Slovenian beekeeping

Beekeeping refers to the care, domestication and maintenance of bee colonies, usually in artificial hives, with the intention of harvesting what the hive produces. While honey is the most sought-after product of this activity, beekeepers also collect beeswax, propolis, flower pollen, bee pollen and royal jelly. 1

Historically, Slovenian beekeeping began to flourish in the second half of the 18th century. The growth was accompanied by the creation and dissemination of local specialist literature on beekeeping. One of the most famous writers of the time, Anton Janša, had also become the first teacher of beekeeping in the Austrian monarchy.

As early as 1898, the Osrednje čebelarsko slovensko društvo (Central Society for Beekeeping) was founded in Ljubljana. At that time, the newsletter Slovenski čebelar (Slovenian Beekeeper) was also founded, which is still active today and disseminates advice and useful information about beekeeping. This period also saw the expansion of the market for the Carniolan honey bee, a species native to Slovenia and parts of the surrounding countries. 2

These honey bees, also known as carnies, have positive characteristics that have made them so popular among beekeepers that they are considered the second most popular subspecies after the Italian bee. The popularity of carnies and the initial demand that caused the market expansion at that time is due to their ability to successfully defend themselves against pests while being extremely docile towards beekeepers. They encounter high numbers of workers during periods of high nectar abundance and therefore shop large amounts of honey and pollen at these times. Carnies are adaptable and cope well with changes in their environment, for example, storing their honey stores in winter. They are resistant to some diseases and parasites that can weaken the hives of other subspecies. They also have a much longer life expectancy than other honey bees. 3

The Carniolan honey bee received its scientific name in 1879. Apart from the characteristics already described, these bees play an important role in Slovenian culture – especially in literature and proverbs, art and architecture, symbolism and folk beliefs. 2

Another important part of Slovenian beekeeping history is the AŽ panj (beehive), created by Anton Žnideršič in the early 20th century. This particular type of beehive is the most widespread in Slovenia and can be considered the most important technical speciality of Slovenian beekeeping. In an AŽ hive, the combs are arranged lengthwise in the direction of the bees’ flight and can be moved like the pages of a book. The use of AŽ hives helps to produce better honey; it contains less water than honey from other hive systems. 4

1 Britannica. Beekeeping. Sourced from:

2 Ministrstvo za kulturo (2018). Opis enote nesnovne kulturne dediščine. Sourced from:

3 Wikipedia. Carniolan honey bee. Sourced from:

4 Kmetijski inštitud Slovenije. Beekeeping with AŽ hives. Sourced from:

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