Guardians stalk runaway bees to collect organic honey in Turkey

Two beekeepers in the Akseki district of Antalya leave the house at dawn on a sweet but difficult quest to harvest organic honey from beehives established by “elusive” bees.

Ramazan Topaça, who grazes his animals in the Akseki highlands and also practices beekeeping in the town of Gebece in the Manavgat district of Antalya during the summer, and Mehmet Kara, a beekeeper in the Akseki district , stalk the bees they see far from the city to the wild beehives.

Beekeepers climb a rock face on makeshift scaffolding to extract honeycombs from a wild beehive in Antalya, southern Turkey, October 17, 2021. (Photo IHA)

Intelligent creatures, bees often set up hives in hard-to-reach places, sometimes even among the rocks of the Taurus Mountains, 2,000 meters (6,560 feet) high; other times, they use convenient places, such as the hollow spaces of rotting trees.

Speaking to the Ihlas News Agency (IHA), Topaça explained, “Every year I come from the Gebece district of Manavgat to the Akseki highlands to graze my animals. In July and August, when the bees venture out for the first time, I follow them to find their hives.

“They are quite difficult to find. It is a dangerous and exhausting task. Sometimes I can find the natural hive by walking up to 6 or 7 kilometers, or two or three hours a day. We often have to climb hills. steep terrain. “

A wild beehive nestled in a cliff crevice in Antalya, southern Turkey, October 17, 2021 (IHA Photo)

A wild beehive nestled in a cliff crevice in Antalya, southern Turkey, October 17, 2021 (IHA Photo)

Collect organic gold

Beekeepers start tracking bees in August and determine their location. They then revisit the hives in September or October.

“In September, when the flowers are no longer blooming and the honey is ready, we harvest it,” Topaça said.

“It is not easy to follow the bees in the high cliffs at the top of the Taurus Mountains. We often build scaffolding from wood that we collect nearby to reach the honey nestled in the cliffs. Sometimes we have to climb up. up to 5-10 This can be quite dangerous.

“Other times we find it in the cavities of dead trees in the forests. We don’t know how much honey we will find by following the bees. It all depends on luck,” he added.

Beekeepers Mehmet Kara and Ramazan Topaça extract honeycombs from a rotten tree in Antalya, southern Turkey on October 17, 2021. (IHA Photo)

Beekeepers Mehmet Kara and Ramazan Topaça extract honeycombs from a rotten tree in Antalya, southern Turkey on October 17, 2021. (IHA Photo)

For beehives nestled in narrow crevices, extracting honeycombs can be difficult, Topaça said. “If they’re huddled in a high rock face, we build scaffolding and smash the rock face with a hammer.”

Topaça, which said it finds an average of 3 to 10 kilograms (6.6 to 22 pounds) of honey in the beehives, sells organic honey at 1,500 TL ($ 160) per kilogram – almost 10 times the price of the honey produced. in his own country. urticaria.

“Sometimes we find 5 kilograms, sometimes 40 to 50 kilograms of honey a year. But what we collect is completely organic,” he said.

A hive of wild bees nestles in the hollowed out center of a rotten tree in Antalya, Turkey on October 17, 2021. (Photo IHA)

A hive of wild bees nestles in the hollowed out center of a rotten tree in Antalya, Turkey on October 17, 2021. (Photo IHA)

After collecting the honey, I transfer the fleeing bees to a beehive. I’m not hurting the bees, ”he added. The colony is gently transferred by finding the queen and placing her in a super honey, their new home. The others follow her alone in the box.

Through follow-up, the beekeeper said he finds around 10 hives per year. However, sometimes despite their best efforts, the hives they stalk turn out to be full of empty honeycombs.

“It’s not easy. Bees sting us a lot, but I love this job because I’m used to it,” he said. “It is completely organic and honey promotes healing.”

The high quality of honey in its pure organic form has become very popular. Although there are many varieties of high quality honey produced in Turkey, beekeepers have reported having regular customers every year for the organic version despite the higher price.

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