Bee courses in the Melbtal valley

Teaching and experimental beekeeping at the AOL

The chair's teaching and research apiary is located in Melbtal and is managed by master beekeeper Dete Papendieck. Together with trainees, he is responsible for keeping around 150 experimental colonies of the honey bee breed Apis mellifera carnica. It is one of the oldest university apiaries in Germany. Beekeeping has a long and unique tradition in Bonn, which began in Bonn-Poppelsdorf in 1847 after the founding of the "Higher Agricultural College".

History of beekeeping in Bonn

The beginings

As early as the 1850s, there was a teaching and demonstration apiary at the then Bonn-Poppelsdorf Agricultural College. In 1861, the first lecture on "Agricultural and forestry entomology, artificial fish farming, silk farming and beekeeping" was held by Professor Dr J. Sachs, who later became famous as a botanist in Freiburg. Bonn was thus the pioneer in the introduction of apiculture as an academic subject at a university.

Bee colonies at Gut Melb
Bee colonies at Gut Melb © Dete Papendieck
Honeycombs © Dete Papendieck

1866 - 1964

From 1866 to 1936, apiculture was supervised by various honorary lecturers, including Dr August Pollmann, who described the bee breeds Apis mellifera carnica and Apis mellifera cypria in 1879. In 1934, the Agricultural College of the University of Bonn became the 6th faculty of the university, and the apiculture department was given a new "university apiary" in the botanical garden of the Faculty of Agriculture.

From 1936 to 1964, apiculture was supervised by Dr Gottfried Goetze, who was both a lecturer and an associate professor. During this time, teaching was increasingly supplemented by research, particularly in the areas of bee breeds, Carnica bee breeding, nosematosis and red clover pollination.

Since 1964

In 1964, Dr Wilhelm Drescher took over bee research and carried out numerous research projects in the field of the honey bee Apis mellifera L.. These included breeding, bee pathology, pollination of cultivated plants and the animal ecological effects of the use of plant protection products.
In 1994, Prof Dieter Wittmann took over as head of the Institute of "Agricultural Zoology and Apiculture". His research focussed not only on honey bees, but also on native wild bees and tropical bee species. Voucher collections of tropical bee species from various research projects worldwide have been established.
Since September 2017, Professor Thomas Döring has headed the Chair of Agroecology and Organic Agriculture, which was created through the merger of the Institute of Organic Agriculture and the Chair of Animal Ecology (formerly Agricultural Zoology and Apiculture).

Beekeeping course
Beekeeping course © Dete Papendieck

Traditional beekeeping
Traditional beekeeping © Andree Hamm

Research & Teaching

The apiary keeps a total of approx. 150 honey bee colonies of the Apis mellifera carnica breed, which are kept in Liebig hives of German standard size. In numerous scientific studies in which the use of honey bees is of central importance, the chair deals with the following topics, among others:

  • Pollination ecology, medicinal and aromatic plants
  • Improvement of ecosystem services in integrated fruit growing
  • GBOL, barcoding of pollinator communities
  • Conservation breeding of the dark honey bee Apis mellifera mellifera
  • Control of the Varroa mite by means of complete brood removal
  • Control of the Varroa mite using alternative oxalic acid application methods
  • Pollen collection behaviour of the honey bee at the Wiesengut / Hennef campus
  • Development of a non-invasive method for determining colony size in winter
  • The following investigations are regularly carried out as part of the scientific work:
  • Population estimation
  • Pollen analysis
  • Collection of forage crown samples
  • Varroa mite diagnosis
  • Bee samples
  • Varroa mite harvest (live)

Regular surveys

The following analyses are carried out regularly as part of the scientific work:

  • Population estimation
  • Pollen analysis
  • Collection of forage crown samples
  • Mould diagnosis
  • Bee samples
  • Varroa mite harvest (live)
Honey bees on poppy blossom
Honey bees on poppy blossom © Andree Hamm
Pollen von Pastinaka sativa
Pollen von Pastinaka sativa © Andree Hamm



In teaching, honey bee colonies are primarily used in the modules "Biology of honey bees and other pollinators" (Bsc) and "Keeping and use of beneficial arthropods" (Msc). During practical exercises in the course of the summer semester, students learn about the typical beekeeping activities required to maintain bee colonies, from swarm prevention to honey harvesting.

MA-P-25 Keeping and use of beneficial arthropods

B-AE-O-03 Biology of the honey bee and other pollinators

Honey bees have long been the subject of research in the fields of morphology, anatomy, physiology, chemical communication, behavioural biology etc. and are therefore among the best-researched animal organisms. For this reason, part of the lecture "B-AE-102 Biology of Crop Plants and Livestock" in the winter semester is dedicated to honey bees.

  • Queen rearing
  • Young colony formation
  • Swarm catching, swarm prevention
  • Honey harvest
  • Recognising, assessing and treating bee diseases
  • Feeding
  • Winter work: Cleaning, repairing and building new hives and accessories
  • Creating bee products ready for sale

Training & Internship

In beekeeping, there is the option of training to become an animal farmer specialising in beekeeping.
The apprenticeship lasts three years and can be shortened under certain circumstances.
In the first two years, all important measures in beekeeping are introduced and carried out by the trainee. In the third year, these are repeated and the practical skills are deepened. The profession of livestock farmer - beekeeping is a recognised training profession in the field of agriculture.

Applicants should have a good secondary school leaving certificate.
Further information on the profession of animal farmer can be obtained from the job centre, BIZ or Berufenet.

There is also the possibility to do a career-orientated internship at the apiary.

© Andree Hamm


Dete Papendieck

Melbweg 11

53127 Bonn

Jonas Klingel

Melbweg 11

53127 Bonn

Opening hours & honey sales


  • 15.00 - 16.30 clock or by appointment Tel.:+49 151 703 693 87  
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