Russian Bees and Honey
Let's take a brief look at two beekeeping areas in Russia.
One of the largest apiaries in Russia is said to be the Krasnaya Polyana Bee Apiaries in the mountainous area near Sochi, Russia (see image above).
The people of Sochi love bees and honey. Beekeeping has played an important role in the lives of these mountain people since ancient times. The Caucasus or Caucasian bee is bred here in this pristine mountainous area where there is a fine variety of nectar producing plants.
The breeding of the well-known grey Caucasus Bees at the Krasnaya Polyana Bee Apiaries is the main scientific work at this experimental station that has been run for over 30 years by a man called Sergey Sokolsky. He is a doctor of Agricultural Science and runs the scientific research and production at the station. But he has a passion for beekeeping and considers himself first and foremost a beekeeper.
These bees are born and bred in gorges, protected from other strains of bees by the mountains, which reduces any unwanted genetic contamination.
Ten thousand bee families live at the Krasnaya Polyana Bee Apiaries, which is nearly 100 million bees. The station breeds about 25,000 queen bees each year, and every queen costs an average of $10,000 US dollars. People come from everywhere to buy them, and they are shipped all over the world. When the bees are sold, they are shipped to their new owners who must watch and feed them and provide water.
Krasnaya Polyana Bees are genetically bred to rarely sting, and they have the longest proboscis in the world to extract nectar from deep wells inside a flower. These grey bees are hard-working and good-natured and are well adapted to life in cold climates.
When tourists visit the apiaries, Sergey jokingly tells them that mankind's ancestors are bees. He offers white honey made from lime tree pollen, chestnut honey and acacia honey, all of which are delicious in herbal tea and drizzled over pancakes. Two popular Russian soft drinks, sbiten and medovukha, are also made on the farm with honey.
The bee colonies are all located near the Krasnaya Polyana Ski Resort. Some are only accessible by foot. Snow must be cleared away in the winter, to keep the bees from suffocating.
This Russian — or Georgian — Caucasian honeybee (Apis mellifera caucasia) is a superior bee with some Italian and some Eastern European Carniolan (Apis mellifera carnica) genetics. It is a healthy, hardworking and sweet-tempered bee in high demand globally.
One of the highest quality honeys in the world is said to be made by the wild Burzyuan bees in the southern foothills of the Ural Mountains.
It comes from Shulgan-Tash State Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the western hills of the southern Ural Mountains. Bashkir honey is harvested from wild Burzyuan bees. The Bashkiria people have harvested honey and been beekeepers for at least 2,500 years. These bees are a sub-strain of European black bees Apis mellifera mellifera that are adapted to live in cold weather. They collect nectar from linden trees and other local flowers and trees. It is prohibited to import other bee species or queens in order to protect this unique Burzyuan strain of European dark bee from cross-breeding.
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