Honey is hot

December 12, 2007

Best as I can tell, every man, woman and child in Europe keeps bees.

No really, I just can’t get over how every store, every market, every roadside stand is loaded with twenty different kinds of locally produced honey, propolis, beeswax and what have you.

Hive Mind StickerLet’s take an example. Yesterday, Michelle and I were getting ready to dunk in Terme Di Petrioloi, some splendid hot springs (or terme, in Italian) a half hour south of Siena when a shabby looking guy comes ambling up to us with a basket full of…you guess it…his own honey and propolis for sale. We laughed and tried to explain in our broken Italian that no, we don’t want to buy any honey because we have our own hives and we are from the United States.  He is puzzled because by “broken Italian”, I mostly mean “speaking in simplified English and gesturing”, so I hand him one of our Hive Mind black-and-silver stickers and point back and forth between it and us.

He’s excited about the sticker (it’s pretty striking, kind of like a Batman – Dark Knight feel to it, if I do say so myself) and then I notice that the conversation has piqued the interest of the dreadlocked guy standing by a van right across from us. He looks curious about the stickers, so I pull another couple out for him and his girlfriend and try again, by waving back and forth between it and me, to explain that we are beekeepers.

Michele Busca ApicoltoreWell, wouldn’t you know it, but he’s a beekeeper, too (that’s his card to the left). I know! His partner, Frederica, spoke English well enough to facilitate our conversation, and it turns out that they have 35 hives over on the Adriatic coast of Italy, and have just popped over for a few days to enjoy the terme. They’re sleeping in their van and plan to head back the next day.

I didn’t get to taste their honey (who brings honey with them to hot springs?) but I did get to taste some their home made grappa, and if that’s anything to go by, I’m sure their honey was splendid.

The terme, too, was splendid. Rushing, clean, hot, hot water with a few different pools deep enough to submerge in. The rock was coated with greenish-white build-up of sulphur and other minerals which was odd to rub, because it had a porcelain-like smoothness to it, but at the same time, had a slightly soft, gripping quality of rubber. The smell was strong, but less like rotten eggs and more like burnt matches.

European Tour 3964 European Tour 3957
European Tour 3944 European Tour 3953

In any case, despite seeing honey everywhere, I’ve resisted buying a bunch to bring back. I’ve only bought about five jars of various kinds of tasting (forest, wildflower, acacia, etc.) and received one jar (with saffron) as a gift from the beekeeper we bought the other small jars from when he found out we were beekeepers, too. The International Brotherhood of the Beekeeper lives!

European Tour 3975

Related Articles

I’m excited to try a new experiment this year: top-bar beekeeping! In traditional “Langstroth” hives (or at least, traditional since the mid-1800’s), rectangular frames are placed into rectangular boxes, and the bees build their comb …

March 28, 2011

Based on comments from Rusty and some that I received through Facebook, I think the verdict on the Bee Kill question is clear: the girls found something they shouldn’t have. Rusty left this comment: The …

December 7, 2010

What do you get when you combine two hives of very active, healthy bees with one very active, healthy two-year-old boy? Nah, it’s not the set-up for a joke, just a setup for about a …

November 21, 2010