Citizens of Slovenia love bees more than anywhere else in the world

Slovenian beekeepers work differently to beekeepers elsewhere. They really love their bees and do not look at them as a means to generating a profit. They want to take care of them and provide them with an environment in which they can thrive undisturbed. Their main intention is to have bees and to take care of them.

In this way Slovenian beekeepers differ from the majority of beekeepers elsewhere, and Gilles Ratia, who visited many countries and got to know many beekeeping practices, noticed this when he visited Slovenia when he first came to Slovenia in 2002. People are excited about bees, they want to learn more about them and help them. Policy at the global level more closely addresses bees and nature conservation, so that with the help of the bees we can help nature and consequently people to live in a more pleasant and healthier environment.

Nevertheless there are still opportunities for the further development of Slovenian beekeeping that remain unexploited. The wish is that Slovenian beekeepers would value their products even more highly and package them in smaller and more aesthetically pleasing packaging. This would encourage higher-class customers to purchase honey and to give it as a highly fashionable gift, which is very often the case in some countries. The main role of the Apimondia, the international federation of beekeepers' associations is to preside over knowledge exchanges between countries and regions, and in particular from researchers to professional associates to beekeepers. They organise various events to this end, which are attended by scientists, professionals, beekeepers, beekeeping equipment manufacturers, political decision-makers, etc. At these events ensure that the latest scientific findings, good practices and new technologies are presented to and disseminated amongst the interested parties.

The Apimondia International Apicultural Congress will be held in Canada in the autumn

This year’s congress will be very big. More than 1000 scientific and professional papers from all over the world were received. The main topics of the congress will be divided into seven main areas: apitherapy, pollination, beekeeping economics, the biology of bees, bee healthcare, beekeeping in developing countries and beekeeping technologies. Among all of the topics at this year’s congress, we will be talking a lot about counterfeit bee products and how beekeeping can coexist in environments where intensive agricultural activities are being carried out.

Dr Peter Kozmus is one of Slovenia’s most prominent bee experts. He is the head of the Breeding Programme for the Carniolan Honey Bee at the Slovenian Beekeeping Association, chair of the Beekeeping Council at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food, and vice-president of Apimondia, the international federation of beekeepers’ associations.

He and other beekeepers always eagerly await this time of year. May is the nicest month for beekeeping. At that time they above all have to make sure that the colonies have enough space so that they can expand, and that they can reach their peak. If they have sufficient food sources in the environment at this time, the bees will produce surplus honey, which they can collect from them in June and July. Later in the year in Slovenia the bees can no longer collect excess pollen, so at the end of July the beekeepers start preparing their colonies for wintering and for the next beekeeping season.

Dr Peter Kozmus Photo: Bor Slana/STA

Text by Vesna Žarkovič