As a beekeeper based in the UK, I have not been as active in the Cypriot scene, as I would have hoped or should have been. My knowledge and experiences have all come solely from my grandfather and his love for bees, but the boundaries of that school had always stopped there; until this year.
Today was the 3rd National Festival of Honey here in Cyprus and I was so lucky to be able to attend! It was a treat for all senses and of course, an escape from the heat of the lowlands as we retreated to the higher grounds of the village Odou, Larnaka. The long, winding slopes of the Troodos hills sedated our souls and the picturesque village of Odou truly felt like a holiday away from home. I am always astounded by how little I know of my home and the beauties that lie within its green heart.
We did wonder why the festival was taking place in such a small village, but the closer we got there, the more we it became clear: These hills are the hub of most beekeepers, with villages like Odou, Ora and Melini (named after μέλι – greek for honey) peppered with orchards and hives.
We were welcomed by local honey, sweets, crafts, cosmetics and even infused drinks producers. It was extremely positive to see a school present with their own produced cosmetic products using local and organic oils and beeswax. We of course tried a vast amount of local delicacies, traditional and modern, all revolving around honey.
An array of photos from the event, exhibitors, delicious sweets and me with the one and only Roger White of superBEE-Buckfast Queens, who I met while talking to the members of the national Association Board.
Cindy had a blast as well! She was much cooler away from the heat near home, received cuddles from every little kid, hoovered up some fallen chicken pieces, drank from the river (cause she a street girl like that) and even got to pose as a bee!
I, of course, also discussed with several local beekeepers about the general perception of bees and the environment surrounding honey and the beekeeping craft. Unfortunately, there is a lack of public understanding of the bees’ nature (they are often confused with wasps) and their demeanor often thought aggressive. Unfortunately, as much as the Cypriots love honey and the hive products, they still flinch and wave frantically when they see a bee. Most beekeepers are still amateur and their expertise does not extend scientifically into the realms of understanding the bee biologically, historically and beyond its hive and within the lab.
For all their lack of “scientific” experience, Cypriot beekeepers truly love their bees and their craft and this shows in their faces, which fill with joy every time they talk about their hives. The same smile appears in those who craft, bake and formulate, all those who give Cyprus its distinctive feel of home.
If you happen to be in Cyprus in June or July, check your luck, you might be able to attend this festival to satisfy your sweet tooth once and for all! I managed to collect a reasonable bounty for a reasonable price too!