Keld Brandstrup’s long and successful career as a beekeeper began in the early 1980s. Starting as an enthusiastic recreational beekeeper he has developed a highly professional commercial beekeeping company since then.
Today, Buckfast Denmark has 400 to 500 beehives and produces 25–30 tons of honey annually. A longstanding cooperation with Brother Adam from Buckfast Abbey in England early in his career gave Keld a deep interest in bee breeding. As a consequence, bee breeding is now the company’s dominant activity. His queens, which are bred according to Brother Adam’s principles, are in demand by beekeepers, universities and researchers worldwide.
Keld Brandstrup holds a number of posts in Danish and International Organizations for Beekeepers. He is a member of the Danish Honey Council (what’s that? Never heard of the Danish Honey Council!) and is chairman of the Danish Association of Commercial Beekeepers. In his free time he serves as bee inspector and breeding consultant for a number of beekeepers and beekeeping associations throughout the world.
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 production with other beekeepers, and frequently travels to deliver lectures outside the season. As Keld says - “Beekeeping is about sharing”.
Keld Brandstrup, who is born in 1954, has two children with his former wife, Jette Britt Nielsen, who died in 2005. Jette was also skilled at grafting and for many years assisted Keld. Keld’s current partner is Cristina Simonsen.
Introducing Mogens Mundt
THE MAGIC BEHIND BUCKFAST QUEENS
The magic behind Buckfast queens is quite simple – the quality and craftsmanship are unparalleled. The best Buckfast queens are produced when all parts of the process are working optimally. This is the continual challenge facing the beekeepers of Buckfast Denmark.
Mogens Mundt explains: “Ever since I became fascinated in breeding bees I’ve always based my work on an ethical principle: I will only care for colonies that I can ensure are well cared for. This is the challenge that makes me tick as a beekeeper”. Mogens Mundt is 38 years old and has worked professionally with bees for over 14 years. Beekeeping actually goes back several generations in his family though, so bees have always been part of Mogens’ life. His father was a beekeeper, and it was through this paternal relationship that Mogens learned the art of beekeeping. Gradually, the passion for beekeeping became stronger and the amount of hives increased.
Through cooperation with Keld Brandstrup, Mogens has developed insights into honeybee genetics and the ability to assess colonies for important traits. Overally colony temper, calmness on the comb, swarm tendency, comb building, brood pattern, propolizing, and hygienic behaviour are all key criteria that must be met for a colony to be selected as a potential breeder. “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” says Mogens.
The picture is clear - quality, quality and more quality!
"Here at Buckfast Denmark our production is limited to the number of queens that we can guarantee the quality of. We will only produce the very best queens for our customers, we never compromise on quality”.
Together with their two children, Mogens and his wife Lisbeth live on the old family farm near the town of Stenlille on the island of Zealand. Of the 18 hectares of land attached to the farm, much of it is used for landscaping forest and two landscaped ponds to encourage diversity and wildlife.
Leisure time? What’s that? As a young man Mogens was a passionate footballer but these days when he needs to relax he goes Fishing. Most of all, in quiet moments Mogens loves to just sit outdoors and listen to the sounds of the forest.
Brother Adam’s legacy
Brother Adam (Karl Kehrle)
Karl Kehrle (aka "Brother Adam") (3 August 1898, Mittelbiberach, Germany – 1 September 1996, Buckfast, Devonshire, England, UK) was a Benedictine monk, beekeeper, and an authority on bee breeding, developer of the Buckfast bee. "He was unsurpassed as a breeder of bees. He talked to them, he stroked them. He brought to the hives a calmness that, according to those who saw him at work, the sensitive bees responded to." (The Economist, Sept. 14th 1996) 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 Brother Adam) and in 1915 started his beekeeping activity. Two years before, a parasite, Acarapis woodi that originated on the Isle of Wight had started to extend over the country devastating all the native bees, and in 1916 it reached the abbey killing 30 of the 46 bee colonies. Only the Apis mellifera carnica and Apis mellifera ligustica colonies survived.
He travelled to Turkey to find substitutes for the native bees. In 1917 he created the first Buckfast strain, a very productive bee resistant to the parasite. On 1 September 1919 Adam was put in charge of the abbey's apiary, after the retirement of Brother 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, which still works today. From 1950 and for more than a decade Adam continued his gradual improvement of the Buckfast bee by analysing and crossing bees from places all over Europe, the Near East and North Africa.
In 1964 he was elected member of the Board of the Bee Research Association, which later became the International Bee Research Association. He continued his studies of the Buckfast bee and his travels during the 1970s and received several prizes, like the Order of the British Empire (1973) and the German Bundesverdienstkreuz (1974).
On 2 October 1987 he was appointed Honorary doctor by the Faculty of Agriculture of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences while in search of a bee on the Kilimanjaro mountains in Tanzania and Kenya, which deeply moved him and he saw as the official recognition of the scientific nature of his research. Two years later he was appointed Honorary doctor by the Exeter University in England.
On 2 February 1992, aged 93, he resigned his post as beekeeper at the Abbey and was permitted to spend some months in his home town Mittelbiberach with his niece Maria Kehrle. From 1993 onwards, he lived a retired life back 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 1 September 1996.