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“Dad I want my own bees and to harvest their honey!” This simple statement made by his son, is what led David Hablützel to become a certified beekeeper and animal rescuer. Since then he’s been the expert for everything that stings, buzzes and hums — and not also at Phänomena. Among the pollinator family are wild and honeybees, as well as wasps and hornets. In the interview, David stressed the important role these pollinators play for our ecosystem, and how humans are the biggest challenge standing in the way.

“Humans need to learn how to coexist with insects”

1. How long have you worked with bees and other pollinators?
Since 2014, when my son voiced that he really wanted to produce his own honey, that’s when I got my beekeeping certification.

2. What is pollinator resettling/rescue and why is it a better option?
Resettling or rescuing is often the best solution, especially when the person is bothered by the insect but doesn’t want to unnecessarily kill them off (which they shouldn’t do anyways). If man and insect cannot cohabitate together, then we come in, assess the situation and provide them with the best options. First we identify the insect, are they dangerous (most are harmless)? For example, of the eleven different types of wasps in Switzerland, only two are unpleasant for humans; especially when we interact in a hostile manner with them.

3. What challenges do beekeepers face, especially as it pertains to the overall health and wellbeing of bees and their populations?
Beekeepers have a responsibility toward their bees, to care for them and keep them healthy. Same as a farmer has the responsibility towards his cattle or other livestock. Beekeepers need to be able to identify signs of illnesses and in cases of an outbreak, they need to swiftly react and contact bee inspectors so to hinder the outbreak from spreading to other bee colonies.

4. What types of bee-illnesses are there?
Of the many illnesses, most importantly, is foulbrood, or Sauerbrut, which are mandatory for beekeepers to notify officials of.

5. Why do honeybees and wasps often choose houses as a place to set their hives or nests in?
They don’t have any other options. Humans have extinguished most of the habitable places for these insects, so they have to resort to houses or a garage.

6. Where do you relocate the hives and nests to?
I bring wasps and hornets to predetermined locations in forests, which the forestry services and I have set. Honeybees, either come home with me or go to another beekeeper.

7. When most people think about wasps, they often have a negative connotation with this insect. Can you please elaborate what role wasps play in our ecosystem?
Wasps and hornets function similarly to all other pollinators. While wasps and bees pollinate different types of plants, hornets act like the insect police. They control the insect population, identify harmful insects and clean-up sick pollinators.

8. How has the insect population changed in the last decades?
There’s only one word, catastrophic. The insect world is dying off. Whether it’s honeybees, wild bees or any other thousands of insect types…They are all vanishing.

9. In your opinion, what is the main reason?
Humans. The relationship dynamic humans play towards nature and animals is the problem. Humans won’t adjust themselves. Humans always feel that everything needs to adjust itself to them. Dogs or cats can be trained this way, insects cannot… And the result, a sever detriment to the insect population. People need to learn ways to adjust themselves to insects and to care for them. These beings play an extremely essential role in our environment and its ecosystem. We as humans, need to learn how to coexist with insects; and not to only view them as a pest.

10. What can we humans do to help these important insects? What can we proactively do in regards to conservation?
It starts with initiatives on the political-level that support nature conservation and protection. One thing’s for sure, people need to do something and take action!

11. And at home in our gardens?
Plant wild bee meadows in your garden or bee-friendly plants and flowers on your balcony. Avoid placing rock or concrete floors in your garden, rather plant flowers and nutrients that support wild and honeybees. I’ll say it again, no stone-gardens! We humans need to become the nutrient source.

12. What is the biggest challenge within your profession?
Humans that are either unwilling or uninterested in making some adjustments for the betterment of these insects. For example, if you find an insect infestation in your home, inform yourself first before reaching for the poison. Take those few minutes to speak with an expert in the field. Often there is an easier, healthier and cheaper solution than poison gassing ones entire home or resorting to other unnecessary drastic measures.

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