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Behind every hive, is a passionate beekeeper — A chat with Banu & Fred

Our beloved spirits contain 100% real honey from beekeepers who passionately care for their bees. We’d like to introduce you to the power duo behind Zomergemse Zeem: Banu and Fred De Kneef.

When did you start beekeeping?

We – and my husband in particular – have always been fascinated with bees, but we didn’t have the facilities to start our own bee-yard at first. It wasn’t until about 5 years ago, when we moved to Zomergem and had more space, that we really started to consider it. Once we found out that another beekeeper from our neighbourhood was retiring we decided that it was time to go for it. And so my husband Fred enrolled in a beekeeping course. In the meantime, our kids have grown up with beekeeping, and they’re used to us talking about it at the kitchen table.

What’s the meaning behind your name, "Zomergemse Zeem"?

First of all, ‘Zomergem' refers to the place where we live and keep our bees. And ‘zeem’ is local dialect for ‘honey’. People here will say “Een potteke zeem vo mij”. So both, in their own way, are linked to our specific region.

Let talk about your colony. How many bee/beehives do you have?

We currently have four production hives, which we use for harvesting. Besides that, we also have five smaller frames that aren’t used for harvesting but serve as a back up, in case something goes wrong in one of the larger hives, like for example the loss of a queen.

How would you describe your honey harvest?

Well, a great taste in general. (laughs) There’s definitely a difference between Spring and Summer honey. Spring honey is lighter in colour as the nectar is coming from blossoming fruit trees, while Summer comes from other flowering plants such as lavender, making it darker, sweeter and a bit more powerful. But both have a floral taste.

What is the best way to eat honey?

Personally, I love it with a piece of Brie, as an aperitif. The kids enjoy it with a lukewarm glass of milk, in the morning or just before going to bed. And Fred loves it at its purest: straight from the honey jar. (laughs)

What’s your favourite part of being a beekeeper?

I love the fact that you’re doing something uncommon, but also something very close to nature. The buzzing of bees is extremely soothing, making it a very relaxing hobby, almost like yoga. Bees are actually very romantic creatures the more you get to know them. They truly adore their queen and are totally devoted to her.

What’s a fun facts about bees that you could share with us?

Maybe that despite the fact that bees are the most studied creatures from the animal kingdom, we still know so very little about them. They’re quite mysterious!