Slovenes have a deep respect for honey bees. “If I see dead bees, I call a police SOS number and they send a special inspector to check out the situation,” said Blaz Ambrozic, the beekeeper at Beekeeping Ambrozic-Kralov med, his family-owned apiary that’s just 1 mile from the popular resort town of Bled.
With such passion, it’s no surprise that the Slovenian Beekeeper’s Association successfully petitioned the United Nations to proclaim May 20 — the birthday of the native Slovene pioneer of modern beekeeping, Anton Jansa — as World Bee Day, celebrating the importance of honey bee preservation and raising the public’s awareness of how significant bees are to the food supply.
For at least the rest of the month, the medieval Bled Castle will host an exposition on bees and beekeeping in the area.
Kralov med has introduced an apitourism (that is, tourism focused on and for people who love bees) project where visitors will don protective gear and spend up to two hours working with Ambrozic, including opening a hive with Carniolan bees — a subspecies under the protection of the Slovene government. In essence, guests become immersed in bees and beekeeping, such as learning how to distinguish honey from propolis (a waxy bee glue used to seal up hives) and how to extract honey from the hive’s cells.
Ambrozic will also display colorful beehive panels (called panjska koncnica) painted by local school children. 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.
Similarly, the lovely wooden beehive panels painted by Ambrozic’s wife, Danijella — they make for memorable souvenirs — are available for purchase, as are honey-drop-shaped jars of two varieties the couple produce: their award-winning spruce (savory with a balsamic-like flavor), and a mix of spruce and linden (sweet and lemon-tinged). Ambrozic also offers informal apitherapy, where guests recline on a bunk bed, inhaling the warm air from adjacent hives.
Bookings for two hours with Ambrozic at Beekeeping Ambrozic-Kralov med cost $31 per person and can be purchased on the apiary’s website (kralov-med.si/en/home/). For more information on Slovene apitourism, including apitherapy, visit Apiturizem, the Slovenian Tourist Board’s website, and the Slovenian Beekeepers’ Association site for World Bee Day events.