Honey bee flying towards a white flower

Honey of a Hobby: A Magna Beekeeper's Perspective

Magna has become a hive of activity when it comes to beekeeping.

As part of an ambitious project to protect and increase the bee population in Europe, around 30 Magna divisions, including those in Sailauf, Lannach, Untergruppenbach and Graz, are home to dozens of beehives.

The hives are maintained by dedicated employee volunteers who tend the bees and harvest honey. Visitors of the Magna booth received gifts of Magna-made honey at the 2023 IAA Mobility show in Munich, Germany. In addition, Magna employees who donated $4 to charity in 2023 received a small jar of the honey, with $1,300 going to good causes.

Rej Husetovic, European Director of Corporate Communications and Media Relations, Magna

Rej Husetovic, European Director of Corporate Communications and Media Relations, Magna

“We’re not only bringing bees together. We are bringing people together.”

The love of beekeeping has blossomed beyond Magna divisions. Employees like Rej Husetovic, Magna’s European Director of Corporate Communications and Media Relations in Sailauf, Germany, maintain Magna hives at work – and set up hives at home.

We spoke to Husetovic about his newfound passion for bees and its impact.

How did you get involved in beekeeping at Magna?

I knew nothing about bees before we started in Sailauf in 2022. Two Magna engineers, Klaus Ott and Claus Knopp, are beekeepers and they taught me some basics. Ott comes from a family of experienced beekeepers. Today, we have five hives and a Teams group that keeps track of when we are working with the bees. We harvested 300 pounds of honey here last year.

We’re not only bringing bees together. We are bringing people together. It’s all about collaboration. What we’re doing is important. The bee population in Europe has been shrinking for years. We say, ‘No bees. No life.’

How has your interest in beekeeping spread beyond Magna?

The Magna project inspired me to join a beekeeper’s club in my hometown. I’ve taken lessons in bee keeping, honey production, legislation and mating queens. I have five of my own hives, with about 250,000 bees. Two of the hives are next to my house in Seligenstadt, and three are on a nearby farmer’s field.

The bees are so structured and organized. It’s a pleasure watching them. Sometimes we sit in the garden on Sunday, have a glass of wine and watch the bees.

What lessons have you learned from beekeeping?

I’ve learned to calm down. If you aren’t calm, the bees get nervous and aggressive, and you will get stung. You learn patience and how to cooperate. I am the beekeeper, but they are my master. They rule. You have to adapt to them and their pace. Their mood matters.

Learning to understand bees is like learning about a different culture. Communication is important. I talk to my bees. They can’t hear because they don’t have ears, but they are sensitive to vibration. Regular hive inspections are important. It’s the key to healthy hives. I recently apologized to the bees because it had been raining and I didn’t check in on them. It looks like they accepted my apology.

How does beekeeping fit in with Magna’s sustainability efforts?

I call it “lived sustainability.”

As a global leader within the industry, Magna has set itself ambitious net-zero targets. The small things employees do matter, too. Magna is supporting them with bee initiatives and other efforts. I ride my bike 30 kilometers one way to the office once a week. I meet lots of my colleagues doing the same thing on the way. In fact, so many people are riding their bikes to work we’ve had to expand the bike parking area at Sailauf. These are the small things which have a direct impact on the daily routines in life.

I’m proud because Magna is supporting its employees to care for the environment. Beekeeping is just one starting point.

Rhiannon LaForest holding products that were made from wax and honey from their bee hives
Rhiannon LaForest holding products that were made from wax and honey from their bee hives
Rhiannon LaForest holding products that were made from wax and honey from their bee hives

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