Slovenia is one of the top countries in the world in terms of the number of beekeepers per capita and is the only member of the European Union that has protected its native bee. The indigenous subspecies Carniolan honey bee is part of the Slovenian national identity. In 2011 it also became one of the first countries in the EU to prohibit the use of certain pesticides that were harmful to bees. This shows our concern and love for these little “honeymakers” and our environment.
Upon the initiative of Slovenia, the United Nations have declared the 20th May as World Bee Day. In only a month we will celebrate the first World Bee Day and to honor this occasion Slovenia will issue a circulating commemorative €2 coin depicting honeycomb and maybe you’ll even get hold of it, when you’re here. It will be issued as a reminder of the importance of bees and other pollinators for the entire humanity, since one-third of global food production depends on bees.
We are more than proud that the World Bee Day will be celebrated on a day when Anton Janša, (1734-1773) was born, a pioneer of modern beekeeping and one of the greatest experts on bees. He was lecturing in Vienna, where Maria Theresa, the Holy Roman Empress, named him a permanent teacher and at the new Beekeeping School of Vienna, and his teachings had to be followed by the state beekeeping teachers.
Anton Janša was also interested in art, but not just any kind of it, he painted the frontal panels of the beehive. This is another interesting feature of Slovenian beekeeping, that has just started in his days – the beginning of this folk art can be traced back to the middle of 18th century. The fascinating decorations of the beehive panels that are still present on many beehives nowadays can make a lovely souvenir or be admired at some of the museums, where you can learn more about the history and the art of beekeeping.
Also in the urban areas they are aware of the environmental importance of bees. There are more and more beehives present in Ljubljana each year and there is no fear that the bees would stay hungry in such a green city. A few hives are set on the rooftop of CD Congress Centre where they have kept bees for 8 years already. Urban beekeeping has found its way also to the Hotel Park, where they keep their bees and collect honey that is used in their culinary products. How honey is used in a Slovenian culinary, what honey products there exist, and where to get them, I will present in a future article, so stay tuned.
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