Beeing 🐝 Generous

All the gifts bees bring us

By Slovenian Tourist Board

Beekeeper on the rooftop in Ljubljana by Jošt GantarSlovenian Tourist Board

Bees are a fundamental part of Slovenia’s cultural heritage, attested to by the 7,500 beekeepers who are dedicated to the ancient art of apiculture.

Slovenia is also home to the Carniolan honey bee, which is native to this region. This subspecies is the second most popular in the world!

Beehive in Podčetrtek by Amadeja KnezSlovenian Tourist Board

One of the most important aspects of apiculture is the products made by bees – honey, propolis, royal jelly, and beeswax.

It’s extraordinary to think that a single species could bring us such sweet gifts!

Honey (2021) by Branislav MiloševićSlovenian Tourist Board

Honey

Out of all these gifts, honey might be the most cherished. There are many varieties of honey, classified by the source of the nectar that the bees drink.

In Slovenia, the most common varieties are: flower honey, acacia honey, spruce honey, silver fir honey, forest honey, linden honey, chestnut honey, and dandelion honey.

"Gibanica" from Prekmurje (2016) by Jošt GantarSlovenian Tourist Board

In fact, Slovenia loves honey so much that it is part of the traditional breakfast! Bread, butter, and honey should always be present at the table in the morning. 

Honey wellness in Thermana Laško (2017) by Thermana Laško d.d. archiveSlovenian Tourist Board

It contains lots of different vitamins and minerals, and it can also have a calming effect on body and mind, which is also why it is used in so many beauty products and even massages. 

No wonder honey is so popular – not only does it have an almost infinite shelf life if stored properly, but it is also beneficial to our health.

Lect honey bread in it's most typical form - the heart by Luka EsenkoBeekeeping Museum in Radovljica

Licitar

Honey is the main component of a dough used to make licitar – sweet gingerbread-like biscuits, which are then decorated. 

In Slovenia, licitar is usually shaped like a heart, or portrays birds, horses, and other traditional figures, and it is only decorated on one side.

There are still ten licitar workshops in Slovenia, with the oldest one dating back to 1756. As the process of making licitar is quite long and painstaking, it’s probably for the best that these biscuits are not meant to be eaten. 

Swedish Mead (2010) by CC Attribution, Tobias RadeskogSlovenian Tourist Board

Mead

Mead, also known as “medica” in Slovene, is a sweet alcoholic beverage made by fermenting honey with water, one of the oldest alcoholic drinks in the world.

In Slovenia, mead is still made by the same recipe as used by early Slavs, who believed that drinking mead would encourage fertility. 

Propolis by Ivan EsenkoSlovenian Tourist Board

Propolis

Propolis is a resinous substance that bees make to seal any unwanted open spaces in the beehive. If mixed with alcohol or water in a tincture, propolis can be ingested. In Slovenia, you will be immediately told to take some propolis if your throat is sore – and it usually helps.

Royal JellySlovenian Tourist Board

Royal Jelly

Worker bees secrete royal jelly to feed the larvae and adult queens. 

It is a viscous, yellow-white substance, which is thought to have many beneficial properties; supposedly, it can even help reduce premenstrual syndrome effects.

Bee pollenSlovenian Tourist Board

Bee Pollen

For many people, pollen is the source of agony in the spring months. 

However, if you are one of the lucky ones who do not have a pollen allergy, you might find that pollen can help you with relaxation, insomnia, and even with prevention of cardiovascular diseases.

Honeycomb by Ivan EsenkoSlovenian Tourist Board

Beeswax

It seems like bees have glands for everything! Eight glands actually produce wax, which bees then use to form honeycomb cells for safe storage of honey. 

Svečarstvo Stele (2016) by Jošt GantarSlovenian Tourist Board

Candles

For humans, beeswax is extremely useful in candle-making, which is an ancient craft. Candle-makers sometimes had to whiten the wax, which was a long process of letting it whiten naturally in the sunlight.

Some of these candles are so intricately made that they could even be considered artistic sculptures.

Bees at Kew by RBG KewRoyal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Bee venom

When we think about bee venom or apitoxin, our mind goes immediately to bee stings and pain and hassle – even anaphylactic shock, if you happen to be one of the unlucky ones allergic to bee stings.

A bee performs her duties on Aster by Ivan EsenkoBeekeeping Museum in Radovljica

Melittin

But for the lucky ones, bee venom is actually composed of beneficial substances, like melittin. In studies performed with melittin, it was shown that it might have antiviral, antibacterial and anticancer effects.

Sadly, melittin is also the component that makes a bee sting hurt.

Urban beekeeper by Jošt GantarSlovenian Tourist Board

World Bee Day

For Slovenes, bees and their many gifts have been so important that it was Slovenia who put out the initiative to name May 20th as World Bee Day.

Explore more
Related theme
Slovenian Stories
Discover with us the most densely forested country in Europe, it's natural beauties, intangible heritage, local crafts, people and how they're all connected to nature.
View theme
Google apps