Sebastian Katz isn't your average beekeeper. Based near Stuttgart, Germany, Sebastian is 28 years old, built like a pro athlete, and works for a big utility company. And, yep, he's also majorly into beekeeping.
When he's not at work, Sebastian can usually be found outside, tending to his bees. Even though he considers beekeeping his hobby, he keeps a whopping 12 hives at home, where he prioritizes sustainability and environmentally-friendly practices—and enjoys all the sweet glories of his freshly harvested honey!
We had the chance to connect with Sebastian to wax poetic about honey and discuss topics like sustainability and why he doesn't actually mind getting stung...
What’s your favorite thing about being a beekeeper?
I enjoy working in nature. Most of the time the weather is good and it is a good way to relax from the day. I’m fascinated by the whole system of bees. They are so profound and complex. I love it when I open a hive and smell the fresh beeswax, honey and propolis. The positive reactions I get from people around me when they taste my honey also motivates me to stick to it.
What is you favorite bee product and why?
Definitely raw honey. I love to eat bread with honey at the weekend breakfast.
Do you use any bee products for health purposes? If so, which ones, why and how.
Yes. If I feel a little bit sick, I take propolis to boost my immune system. I create the propolis tincture myself from my hives.
Are there any unique plant types in your area that produce a special variety of honey?
No special variety, but in my area we don't have monocultures. We have a great diversity of plants and flowers. No honey tastes the same as it did the year before, and that's very exciting.
What are some recognized uses for bee products that you feel are unique to you or your country?
I know that Germans eat the most honey per person in all the world!
For those out there who fear the bees what words of advice do you have to clear up this misconception?
A lot of people are scared of getting stung, so they don’t understand why I don’t wear a protective suit most of the time. But my bees are very friendly, so I don’t need it. If a bee stings me, than I have made a mistake—like when I move carelessly and abruptly. And if that happens, it's not so bad. Bee venom is included in almost all medicines for rheumatism. I've heard that it strengthens the immune system and stimulate the body's self-healing powers.
What bee related lesson or practice do you wish more people would adopt?
No bee acts only for itself. It always works towards the good of the colony. It would be good if people don't always think about themselves, but also about their fellow human beings.
What sustainable practices do you incorporate into your beekeeping?
I only use beehives made of wood—not of styrofoam or plastic. My honey jars are made of glass and a lot of customers bring them back so I can use the jars again and again. The glasses are, of course, always rinsed very thoroughly.
Do you feel that people in your country are fairly conscious of the bees and their importance?
In my area, there are a lot of people who honor the work of the beekeeper. They want their honey from a local beekeeper and not from the supermarket. I think it is going in the right direction.