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Northeastern Bulgaria is one of the most honey-yielding regions in the country

Photo: BGNES

Northeastern Bulgaria is mostly flat country, a large portion of which is farmland. To the east is the Black Sea coast, to the north – the Danube, to the south is the eastern portion of the Balkan Range, and to the west it borders on the central northern part of the country. The region is famed as a honey-yielding region because of all the blooming plants here which attract bees.

Beekeepers say that a wide variety of different kinds of bee honey is obtained here with the help of mobile apiaries, or transhumance. This means that, depending on the blossoming of the plants, the beehives and swarms are moved every 2-3 weeks.

Milen Minchev from Provadia has been a beekeeper for 20 years. For him honey season starts with rapeseed, which, in the northwestern part of the country, blossoms from end-April to mid-May, and ends with meadow plants.

“It is good for the heart, it is also known for its anticancer effect,” Milen Minchev explains. “The queen of honey or its “white gold” is acacia. It is every beekeeper’s pride and joy. In our parts acacia blooms from mid-May until the end of the month, about 15 days in all. Acacia foraging needs constant temperatures, and absolutely no rain. Nighttime temperature must be 16 and daytime temperature – 25-26 degrees C., for the plant to secrete nectar. Acacia blossoms are very delicate and if there is rain they decay and are shed. That is what makes acacia honey so expensive – it is the rarest variety of honey, and is difficult to obtain. But it is the lightest. We say it is honey for the ladies, because of its delicate flavour. It is also the best kind of honey for diabetics because in acacia honey fructose, or fruit sugar, predominates.”

Then comes paliurus or Christ’s thorn, a shrub which grows on rocky slopes, in glades where the soil is limey. The bees forage for paliurus over 15-20 days starting at the beginning of June.

“Christ’s thorn honey is very different, with incredible flavour,” Milen Minchev says. “It has a good effect on coughs, bronchitis, asthma. After the blooming of Christ’s thorn come lime-trees. Lime-tree honey is the most fragrant of all, it is heavier, so it doesn’t agree with everyone, though some prefer it. It too has a beneficial effect on coughs.”

Lavender blossoms at the same time as lime trees. Pure lavender can be obtained from plantations covering 100-120 hectares.

“Alongside all other benefits, lavender honey helps recuperation after a heart attack,” Milen Minchev says. “Mixed with a pinch of cinnamon and turmeric it has very beneficial effects, including as a somniferant and sedative.”

Sunflower honey is a detoxicant.

“This variety of honey is the sweetest of all,” the beekeeper goes on to say. “I am very fond of sunflower honey though there are people who are not so fond of it. Foraging ends with the meadow bouquet obtained from more than 10 different kinds of melliferous plants – the cotton thistle, milk thistle and other herbs. The bouquet is very rich in vitamins and minerals which have a beneficial effect on many diseases.”

The above-mentioned varieties of honey can only be obtained with mobile apiaries. The process is labour-intensive, but the end result and the price are well worth it, beekeeper Milen Minchev believes.

Radio Varna

Edited by Darina Grigorova

Photos: library

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