Next installment of the Finland trip:
The following day we drove 4 hours northeast to Ari’s house. Ari and his wife are large-scale “hobby” beekeepers. They manage over 400 hives. Hummm what a hobby! The night we got to Ari’s house we stayed up late listening to stories from Ari about past 25 years of his career as a “friend to the bees”. Not only does Ari manage 400 plus hives he also is the Bee Advisor in Finland. He is the guy to all if you have a bee question about your Finnish bees. He has also traveled to many countries like India and South Africa to work with the bees. So over the past 25 years he has experienced so many various bee hives and the people that care for them. He also attends many bee conferences worldwide, which many of the Finnish beekeepers also attend. Ari is a wealth of information with everything honeybee related!
We woke up the next morning and walked a few hundered yards to his barn. And this is no small barn, Ari’s barn is quite large. To our surprise it was filled with stacked Lang supers….from top to bottom, literally. This really made me realize what an operation it is to manage 400 plus hives! Ari and his wife have a several people who help them out in the spring and summer time, filling frames with foundation, which they have pressed from their own wax from their hives.
Ari and his wife are Organic beekeepers. They had several 5 gallon buckets that they poured processed wax into to give to a person who presses their own foundation. I have never seen so much processed wax! It smelled wonderful. Then there were stacks and stacks of Lang frames. It is no wonder they have to have people help them work their hives.
Ari was telling us too that the nectar flow can be as short as 15 days in Finland!!!! 15 days?! That seems almost impossible! Ari did comfort us a little when he said that the days in the summer are 22 hours long and that the bees fly well into the evening on those high nectar flow days. He said that if they get 2 months of nectar flow that it is a REALLY good year for them. What a different environment to care for bees. Willow trees are the first pollen source for Ari’s bees.
Ari took us to visit his hives. His bees pollinate the wild raspberries. It is the main flower that the bees will fly to. Something cool we found out too is that in Finland, any land is open source for Finns to pick wild berries and wild mushrooms. It does not matter who owns the land; anyone is allowed to pick these delicacies.
I was very thankful to have had the experience to travel to meet these wonderful beekeepers and to get a glimpse of their life of caring for bees. Both Ari and Aimo said that they obviously don’t care for bees because it makes them a lot of money but because they truly care about bees!
(Written by Karen Sadenwater)