We are beekeepers based in the Regional Park Goričko.
The first time I came in touch with beekeeping was when I was about 8 years old. As a playful child I was not really interested in it. Nevertheless, I have always been a boy of strong physique and that was the reason my father wanted me to help him with the beekeeping work. Although I am a part of the younger generation of beekeepers in Slovenia, I have gained many experience and rich knowledge, which was handed down to me by my father.
I was helping my father in the work with bees on a regular basis and that increased my interest in beekeeping. During my younger years I was mainly helping with the honey extraction. Later in my teenage years, I already started helping with tasks in the beehive. When I finished high school, I was already sufficiently introduced to the work with bees, so I started helping with the queen breeding. Through the years, I passed many courses related to beekeeping, among them the beekeeping course for beginners and the national professional qualification for beekeepers. In 2017, I took over the entire business and decided I will make beekeeping my profession.
My father is still a very important part of our beekeeping, as he is helping me on the one hand with his advice and on the other hand with many beekeeping tasks. In addition to this, both my mother, who is of great help in the honey extraction, and my girlfriend who is helping me with basically all demanding tasks around bees, are indispensable for our beekeeping. I have to admit that without all the help I am getting from my family, it would be difficult to maintain all the beekeeping work. I am very thankful for everything they are doing for me.
The beginnings of our beekeeping reach back to 1978, when my father started beekeeping with only one bee family. This is how my father remembers those times:
“HOW IT ALL STARTED BACK IN THE 1978 …”
“The beginnings of our beekeeping reach back into 1978, when I was a high school student and started beekeeping with only one bee family. This family settled down in an abandoned hive on our homestead Kapun. Already my uncle was keeping bees but, in the 70s, he decided to drop it and his empty bee house (in our dialect “vijok”) was still standing on our homestead. In 1978, my father came up with an idea: renovating the bee house. In this bee house, “Vienna hives” were predominating (three-storey beehive with three times ten hanging frames; inner measures 235 x 200 mm in warm way and with a barrier with a narrow plug between two thirds shallow depth brood chamber and one third honey chamber). Those hives were quite worn out. We tried to repair and prepare some of them for settlement and burned the others. It is quite interesting that the bee family decided to settle in the hive which was in worst condition.”.
“ONLY PRACTICE, EXPERIENCE AND FAILURES ON FIELD CAN MAKE A MASTER BEEKEEPER …”
“I have to admit that my parents as well as my brothers were not quite impressed by my idea to continue with the beekeeping tradition in our family. Nevertheless, I did not give up and soon my father recognized that and started helping me with the modernization of the hives and the bee house. I have to thank my unfortunately deceased neighbor Horvat Lujzek, who was a real master beekeeper, for believing in me and my future in beekeeping. We enjoyed having a glass (or two) of wine on evenings and chatting about bees and his experience in beekeeping. I will never forget one piece of his advice, that I (almost) never stopped sticking to: “ Do not ever forget to pour the solution two to three times into the feeder every year in the beginning of October”. He continued: “This is crucial to preventing your bee families to die of hunger. Five kilogram of the solution is enough for the winter survival of bee families” He said that bees fill their emerged cells in the combs with the sugar solution. I did not listen to this advice only once in my whole career and that was the time when I lost 60% of my bee families due to starvation. I was truly ashamed of it and since then such problems did not occur in our beekeeping.” . .
“HOW MY WIFE AND I WERE DEVELOPING OUR BEEKEEPING THROUGH THE YEARS …”
»Through the years at university in Maribor and Ljubljana, I was beekeeping with only four bee families. During the time I was in Ljubljana, I got to know my wife, whom I impressed by telling her about beekeeping. She decided to sign up for the optional subject “beekeeping” held by professor Dr. Rihar. I did not sign up for it because I was also interested in other subjects and you could only sign up for a limited number of optional subjects at the Faculty of Biotechnology. I signed up for those from the field of agriculture, from which I also graduated. Nevertheless, I was taking part at all the lectures and field practice hours of “beekeeping”. I remember the field practice hour on the topic of queen breeding, which took part on a Saturday at Mr. Janez’s, a bee breeder from Litija. This practice hour left me impressed by queen breeding. In 1988, after my studies, I started working in Murska Sobota at the Institute of Agriculture and Forestry. I still work there. We started developing our beekeeping with my wife and the first thing we did after we married was the purchase of a piece of land in Goričko (region in Slovenia). I moved my four bee families from Berkovci, where I was living at, to this land. We have also built a bee house there, which has already three times been expanded. In the last ten years, we have made this place our home. Besides my full-time job, I habilitated at the University of Maribor, where I hold lectures “Honey bee and the basics of beekeeping”, “Marketing of hive products” and “Production of fodder and grazing” on the Faculty of Agriculture and Life Sciences. I could not make my dreams come true without my hard-working and understanding wife and my both sons. In 2017, our elder son took over our beekeeping. He has always shown interest in working with bees. We will never stop supporting him.” .. . . . . . . .. ..
“OUR BEEKEEPING THESE DAYS …”
“Currently we are beekeeping on the edge of the Regional Park Goričko. Some of our apiaries also lie in the heart of this park. In this moment, the AŽ System is predominating in our beekeeping, but the box hives Dadant-Blatt and Zander do not lag far behind as they have advantages as well as some disadvantages, just like any other hive system. Our main activities are queen breeding and breeding of bee families. In the last few years, we are also paying a lot of attention to the hive products. In this place I would like to thank Mirko Jurinec from Ključarovci for his help. He has always stood by me and gave me a lot of advice at the very beginning of queen breeding. Nowadays, we still meet every now and then on a cup of coffee and have a few of his wife’s delicious gingerbread cookies while chatting about different techniques in beekeeping. The experiences we share cannot be found in any of all the literature on beekeeping. “Practice makes the master” is a thought with which I want to finish off.”