Steffen Lay has been advocating the environment for many years – both in his job and as a passionate hobby beekeeper. We talked to him about his commitment.
Mr. Lay, how much honey does a beekeeper eat?
My family and I finish one or two 500 ml jars a month. Of course, we only put our own harvest on the table. We add honey wherever it fits with the food. For example, I use it to sweeten my coffee. I also like to mix it into the salad dressing. In my family, we all agree: honey simply tastes delicious.
It probably tastes even better when it is homemade. How did you get into beekeeping?
I have always had a great interest in nature. For me, a beehive is definitely a wonder of nature. It is fascinating how all work together in there. I can always try something new in breeding and I find it exciting to watch the development of the bees. For 13 years now, I have been taking care of my colonies after work. I live on the edge of the village near some orchard meadows. There are also a few pines out there - so my honey is a mixture with a little bit of everything.
In addition, together with Sven Giesler, you have brought the "Daimler Bees" to life.
Correct! Since July 2018, we have been providing accommodation for three bee colonies at the Untertürkheim plant. A total of 45,000 hard-working bees live in our beehives and provide us with delicious honey.
How do you manage beekeeping alongside your job?
As a beekeeper, I am busy every week from spring to summer. It is not a hobby that you devote yourself to if you find the time, but when it's time. Especially because it heavily depends on the weather. I currently have only two to four bee colonies. This way, I can easily arrange the needed efforts with my work. Harvesting the honey can take up a whole day - the more to harvest, the more to work.
From time to time, school classes visit us to up close and live experience a bee colony. Of course, I am happy to take the time then. In the winter, we make candles from the wax from the honeycombs. In doing so, we also try to message sustainable values. For me, bees are small "buzzing" ambassadors of sustainability, because their pollination of plants is indispensable for our ecosystem.
What can anyone and everyone do for the bees?
I think it is great that interest in nature is growing. You can see a real trend among all the newcomers. However, you do not have to become a beekeeper. Bees like flowering indigenous plants. If everyone plants a few in the garden, on the balcony, or the windowsill - for example the Mössinger seed mixture - it not only looks beautiful, but also helps enormously. If you have space, you can also set up a bee hotel so that wild bees can find a nesting place to reproduce.
You are committed to sustainability not only in your private life but also in your professional life. What do you do specifically?
Our team takes a close look at production from a sustainability perspective. As part of the Green Production Initiative, we identify potentials and implement measures that optimize operational processes and lead to resource or energy saving measures. If you become aware of such topics, , you will notice many possibilities: switching off machines and systems even more consistently, making better use of materials and thus reducing waste, saving cooling lubricants on machines when they are not in use - all this can be further optimized. Our goal is to sensitize employees and managers to how to protect the environment, reduce CO2 emissions and save a lot of money in the process.
What we can learn from bees...
"...is a lot, I think. Bees all pull together and are real workhorses. They have their own rhythm, perfectly functioning communication and a clearly regulated distribution of tasks. However, they are not rigidly caught up in their tasks, but adapt themselves strongly to the rhythm of nature in their actions."
Living sustainably is...
"...possible! Everyone can contribute. For example, I built my home out of wood, of regional materials without pollutants. If I can, I heat with wood and draw hot water from the solar panels. Right now, I am thinking about building a solar system on the roof that can also supply my next car - a hybrid. I also try to ride my bike to work more often. I'm also thinking about how I can travel CO2-neutrally in the future, meaning that I would rather travel by car or train than get on a plane without thinking about it. In my opinion, everyone should concentrate on his two biggest CO2-sources instead of dealing with the minor ones, such as plastic straws. For me, I think it is cool that I can make my contribution to this both privately and professionally.
In the future, we should...
"...listen to nature more often. It holds up a mirror to us and encourages us to rethink our habits."