We all like honey, so let us explore two places in Greece known for producing honey and other bee products of excellent quality.
First, let us go to the island of Thassos, located in the north of Greece. The island is known throughout Greece as a tourist destination and produces high-quality agricultural products. On Thassos, about three thousand tons of honey are produced annually by all the swarms that visit the island from all over Greece.
For this reason, in 1973, 44 beekeepers decided to create a common Beekeeping Cooperative for the entire island. Until 2000, the Cooperative had to face great difficulties such as natural disasters and fires in which thousands of bee colonies were burned and destroyed. But apart from the difficulties they had to endure, the Cooperative still exists today and is run and managed autonomously by the beekeepers of Thassos!
The honey produced by the Cooperative in Thassos is special and has many healing properties. This is because the pine trees are in a mountainous area and are not affected by radioactivity and other pesticides, since there are no other plants.
The beekeepers treat the bee colonies with the utmost care and attention. They also monitor the bees throughout the year, keeping them healthy and strong so that they can collect the best possible raw material and process it in the hive in the most favourable conditions.
The quantities of honey and other products are then taken to the Cooperative's facilities, where they are packaged without removing ingredients or adding foreign substances and without heat treatment that destroys the natural enzymes, their bacteriostatic properties and vitamins, as well as other interventions and mixtures, according to the latest hygiene and safety standards, to maintain unchanged their natural properties, nutritional value and excellent quality.
The second cooperative is located in Chalkidiki, a region in northern Greece. Halkidiki is also a very touristic place, known for its beautiful beaches and large luxury hotels. This Cooperative is called "Agricultural Beekeeping Cooperative of Nikiti, Chalkidiki", was founded in 1952 and is one of the largest in Europe. The rare bee flora combined with the suitable climate is the main reason why the Sithon honey (as their honey is called) is one of the best kinds of honey in Greece and Europe.
Today, more than 70,000 hives and 140 beekeepers work to produce honey! Each of the beekeepers owns large apiary units with about 500 to 1600 hives and has dedicated his life to honey production. The professionals dedicated to honey production transport the hives all over Greece, following the path of the flowers. In the past, bee migrations took place in Chalkidiki. Now they start their beekeeping year in November in the Peloponnese (southern Greece) or central Greece and return to the country's north in spring.
Both cooperatives produce different types of honey, comb honey, propolis, pollen, royal jelly and wax, which they sell throughout Greece and also abroad.
There are many other beekeeping cooperatives in Greece, but these two are the largest and best known. These two large cooperatives for honey products in Greece are a great example of cooperative work working successfully for many years and that there are ways to produce agricultural products sustainably!
Written by Foteini Skiza.