The Bee Catcher
The call from the fire department came in around 3:00 p.m. “A swarm of bees has settled directly under the pedestrian entrance at the main gate.” Maximilian Fischer, operator and deputy shift supervisor at WACKER POLYMERS, knew exactly what to do. First, he asked one of his colleagues to cover for him at his monitor station where he checks and controls the distillation plants. Then he put on his white protective suit, grabbed his beekeeping veil and made his way to the main gate.
When special assistance is required to capture a wild swarm of bees, the WACKER fire department calls on Maximilian Fischer, the hobby beekeeper (3rd from right wearing a protective suit).
It all happened fairly fast. Maximilian Fischer carefully took hold of the swarm and pushed it into his bag. Of course, many bees flew off, but Fischer was able to get most of them into the wooden box that he uses as a beehive.
The main question to be answered was: Did Maximilian Fischer also capture the queen bee? If not, the bees will leave the hive again and form a new hive elsewhere in the plant. Bee swarms commonly occur in May or June because a new queen often reaches maturity at this is time of year – the old queen then escapes with some of her colony.
The bee relocation operation in summer 2013 proved successful for Maximilian Fischer. Longer and leaner than the worker bees, the queen was in fact in the hive – and within three hours, the bees that had fled returned to the hive. Around 6:00 p.m., Fischer closed the wooden box and took it to his apiary about three kilometers away. The bees, including the queen, now belonged to him – bringing his number of bee colonies up to eight.
Maximilian Fischer uses a beekeeping veil as protection against bee stings.
The exceptional thing about WACKER is that: “It is a very socially responsible and down-to-earth company,” says the 55-year old, “even when it comes to handling bees.” They are not just smoked out, rather they are given a new home with Maximilian Fischer, who, in addition to his passion for beekeeping, is also passionate about his job. “I am a safety officer at WACKER. This job has made me who I am; I am committed to doing everything I can to ensure safety and protect the environment.”
Maximilian Fischer took over the apiary from his father-in-law eight years ago. Since then, he has been stung about 40 times, mostly in the ankles. However, the mites and not the bee stings, are the problem in beekeeping. In good years, Fischer harvests up to 80 kilograms of honey, in bad years, none at all. “Mostly, it's the Varroa destructor, a type of parasitic mite that kills bees,” explains Fischer, “but you can get rid of them with formic acid. Chemicals do come in handy in the beekeeping business – thanks to WACKER.”