To bee or not to bee

Steve Jack, 23 February, 2018
20 May 2018 marks the first international World Bee Day, which gives us an ideal opportunity to celebrate spectacular Slovenia and its thriving beekeeping culture.

In a recent resolution, the UN officially declared 20 May as World Bee Day, to honour the birthday of Slovenian beekeeping pioneer Anton Janša and help save the species.

Janša’s home country, which proposed the resolution, has a special place for beekeeping in its heart and its way of life, and has consistently sought to bring the plight of the wider bee population to the world’s attention. Although bees play a vital role for humankind and the global ecosystem (they contribute to almost 80% of all crop pollination, while helping to promote biodiversity and a healthy environment), their population – and very existence – has been facing increasing threats over recent years.

The Slovenian Beekeeper’s Association has therefore played a key role in giving this issue greater prominence, and in bringing it to the attention of the UN. Apiculture, after all, is one of Slovenia's oldest traditional crafts and is a crucial part of its economy, given equal status to that of other types of agricultural activity. The Carniolan honeybee, endemic to Slovenia, is the only bee species allowed to be kept in this genuinely beekeeping nation, where thousands upon thousands of residents are currently engaged in this activity. Beekeeping traditions go back a long way here, to a time when sugar was in relatively short supply and almost every farm kept honeybees.

One of the particular charms of walking or cycling through the glorious Slovenian landscape is to be greeted by clusters of brightly painted wooden beehives, and the low hum of their many thousands of inhabitants, as they go about their well-ordered, day-to-day business. And in addition to its ever-popular walking holidays to Slovenia, Inntravel also offers a cycling holiday. In the Shadow of the Julian Alps not only takes in the justly popular, jewel-like Lake Bled, but also provides stupendous Alpine views and a unique, two-wheeled perspective on rural Slovenian life. As well as the hives and traditional hayracks that dot the impossibly green meadows, you also pass Breznica, the birthplace of Anton Janša (1734 –1773), a beekeeping pioneer whose birthday (20 May) was chosen by the UN to mark the inaugural World Bee Day itself.

In 1771, Janša became the first royally appointed teacher of apiculture for all Austrian lands, teaching at the Habsburg Court and keeping bees in Vienna’s Imperial gardens (Augarten). Inntravel's cycling holiday also ends with a circuit via Radovljica, a town of Gothic and Renaissance mansions perched on a rocky outcrop where there is a fascinating museum devoted to Slovenian apiculture. Here you can find out more about the hard-working inhabitants of the hives which you’ll have seen throughout your trip, and perhaps come to understand more about the need for the World Bee Day initiative, and the protection of this most vital of species.

Further information

In the Shadow of the Julian Alps
Serene Lake Bled, majestic mountain views and timeless valleys that are perfect for cycling… plus an insight into Slovenia’s rural traditions and beekeeping culture. This holiday is a treat.
More about our cycling holidays in Slovenia >

The Lakes & Julian Alps
The Gorenjska region is as stunning as anywhere in Europe but with its own unique character – and deeply held traditions – that makes this area a joy to explore on foot.
More about our walking holidays in Slovenia >
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