Keld Brandstrup’s long and successful career began in the early 1980s. Starting as an enthusiastic hobbyist, he has developed a highly professional commercial company since then.
Longstanding cooperation with Brother Adam, from Buckfast Abbey in England, early in his career, gave Keld a deep interest in bee breeding. Consequently, bee breeding is now Buckfast Denmark’s dominant activity. The queens, which are bred according to Br. Adam’s principles are in demand by beekeepers, universities, and researchers around the world.
Over the years Keld Brandstrup has held several posts in Danish and international beekeeping organizations. At present, breeding work at Buckfast Denmark, and consulting with beekeepers and beekeeping organizations, takes most of his time. In his spare time, he serves as a bee inspector.
For many years Keld has travelled the world in search of useful breeding material. He is more than happy to share his extensive experience and knowledge of combination breeding and queen rearing with other beekeepers. He frequently travels worldwide to deliver lectures outside the season. As Keld says: “Beekeeping is about sharing”.
Keld, who is born in 1954, has two children with his former wife, Jette Nielsen, who passed away in 2005. For many years she produced all queens for Buckfast Denmark. Keld’s current partner now is Christina Simonsen.
For more than a decade, Mogens Mundt has overseen the technical part of the company’s queen production. Through supervision by Keld, he has obtained the ability to assess colonies for important trials. Together they have developed a cell building system of exceptional quality.
As Mogens says: “A professional beekeeper must have the ability to scan a colony of bees and quickly make an informed assessment about the state and health of the colony”.
Mogens Mundt (1976) is living with his wife Lisbeth and their two children on a family farm surrounded by landscaping forest. In his spare time, Mogens is fond of hunting, and in quiet moments, simply sitting outdoors and enjoy the sounds of nature.
Initial steps have been taken to make it possible for Mogens to succeed Keld Brandstrup later and carry on the intensive breeding program and queen production.
Introducing Buckfast Denmark
Buckfast Denmark was founded about 40 years ago by Keld Brandstrup. With the experience of breeding bees according to Br. Adam, Keld decided to give beekeepers access to the queens and started supplying queens to mainly commercial beekeepers. A firm system for production and mating islands was established. Quality became the overall foundation for the company.
Selection criteria and assessment guidelines were developed, and all results computerized by 1996. Gradually the company expanded due to high demand for quality queens from beekeepers and research stations. Today Buckfast Denmark queens are exported worldwide and have proven their potential from cold to tropical conditions.
Brother Adam’s legacy
Karl Kehrle (aka “Brother Adam” - 3. August 1898-1. September 1996), was a Benedictine monk, beekeeper and an authority on bee breeding, and developer of the Buckfast bee.
Due to health problems, he was sent by his devoutly Catholic mother at age 11 from Germany to Buckfast Abbey, where he joined the order (becoming Br. Adam). In 1915 he started his beekeeping activities. Two years prior, a parasite, Acarapis Woodi, that originated on The Isle of Wight had started to extend over the country devastating all the native bees. In 1916 it reached Buckfast Abbey killing 30 of the 46 colonies. Only the A.m. Carnica and A.m. Ligustica survived.
Subsequently Br. Adam travelled to Turkey to find substitutes for the native bees. In 1917 he created the first Buckfast bee, a very productive bee resistant to the parasite. In September 1919 Br. Adam was put in charge of the abbey’s apiary, after the retirement of Br. Columban. In 1925, and after some studies on the disposition of the beehives, he installed his famous breeding station in Dartmoor. An isolated model to obtain selected crossings. From 1950, and for more than a decade after, Adam continued his gradual improvement of the Buckfast Bee by analyzing and crossing bees from places all over Europe, the Near East, and North Africa.
Br. Adam continued his studies of the Buckfast bee and his travels during the 1970ties. He received several prices, including the O.B.E. in 1973 and the German Verdienstkreutz in 1974.
On the 2nd of February 1992, aged 93, he resigned his post as beekeeper at the Abbey. From 1993 onwards, he lived a retired life at Buckfast Abbey and became the oldest monk of the English Benedictine Congregation. In 1995, at age 97, he moved to a nearby nursing home where he died on the 1st of September 1996.