I left the United States with my family to start a Portuguese school education. I went to primary, middle and secondary school in my local town in Northern Portugal, Ponte de Lima (known as the oldest village in Portugal). Then, I took a Biology degree (BSc) in another city Braga, Portugal, which was followed by a post-graduation (MSc) in Environmental studies abroad (in Barcelona, Spain).
- research in environmental studies – looking at how some sewage bacteria can produce energy (electricity)
- bank teller
- beekeeper and aromatic herbs producer
- renewable energy in a private company
- consultant in agriculture-related projects
- research assistant in bee nutrition and behaviour and lab beekeeper
Research Beekeeper and Assistant of the Oxford Bee Lab
Oxford Bee Lab, Zoology Department, University of Oxford, UK
I’m a beekeeper without borders, a honey-bee chef and a full-time entrepreneur.
Hi, I’m Rui Goncalves, born in the US, raised in the Portuguese culture, and have a 3-month-old British-Portugues son (he was born in Oxford). I think I’m a multinational citizen, as many of you may be.
Growing up, I was glued to the BBC wildlife programmes and gasped every time a lion or a crocodile grabbed a zebra. I’m also a big fan of comic books, and my favourite of all time is Calvin and Hobbes from Bill Waterson.
Much of growing up shaped my interests in environmental protection, sustainable food production and helping local communities with their farming practices.
I’m a honey bee chef. I make food for bees to eat !I’m also a beekeeper: I give them a house to stay in, I help them if they are sick, and the bees provide me with honey.
I’ve been working with bees for over ten years. At first, by supporting my hobbyist uncle who thought a guy with a background in biology and environmental studies, would understand his bees better.
The first encounter with this “superorganism” caused such fascination that led me to start Zee – Honey goods, a synergetic food company merging honeybees and aromatic herbs.
Shortly after, I assisted and co-founded a local beekeeping association, created consultancy services for local farmers and was awarded an Erasmus for entrepreneurs where I met Prof. Geraldine Wright. With Prof. Wright and a group of international researchers, I helped to create a new start-up, Apix, to formulate a superfood for honeybees that aims to sustain them for longer and generate more resilient offspring.
Bees reached their limiting capacity in absorbing more stressors to their colonies – their Achilles heel is access to healthy nutrition.
Nowadays, in between diverse tasks, such as nutritional research projects, beekeeping and even entrepreneurship, are some of the positions taken in this lab.
Always happy to talk about bees.
My Typical Day:
A typical day starts with checking in with the bees, helping my colleagues with their research projects, and research which types of food the bees prefer.
My day is usually very unexpected, and the weather dictates much of what I do. If it’s a nice sunny day, you most likely will find me in the apiary checking the hives and examining what the bees are doing. If it’s a rainy day, I’m inside the lab or at my workshop preparing the equipment for the honey season.
I work with a diverse team that includes PhD students, post-docs, visiting students, and I collaborate with external researchers. A big part of this work is helping others solve their problems and be active in reaching a solution that can benefit everyone.
A big part of science is collaborating and working in a team environment to discover something new! In my case, I get excited when I learn new stuff about bees.
The qualifications required for this job are:
- bee curious and a good observer
- have an open mind to learn new things (life is better when you try something new)
- be kind (to animals, people and around life
- be resilient
- be brave
- find time to help your fellow beekeeper
- bee curious and a good observer
How I got into this job:
Back in Portugal when I started helping my uncle keeping his bees I discovered the wonder of honey bees. I became thrilled to be outdoors and observing the bees doing their thing all day long. Soon I realised I could try to make a living out of it.
Why did I choose this job:
It is fun, tough, creative, sometimes unpredictable and it is mostly done outdoors.be
Experiences this job has given me that I might not have got elsewhere:
Be stung multiple times and realise I am not allergic to bee venom
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
outdoors-loving guy and bee whisperer
What did you want to be after you left school?
Were you ever in trouble at school?
A few times
Who is your favourite singer or band?
What's your favourite food?
Cheese and chocolate cookies
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Meeting beekeepers around the world
Tell us a joke.
What do bees chew?....................................................Bumble gum!