It’s no secret that our dwindling honeybee colonies have hit crisis point. Since the 1940s, the USA has lost 50 per cent of its bees. Last year the UK also reported that its bee deficit was so serious, crop pollination had plummeted to the second lowest in Europe, which has serious implications for our future food sources.
But suddendly, it seems that finally the world has understand the importance of bees for our environment and also our food supply – yes we are falling in love with bees!
If there’s a country that takes bees seriously its Slovenia – Slovenes have a deep respect for honey bees.
With such passion and heritage of beekeeping , it’s no surprise that they now have a new travel trend swarming all over Slovenia – apitourism, or even considered “bee tourism” an initiative driven by the Slovenian Tourist Board – marking the country’s ongoing attempt to save the declining beepopulation and promote its country’s long history of beekeeping.
Indeed, Apitours is a great example of a company who are embracing responsible tourism. As well as helping change our attitudes to the environment, they’re just as passionate about preserving their local heritage and helping support small start-ups.
Go on the honey tasting trail
Visit Marko Cesar, of the family-run Cesar brand, at his home near Maribor and you can sip on the country’s only sparkling chestnut honey-based wine. Elsewhere, you can sample liqueurs, mead, vinegar, beer and goats cheese, all made from honey.
Further west at the quaint Restaurant Lectar in Radovljica you can watch traditional honey bread hearts, or lectarstvo, being made; many biodynamic farmers flavour theirs with cinnamon, ginger, blueberry and chocolate.
Take an apitherapy tour
Nineteenth-century physician Filip Terc was ridiculed for claiming that bee venom could cure arthritis. But apitherapy is now recognised by the Slovenian Beekeeper’s Association as a legitimate form of homeopathy.
Those with asthma can inhale ‘healing aromas’ from the hive while anyone feeling a little weary can try honey massages, beeswax thermotherapy – claimed to boost circulation and treat skin disorders – and a nap on special beehive beds, whose vibrations are said to induce calm.
Go on an Apicamp
Slovenia offers various ‘apicamps’ on Queen breeding, the apiculture science and traditional AZ hives. You can join classes in honey production, bee feeding and everything from comb wiring to obtaining propolis and royal jelly.
Stay on an eco-api-friendly place
The apitourism trend has done wonders for highlighting new forms of eco-conscious travel. And many companies like ApiRoutes are using this niche industry to shine the spotlight on an array of eco and socially conscious accommodation and tours.
Pay attention to the bee hives
The Slovene beekeeping heritage is distinctive: The wooden bee hives are traditionally painted with murals reflecting myths and legends, or scenes bearing religious or historical significance.