HEALTHY

Published: 1.7.2011

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HEALTHY

"Back to Nature" is Slovenia’s guiding principle for the theme of protecting the environment and food at the world exposition. Bees are an important symbol of a healthy planet.

HEALTHY

"Back to Nature" is Slovenia’s guiding principle for the theme of protecting the environment and food at the world exposition. Bees are an important symbol of a healthy planet.

Bees are especially important in agriculture, since they assist in the key task in crop production – pollination. The value of pollination is significantly greater than the value of bee products themselves. Therefore, the economic significance of crop pollination is the most important benefit we get from bees.

Slovenia’s beekeeping tradition and knowledge reach far back into history, while beekeeping is also popular as a leisure activity. The Carniolan honey bee is native to Slovenia and the second most widespread bee species in the world. Beekeeping is our natural heritage and a valuable feature, and an important part of Slovenian identity. Also, a specific feature of Slovenian beekeeping, i.e. characteristic beehives and painted beehive panels, enriches the Slovenian cultural heritage.

Beekeeping products (honey, wax, pollen, royal jelly, propolis, etc.) are gifts directly from nature – bees. Beekeeping products are also used for apitherapy in beekeeping tourism (e.g. honey massages, lying in apiaries and listening to bees buzzing, inhaling aerosol in apiaries, etc.) which, due to Slovenia’s beauties and natural features in its pristine landscape, is among the important developments in domestic beekeeping and thus a long-term competitive advantage connecting the agricultural and tourist sectors. Slovenia also manages and coordinates the work of the world association for beekeeping tourism.

Slovenian honey is among 21 Slovenian products which are protected at EU level, and Slovenia was the initiator of the European Honey Breakfast.

Chemical products for plant protection in intensive food production, excessive greenhouse gas emissions, natural resource depletion and reduction of soil fertility are only some of the things that have harmful effects on the environment, and bees are the best natural indicators of pollution. Die-off of bee colonies recently has been the consequence of the use of a new generation of pesticides which are especially poisonous for bee colonies.

Organic farming is very important for preserving the natural balance. It is also important to enable young people to come into genuine contact with nature. For several years, many Slovenian kindergartens, and primary and secondary schools have been implementing various courses for organic garden and orchard design, and for sowing buckwheat. Buckwheat produces nectar when bees are left without other sources; therefore, they can collect some of their winter stock from buckwheat, which makes the wintering of bee colonies easier. Buckwheat was once a regular dish on Slovenian tables, and is increasingly used in modern Slovenian cuisine. It is a very healthy food and highly nutritional, a source of proteins, fibres, minerals and flavonoids, and also suitable for people suffering from coeliac disease (one of the most common chronic digestive disorders) since it does not contain gluten. Buckwheat is not a demanding crop. It does not need fertilising or spraying with plant protection products during growth, so it can be produced completely organically.

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