Beekeeping in Slovenia


Close coexistence with nature, sustainable lifestyle and local food production – all highly valued concepts in Slovenia – come together in one exceptional product: honey. During the past centuries, beekeeping in Slovenia has became part of the national identity and is increasingly growing international recognition. Especially important breakthrough came in 2017 when The UN member states approved Slovenia’s proposal to celebrate World Bee Day on the 20th of May, birthday of Anton Janša, the pioneer of beekeeping.

We would love to present beekeeping in Slovenia as a unique travel experience and include different aspects of apiculture in our flexible tailor-made trips for everyone interested in this topic. From learning about this old tradition at the beekeeping museum, to honey-tasting and enjoying the well-bee-ing of honey massages. All this and more, can be included in your personalized trip to Slovenia.

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beekeeping in slovenia

ORIGINS OF BEEKEEPING IN SLOVENIA

Honey production has a long history in Slovenia, which nowadays is widely recognized as the cradle of modern beekeeping. This tradition originates in the 7th century when the beekeepers of the first Slavic state (Carantania) were supplying honey to monasteries, churches and counties all over Europe.

Because of the region’s great biodiversity and favorable climatic conditions, a special type of beehive evolved and was significantly upgraded in the 18th century by Anton Janša from Žirovnica, a small town at the foothills of the Karavanke mountain range in the region of Gorenjska. Janša was born in 1734 into a family that owned more than a hundred beehives and he soon developed a fascination for this craft. His inventive approach and excellent observation skills led Janša to revolutionize the trade of beekeeping. He introduced a new apiary design, defined the role of drones and queen bees and overall perfected honey production techniques.

Janša put all the accumulated knowledge into two books on apiculture which became important source of information for beekeepers of the time and were greatly sough-after throughout the vast Hapsburg Empire, which the territory of Slovenia was then a part of. Moreover, empress Maria Theresa named him the official teacher of apiculture at her court in Vienna.

To honor his legacy and to raise awareness about the importance of bees to the environment, the Beekeepers Association of Slovenia with the support of the national government, send the initiative to the United Nations in which they purposed the celebration of Anton Janša’s birthday (May 20) as World Bee Day.

SLOVENIAN BEE

Slovenian native bee, better known as Carniolan bee (Apis mellifera carnica), is the second most common honeybee in the whole world, after its Italian counterpart. Carniolan bee is widely celebrated for its great sense of orientation, hard work, non-aggressive behavior, immunity to diseases, quick spring build-up and suitability for collecting forest honeydew. It proved so valuable to Slovenians that they decided to protect it under special legislation.

 

 

Discover the wonderful tradition of
beekeeping in Slovenia

 

beekeeping in slovenia - honey

HIGH-QULITY HONEY

The central product of beekeeping in Slovenia is of course its high-quality honey, celebrated throughout the world. Unique beekeeping techniques used in Slovenia produce an exceptionally vast variety of  this golden substance. Most common are acacia, lime, chestnut, fir, spruce, floral and forest flavors. Three types of honey produced in this country – the Slovenian honey, the Kočevje forest honey and the honey from the region of Karst – are protected on the EU level and honored with a special geographical designation.

Slovenia produces around 2,500 tons of honey every year which doesn’t qualify it as one of the world’s greatest exporters. Nevertheless, Slovenes like to pride themselves not on great quantity but rather on high quality.

The importance of honey to the Slovenes is also demonstrated in its wide use in local cuisine. On your gastronomy trip through the country, you will get the chance to supplement numerous traditional and modern dishes containing honey, including liqueur and ale.

Beehive panels in Slovenia

PAINTED BEEHIVE PANELS

Although the pioneer of beekeeping in Slovenia and ultimately the whole world, Anton Janša, also showed remarkable artistic talent in painting, he decided to dedicate his life to professional apiculture. However, later he found a way to combine his love for the bees and painting by creating wonderful colored beehive panels and popularized this unique Slovenian tradition.

Typically, beehive panels are decorated with scenes depicting everyday life of Slovenian peasants and characters from the rich local folklore. However, the panels’ designs weren’t primarily meant as a platform of artistic expression. Their task was to helps the bees find their way into beehives as well as making it easier for the beekeeper to distinguish between bees colonies.

Today, beehive panels are one of the most iconic Slovenian souvenirs and can be found in the shops through the country. They certainly are a unique gift you can bring to your friends and family.

OTHER HONEY PRODUCTS

In addition to a large number varieties of honey, the Slovenian beekeepers also offer countless other bee products. The first one that needs to be mentioned is pollen, one of the richest natural substances known to human. Similar matter, the so-called royal jelly is a powerful biostimulator secreted by young bees for their queen. Also worth seeking for is propolis, a natural antibiotic generated by bees and of course the delicious comb honey.

Wax is another great souvenir produced by bees. It is edible and can be used in cooking, but most commonly you will find it in the form of beeswax candles. What a great gift for your family back at home, don’t you think?

honey products in slovenia

Honey massage, Slovenia

WELL-BEE-ING

Slovenia, already famous for its numerus wellness centers, is now throwing honey into the mix. Leaning on traditional knowledge of beneficial effect this natural substance has on our bodies, a host of treatments involving honey are now available in spa resorts throughout the country. It has been proven that honey massage detoxicates our organism and nourishes the skin.

Furthermore, some places even offer meditation session with the bees. Imagine laying down next to the beehive, listening to the calming buzz of these hard-working animals and breathing in the air scented with the sweet odor of honey. It is said to be one of the most unique experiences you will ever cross off your bucket list.

 

 

“If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe,
then man would have only four years of life left.”

– Albert Einstein

 

BEEKEEPING NUMBERS

Albert Einstein, one of the smartest people who ever lived, suggested that the humankind will go extinct soon after the last bee disappears from Earth. “No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man,” he added. Was he right? It looks like Slovenians don’t want to take any chances when it comes to Einstein’s predictions.

With five beekeepers per one thousand inhabitants, Slovenia is at the very top of the EU members list. As the love for this trade is being passed from one generation to the other, the number of beekeepers is still rising. Every one of the ten thousand beekeepers in Slovenia is in charge of approximately 16 beehives. In total there are almost 200 thousand bee colonies; 90 % of them live in a typical Slovenian beehive called , after another apiculture pioneer, Anton Žnidaršič from Ilirska Bistrica. He came up with the idea of this innovative hive in the winter of 1902/03 and soon after it became widely used across the region.

Keeping the beehive-to-plate routes short, over 80 % of produced honey is being sold directly to households. This means every Slovene consumes about 1,4 kilograms of honey per year. Locals love to sweeten up their tea with it or bake delicious gingerbread cookies. You can taste them almost anywhere in Slovenia, but you can also try make one yourself as a part of unique local experience, when visiting gingerbread and apiculture museums in Radovljica. Ask our agents to include this activity in your tailor-made trip to Slovenia, when sending an inquiry at info@ekorna.net.

beekeeping in slovenia

APITOURISM IN SLOVENIA

Positioning itself as a boutique and sustainable tourist destination, Slovenia is trying to offer unique and authentic travel experiences which will bring you closer to local way of life, its culture and gastronomy. Apitourism is just one aspect of these goals and we would like to include it in your travels to Slovenia to a degree that is interesting to you. We can arrange for you to meet the beekeeper and help him with his everyday work, get close to the bees and try ther delicious honey products.

For those of you even more invested in apiculture, we can provide properly qualified beekeeping tourist guides or organize educational tours for individuals or groups. Apitourism is a great way to upgrade your regular vacations to a higher level of sustainability and raise awareness about the importance of bees to humankind.

Contact us for more information on beekeeping in Slovenia.


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