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Slovenia is the only EU member state to have officially protected its native bee species
At a sad time of plummeting bee populations worldwide due to pesticides overuse, global warming and other intertwined causes, there is one nation for which the fight to save these winged honey-makers will never be over. Puzzling phrase? Google “bees’’ and you will invariably come upon “Slovenia”.
The poetry of agriculture
Resting on centuries-old beekeeping tradition, Slovenia is currently the only EU member state to have put its native bee species (the Carniolan honey bee) under official protection. In line with the country’s ongoing efforts to stem bee population decline and promote its unique brand of apitourism (bee tourism), the Slovenian Beekeepers’ Association has launched a mobile apiary equipped with interactive content showcasing all aspects of apiculture, reports STA newswire. The plan is to use the interactive bee house as a promotional tool locally and abroad.
According to the Slovenian Beekeepers’ Association, four in 1000 Slovenian residents are beekeepers, which is an uncontested world record. Slovenia has over 10,000 beekeepers, 12,500 apiaries and nearly 17,000 hive colonies. No wonder that the country claims ownership of the popular saying that beekeeping is the poetry of agriculture.
Breakfast of champions
The Slovenian Beekeepers’ Association, based in Lukovica, is over 140 years-old. Its activities include education and training of beekeepers, publishing technical books and the Slovenian Beekeeper monthly, organisation of exhibitions, symposiums, school clubs, beekeeping camps and workshops, public awareness campaigns, promotion of bee products in healthy nutrition, and more.
Together with the Slovenian Tourist Board, the Association has spearheaded a number of remarkable initiatives. They include World Bee Day (falling on 20 May, the birthday of Anton Jansa, a Slovenian beekeeper and 18th century apiculture pioneer), and the “European Honey Breakfast”, an offshoot of a local educational-promotional campaign for pre- and primary school children featuring beekeepers donating honey for breakfast.
Mental health booster
Slovenians are so emotionally attached to their bees, that bee hives can be seen everywhere, even in schoolyards. Apart from making honey, the insects are involved in a unique relaxation therapy where stressed people lie down in a room filled with cages of buzzing bees. The sound of bees has proven to be a great mental health booster – with or without a coronavirus on the loose.
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