Meet Germany’s ‘bee-master’ from Sierra Leone

In response to restrictive COVID-19 measures, a Sierra Leonean man in Germany’s Bad Belzig is winning the hearts of the townsfolk by becoming a beekeeper. He’s already turning his venture into a sweet success.

Christopher O’Neill working his honey making magic

Christopher O’Neill has moved far in his life. Originally from Sierra Leone, he has been living in Bad Belzig near Germany’s capital Berlin for over 20 years.

But when the coronavirus pandemic struck Germany in the spring, O’Neill found his movements severely restricted — and this was bad news. Used to being active most of the time, he quickly put on weight, which worried him.

It also gave him an idea.

“I stopped drinking coffee with sugar and looked for an alternative — it was honey,” he told DW. “Because I have a very nice backyard, I had another idea: Produce the honey yourself!”

A sweet idea

A few months — and a few bee stings — later, O’Neill’s beekeeping hobby has flourished. It’s also captured the attention of other local honey lovers like Madelle Ngnintedem, a Cameroonian working as an accountant in Bad Belzig.

“Being from Africa, I know what real honey is,” she told DW. “So when I came to Germany, I found it difficult to find good quality honey.”

Until she tasted a jar of honey from O’Neills’ bees.

Pride and good taste

Kirsten Schmeisser, a dentist from Bad Belzig, is proud of her town’s home-made honey.

“For me the honey tastes good,” she told DW. “It is also a nice gift, so I offer it to friends when I visit them. A gift from Bad Belzig.”

The honey’s organic character stands out. Erika Moritz is well-established in the local beekeeping scene and runs her own honey business. She lives in the nearby village of Grabow, and was immediately impressed after tasting O’Neill’s honey.

“Christopher is still a young professional beekeeper,” she told DW. “He has a few years-old bees and has a good harvest. He does everything as naturally as possible.”

Madelle Ngnintedem is a fan of O’Neill’s honey

Story credit: DW

Bienen in Pflingstrose
Christopher O’Neill working his honey making magic
Fresh honey is tasty, but needs lots of work
Madelle Ngnintedem is a fan of O’Neill’s honey

Categories: Business, Sierra Leone

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