A Slovenian natural treasure
The importance of beekeeping in Slovenia can also be seen in numbers: Slovenia has 11,293 beekeepers, 15,420 apiaries and more than 210,000 bee colonies, which is 42% more than ten years ago. It should not be overlooked that with five beekeepers per 1,000 inhabitants, Slovenia ranks at the very top of the EU Member States in terms of the number of beekeepers per capita. Slovenians are a nation of beekeepers, and beekeeping enjoys a status equal to that of other types of agricultural activity. In Slovenia, awareness of the significance of bees and ensuring their well-being is therefore generally high.
Their tireless helper is the autochthonous Carniolan bee (Apis mellifera carnica), which is famous for being a hard-working, humble, resistant animal, with an excellent sense of orientation. In Slovenia, beekeeping is allowed only with the autochthonous Carniolan bee. Slovenia is the first EU Member State that provided legal protection to bees. The Carniolan bee is protected under the Livestock Farming Act, and in its pre-accession agreement with the EU Slovenia protected its territory as the region of origin of the Carniolan bee. By so doing, it committed itself to doing everything possible to preserve the bee.
It is therefore not surprising that Slovenia has an Apiculture Museum in Radovljica, and that Slovenian beekeepers are well organised in local associations under the Slovenian Beekeepers’ Association. Slovenian beekeepers have enhanced the beekeeping tradition by expanding it to include beekeeping tourism.
In order to produce a kilogram of honey, a bee has to visit four million flowers and fly four times the distance around the planet.
Honey in Slovenia can be considered our unique natural treasure. The success of beekeeping production is influenced by many factors, namely weather conditions, winter losses of bee families, losses due to bee diseases, poisoning and much more. The production of honey in Slovenia fluctuates from year to year, and in 2020 we produced 1,293 tons. Beekeepers produced the most honey in 2001, i.e. a record of 2,550 tons, and the least in 2014, amounting to 471 tons. With their harvest, beekeepers meet more than half of domestic consumption demand, so that the rate of self-sufficiency in honey in 2020 was 67%. The predominant method of beekeeping is in AŽ-hives; in Slovenia most beekeepers are engaged in amateur beekeeping or it is a secondary activity. Honey is highly appreciated in Slovenia, as we consume about a kilogram per capita per year. We prefer to buy it from beekeepers, as more than 80% of their produce is sold directly from home.