By Jeannette Nda eps. Thinggaard (Langeland)
Niels Jensens family live in a small town call Bostrup in an island name “Langelang” translated in English as “long island” found in Denmark. This Island is noted to be one of the most archaic in Scandinavian Europe, with old fashion buildings, but surrounded by a spectacular view of sea and beaches. He was 23 years when his father died, but at the year 1988 Niels Jensen son of the oldest generational honey producing family was aimed at keeping his family industry functioning.
Very few family businesses have survived for four generations in Langelang Island Denmark, like that of Niels Jensen's. His father has work besides honey making as a builder, while honey making was also an inheritance from his own father.
Niels Jensen after the death of his father began thinking honey making is just as famous as any other factory and needed some more concentration than just a hobby as his father had traded before. He remembered having received at the age 4 a gift of a honey queen from his father, and the young boy knew that his father had just a few bee families.
The making of the honey was first embarrassing for a man of his mid twenties after his father died, but he got more confident when he took it a personal and interesting profession. "I don't know how much those experiences i got from my father were actually behind what i am doing today, my father had only about 200 bees but i presently have thousands after a few years, nevertheless i have counted on the spirit which was open to me by my father” says Niels.
Niels previously worked in his father's small bee store for six years after his father died, improvising when ever he had difficulties, and trying to understand the sudden challenges. This he confesses made him loose an enormous amount of bees because some of the situations were new to him. As a boy he had neglected some of the instructions giving to him by his father.
He has a complex relationship with his surrounding " i only meet people and friends once for a month, if i went to any place, i will get very worried to go home and check the bee's condition, its a delicate situation that i cannot enjoy being with friends out of my home, bee keeping is time consuming and requires hard work and concentration". Niels said.
He humorously said "you can understand when i go to get a hair cut i always is in such a hurry, time to me is important".
This says so much about Niel's identity, honey making has become more than a profession to him. When i ask him what he thinks his friends will be saying of him staying back in the island because most of them move to big cities for white collar jobs, he jokingly replied " i have also move from my father's home to my own personal resident, to me this is also a change, so my fiends have nothing to reproached me of not trying to change my life"
There are also moments of unbearable poignancy with the single experience and emotional effect of him not being totally available when his father was alive, it’s very difficult to think about it today, due to the complexity of the bee business.
His wife Alice has been a close collaborator and adviser, both sharing ideas and thoughts on how to improve the industry. They are both happy today the result being a big commercialize honey factory without constrains.
Through a trial and error process, using inspirational materials from the modern market, it’s now a kind of satisfaction to have new fresh and original honey in Langelang supper markets.
Niels is expecting a lot from his family, he has a son and a daughter, both of whom have been very supportive. Summer has also been environmentally friendly with an increase in production and a rise in quality and quantity with a high market demand in the island.
Consuming local honey is the priority of many homes, under Denmark's norms that require nectar to be in fields where fertilizers is not use, consequently this local honey producer has pave his way through to a successful agro-industrial factory in Langeland Island Denmark. The honey most tourist and locals enjoy to consume.
The total population of Langelang and neighbouring towns have Niels' honey on their tables during meals.
Niels is very concerned about his family name and the consumers, in questions relating to packing, hygiene and production labelling which he says he's proud of the outcome.
It has been twenty years since he got into honey production, the survival has guaranteed a life change forever for him, his family and the Island. Like the saying goes, "teach your son the way he should go and he will not depart from it when he grows older". This is true for this four generation inheritance family business. Leave alone the present Niels, his sons and grand sons find it difficult to free themselves from the bee stings. It clearly shows that there will be probably a fifth and sixth generation inheritance for this family.
Like many other Langelang inhabitants, Niels remain the traditional story teller of his land, "it has definitely been an enjoyable journey everyday that i work with the honey, memorable moments of my father" Niels said.
From the start making fair decisions about the honey market and learning to stick to principles while taking care of his wife and children has never been an easy task, sometimes he got stuck with many situations, but he never has given up his goals.
Niels studied in college but never completed due to the sudden dearth of his father. He had drop studies to take care of his family business. When considering the fact of his gratefulness to his wife and children, he said "i am glad to say i have made a family".
So far Niels has successfully made his biological family grow but also wisely increased his bee family into an industry in Langelang.