At our office in Brazil, we’re helping to save a native bee species from extinction

“At Güntner, sustainability is in our DNA, and it’s something we talk about a lot,” says Osni Caron, CEO of Güntner in Brazil. “That’s why we’ve led the way in promoting the use of natural refrigerants in our industry and why we recently committed to six sustainability pledges to significantly reduce the impact we have on the environment by 2030.”

Bee rescue content

Güntner’s pledges aim to cut carbon, energy, and water intensity across all of our global manufacturing facilities while also boosting the sustainability of our products and packaging. But in addition to these large-scale initiatives, our commitment to sustainability also involves every Güntner employee and the communities in which they live and work. This commitment can be seen in action at Güntner Brazil’s head office, located in Caxias do Sul in the south of the country.

In the office’s extensive garden, a large number of wooden boxes are placed on shelves beneath the shade of a leaf-topped pergola. They are home to a species of stingless bees, native to the local region, which is in danger of extinction. The guaraipo negra, as it’s known, is threatened by the growth of agriculture and urbanization. By establishing a viable colony (which means a minimum of 44 hives), the Güntner office is helping to preserve this increasingly rare insect. And because the bees have no sting, there’s no potential danger for colleagues or visitors.

But there’s even more to the project than protecting the bees. According to expert Gabriel Benoski, who was brought in as a consultant on the project to share his expertise and to ensure local regulations were followed, the bees bring considerable benefits to the local environment.

“NOT ONLY ARE WE HELPING TO PRESERVE A SPECIES THAT IS IN DANGER OF EXTINCTION IN THE WILD, THE BEES ALSO POLLINATE PLANTS WITHIN A THREE-QUARTER MILE RADIUS OF THEIR HIVES.”
GABRIEL BENOSKI BEEING AROUND THE WORLD

The bees make honey, too. It differs from the honey produced by traditional honey bees in that it’s more syrupy and less sweet, but it’s been shown to have a number of medicinal uses. It has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and can be used to help wounds heal and as a treatment for sunburn. It’s also valued by some chefs, including the world-famous René Redzepi of Noma, for its slightly acidic quality. In the retail world, it sells for around ten times the cost of traditional honey.

However, Caron has no intention of going into the business of selling Güntner honey. The amount produced by his bees is relatively small, and he likes to offer small samples to visiting customers. He’s also on a mission to educate others on the many benefits of keeping stingless bees, and is happy for members of the local community and children from local schools to come and see for themselves and to take part in educational workshops.

“THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT OF THE BEES IS VERY IMPORTANT, BUT SO IS THEIR SOCIAL IMPACT. WE ARE HELPING TO EDUCATE OTHERS ON THE BENEFITS OF NATIVE STINGLESS BEES.”
OSNI CARON CEO, GÜNTNER IN BRAZIL

Benoski says that the Güntner project is extremely important in helping to repopulate the south of Brazil with native stingless bees. And he’s also grateful for any opportunity to spread the word about their importance. “Güntner is helping to make the people aware of them, and that’s great,” he says. “I hope this continues for a long time.”