New life on World Bee Day

A new tree is growing in the Spa Park in Bled – a mountain maple, which brought a new green story to Bled. The tree was planted in celebration of the Biodiversity Week and World Bee Day by the Ambassador of Ireland to Slovenia, H. E. Mr. Myles Geiran, and Janez Fajfar, Mayor of Bled.

bn-a-novo-drevo© Romana Purkart

“This tree carries many meanings. It’s something we can admire, it’s something practical, and at the same time it’s a symbol of friendship between Ireland and Slovenia, and Bled. In its practical sense, the tree contributes to the ecosystem, food security, and it provides an environment for bees, which give us honey. It’s a symbol of friendship. Another important message is that of the Biodiversity Week and the World Bee Day,” said the Ambassador.

On the occasion of the World Bee Day, which was originally declared in response to a Slovenian initiative, the Slovenian Beekeepers’ Association wrote:

“The story about the proclamation of the World Bee Day shows us all that even a small country like Slovenia can have an important impact on international scale. Three years had passed from the first proposal of the Slovenian Beekeepers’ Association in 2014, which enjoyed unanimous support of the Slovenian political public, to the announcement of the World Bee Day at the UN General Assembly in New York on 20 December 2017.  On 20 May 2020, which marks the birthday of the great Slovenian beekeeper Anton Janša, we are celebrating the World Bee Day for the fourth time. The message of this special day is clear: We need to do more for bees and other pollinators so that we can help to maintain food security, a healthy environment and biodiversity in the long run. All this efforts will benefit us and our children.

Znamka_Bled_Noah_Charney109.jpg© Boris Pretnar

President of the Bled-Gorje Beekeepers’ Association, Lovro Legat, said that they had planted a honey tree, which was a big event in the spirit of the World Bee Day. The tree will grow next to an apiary, providing easy access to food for the bees. The mountain maple is similar to the spruce in a sense that it is home to special lice that secrete a honey-like liquid which is then collected by bees. “This has been a really bad year for the bees. We have to maintain our bees and their stock ourselves, because if we stopped, they would die of starvation. We help them by supplying additional sugar. Personally, I have already used around 200 kg of sugar for feeding and cakes. This only keeps the bee brood from dying out. We desperately need nicer weather, when the linden, and hopefully also the forest trees, begins to bloom, because the bees need to experience this flowering in the right conditions. I must emphasize that we have never had to do this so late into spring, maybe until 20 April at the latest, but never until the end of May,” says Lovro Legat.  

Dr. Jan Bizjak and his expert team from Infrastruktura Bled prepared the soil and space for the tree. He explained that they have planted an autochthonous Slovenian tree, the mountain maple.
“The tree is an autochthonous honey plant that can be found across Slovenian forests, and it also colours very nicely in autumn. This is also important as the tree will grow in the Spa Park in Bled. The seedling is already quite large, as it comes from a tree nursery where it had grown for a few years, and its expected lifespan is a hundred years or more.”

Beekeeper Blaž Ambrožič says that instead of expanding his hive and activity to create new honeycombs, there are none, and he has already used 300 kg of sugar. Without this additional supply, bees would die immediately. What do this year’s conditions mean for the years to come? “The nature will come to its own, no doubt. The problem with bees is that if we let them to fend for themselves in these conditions, there won’t be enough bees left for the survival of the species.” In normal weather, our bees have more than enough available food. “Sometimes, beekeepers from other regions will bring their bees to us for grazing. For example, five years ago the conditions here were ideal and beekeepers from all over Slovenia were bringing bees to us for feeding,” Ambrožič adds, stressing his hope that the spruce will bloom again this year.  

F010162-cebelar_in_otroci_cebelnjak_jost_gantar_1-photo-m© Jošt Gantar, www.slovenia.info

Mayor Janez Fajfar was excited about the event, thanked the Ambassador for the thoughtful gesture, and wished the beekeepers good luck and, above all, better weather. The Spa Park in Bled is also very bee friendly, as it is home to numerous honey plants and a training apiary, so that the bees can have easy access to food.

The Carniolan honey bee is an autochthonous Slovenian bee breed. Did you know that when visiting Bled you can also visit a beehive? According to the Slovenian Beekeepers’ Association, modest consumption of food during winter is a characteristic trait of the Carniolan honey bee, but despite this, the bees have found themselves in serious trouble this year due to the unusually wet and cold spring. As it is, bees adapt to the reduction of grazing in nature by producing smaller broods, which of course means fewer bees. To beekeepers’ delight, Carniolan honey bees have another interesting characteristic – they are very calm!

Romana Purkart, Green Coordinator of Bled