Martxel Aizpurua: Biologist, menturazale, hive...

1986/04/01 Elhuyar Zientzia Iturria: Elhuyar aldizkaria

We have interviewed a well-known character in Euskal Herria. We had the opportunity to chat with him at the Basque Summer University, and then we leave some brushstrokes about his life and his work.

Elhuyar.- Hi, you are a person who has done a little of everything. After working first as a teacher and leaving school, you entered UZEI. This is not the case of the Euskal Etxea of Barcelona. When that dream failed, I went to the Gulf of Guinea with the Basque fishermen. And now you speak with bees. Why so much profession?

Martxel Aizpurua.- Well, if we look down, I think it has some logic, a personal logic. I am a person who has tried to do what we like in the society in which we live. As a teacher, I started teaching the drivers at the age of 18. Then I did not know Basque or biology. At that time I had need and started working as a professor at the Lyceum of St.Thomas of Donostia. At the same time, that same year I also did some small research in Aranzadi, while collaborating in UZEI.

The three jobs could not go ahead and I left one. Then I worked for a year at UZEI and in the afternoons at Aranzadi. What do you want that? Since I have always maintained the biology branch and somehow worked botany and pollen study. So, why did I get into a broad project for two years? Well, I think that is the dream of all biologists. I do not know any biologist who has not had that dream. That dream is to make a trip like Darwin, turn around the world In this case, it was also a mental aspect. You did not make the trip by plane, but by sailing. Anyway, the only option I wanted was not to repent later. Therefore, if the dreamed of so many times touches on a par and does not retreat, we must advance.

E.- And you advanced.

M.A.- Yes. But after I had been paralyzed to make the illusion, I did not stay back or forth, neither for the sea nor for the earth, it was quite hard. Well, now I'm in the hive and that's normal in a sense. As I said before, I was still researching and lately I had started to do the polynical analysis of honey. Instead of studying the honey of others, I thought: "I believe the honey". On the one hand, create honey, and on the other, investigate about that honey or beehive.

E.- What kind of research?

M.A.- For example, how much honey can be extracted in an area? What quality? When do each kind of honey make? What are they picking up in spring? What flowers are found in Gipuzkoa, for example, and how is this flowering? Which flower comes first? What then? For example, the chicory grass blooms, of course, but how many herbs are there? Therefore, by combining all these aspects, I addressed a form of research, a new life. Perhaps my father has always been right. According to him, I have always been innovative and if there are things that I like and are new, they have always thrown me.

E.- But apart from research, there will also be an economic problem. He will have to get his life out of some place, right?

M.A.- Yes. If I put a hundred or more beehives, from there could come money. I don't know how much, but perhaps half a million a year. With this you cannot do much. But that is help, and with the excuse of bees can give free rein. Talking about bees could give rise. Or in winter, as they are almost asleep, I will have six months to do other jobs, and as in our country there is no work (money is missing, but not work), there or here.

E.- And does the honey these bees make have any peculiarity? We have heard many times "miei de la Alcarria"...

M.A.- I just started investigating. I believe that here has not arisen a honey of this type of plants, such as rosemary honey or chestnut honey. Because here there are no such achievements. Here it produces honey of a thousand flowers. Most likely, the chemical specificity of honey here is greater. It is pending to prove it. We should not analyze with what flower is made. After a month of sumatorium, when everything coincides in autumn, you have to see how the mixture is made. That mixture can have some peculiarity, has more glucose or less galactose...

E.- Is there a tradition in Euskal Herria?

M.A.- I think in Euskal Herria you have to make special the North and the South. In Álava and Navarra there was a real beehive, and at this time here in Navarre, in the area of Pamplona and from here below in the area of the Ribera, there are already important beehives. I think there is production. On the other hand, there was also colonization. The people of the Valencian area bring the bees to take advantage of the flower of rowers and fruit trees.

In Gipuzkoa and Bizkaia, in previous years many people have had more beehives. "My father or my grandfather had 20, 30..." and so it sounds. But, of course, we always had old style hives; uncontrolled, difficult to control; if they did well, and if they did not give it, it was called “bad year”. But there has been and I think there is a resurrection. I think our predecessor had more buds than hives.

E.- Have you analysed the Basque tradition in this regard?

M.A.- Yes. I have been married in a hamlet to get the first numbers of bees. And so, in the treatment, discover this type of traditions. People talk about their bees. Then they realize and think "good, this estimates it or what it is" and tell them strange things.

There are those who do not want to receive money because it is not about vendors, and prefer to pay feed or cultivation. Others do not want to charge them. He also collects it. People "don't have to do this", "have to place it in that place" and so they help them. Or they say things like "my mother did this" or "when our father died, my mother went to bees saying she had died."

E.- Is it dangerous to work with bees? Punctures and...

M.A.- The greatest risk is the loss of bees. In some places, mares and bees should not put interest, because they are in danger of being lost. Per tsonally we have to be careful, because they have a very strong mechanism to defend the hive. When approaching, at least when opening or manipulating the hive, care must be taken. There are things that need not be done.

For example, don't hit, don't let the honeycomb fall by the blow. These kinds of things frighten the bees. He works some beekeepers with nothing, no enjoyment, no network, and seems to be immunized. Lately, the bites did not make me so much effect. Some, by the way of immunization and others, on the contrary, make them increasingly sensitive.

E.- What to do to protect yourself?

M.A.- Know well your defense system. For example, it opens a hormone for each bee that is killed. If a caress is made and the bee is touched, once burst, a hormone that bees consider alarm is extended. Then comes another bee or two and if you kill them, has sounded three alarms. If it is not abandoned there, all bees could be attacked at a time.

The animals (cats, dogs, sheep, etc.) They escape when they feel raised at the top. Donkeys and horses do not escape and these begin to stir. You have to be careful. I started without anything and then bought the nets, the goantes, the diver, the dressing gowns, etc. I am increasingly protected, although the sting does not produce great effects

E.- Thank you, Martxel.