour. Alternatively, I like to have liquid honey with pollen served cold from the fridge.

Jumeirah Frankfurt’s guests can taste our skyline honey direct from the honeycomb each day at the breakfast buffet - or even buy a jar of skyline honey to take home as a souvenir. It is also used for the skyline honey treatment in Talise Spa and in cocktails at Ember Bar & Lounge.