Busy bees

Since April, the Roche site in Kaiseraugst has been home to ten honey bee populations.

Lizards scamper over the warm rocks, swallows circle in the sky above and if you’re lucky, you might even see a hare lollop past: welcome to the Roche site in Kaiseraugst. Green building techniques are employed here, making the site a paradise for animals.

Among other things, green building means that the gardeners do not use any sprays, that local plants are grown and that the distance between the site’s perimeter fence and the ground is at least ten centimetres, which ensures that small animals on the move can cross the Roche site without any problems.

Since April 2018, another species of animal has felt at home in Kaiseraugst thanks to this building technique: the honey bee.

Bee project cleared for take-off

“The chefs in Kaiseraugst asked for a herb garden to grow fresh herbs for their meals,” says Pascal Eicher, gardener at Roche Basel/Kaiseraugst and amateur beekeeper. “Since herbs and vegetables only grow well if they are pollinated by bees, however, the idea of setting up an apiary in Kaiseraugst alongside the herb garden was raised.” Besides producing honey, another advantage of bees is that they have a big influence on the ecosystem and therefore – thanks to the natural environment – make a further contribution to sustainability at the site.

However, a number of questions had to be answered before the honey bees could be brought to Kaiseraugst. Are there enough different plant species in the vicinity of the bees, for instance? The answer is yes. To give just a few examples, borage, lavender, eryngo and yellow sweet clover all grow on the site. What is the best location for the bee populations? Somewhere where there aren’t too many employees walking past. Do some plants also flower in the autumn, so the bees can gather enough pollen for the winter? Yes, the sainfoin, thyme and veronica on the site blossom well into late autumn.

After all of these clarifications, the bee project in Kaiseraugst was finally ‘cleared for take-off’. A beekeeper from outside the company then brought ten bee populations to the site and is continuing to look after them here. His tasks include examining the bees to see how badly they are infected by the Varroa mite and treating them if necessary, ensuring that they have enough food for the winter and harvesting the honey.

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