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Summer 2023, Part 3 of 5: Beekeeping in Germany

Updated: Sep 16, 2023

A month in Lindau, Germany with an afternoon visit to Bregenz, Austria

23 June - 18 July 2023

Text by Blake Milteer


Trainee Beekeeper. Photo by Calum Grigor.

This summer I had the opportunity to spend nearly a month in Lindau, Germany learning aspects of beekeeping, spending time with family and seeing just a small bit of this lovely area. Sarah had visited Lindau a few years ago, really loved it and thought I would too, so we both went for a few days last February.


To see a video about our previous trip to Lindau, which also included two stunning stops in Switzerland, go to:



Indeed I did really enjoy it, so I was looking forward to a more immersive stay in a different season. This trip capped a delightfully busy June (see previous blogs here and here).


To present moments from my month-long stay in an organised way, this blog is divided into three non-chronological sections: Lindau, The Bees, and an afternoon in Bregenz, Austria.



 

Lindau


Lindau, Germany with Alps of Switzerland
View looking west from my window in Lindau. The spires of Münster Unserer Lieben Frau and St Stephan on Lindau island are visible above the trees with the foothills and Alps of Switzerland in the background. Photo by Blake.

While Scottish summers can be magnificent (and it's not my favourite season here), I was excited to spend some time in a climate closer to the steaming summers of the American south where I grew up. Well Lindau was hot, but not that hot. What the weather did offer-up was massive, soaring cumulonimbus clouds and raging nighttime thunderstorms!


Thundercloud, Lindau
Storm brewing to the north. Photo by Blake.

We don't get many big thunderstorms in Scotland. I hadn't realised how much I missed them.


Bavarian breakfast
A Bavarian breakfast. Photo by Blake.

I love a good breakfast. Most days began with excellent coffee, glorious bread with very local honey, and lovely muesli. I was also treated to a Bavarian breakfast of Weißwurst, Brezen and Weißbier (white sausage, pretzel and wheat beer). Fantastic!


Andy Warhol at Kunstmuseum Lindau
That museum soup is a bit salty. Kunstmuseum Lindau. Photo by Blake.

Lindau's old town centre is on a small island in Lake Constance. The name Lindau means 'island where the lime (or linden) trees grow', and the town's history dates back to the 9th century. Some of the town's buildings have been around for more than 1000 years, so it was a fun contrast to see banners, flags and posters all around - not to mention a giant soup can - promoting an exhibition of Andy Warhol's work at the local art museum.


The Warhol show was small but elegantly curated with a broad selection of work from early drawings to 1980s prints, mainly from German and Swiss collections. There was a large school group in the galleries during my visit. It was great to see the kids really spending time with individual works of art and discussing not just Warhol's famous subjects but process and historical context as well.


Boats shaped like racing cars
If Andy Warhol was still around, he might have liked to see that Lindau's marina had its own brand of pop culture on offer. Photo by Blake.

Here's a short video from my visits to the island (duration: 3:03):


Music in the first and last thirds of the video: 'Bienenhaus Marsch' (Beehive March) by Max Sichler, performed by Olbrig's Zither Trio, 1928.


Apple orchard and bicycle
Apple orchard and bicycle. Photo by Blake.

Lindau is situated on the eastern side of Lake Constance, where the environment is well suited for cultivation of a wide variety of fruits.


Apples

Grapes and pears
Apples, grapes and pears. Photos by Blake.

Orchards are a distinguishing feature of the landscape around Lindau and across the eastern side of Lake Constance. Apples are a favourite, with more than 20 varieties being grown there.


Fresh fruit, juices and jams are among the region's summer and autumn delights. Then there's the fermenting and the distilling. I'm not a big fan of the sweet liqueurs but had a pear schnapps that was surprisingly dry and tasty.


Of course these important crops need pollinators to survive and thrive.



 

The Bees


Bee mural, Lindau, Germany
Mural art on Lindau island. Photo by Blake.

In late June-July, worker bees are foraging, collecting nectar and pollen from flowering plants and bringing it back to the colony to build winter stores.


So I was helping the beekeepers checking their colonies, keeping them strong by confirming the queen is present and producing brood, honey stores are increasing (and the beekeepers will create more space for both when necessary), cleaning of debris and excess wax, and checking for signs of disease. There was also a bit of fortifying hives against inclement weather and honey robbers such as wasps.


The Beekeepers. Photo by Blake.

Bees
The Bees. Photo by Blake.

(video duration: 2:33)


Then there's the collection and harvesting of honey:


Honey comb
The bees make wax cappings to seal honey in the comb for winter stores. Photo by Blake.

Bees wax
Wax that has been removed from the comb, allowing extraction of the honey. Photo by Blake.

Honey extractor
Hubert and the extractor. Photo by Blake.

Honey
Delicious honey pouring from the extractor. Photo by Blake.

Other activities included building new hive boxes and stands, welding wax foundations into frames (on which the bees build, or draw out, the combs), and designing a new honey jar label for Lindauer Bienen Honig.


I really enjoyed my time learning about beekeeping and hope to start my own colonies in Scotland at some point.


 

Bregenz, Austria


Lindau sits on the southern end of Lake Constance, and is very close to the borders of Austria and Switzerland. One sunny afternoon, we visited the city of Bregenz, Austria, which is only about a 15-minute drive from Lindau. Bregenz was humming with cultural activity and definitely seems worth exploring further. Here's a video (duration: 2:50):





 

I'll finish with a selection of my favourite images from an extraordinary trip:


Dog
My new favourite dog. Photo by Blake.

Sunflower, Lindau, Germany
Sunflower with Lake Constance in the distance. Photo by Blake.

Monster dolls, Bregenz, Austria
Having a rest in Bregenz. Photo by Blake.

Graveyard in Lindau, Germany
Friedhof Aeschach (Aeschach cemetary). Photo by Blake.

Sunset, Lindau, Germany
Lindau sunset. Photo by Blake.


Next week:

Part 4: Celebrating in Minnesota and Wisconsin, USA



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