During one sultry summer evening, HR director Laura Baltakiene and her colleagues at Teva’s Vilnius, Lithuania facility came up with a brilliant idea. The result? Great teamwork and fresh, delicious honey...
How did the beekeeping scheme start?
During one summer event a few years ago, my friends and I built a beehive. We had a workshop with a professional beekeeper who very kindly showed us how to construct a hive, which really reminded us of our great teamwork in the office. Afterwards, a colleague said: “I’m beekeeping at my parents’ house, so why don’t we try to set up our own hive here at the Sicor Biotech- Teva location?” This was how it started, and the company supported us with additional equipment needed for beekeeping onsite.
Who are the people involved?
Our chief beekeeper is Algirdas Norkūnas, a junior technologist in the API manufacturing team. Quite a number of our colleagues took part in honey harvesting, and everyone who tasted it was full of praise about how delicious it was!
What is the aim of the beekeepers – is it to produce honey for charity or for Teva employees to enjoy?
It is purely for joy, with the added benefit of pollinating the trees and flowers in our environment. The harvested honey is available at our Teva canteen in Vilnius. Some of the honey is also bottled and given as gifts to our partners, friends and colleagues in other countries.
Have the Vilnius Teva beekeepers any previous experience?
Many of our employees learned from their parents when they were children, while others are enthusiasts who have found beekeeping a rewarding new hobby. Some also find interest from the scientific perspective, learning more about how honeybees interact with each other and with the environment.
What’s the best thing about this hobby?
Beekeeping strengthens our ties of friendship and teamwork. Honey is also known to offer a variety of natural health benefits.
How much honey is produced?
We originally started with seven liters and last year we increased production to 12 liters.
How would you characterize the taste?
I’d say it has a very delicious floral aroma. This is because the nectar was gathered from a variety of plants including sow thistles, maples, willows, raspberries, limes and wild flowers in our local region.
Has anyone been stung by a bee?
No! Everything is done professionally, and we wear protective clothing when working with the hives, so there haven’t been any accidents.
What is special about Lithuanian bees?
Sicor Biotech/ Teva bees are special! They are like our teammates and friends, as we all work together. We have the common goal of making people feel better.
How do you look after the hive and the bees?
Frames of honeycomb should be removed from the beehive, leaving around nine combs in there. We apply a special treatment to the beehive to keep the bees disease-free. Bees often have mites, and if they are not treated and removed, bees can die over the winter. Also, bees have to be fed. It is necessary to prepare syrup and to feed bees through a specially designed box. After the treatment is removed from the beehive, we leave the bees to rest over winter.