Friday, 1 March 2013

Beekeeping: Slovenia's National Pastime

When I visited Slovenia last year, I had to see the Apiculture Museum of Radovljica, dedicated to Slovenia's national pastime: beekeeping. It's a fascinating collection in a quaint town near Ljubljana. Traditionally bees are kept in drawers which slot into what looks like a large outdoor cupboard. The drawers are brightly painted in bold colours and quirky, often disturbing scenes, that make fun of various villagers, warn against vices, or protect the hives. Some popular themes are a beekeeper chasing off a bear who has come to steal the hives, a pair of forest animals shaving the beard of a man, and animals holding a funeral for a hunter. 

Beekeeping drawer showing the animals holding a funeral for a hunter. 

 Beekeeping drawer depicting the Devil sharpening a woman's tongue.

Beekeeping drawer depicting tailors who are slower than snails.

 Wagon used to transport the hive-drawers. 

 Tiny nets to capture the queen bee for transfer to a new hive. 

Another popular hive container was a more elaborate wooden sculpture of a man or animal, inside which the beehives were contained. The man below is a beehive container with an opening at the end of his pipe for the bees to use as a doorway. When he contains a hive, it would appear as if he were smoking bees through his pipe!

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