Fourth generation beekeeper Erik Tihelka is relishing the opportunity to pursue his passion for the hard-working insects as an Animal Science student at Hartpury College.
Erik, from the Czech Republic, has written and translated articles for beekeeping journals Bee World, The Modern Beekeeper and Beekeeping, and veterinary journal Veterinary Science.
He has published 15 entomology papers in peer-reviewed journals and established the online peer-reviewed journal Ethnoentomology, which is focused on the niche field of research concerned with the influence of insects in human cultures.
Erik has presented at beekeeping conferences, acted as a translator for international speakers and, through his interest in all insects, reported two new beetles from Slovenia for the first time.
Alongside studying for a Level 3 Extended Diploma in Animal Science, Erik is enhancing his impressive beekeeping knowledge by helping out at the apiary on Hartpury’s 360-hectare campus.
“My journey with insects started at an early age, when I learned the craft of beekeeping from my grandfather, and today I am the fourth generation beekeeper in our family,” explained Erik.
“At first, I just helped on the apiary, but gradually I grew so fascinated with the hard-working insects that entomology became my hobby and passion.
“In my articles, I focus mainly on honey bee health, diseases of insects and invertebrate medicine.
“As part of our family project Your BeeHouse, I was responsible for organising educational apiary visits for schools to our apiary, to educate children about the importance of pollinators.
“I am especially honoured to have the opportunity to help at the Hartpury apiary and gain more skills exactly in the area most important to me.”
Erik is pleased that he chose to study the Level 3 Extended Diploma in Animal Science, which provide students with the knowledge, skills and understanding to progress on to further veterinary and animal science study.
Hartpury’s large and varied animal collection of exotic species, horses, small animals and domestic species of livestock at Home Farm offers practical hands-on learning opportunities.
“From the beginning, Animal Science at Hartpury was my first choice,” he said.
“What excites me the most about the course is that it enables me to focus exactly on the subject area that I love, and no other qualification provides the opportunity to specialise so closely on animals.
“The facilities at Hartpury are unparalleled, with a modern farm, animal collection and laboratories.
“The lessons are all led by lecturers with a passion about the animal industry. The ample practical experience gained while working with animals, from reptiles to sheep, is another unique aspect of studying Animal Science at Hartpury.
“The support for international students is excellent.
“The beautiful landscape surrounding Hartpury is my other favourite part of the course. Gloucestershire has many nature reserves and diverse aquatic habitats, a perfect combination for freshwater entomology.”
Picture: Eric Tihelka at the apiary at Hartpury