Belarus Bees

I have been interested in bees all my life. I studied zoology at university and have really enjoyed keeping bees for the last 10 years. Although my dad came from a rural farming community in pre-war eastern Poland he showed no interest in bees and I don’t think he even liked honey.

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My dad’s story from eastern Poland, deportation to Siberia, escape from the Soviet Union, settling in England is a fascinating and little-known area of modern history (if interested see my web page http://www.pleszak.com). He was forbidden to have contact with his family remaining in what became Belarus and was never return to his home. After his death, the fall of the Soviet Union and the advent of the internet we established contact with his family and I have now visited several times. His sister was still living in the same house in his village that hasn’t changed in over a hundred years.

On my first visit there I was pleased that our translator (nobody there speaks English) took me to his parents’ house where his father kept bees. The honey (мед – myed) was very clear, runny and sweat and we were given fresh raw gherkins to dip in. Sounds a bizarre combination but was actually delicious.

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Though nobody now lives in my dad’s old home now, when I visit Belarus I always go to his village. Imagine my delight on my trip last year when I was looking around the plot of land attached to his house when I discovered a fully functional apiary. Though it was a cold snowy March there were a small number of worker bees (Пчела – pchela) flitting about. It was great, fascinating to see the different type of hives (Улей – uley). Maybe my dad, or at least some of my relatives were beekeepers and beekeeping is in my genes. I hope so, though none of my children seem to be overly interested at the moment.

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On my travels around I noticed lots of hives, most rural dwellings had a least a single hive. It was interesting to see the difference in their hives and the nationals that I use. To me they looked primitive, but I have no doubt they were as efficient and productive as mine.

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