There are quite many things a beekeeper needs to consider before deciding on the right place for the beehive. Once the spot has been decided it is not advisable to move the bees again, as it can stress the colonies, which can cause them to get sick and unstable. Finding a good location also means making sure there will be enough flowering trees and other plants within a 3 km radius – for the bees to freely forage and survive well. This is how natural beekeeping starts: searching for a good location, finding the base for the beehives and thinking about a safe and easy access.
We choose to set the hives in 2 distinct locations: LivadaLab and Museum of Architecture and Design.
LivadaLab is located in Ljubljana marshes. It is a public laboratory of co-creation and sustainable food production. This green area was offered by the City of Ljubljana to the Biotechnical faculty and a group of local youth workers and volunteers (Zavod Bob) to collectively regenerate and maintain the neglected site. They decided to experiment with various ecological growing techniques, ecological construction, permaculture methods and creative activities. In only one year the site has transformed from an unwanted, abandoned space into a vibrant community garden of new human-nature potentialities and challenging negotiations. A place where the wildlife of local marches meets the needs of cultivation and culture.
As the initiators are interested in new educational and experiential activities, we thought it could be a great place for putting the hives. After a few short discussions, the community managers gladly welcomed our proposal.
LESS PUBLIC, LESS SAFETY
William and I arrived to the garden with 6 ‘buzzling’ plastic bins filled with honey bees late in the afternoon. It is important to put the bees in their new hives at sunset, so they are not tempted to fly away and find a different home. As the bees arrived from the beekeeper in Kobarid while the hives were still in the making, we used few old hives and installed their temporary housing at Livada Lab. Looking around the site, we quickly agreed on the perfect spot. Slightly hidden from the public eye, it stood on the border of the maintained area. Warmly embraced with the bushes and wild greenery, the site was additionally protected by the shadow of a flowering elderflower tree. First we needed to clear and clean the area: we cut down the high grasses and branches as the bees like to have a clear flight path when they forage for the pollen. When the site was prepared, we found two old logs that the hives could stand on. We discussed and afterwards decided that the beehives don’t need extra protection as the location is not highly visited.
HOW TO WALK, WHAT TO WEAR AND WHY
Instead we offered the advice to those in Livada of how to interact with the bees and act around the beehives. It is advisable to stay calm and approach to the beehives slowly, so not to upset them with sudden moves. To be on the safe site, we also introduced few colour coding instructions to consider. Bees have a very complex eyesight system which is the key to their successful pollination. They do not see the reds, yet they have the ability to see UV light which gives them the advantage point when seeking for nectar. The strong colours of the flower petals are a way to communicate the location of the pollen holders to the pollinators. This is the reason they appear in different colour from the leaves. It is also not advisable to wear strong perfumes except the Carnation oil which has a scent that calms them down. The common knowledge spreads to also avoid dark colors like black or brown as the colour reminds them of natural predators such as bears. It would be interesting to discuss this with a beekeeper in Africa. When spending time in the proximity of the bees, it is best to cover all vulnerable body parts with clothes and wear pale and light colours. That is also why the beekeeping suit is white.