Company & Culture

We Are avodaq: Louis and His Bee Colonies

Our colleague Louis talks about his unusual hobby


04. Jul 2024 | 3 min.

Account Manager Louis bei seinem Hobby, der Imkerei

Hello Louis, nice to have you here. You work as a Junior Account Manager at avodaq and you have a really fun hobby. Why don’t you tell us about it?

I’m Louis, 25 years old and I was born in Cloppenburg. I’ve been living in Hamburg for six years now. I originally worked in sales in the food industry, but I decided to switch into IT. What immediately appealed to me about avodaq was that the company is modern and innovative. I’ve been with the company for over a year now. My balance to my job – or my good-weather hobby, as I like to call it – is beekeeping.

So we’re twice as lucky that you’re part of the avodaq team. How did you get into beekeeping and what was the reason for you to start?

I discovered beekeeping for myself back home. We had a beekeeper in the neighborhood with whom I helped out for a season. I was about 18 years old at the time. That same year, he gave me two bee colonies as a present and I was able to start my own work. To learn more about handling the animals and honey production, I completed a one-year course. I would recommend this to anyone thinking about this hobby. I had my neighbor at my side as a mentor during the entire time. After that, I stood on my own two feet. But you definitely learn something new every year.

For me, beekeeping was and is a great opportunity to work with animals. The bees are independent and don’t need to be fed or walked every day. You can invest as much time as you like with bees. To be honest, I enjoy working with the animals the most. The honey harvest is a great bonus.

What does a year with your bee colonies look like? In spring, summer, autumn and winter. What is your job and how much time does your hobby require?

Imker Louis - Ein Biene sammelt Nektar
A bee collecting nectar

In spring, it is important to ensure that the animals are healthy and have enough space. When a bee colony has completely filled its box, it signals to the bees to look for a new place. The colony divides and one half swarms out. My job is to move part of the bees to a new box at an early stage. The old colony then has space again and the new one chooses a new queen. This is how I multiply the colonies.

Imker Louis mit einem Rähmchen im Sommer
Louis with a small frame in his hand

At the summer solstice, the population reaches its maximum of around 60,000 bees per colony. After that, the number decreases again as fewer eggs are laid. The honey is harvested in summer. That takes me about a weekend. I then bring the frames to my flat on the 3rd floor – and yes, the neighbours all know me by now. The honey is then centrifuged, sieved and stirred if necessary. Then everything has to be filled into the jars. After that, I clean my flat.

Die Bienenkäster von Imker Louis im Winter
Wintertime for the bees

In autumn I get the bees ready for winter. I make sure that they have enough space and food for the cold season. The bees form a small cluster and then overwinter with the queen in the middle. As soon as it gets warmer again, they lay eggs again. Climate change is causing a significant shift.

In winter I check on the animals once a month, in spring every week. On average, you can expect one hour’s work per colony per week.

Imker Louis bei der Arbeit
Louis at work with his bees

What fascinates you most about the animals?

I particularly enjoy seeing how the bees work together as a colony. Sometimes they fly several kilometers to collect nectar and still find their way back to inform the other bees of the food source. It’s fascinating what the animals can accomplish and every bee knows exactly what it has to do. I am just an observer and companion for the year, the bees can do everything on their own and only sometimes need my support. Through my work as a beekeeper, I already have an influence on the development of the colonies. I have to work slowly and carefully so as not to disturb the bees. That brings me down a lot. If I do something wrong, the bees let me know – the colony then becomes restless. Of course you get stung from time to time, but that happens less and less. That’s the best way to express your dissatisfaction as a bee.

Where do your beehives stand? Surely that’s not so easy in a big city, is it?

Back then, the beehives stood directly in our garden. Before I moved to Hamburg, I first had to do some research. In the end, the building authority was able to help me and I was allowed to stand in a meadow that is less than ten minutes away from my flat. The city even planted extra wildflowers. But there are also lots of rapeseed fields and gardens around it. The mixture of honey is different every year. The bees collect within a radius of up to 5 kilometres.

Imker Louis sucht die Bienenkönig im Gewimmel der Bienen
Hidden bee

Find the Queen Bee 🐝

If you want to keep bees, you have to find the queen among the swarm of workers and drones. This is important for starting a new colony, capturing a swarm or for harvesting honey.

A queen bee is hiding in this hustle and bustle. Can you find her?

In your opinion, does beekeeping involve a lot of responsibility? And would you choose it again?

It is definitely a responsibility. Unlike a dog, but you are still responsible. I’ve also had part of my colony run away. If the bees then don’t find a new home in the wild – which is increasingly difficult – they don’t survive the journey. As a beekeeper, that’s absolutely not something you want.

Beekeeping is very compatible with my job at the moment. But of course you have to plan to visit the bees during the day when it’s still light. That varies with the season, of course. I’m doing very well at the moment and would do it again. From February to June I have a lot to do for my hobby, after that there is less work and more free time. In February, however, I’m always looking forward to getting started again.

How many bee colonies do you care for and how much honey do you get? When can we expect the avodaq honey?

I currently have four colonies. I can harvest from three of them. You can expect around 25 to 30 kg of honey per colony each year. That’s more than 100 jars of honey this year. I will be harvesting in a few weeks and the honey will be available in the summer. I’m definitely looking forward to making my colleagues and customers happy with it.

Louis, a really exciting hobby. Thank you very much for the interview. We look forward to your honey!