My grandpa and his bees… a six-decade love story that keeps on going to this day. Diado (grandpa) Gocho, 73 years young, cares for about 15 beehives and has forever been our family’s source of natural raw honey. It’s not a surprise that most of my grandma’s natural remedies included honey in one form or another. And no matter how bizarre they were, they always seemed to work like magic. So even to this day I eat a spoonful of honey when I have a sore throat, I still have a few drops of lemon water when I feel sick, and I still drink honey mint tea to settle an upset stomach.
Most teenagers today are up to date on the latest memes and know all the viral TikTok dances. But 60 years ago, in a small Bulgarian village, life was idyllically different…
The teenage beekeeper
“So grandpa, how did you ever get into beekeeping?”
“Well, my parents put a couple of beehives in the garden and we had a neighbour come over and take care of them. I was 14 at the time and was fascinated by these little creatures that kept our ecosystem alive. By the time I turned 16 I knew all the ins and outs and started looking after our bees myself.”
What a fascinating co-dependent relationship they have: he provides shelter and pasture for the bees and in long winters and low seasons he feeds them with honey or sugar syrup in order to sustain the colony. In return, they bring him the most precious gift – vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in their most delicious form – raw honey.
The fascinating bee ramps
“Why are there boards at the entrance of every beehive, we’ve never seen this before?”
“These are climbing ramps for the bees. When we get a good season the bees collect loads of pollen. So much so that it becomes too heavy for them to carry and they find it hard to land in the beehive entrance. It’s a lot easier for them to land on the board and slowly climb their way up.”
So when bees collect nectar from flowers and trees, they also pick up a lot of pollen on the way and store it in their hive for food. It gets wrapped around their tiny legs and by the time they visit their usual 100 flowers per single trip they end up carrying up to 30% of their body weight! Incredible, right?
At the time when we visited diado Gocho’s hives, something really surprising was happening – the beehives were under attack. The culprit? Wild robbing bees.
At the end of the summer when there is no more pollen to collect, some wild bees turn rogue and go out in groups, on the hunt for fresh honey. They had picked up the scent of honey coming from grandad’s beehives and had started to fight and kill his bees in order to gain access to the hive.
“This is horrible, can’t you do anything about it?”
“This is nature, they will fight and whoever is stronger will win. The best I can do is to keep the bee colonies as strong as possible so they can fend off bee robbers in times like this.”
Ready for a taste?
Now that you’ve had a peek into my grandpa’s bee world, you’re probably curious what raw honey tastes like. We’ve got you covered, head over to our shop where you can get some of our award-winning raw honey.Visit shop