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The second part

The third part


Written by Predrag Cvetković

Photos by Stane Plut

Translated by Oliver Mihajlović



The first part

The 18th of May 2002.

During his stay in Slovenia the author of these lines had a nice and fortunate opportunity to spend a beautiful may day on a beekeeping excursion in Slovenia together with beekeepers from Novo Mesto who attended queen rearing course led by Janez Poklukar PhD from Slovenian agricultural institute.

A group photo in front of  Mr. Bukovšek’s pavilion

Mr. Bukovšek’s apiary

Mr. Bukovšek’s apiary in Golo Brdo near Medvode was the first that we visited.  Bukovšek is a great queen breeder. His family’s tradition in rearing queens is 60 years old, founded by Janez Strugar. After the Second World War they exported queens into Egypt. Mr. Bukovšek’s father, a vital 86 years old man, kindly spoke with the guests and took part in a group photo in front of the bee pavilion. The hosts showed us the apiary, spoke of their work, and offering us home made apple juice and brandy answered to our questions.

This year Mr. Bukovšek plans to breed around 2000 queens. For larvae transplantation he uses little plastic queen cartridges which he sticks to a bar by pressing them into wax used to coat a little gutter, on the low bar of AŽ (Alberti – Žnidarsic) frame (which he uses). He puts 13 – 15 larvae on one bar, and he puts two bars in one colony.

Bukovšek uses the colonies which are ready to swarm and adds transplanted larvae in supers of AŽ hives, above a queen excluder. A queen is present in the brood chamber. Later in the season, when swarming impulse is weaker, the queen can be removed in order for the reception of the larvae to be better.

Diluted royal jelly is put into the cartridges and the transplantation is done with a German metallic needle. For bringing up queen cells he uses cages in which he puts queen cells. There is a recess for food in the cage, and a 2x2 mm wire net at both sides. Bukovšek recommends that before occupying queen rearing chambers, bees should first be put in a box, where they are later taken from.  

The apiary in Golo Brdo

Queen rearing frame

At Mr. Bukovšek's we saw very interesting queen rearing chambers with cassettes – each holding one frame. These chambers have ten cassettes next to each other, isolated with cardboard. The sides of cassettes are made of movable glass. The feeder is at the upper part and can hold enough food. All the chambers that we saw had a lot of bees and food, and one cycle of queens had already been brought up here. Five cassettes had their entrances at one side of the chamber, and other five on the other side. The frame is 17x23 cm approximately. When bees are inspected they are not much disturbed and their microclimate is not unbalanced. There is a flow of air in the cassettes from beyond, through a net. In autumn, after the queens are taken out, and after the brood is gone, Bukovšek disbands the queen rearing chambers, and in spring he starts all over with comb foundations.

The main honeyflows in the area of Medvode are maple, chestnut and lime trees.

We could see pollen traps installed on the pavilion. The trays for collecting pollen are at the outside. It was a beautiful day and bees were very busy (the previous day the average amount of nectar that bees got into a hive was 3.6 kg in Semič)

The bees are provided with water in an unusual way. An old nucleus is filled with water which runs slowly at the entrance where bees come to drink it.


In the bus

Time has come to say goodbye to our kind hosts and travel further toward Ljubljana. During the trip Mr. Poklukar had some interesting observations and comments about what we had seen. He also spoke about the program of activities of Slovenian beekeepers’ association, about the activities of particular regional organizations, and about the upcoming exam for the attendees of the queen rearing course. Also, he introduced us with the plan of education for beekeepers in Slovenia. Exams are going to be introduced for the profession of beekeeper.


Beekeeping museum

We visited Radovljica, 46 km far from Ljubljana, and a famous beekeeping museum.

We saw Glavarjev’s hives – the first hives in Slovenia. In the second half of the 19th century a smaller kind of hives from Austria was adopted, since the goal were swarms. In 1880 hives with movable frames began to be produced, which meant the end of Kranjić hives. Gerstnik’s hive was also exposed.

Poklukar told us an interesting thing about Žnidaršič, the constructor of AZ hives – that at the end of his life he used Langstroth hives with a wooden lid, one of which we saw. It was also unusual to hear from Mr. Poklukar that Petar Veliki Glavar (1787) was greater authority in beekeeping than Janša.

There is a special room in the museum dedicated to hive painting, which was a traditional artwork in Slovenia. The oldest paintings on hives are from 1758. This was the most widespread form of art in the 19th century. There are also some hives with relief. They used earth pigments in which some linseed oil was added. The motives are both religious and secular.

The old hives are in the first room of the museum, and Kranjić hives with paintings are in the second. There is also an observation hive, made of glass, with four frames, but not very practical, since the colony is spread over a big surface.

There is a separate room in the museum for bee sounds (queen’s songs, bee humming, etc.), and a TV room, where we saw a film about Slovenian beekeeping. After the film Mr Poklukar appealed on the present beekeepers not to breed queens whose bees have yellow rings, and accept only the gray ones.  

The room with bee products has a lot of photographs and displayed objects – a calendar of works on an apiary, beekeeping equipment, and moulds for honey cookies. Marjan Maricek’s drawings from “Little bee Maja’s diary” are exposed in one of the rooms.

It won’t be a phrase if I say that we practically flew through the museum, and that it was possible to spend ours looking around. 


During the trip, Mr. Poklukar talked a lot about beekeeping tradition in Gorenjska. He emphasized traditionally good organization of local beekeepers, and the fact that they achieve good results in beekeeping and bee products popularization. He took an example of a beekeeper who manages to sell 4 tones of honey per year at retail. Thanks to high mountains Gorenjska has very good isolated natural areas for queen mating. Apart from the stationary museum Gorenjska has a mobile one, which travels throughout the world.

Speaking of honeyflows in Slovenia, Mr. Poklukar said that in the last 10 years honeyflows shifted around 15 days earlier. In the last 5 years the amount of maple honey increased, while the amount of fir honey decreased. Maple, honey of which is dark is now often recommended as honeyflow. 


The second part of the report