Honeyland: Beekeeping in Slovenia - Part1

Darja | Live the World

November 23, 2022

Beekeeping (or apiculture) was an important farming activity in 18. and 19. century when almost every farm in Slovenia had its own beehive. Bees are of great importance for agriculture, our environment and nature in general. Luckily, beekeeping is still very much present nowadays – five in one thousand Slovenes are engaged in beekeeping. Therefore, you might consider us a beekeeping nation, which we definitely are.

A reason for so strong beekeeping tradition in this Honeyland of ours is also the fact that the favorable continental climate is offering good beekeeping conditions. On top of that our great biodiversity enables the production of various types of honey (we even have three EU-protected types of honey!) and other bee products that you can find at local providers.

But who does all the work? Let’s check behind the scenes of a bee colony. The most important is the queen, which is laying up to 2,000 eggs per day. In such colony there are 20,000-80,000 workers, that are all females and have a multitude of tasks to perform, among others taking care of the queen, feeding larvae and drones, and of course collecting and ripening nectar. The males (drones) in the colony are about 300-1,000 and their only responsibility is as well taking care of the queen - fertilization. Since they don’t do anything else, it means they would die, if the workers would stop feeding them. Interestingly, the queen’s life span is 1-4 years, whereas the workers only live for about 6 weeks, depending on the season, and the drones even less.

In Slovenia such little workers are called Carniolan bees, and they are an indigenous Slovenian bee subspecies and are second most common honey bee species in the world. One of their characteristics is an excellent sense of orientation – they can locate honey dew much easier than other races of bees. Not to mention how hardworking they are – from dawn to dusk, there is no rest. They tolerate cold, snowy winters very well, and also rain and wind don’t bother them very much, when collecting nectar.

To find out more about the bees, you should visit the Beekeeping Centre Lukovica, where they are offering educational, culinary and other honey-experiences.

Apart from the mother queen in the beehive, we have another “bee-queen” in Slovenia – this is a woman promoter of Slovenian beekeeping that is attending various events, advertising the valuable tradition of beekeeping. At first glance it seems a bit like a beauty queen contest but is much more than that. The “honey-queen” has to show deep knowledge about apiculture and great interest for advertisement of the importance of bees for humankind. To learn more about that, take a look at Part 2 of this article, where I write about beekeeping history and why there is no life without bees.

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