Slovenian Beekeeping: Bee our Guest!

This week I’d like to bring you some exciting news about a great new initiative and book – both on the theme of beekeeping – something at which Slovenia excels. Despite not being a beekeeper myself, since living in Slovenia I have become acutely aware of the importance that bees play in the world and, I believe, it’s something that should be of great importance to us all. Read on…!

Photo: S Senica

The Radovljica area has long been known for its ‘sweet’ traditions, primarily beekeeping-related, as well as chocolate in recent years thanks to the very popular Radovljica Chocolate Festival! Radovljica’s old town is home to the Museum of Apiculture, whilst the Beekeeping Education Centre of Gorenjska is situated in nearby Lesce.

Now, a new initiative has been launched to unite and promote Slovenian beekeeping in the Upper Gorenjska regionBEE OUR GUEST!

Photo: S Senica

BEE OUR GUEST is a collaboration between the municipalities of Bohinj, Bled, Gorje, Žirovnica, Radovljica and Kranjska Gora, and its aim is to acquaint visitors with Slovenian beekeeping in the Upper Gorenjska region, as well as offer information, tours and packages that combine beekeeping with the region’s other numerous sights and attractions. Thus, Bee Our Guest offers something for all those who want to see and experience a different side of the area’s natural beauty – whether you are a beekeeping enthusiast or just a lover of nature and all things ‘sweet’!

The Museum of Apiculture is located in the magnificent Radovljica Mansion in the heart of Radovljica’s old town centre, where, amongst other exhibits, you can see a rich collection of hand-painted beehive front panels, including the oldest in the world; each of the panels tells its own story!

You can also observe the bees busy buzzing about their business in the observation hive! More information can be found here – http://www.radolca.si/en/radovljica-apiculture-museum/

You can pay a visit to Lectar Inn, where in the cellar you can visit the workshop and museum where they have been making traditional Lectar honeybreads for centuries. You can buy gifts and souvenirs for your loved ones or for special occasions or, upon prior arrangement, join in a workshop and have a go at making one yourself.

On the website (http://www.beeourguest.eu/) and Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/BeeOurGuest.Slovenia/) you can also keep up-to-date with all the latest developments regarding World Bee Day, which has now been officially declared as 20th May, the birth date of Anton Janša (1734-1773), considered Slovenia’s greatest beekeeper.

“Every third spoonful of food on Earth depends on bees or, more precisely, on pollination. The more the meadows are polluted and the more frequently they are mown, the smaller the number of bees. Do we even realise what that means for our future and for us?” This comes from the authors of the newly-published book No Bees, No Life, available in English and Slovene, and is something we should all most definitely be aware of.

Written by the President of Slovenia’s Beekeeping Association, Bostjan Noč, the head of the breeding programme for the Carniolan honey bee, at the Slovenian Beekeeping Association, Peter Kozmus, and author of many books in the fields of ethnology and apiculture, Karolina Vrtačnik, as well as 66 contributions from 32 countries, the book has been receiving wide acclaim. You can find out more and/or order a copy here – https://beebooks.si/en/

I’ll be bringing you plenty more on this subject, and exploring it in more depth in the not-too-distant future, but for now, I’m off for for some quiet contemplation – oh and a cup of tea with Slovenian honey!

© Adele in Slovenia

 

Hop-On Hop-Off This Summer: Radovljica, Bled, Brezje, Kropa, Kamna Gorica, Begunje, Žirovnica

The Radol’ca Hop-On Hop-Off tourist bus will begin operating on Tuesday 4th July and will run every Tuesday and Thursday during July and August. This year there is an even wider range of places to visit and more things to see and do.

As in previous years a day ticket is great value at just 5 euros. You can get on and off the bus to visit sights of interest along the way, or just enjoy the ride!

On Tuesdays the route is Bled – Radovljica – Kropa, with additional stops at the Šobec Camp, Lesce, Lancovo and Kamna Gorica.

On Thursdays the route is Bled – Vrba – Žirovnica – Begunje – Brezje, with additional stops at Breznica, Spodnji Otok and Podvin.

To whet your appetite here’s a preview of just some of the things you can see and do along the way.

For the first time, this year the bus route includes Žirovnica, where you can visit the new Ajdna Museum Room to find out more about the Ajdna archeological site beneath Mt. Stol where remains were found from a Late Antiquity village dating back over 1400 years.

On especially hot days, a trip to the Završnica valley is an ideal way to seek some tranquillity and shade.

The valley is also a start point for great hikes and bike trips in the Karavanke range, including to the highest peak, Mt. Stol.

You can also visit Noč Beekeeping, where you can see some of the hives belonging to the president of Slovenia’s Beekeeping Association and his family, purchase honey and honey products, and try and buy the exclusive ‘Medena noč’ perfume made with Slovenian honey. You can read more about this in one of my previous blog posts here – https://adeleinslovenia.com/2016/06/06/perfume-made-with-slovene-honey-not-just-an-idea-a-reality/

In Brezje you can see the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians, and the Nativity Museum, or take a walk on the Path of Peace to the Peračica waterfall.

In Kamna Gorica you can walk through the village to see its many waterways, and walk up to the Sextons’ House Museum, which contains an original black kitchen. Its position offers great views over the village and towards the Karavanke mountains.

In Kropa you can visit the Iron Forging Museum, take a stroll through the village to see the former ironworkers houses, or visit the Vigenc Vice Blacksmith to watch a demonstration of manual nail forging.

In Radovljica itself there are numerous things to see and do including a visit to the Lectar Gingerbread Museum and Workshop, the Museum of Apiculture, the Šivec House Gallery, or simply enjoy a stroll through the well-preserved medieval old town and sit at the viewpoint and enjoy the views of the Sava river, the Jelovica plateau and the Julian Alps.

Or why not take the chance to find out more about Slovenian food and wine by enjoying a meal at one of the Taste Radol’ca restaurants or take a Taste Radol’ca Food Tour. More information here – https://adeleinslovenia.com/taste-radolca-tours/

Further information about the Hop-on Hop-off route and timetable can be found here – http://www.radolca.si/en/hop-on-hop-off-radolca/

© Adele in Slovenia

 

 

Perfume made with Slovene Honey? Not just an idea, a reality!

As a lover of all things sweet, though not a beekeeper myself, I consider myself a beekeeping enthusiast. So, when I read that Bostjan Noč, President of the Slovene Beekeeping Association, had just launched a perfume made with Slovene honey I buzzed straight over to visit and take a smell for myself!

CIMG1376

Fortunately I didn’t have far to go since the family-run Noč Beekeeping is in the hamlet of Selo, near Žirovnica, just a few kilometres from Radovljica. At the front of the family home there is a hive featuring 42 front panels painted with motifs from beneath Mt. Stol – the highest mountain in the Karavanke range. The interior of the hive is used as an outlet for selling honey and honey-related products.

053

The family have been practising beekeeping for centuries and have over 400 hives spread across various locations in Slovenia.

The perfume ‘Medena Noč’ (med being the Slovene word for honey), is exclusive to Noč Beekeeping and is currently only available direct from them, thus enquiries or orders should be address to: parfum.noc@gmail.com

In future it is planned that the perfume will be available in other outlets, so I’ll provide an update on that here in due course.

CIMG1381

The scent is described as being reminiscent of “delicate flowers, warm early-summer evenings, with a subtle undertone of honey” and I wouldn’t disagree. It really lasts too, I could still smell it hours after my test spritz! In a blind ‘smelling’ I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have been able to identify honey as a key ingredient, as it’s not immediately obvious, but in a good way, as it means its not too sweet smelling and the combination of ingredients works.

CIMG1385

The painted front panels on this small hive are dedicated to the Slovene folk music legend, Slavko Avsenik, from nearby Begunje na Gorenjskem.

CIMG1378

And, of course, I couldn’t come away empty handed without some Slovene honey!

CIMG1386

More information about Noč Beekeeping can be found here (in Slovene only) – http://www.cebelarstvo-noc.si/default.asp

© Adele in Slovenia

 

 

World Bee Day: The Anton Janša Honey Route

Much of the history of beekeeping in Slovenia can be attributed to Anton Janša (1734-1733) and still today barely a word is said about Slovenian beekeeping without his name being mentioned. Perhaps it was fate then that I moved to Slovenia, and particularly to the Gorenjska region, from where more than 150 prominent beekeepers hail, including Anton Janša, with whom I also share a birthday – 20th May – which is now (hopefully) to become World Bee Day! I live in Radovljica, home to the Museum of Apiculture and close to the village of Breznica where Anton Janša, was born.

logo

Slovenia is the only EU member state that has protected its indigenous bee, the Carniolan bee, which means that no other bee can be bred here. The Carniolan bee is the 2nd most widely used breed of bee in the world and originated in this region of the country.

slika14

The initiative for a World Bee Day was started by the Slovene Beekeeping Association, who, rightly so, believe there should be a World Day in recognition of something that is of such vital importance to the world. I whole-heartedly support this movement, after all, there are World Days for pretty much everything these days, so bees more than deserve to be recognised.

To mark this, I went on my own little ‘bee adventure’, following part of the Anton Janša Honey Route, which takes in Radovljica, Bled, Vrba, and Škofja Loka.

I began by visiting Janša’s beehive in Breznica which is part of the Žirovnica Path of Cultural Heritage that connects the birth places of many notable Slovenes including Dr. France Prešeren, Matija Čop, Franc Saleški Finžgar and Janez Jalen. More information here – http://bit.ly/1T26zxe

CIMG0884

As with the majority of hives in Slovenia, Jansa’s features original painted beehive panels, unique to Slovenia, each of which depicts a humorous or satirical story – this one shows animals taking over the role of humans.

CIMG0890

I also visited the Kralov med hives in the hamlet of Selo, near Bled, where beekeeper Blaž Ambrožič oozed enthusiasm when showing and telling me about the wonders of bees.

CIMG1024

I thought I knew a reasonable amount about beekeeping, however, Blaž told me so many astonishing facts about beekeeping that I can but recommend that you go and find out more for yourself! After all, it seems that barely a day passes when there isn’t more astonishing evidence about the importance of bees and the benefits of honey. It really is one of the best foods of nature as well as being credited with alleviating a range of medical conditions and lately has also become the latest trend in beauty products. You can also read about my recent experience of a bee sting facial here – http://bit.ly/1Spm1o2

CIMG1031

The star of the show at Kralov med is undoubtedly the hive that was painstakingly transplanted from a tree trunk and transported, bees and all, to where it sits today, and where the bees are still working diligently.

CIMG1026

As a measure of the calm characteristics of the Carniolan bee, Blaž encouraged me to put my hand inside the hive and the bees were completely unperturbed by my presence.

CIMG1028

I had a chance to try some of the honey and learn about the various characteristics and properties of the different kinds of honey and propolis.

CIMG1029

At the time of my visit a brand new hive had just been built which will also be available for apitherapy and visitors will even be able to sleep there, all the while inhaling the intoxicating scents of the bees, which is known to have beneficial effects, particularly for those suffering from respiratory diseases.

?

 

Can you find out more about Kralov med here – http://www.kralov-med.si/en/home/

The Anton Janša route also includes:

  •  The Carniolan queen mating station in the Završnica valley
  • The Museum of Apiculture in Radovljica, which features, amongst other exhibits, hundreds of beehive front panels including the world’s oldest – http://www.radolca.si/en/radovljica-apiculture-museum/
  • The hamlets of Combe and Bitnje in Bohinj, where the internationally renowned bee merchant Jan Strgar kept his bees and who, together with Mihael Ambrožič, was responsible for the spread in popularity of the Carniolan bee

You can also visit the Beekeeping Education Centre of Gorenjska in Lescehttp://www.cricg.si/angleski-jezik/ and follow developments regarding the World Bee Day Initiative here – https://www.facebook.com/worldbeeday/?fref=ts

So, come on, let’s unite to support World Bee Day and Save the Bees!

© Adele in Slovenia

 

 

The Radovljica Festival / Završnica Recreation Park

The Radovljica Early Music Festival began on Saturday 8th August and runs until Sunday 23rd August. There is a rich programme of concerts, workshops and masterclasses which take place in Radovljica Mansion and St. Peter’s Church. More details can be found here – http://www.radolca.si/en/what-to-do/events-1/radovljica-festival/83/260/ and also here – http://www.festival-radovljica.si/en/

1108-Leila-Schayegh

Leila Schayegh

0808-Ensemble-Phoenix-Munich-photo-Ivan-Maly

Phoenix Munich Ensemble

As much as I love hiking and cycling in the hilly and mountainous surroundings of Radovljica, there are the occasional times – such as when I’ve already hiked for 5 hours and am tired but don’t want to be at home when the weather is so beautiful – when a nice leisurely bike ride is called for. Fortunately, we have that here too!

So, on Friday, after the aforementioned 5 hour hike (more about that another time), I cycled to the Završnica Recreation Park in the Završnica Valley which, from home, takes less than 45 minutes, taking the route Radovljica – Lesce – Hraše – Rodine – Zabreznica – Žirovnica – Moste – Završnica, and then to the Zavrh bar which has lately become one of my favourites places to sit and enjoy a drink beside the cool of the Završnica stream.

CIMG9158

Chilling by the stream!

The reservoir is also the start point of the 2km-long Završnica Trim Trail which leads beside the stream to the Zavrh bar and onwards, making it perfect for these sultry hot days when the cool of the forest offers some respite from the heat.

CIMG9161

The Zavrsnica reservoir (and me!)

The Recreation Park also comprises a football field, a natural climbing wall and beach volleyball courts. The Završnica Valley is also an excellent starting point for mountain biking, and for hikes in the Karavanke mountains, such as to Stol, the highest mountain in the Karavanke, or to the ski slopes and the spring of the Završnica stream at Zelenica. Fishing and horse-riding are also popular activities in the valley.

CIMG9154

The new bridge connecting the trim trail

In winter there is a cross-country skiing area and, if the snow conditions are right, the road which leads up to the Valvasor mountain hut is turned into a sledging track. More information about the valley can be found here – http://www.zavrsnica.si/?id=50 (Slovene) or http://en.zirovnica.eu/home/ (English)

But it’s not time to be thinking about winter yet. Still more good weather ahead this week to enjoy….

© AdeleinSlovenia 2015

Spring in Slovenia; cycling, flowers, chocolate and more!

In last week’s blog I wrote about the St. Gregory’s Day celebrations which take place annually on the eve of St. Gregory’s Day, in this case, last Wednesday 11th March, in the villages of Kropa and Kamna Gorica. I was a little disappointed that due to work commitments I was unable to go this year, however, as luck would have it one of the locals from Kamna Gorica, put together this short video so I, and now you, can have a glimpse into the custom and see the colourful creations made by local children. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ABGRQ79oC7k&feature=youtu.be

What struck me initially on watching it is that it was still daylight, whereas last year when I attended on the same day and date -11th March 2014 – it was already dark. This year spring seems to have come early, and with it, longer and warmer days, and the forests are now carpeted with beautiful spring flowers. Ok, I know its a bit early to be celebrating spring ‘proper’, after all it could, and probably will, still snow. However, after last year’s washout of a spring and summer, this dry, mild(ish) period is much appreciated.

spring flowers 13Mar2015

So, with spring in the air, my thoughts have started turning to cycling and I began dusting off my bike this weekend. After month’s of not cycling, and with a nip still in the air, the first rides of the year are always gentle ones, on flat, easy surfaces, such as from Radovljica via Lesce and Hraše to join the 12km-long Imperial Road (cesarska cesta), a gravel road that leads towards Žirovnicahttp://en.zirovnica.eu/experiences/active-breaks/cycling/family-cycling-trips/along-the-imperial-road/

Another such flat(ish) and easy(ish), as well as being particularly scenic and traffic-free, cycle path is that from Bohinjska Bistrica to Bohinj Lake then onwards towards the villages of Stara Fužina, Studor and Srednja vas. The cycle path is well-marked and the views of the Julian Alps and the surrounding villages and lake certainly take your mind off the couple of short, but very steep, inclines. This section, seen below, leads from Srednja vas towards Studor. with the imposing Baroque St. Martin’s church on a small hill directly above the village.

CIMG8394      CIMG8396

It’s worth making the short detour to see the church, which contains paintings by well-known Slovene artists, and also nearby is the Ribnica waterfall and the Bohinj Cheese Dairy (Bohinjska sirarna) where one can stop off to buy locally produced cheese (open weekdays 7am – 2pm).

CIMG8402      CIMG8398

Preparations are now in full flow for this year’s Radovljica Chocolate Festival. This event just keeps growing and growing in popularity, and this year it will be even bigger and better. The Festival will take place over 3 days (instead of the previous 2) from Friday 17 to Sunday 19 April and will also be extended to take place not only in the historic old town centre and the Radovljica Manor (grascina), but also in the Town Park. Read more about the Festival here – http://www.radolca.si/en/what-to-do/events-1/festival-of-chocolate/83/309/

I can’t wait!!!

© AdeleinSlovenia 2015