Imkermeister Dr. Peter Stöfen
Spring newsletter 2017

... to be published soon ... ;-)


Imkermeister Dr. Peter Stöfen
Spring newsletter 2017

Dear fellow bee-keepers, dear customers, dear friends,

Just a few days before we started to transferring the larvae, I am pleased to be able to take a few moments to reflect and to write our annual spring missal. April started off very cold here but we are fortunate not to have to worry about the caprices of the weather. The thoughts expressed by Goethe on the right are an expression of his strong appreciation for na-ture. This is not surprising – he was after all a bee-keeper. It seems that bees were an integral part of Goethe’s garden even though he wrote very little about them. But, reading this verse, one could think that these lines are all about the bees. In this spirit, we should always try to find new ways to listen to our bees. Lis-tening to their voices, studying their essence and admiring them again and again.

So joyously, many years ago,
And so eagerly, my mind strove
To discover, to experience,
How Nature in creativity lives.
And it is the everlasting One,
That reveals itself in the many:
Small is great, great is small,
Everything after its own way;
Ever changing, ever constant,
Near and far, far and near,
Shaping, re-shaping —
In Wonder at all this am I here.

Very little of Goethe’s raison can be felt in our modern times. Our natural world, our bees would be in much better shape if many of the material frivolities of a great majority of us hu-mans had just a little of his understanding. We bee-keepers can be proud of ourselves and continue to function as role models in this respect.

The repeated violations committed on the natural world and the destruction of the livelihood of our bees that goes along with it continue to take on a new magnitude, notwithstanding all of the lip service paid to such topics in our society. We shouldn’t allow this to daunt us. We should continue to determinedly tend our bees and make our contribution to a better world. I find myself having to remind myself of this fact over and over so that I can manage to channel my anger and frustration about our polluted world into tangible positive actions. The varroa mites continue to be a cause for considerable consternation. Treatment meth-ods that were considered relatively effective just a few years ago have been shown more and more to be ineffective. The disturbing sight of dead colonies is surely one of the worst things that can happen in the life of a bee-keeper and shakes at the emotional foun-dation of all bee-keepers.

Based on my own personal but somewhat wretched experience, once the harvest has been concluded, we create artificial swarms from most colonies and then allow the brood to develop in socalled brood stables. In this way we have been able to efficiently and with relative certainty free them from this scourge. A fledgling is also a possibility where about half of the bees are swept from the brood chamber to avoid otherwise having only old bees in the new colony. As mentioned, all incubated combs are placed into a brood stable or brood collector which requires more bases, frames and lids. This tower is then placed elsewhere and from it new bee material is produced for further artificial swarms and to strengthen all of the colonies. If the first wingless bees (penguins) start to appear, the combs will be consistently melted down; a painful experience. The fledgling is furnished with a new or an old queen and placed on internal walls or lights combs before then being held together by an asp. They are then fed with a thin nectar-like feeding solution and, after the first eggs have been layed, basted with oxalic acid. Colonies that were treated in accordance with this method had a high survival rate and weathered well and in good numbers over the winter.

An even better option seems to be to sweep approx. 1.5kg of bees into a box before then giving them a good shaking with 50ml of 3.5% oxalic acid solution. They are then placed in a cool, dark place for one day and in the evening are placed in the colony as described. It is possible that this method allows the bees to come into better and more intense contact with the drugs. None of this is new and is certainly not my invention. The process developed and described by Dr Rüttner seemed to be too labour intensive and complicated. Having said that, in the meantime we have integrated it into our working processes. Once again, it really does work and I would not like to be without it. We intend to produce a video and post it to our YouTube page to demonstrate this method.

I did not have good results when using formic acid. But that probably has more to do with my own inability and my fear of losing valuable queens. If you have been getting along well with this method, it is absolutely advisable to stick with it. Never change a winning team!

I am struggling more and more with the use of synthetic methods but it has taken much too long. My emotional connection with chemistry and the corresponding alleged liberation from the yoke of manual labour was like a blockage in my thought process. For most of us, there are good reasons to abstain from using chemicals or rather to make use of them only in cases of absolute emergency. The reasons are surely well known. One aspect that is perhaps not well known among beekeepers but that leaves me, as a farmer, dumbfounded is the pricing policy of the cartels. It is an expression of how little the work of us beekeepers is valued. Al-most all active components that are used to control mites in bees were first used in respect of other farm animals, in particular in the cases of sheep and cattle. As soon as these same substances are made available to us the bee-keepers, it costs at least 4-500 times more than when it was being used in respect of the aforementioned livestock. The politics of our self-governing body does not seem to be in-terested by this fact.

Perhaps beekeeping is too insignificant and economically irrelevant so that it is impossible to conduct effective lobbying. And this fact is being fully exploited. And I include all small and medium size food producers when making this statement. Even if beekeepers enjoy a certain special status because of our meaningless financial added value, we are obviously politically and socially not wanted. Or, in other words, our honey is much too cheap! Most foodstuffs can only be produced at such prices by indus-trial mass production: a trend that seems to in-crease more and more. But are we really bet-ter off if we are in a position to be able to feed ourselves more and more cheaply and that as a result more money is available for residual commercial consumption? The question seems to be: who pro-fits from it and who suffers as a result? Is it the will of political decision-makers? And what could be done to work against this development in some form?

Having said all that, we should nonetheless aim to look positively towards the future and towards our new season of beekeeping. After we were able for the first time this year to sell a small amount of queens that had weathered throughout the winter, we are now fully con-centrated on the mating station.

Our breeding lines in 2017:
Breed mother 2017
As in previous years, we will be drawing on the best daughters of our drone mother from the previous year (B27 ABg). I had already made a pre-selection of 20 of these queens last au-tumn. Some weeks ago, we finally had some good flying weather so that I was able to make the final decision regarding their selection. By its very nature, this selection process cannot be 100% objective but I make it my highest aim to select queens that fulfil the criteria of Buck-fast bees to the greatest extent possible. The main criteria was, of course, the quantity of honey produced last year in rapeseed. The breed mother in 2017 will be

B17(BZF) = .15-B27(ABg)frkgB49(DB).

Further genetic details can be found in the Breeding Programme of the European Buckfast beekeepers.

3 further queens, B19, B22 und B23, with the same lineage and almost identical characteristics are on standby in the rapeseed fields and will be used for further breeding if necessary. In the event that unforeseen circumstances compel us to take this step, this will be noted on the relevant breeding card.

Mother of Drones 2017
As stated in our autumn letter, the drone moth-ers for 2017 come from Bavaria and were bred by Stefan Holmer. His pedigrees speak for them-selves and for the intensity of his breeding work. He has worked regularly with all of the major mating stations, including both of Eugen Neuhauser’s stations. For this reason, he has already managed to accumulate a wealth of experience in combination breeding. He provided me with his B 144(HST) in autumn 2015.

B144(HST) =.14-B63(HST)hbgB101(CHP) : imq.13-B63(TR)hbgB235(PJ)
.12-B137(TR)balB72(TR) : .11-B55(TR) bal GR109(TR)

The lineage is promising on the basis of the names that are linked to it and, in line with our philosophy, are tried and tested. We do not wish to experiment with our drones, rather we aim to preserve the current, proven Buckfast lineage. The breeding work of Thomas Rüppel is unrivalled and requires no further praise. One of the first to recognise this was Brother Adam. Paul Jungels is another breeder in this league. I remember fondly the daughters of his B235, which were unfortunately decimated by mites. In this way, this line has returned to our opera-tions; what a fortunate stroke of fate.

Orders/Getting in touch

As the work mounts up quickly at this time of year, we kindly ask that all questions and orders are placed by our homepage or by E-Mail. For the first time this season, we have created a hotline for urgent questions related to orders. You will be connected to Mr. Steinfeld directly via telephone, text message or WhatsApp. We would kindly ask you to bear in mind that this number will not be active outside the times mentioned below. Beekeeping with a mobile phone in the hand is a tricky business and prevents focussed work!

Mon.-Sat. 16.00 - 18.00
Fon/WhatsApp/Text message
+49-(0)178 - 111 70 04

Having said that, I would like to reiterate that you would really be assisting our work greatly if you could please use our E-Mail as your primary method of contacting us:

In this way, nothing will be lost in the hectic course of a busy working day and you will be assured of a quick reply.

Shipping dates

We aim to start shipping our queens on 6 June 2017 and generally send parcels every Monday. This allows us to collect and prepare the queens for shipping over the weekend. It also helps us to prevent the additional stress for a queens of spending a weekend in the post office in the event that the delivery is delayed. As always, we will provide you with an e-mail approx. 1 week before the shipping date. This has proven to be a tried and tested approach over the last few years. Incidentally, last year we were forced to delay the delivery dates announced on one occasion only and then by only two days as a storm made it impossible to work at the mating station.

We are currently accepting orders for our economy queens, queens from the mating station and selected cultivation queens. Please do make sure that you place your order in plenty of time. We always try our very best to ensure delivery at short notice too but are subject to certain limitations in this regard. An overview with prices and shipping options is attached for your convenience.

May we be blessed with a good year for us and our bees and may we always have a little bit of beekeeper’s luck. In this spirit, I wish you all the best and much success as well as personal self-fulfilment with your proteges.


Imkermeister Dr. Peter Stöfen
Autumn newsletter 2016 / Belegstellenbericht

Dear bee-keeping colleagues and friends of our breeding community,

On behalf of the entire team and especially on behalf of your contact person Jens, I should like to thank you kindly for your continued custom. We hope that you were happy with our queens and with our service and that we were able to fulfil any special requests that you might have had.

Our breeding community with Detlev and Diana Biel, Friederike Brondke, Peter Arndt and his partner Birgit Harms as well as Giovanni Carbonetti has continued to go from strength to strength and has be-come a real team. Our work is characterised by a common goal so that all team members are willing to take a step back if required. This team spirit, the belief in our abilities and the sense of calm that this brings with it were the basis on which we were able to exceed our own expectations in this tricky busi-ness. We had to postpone our scheduled shipping date on only one occasion when heavy rain meant that it was impossible to collect the queens from the mating station. And this must also be seen in the light of the unexpected high demand for our queens. We never had too few or too many queens.
Ensuring a natural production process of the bees relative to the demand as well as guaranteeing long-term planning of the shipment requires a certain amount of intuition but we seem to have gotten better and better over the years.

We have also managed to deal well with the logistical challenges that often arise. That has been a long process but by this stage we have a fairly good idea which service providers can be relied on in most countries. This knowledge, along with a high level of concentration and a 2-stage control mechanism ensues the highest quality standards are met. With one notable but regrettable exception, no shipments were ‚sunk‘! Even in the case of an error made with a shipment to France, the queens ar-rived safe and well 3 weeks later and began to lay as expected. Of course, we had by this stage already taken steps to provide replacements at no extra cost. After the difficult experiences of the past, it is crucial that we can maintain a secure and predictable shipping. Each lost of queens certainly had an effect on the entire team and it would not have been possible to continue to sustain such losses without negatively impacting on our operations.

Having said all that, most of our our queens seem to be producing extraordinarly results in the countries of the Mediterranean. We have been receiving positive reports from the commercial bee-keepers in Greece, France, Italy, Portugal and Spain. They have all been reporting increased honey production combined with a reduction in the tendency to swarm: this is an important building block in increasing the productivity of our beekeeping. We are very proud of this! While staring out of the window into darkness, cold and rain I have got an idea why our queens like it.

It is also worth letting you know about my little grey Ferguson tractor. It is just as old as I am and I would have loved to have this tractor on our farm as a young man. But my father always preached the mantra “that a German farm should have a German tractor”.

Two years ago, ‚Jonny‘ was parked at the side of a street in Sweden and I simply had to bring him along with me so that I did manage to get my way after all. Unfortunately he wasn’t in great shape and we had to potter around with him for a long time before we could breathe new life into him and restore him to the great condition you can see in the picture below. Right from the start, the tractor was destined to be used and shouldn’t just stand around in the corner. The grass at our mating station needed to be mowed. But after all the work that went into it, it wasn’t meant to be. As Wilhelm Busch once said: ‚surprises are always to be found where you least expect them. Our dear friend ‚Jonny‘ only has four forward gears and even first gear turned out to be much too quick to be able to do any work. That really is what you can call dropping a clanger. BINGO! Since then, I can only look at Jonny furtively and do my best to forgive him. Maybe I’ll be able to get my revenge by making him work for once in his life by driving him all the way to my granddaughter Nora in Switzerland.

„Our quirks are often the best thing about a person‘ according to A. Schopenhauer, „the most creative part, capable of delivering huge amounts of energy and realising a small piece of utopia.“ In any case, this clever thinker surely knows what he is talking about and his words reflect my justification for restoring and keeping Jonny. I think its fair to say that many of us beekeepers have our quirks. We should take good care of them; they make us truly unique!

Our breeding lines in 2017:
In the future, we intend to limit ourselves to a few select pairings. We will improve the genetic pool by using our close cooperation to our partner bee-keepers. In our region, we don’t have the luxury of a wide range of summer blooms so that this important selection criterion doesn’t play a role. As a result, our beekeeping operations don’t produce much honey after the rapeseed has bloomed. The advantage of this is that we can fully concentrate on the production of queens and caring for the mating station. This division of labour is common in all Anglo-Saxon countries. The production of queens and the production of honey are two things that are difficult to combine. In the future we will generally be using this year’s drones as the basis for the mating process. In 2017 this will probably be the best daughters of this year’s drone mother B27(ABg). It will be difficult to make a final decision because we have at least 20 very promising queens from which we will have to choose the best in early spring for breeding. In any case, the decision will have to be made after the long winter. We have enough interesting and promising breeding lines in the pipeline.

Drone mothers 2017
Our drone mothers for 2017 come from Bavaria and were bred by Stefan Holmer. Although I have never had the pleasure to personally meet him, we have built up an intense and friendly relationship over the years, spread over many long telephone conversations. His pedigrees speak for themselves and for the intensity of his breeding work. He has worked regularly with all of the major mating stations, including both of Eugen Neuhauser’s stations. For this reason, he has already managed to accumulate a wealth of experience in combination breeding. He provided me with his B 144(HST) last autumn and we succeeded in breeding enough potential drone mothers the year:

B144(HST) =.14-B63(HST)hbgB101(CHP) : imq.13-B63(TR)hbgB235(PJ)
.12-B137(TR)balB72(TR) : .11-B55(TR) bal GR109(TR)

The lineage is promising given the names that go along with it and rigorously bred in line with our phi-losophy. We don’t want to experiment with our drones, rather we are aiming to maintain the breed of proven Buckfast lines. The breeding work carried out by Thomas Rüppel is unique. One of the first to recognise this was Brother Adam. Paul Jungels is another breeder in this league.

I remember fondly the daughters of his B235, which were unfortunately decimated by mites. In this way, this line has returned to our operations; what a fortunate stroke of fate. And, of course, my dear bee-keeping friend Christian Peter. Many times, he has made the long journey to Friedrichskoog together with his wife and he has enriched us with his great interest.
His name stands for an intensive breeding programme and a good breeding instinct. I owe a great deal to him and to his franconian-bavarian friends. Maybe Stefan Holmer will present his B144 in the spring newsletter himself. These are just a few ideas for the season in 2017.

Allow me to conclude, as always, with a few words from Theodor Storm:
And brightens up wood and heath,
So that one may safely think
Beyond winter’s suffering
Lies a distant spring day.

I will be in touch again in good time before the spring days reach us. Until then, I wish you and your bees all the best and good health.

Yours sincerely
Dr. Peter Stöfen

  Imkerei Dr. Peter Stöfen
Mitglied der Buckfast-Zuchtgemeinschaft Friedrichskoog
Am Rathaus 18, 25693 St. Michaelisdonn

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