In Azerbaijan, beekeeping is a centuries-old tradition at the region of the Caucasus Mountains. There are six main zones where beekeeping families are located. Astara, Khizi, Zagatala, Gakh, Balakan, and Lerik districts are rich with honeybees and their beekeepers.
The discovery of the oldest known connection between primitive humans and bees was in Azerbaijan, during the excavation of the Azikh Cave when a bowl with the symbol of a bee was uncovered at one of the most ancient settlements. Other spellings of this cave are Azykh or Azokh Cave. This bowl represents the deep roots of beekeeping in Azerbaijan.
This unrelated 4:17-minute video by History of Azerbaijan shows the cave system where the bee bowl was found:
The Azerbaijani people hold their honeybees in high regard and consider them national treasures. The native Caucasian honeybees are a popular and strong strain of bee, and they are busy bees that produce a lot of honey. Traditionally, these are the bees that Azerbaijani beekeepers populated their bee colonies with throughout the decades.
Honey has been a healing agent as well as a delightful food throughout the centuries and is still considered a folk medicine. It is used to treat many diseases and is a culinary ingredient that is also enjoyed as a sweet treat.
Azerbaijanis consume around 5,000 tons of honey per year, but they currently only produce about 3,000 tons of honey, so demand far exceeds supply. There is enormous expansion potential both in the local market and for international honey sales, not to mention for other popular bee products that are in demand around the world, like beeswax, royal jelly, propolis, bee venom, and more.
This is an ideal part of the world for apiaries due to the subtropical climate, and the abundance of diverse bee-friendly flora that helps create the signature flavor of honey produced in this part of the world. There are around 600 plant species that are considered honey plants with nearly 200 of these being sources of nectar and pollen. What better area for bees to thrive and produce health-rich honey. This also creates an opportunity for people interested in becoming beekeepers.
Added to this level of appreciation on the part of the people is the fact that their government considers beekeeping as an agricultural pursuit, so development in agriculture is open to beekeepers as well.
This ancient tradition of beekeeping in Azerbaijan has gone through ups and downs over time, and there is a current effort and focus on restoring it once again through creating favorable conditions for beekeepers so they may rehabilitate and even expand this tradition. You can learn more about Azerbaijan and their beekeeping traditions here.