An overview of the Urban Beekeeping year 2022 in 12 pictures
The joy of moving forward into a new calendar year comes hand in hand with the satisfaction of looking at the work done by Urban Beekeepers' Association of Slovenia (with our partners and friends) over the previous year.
Before starting to address new challenges, it is worth mentioning a few of the important urban beekeeping highlights of 2022.
1. Presentation at the 47th Apimondia in Istanbul
There is no doubt about the first place – the greatest international recognition of our activities to date is the presentation of the Association’s EU FoodE project Prison Honey entitled ‘Empowering underprivileged groups: beekeeping in a Slovenian prison’ at the professional section of the world apicultural congress Apimondia in August 2022 in Istanbul.
Over 550 contributors from 70 countries registered for the professional part of the congress and only a small portion of them were selected. It is also a recognition of our activities and the interdisciplinary, connecting orientation of our association in developing urban beekeeping in Slovenia and beyond. A link to the PDF publication of all the scientific abstracts of the presentations at the conference is available on our web site.
2. Three awards for two urban beekeepers at the international agriculture and food fair AGRA
Two members of our Association sent three samples of honey harvested in the capital in the 2022 season for professional evaluation at the international agriculture and food fair AGRA in Gornja Radgona, most important regional event in this sector. They received three awards!
For his forest honey and flower honey, both produced in the BTC area of Ljubljana, Franc Petrovčič received bronze and silver medals, for his forest honey from the roof of the headquarters of the company Petrol in Bežigrad district, Gorazd Trušnovec was awarded a silver medal. The received awards and the accompanying analyses prove once again that urban honey from Ljubljana is of the highest quality!
3. Publication of the book The Year the Bees Came
Just before World Bee Day, KUD Sodobnost International and our Association co-published the wonderful YA (urban) beekeeping novel by Petra Postert, The Year the Bees Came, translated from the German by Renata Zamida. It is a contemporary and modern novel for young adults that offers not only a marvellous literary experience and an excited read but also an expert but unobtrusively conveyed insight into the secrets of bees.
The novel The Year the Bees Came, nominated for the YouthLiteraturePrize, is not only exciting reading for young teenagers (8-16 yrs), but for anyone interested in the life of bees. The story unfolds over the course of a year, month by month, following twelve-year-old Josy as she discovers the world of beekeeping and forges new friendships but also has to fight to keep her hives in her garden... An inspiring read and a great present.
4. A new portable oxalic acid vaporizer developed
Members of our Association, Dejan Pečnik and Damir Škraban, collaborated on a long-term development of a portable gas oxalic acid vaporizer, used in ecological treatment for Varroa mites. The advantaged of the product, launched at the end of 2022, are its simple use, significant time savings, low price, and the fact that it is entirely portable.
Prior to this product, Damir Škraban had already developed digital beehive scales and a bee corridor that prevents other bees from robbing a hive, and on our web site you can read more about how the portable gas vaporizer was developed, the principle of how it works, and have a look at a practical demonstration of its use.
5. We have planted 300 new melliferous trees and perennials in Ljubljana
Under the auspices of the Slovenian Beekeepers' Association a nationwide campaign to plant honey-yielding trees and perennials took place in the spring of 2022. Based on the enthusiastic response of our members, we received around 300 seedlings that we immediately distributed to interested members and in early March planted them in the vicinity of our hives in the wider area of Ljubljana.
The campaign did not only attract individuals from various beekeeping associations, but also people employed in numerous organizations and companies. We believe that such actions are an important contribution to the preservation of nature and bees as well as other pollinators for future generations and improve the living conditions in our environment. We sincerely hope that such noble initiatives will continue and seeds of certain melliferous perennials are also always available for free from our Association ...
6. Urban beekeeping in two new Slovenian books
In May 2021 urban bees were given a place in the refurbished Museum of Beekeeping in Radovljica, and last year at the occasion of the new permanent exhibition a wonderful accompanying book by Dr Petra Bole (with photographs by Ivan Esenko and Miran Kambič) entitled Living Together: About Bees and Mankind (Živeti skupaj: O čebeli in človeku). It also contains a separate chapter on urban beekeeping that covers both its historical development and outlines the current state of urban beekeeping in Slovenia.
In 2022 also marked the official completion of the activities of the internationally renowned community gardens "Beyond a Construction Site" right in the centre of Ljubljana, between Resljeva and Kotnikova streets, an exemplary case of good practice. For a few years these gardens also hosted urban beekeepers, hives with the Carniolan honeybee that produced the highest quality honey. Upon the conclusion of this unique spatial, ecological and community experimental endeavor, the project also got its own monograph entitled Beyond Gardens: The Beyond a Construction Site Community Garden (Onkraj vrtičkov: skupnostni vrt Onkraj gradbišča).
7. Diplomas awarded in the Prison Honey programme
In November 2022 the Justice Minister Dr Dominika Švarc Pipan visited the open section of Ig Prison where our Association together with the Head of the section Hermina Androjna presented the pilot project Prison Honey. The project, part of EU Horizon 2020 consortium FoodE, has been running in association with the Prison Administration of the Republic of Slovenia (URSIKS) since 2020, and its goal is to raise awareness of the importance of bees and other pollinators for the environment and empowering people in prisons through practical lessons in beekeeping.
Over two years 25 prisoners were actively involved in the project Prison Honey and some are already working independently as beekeepers after their release. At the end of the meeting, the Minister of Justice Dr Dominika Švarc Pipan bestowed the diplomas for completing beekeeping training and was also herself presented with a jar of this year's honey from Ig Prison, where we also harvested pollen.
8. The monthly column "Beekeeping tasks" in the magazine Slovenski čebelar
Slovenski čebelar (Slovenian Beekeeper) is the oldest regular periodical publication in Slovenia, published without interruption since 1898. The monthly magazine also incudes established section on the practical work of the beekeeper. In 2022 Gorazd Trušnovec was invited to contribute monthly colums that provide professional and personal experienced and advice on beekeeping tasks throughout the entire season.
The Slovenian Beekeeper magazine through this section for the entire 2022 volume CXXIV thus also had a bit of an urban beekeeping tone (in as much, or course, as beekeeping in an urban environment requires a unique approach). We would like to thank the editorial board of the magazine, especially former editor-in-chief Marko Borko for his insistence over a number of years at inviting us to contribute and write this "beekeeping diary ".
9. Beekeeping in Slovenia on UNESCO’s heritage list
The nomination Beekeeping in Slovenia, a way of life, was at the end of the year at the Rabat meeting included on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The nomination was led professionally by Špela Spanžel from the Ministry of Culture with the support of numerous other institutions. Support to the nomination with an explanation of the state of beekeeping in urban environments in Slovenia was also contributed a few years previously by the Urban Beekeepers' Association.
On this occasion, the Minister of Culture Dr Asta Vrečko stated that, ‘Bees and beekeeping need our special attention in these times of climate changes. Beekeeping heritage has a long tradition in Slovenia, intertwined with culture and folk art. Today urban beehives also represent an important segment of beekeeping.’
10. Cooperation with educational institutions
As in previous years, in 2022 we also continued our constructive cooperation with many educational and research institutions, from nursery schools, primary and secondary schools, to the Faculty of Design and the Faculty of Economics at the University of Ljubljana, the Slovenian Agricultural Institute, the Slovene Academic Beekeeping Society, and others. The most heart-warming meetings are when the youngest children come to learn about bees and find out about the importance of pollinators in cities.
In the autumn of 2022 in Banja Luka, Bosnia, under the auspices of the Beekeeping Academy of Slovenia, the landmine victims organization UDAS, and the de-mining organization ITF, we conveyed specific details on urban beekeeping to beekeepers – victims of mines from all over Bosnia and Herzegovina, and also presented opportunities that are available in the field, constructively aiding their empowerment. We sincerely hope the noble project will also continue in the future.
11. Painted urban hives exhibited in the Cankarjev Dom Cultural Centre in Ljubljana
June marked the official opening of the exhibition by the Designers Society of Slovenia DALJNOGLEDMMXXII at the Cankarjev Dom Cultural Centre in Ljubljana with nominations for young designers. The project of painted beehives within the frameworks of our Association's ongoing Prison Honey project was also highlighted at the event.
The same project was presented at another exhibition in Cankarjev Dom, the Design Konsum (February and March 2022), and in 2022 our Association creatively participated in two more notable public presentations or exhibitions, at the CityPark mall in Ljubljana and in the Gallery of the Centre for the Protection of Cultural Heritage in Ljubljana.
12. Media appearances
We thank all the media at local and international level, individuals, institutions and organizations for the interest and affection shown towards our work and Association. It means a great deal to us, especially under the precarious circumstances we, despite all that we have achieved, still operate under.
We were honoured to get mentioned in international media in Germany, (ZDF and Franfurter Allgemeine Zeitung), Dutch TV, France (GEO), Great Britain (easyJet Traveller) and elsewhere. An extensive list of media mentions and publications can be found on our website. We also look forwards to receiving visitors at our urban beekeeping locations in the centre of Ljubljana in the future and providing anyone interested with an unusual viewpoint of the hustle and bustle of the town. Welcome!
In 2022 another of our members got his professional title or national professional qualification – NPQ Beekeeper (Robert Kovačič, congratulations!), and we also attended numerous (urban) beekeeping events from Washington DC to Trebinje RS, our mission was presented to the Global Diplomacy Lab initiative ... There were field trips & lectures & get-togethers - so many in number that it is impossible to list everything in such a summarized review.
We hope for our work to continue in quality and contribute meaningfully to a better and more pleasant living environment for all of us. We invite you to join our activities, information about which is available on this site and on our official Facebook page; If you are a taxpayer in Slovenia, you can also help us at a personal level or as an institution by donating the fixed percentage of your income tax you are allowed to allocate to a charity of your choice to our cause (costing you nothing, meaning a great deal to us), or you can choose to support our work symbolically by joining the Urban Beekeepers' Association as one of our members. We look forward to future projects together!
Happy 2023 – and Naj medi! (May the honey flow!)
Gorazd Trušnovec, translated by Gregor Timothy Čeh