Polish wild honey hunters.

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BKF Admin 

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SPALA, Poland — Perched in a lofty pine tree a dozen metres (around 30 feet) from the forest floor, Tomasz Dzierzanowski carefully removed a clump of dry grass from a hole in the wood and wafted smoke into a bees' nest.


Using a wooden spatula, he delicately cut out the gleaming slices of honeycomb, and the dark, shining liquid ran down his fingers. After climbing down, he tore off a waxy chunk and tasted the powerfully-flavoured honey.


Dzierzanowski is one of a group of Polish enthusiasts reviving a form of beekeeping stretching back thousands of years but abandoned more than a century ago.
"There used to be thousands of bees' nests in Poland's forests, tens of thousands even," Dzierzanowski told AFP in the Spala forest, around 100 kilometres (60 miles) south of the capital, Warsaw.
"For now, we've set up around 20," added Dzierzanowski, whose day job is with the local environmental department.


After initially collecting honey from purely wild bees' nests, ancient hunter-gatherers gradually learned how to give the insects a helping hand by cutting holes in trees and leaving honeycomb to attract a swarm.
Under that ancestral method, the subsequent nest was opened just twice a year: once in the spring to check how well the bees have survived the winter, and again in the autumn to harvest the honey.


The practice persisted in Poland until the end of the 19th century, gradually losing ground because honey from the growing number of beehive farms was cheaper and the forests were hit by large-scale felling.
A natural mishap in the 1980s wiped out the remaining wild bees buzzing around Poland's forests -- a disease of Asian origin carried by a parasitic mite called Varroa destructor.


The current revival then is also a total reintroduction of the insect after a three-decade absence.


It comes thanks to a meeting of minds between the global environmental group World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), two Polish national parks, enthusiasts such as Dzierzanowski, and a group of beekeepers from Bashkortostan, a region of Russia near the Ural Mountains.
"We discovered that they still harvested honey from trees in Bashkortostan," said Przemyslaw Nawrocki, who is in charge of the project at the WWF.


"We got in touch with the Bashkir beekeepers who hosted us there and patiently taught us their craft. Last year, they came to Poland to set up the first hives," he added.
The Poles also spent their time trawling through museums to learn about the ancient method, making precision copies of the tools of their ancestors.


"According to the archives, they used to harvest between six and 10 kilos (13 to 22 pounds) of honey per tree. Our maximum is around three kilos (around seven pounds). But it's only our second year of harvesting, so we need to wait a while longer," said Dzierzanowski.
Tree-honey is distinctive -- Dzierzanowski's harvest had a deep-gold colour, an initially smoky taste, and wasn't over-sweet -- and is traditionally eaten mixed with remainders of pollen and chewy wax.
"Forest honey is much better than other kinds because it contains seven times more micronutrients," said Nawrocki.


In addition, it is a delight for organic food fans: the forest nests and the bees' pollen-gathering territory lie far from the fertiliser- and pesticide-strewn fields of agribusiness.
Besides tickling the palate, bringing back honey-harvesting has a broader ecological goal.


"In the past, bees were an integral part of the forests, and played a role in their biodiversity," Nawrocki explained.
While the amount of honey harvested is still tiny, the enthusiasts dream of a day when there will be thousands of such nests across the country.
 

MJBee 

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Thanks Admin, - that has given me ideas for the wood I bought earlier this year. I have a number of dead but still standing pine trees that might be suitable. Any holes created though would be in ladder reach I don't fancy ropes etc:)
Bit more natural that bait boxes
:cheers2: Mike
 

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I thought man had evolved to life out of the trees. Seems bl**dy awkward to me, perhaps the Poles are regressing ?

Can't image what the owner of the tree thinks about that great big cut that's made in the length of timber. And, it looks like they are pine trees - perhaps he's actually harvesting pine resin, not honey afterall ?!
 

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Such a technique would be useful in apiaries prone to flooding ......

..... now where have I seen pics of that ? .......

...... trouble is, you'd have to wait about 50 years for the trees to grow ! ....

...... what on earth would you find to do meanwhile ? .. keep chickens perhaps ? :) ..

..... somehow I don't think I'm gonna stay alive that long ! ....... ;) ...

.
 

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Ah, that's it ...... if that's 'before' .......

Have you got an 'after' pic as well ?
 

Frisbee 

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Ah, that's it ...... if that's 'before' .......

Have you got an 'after' pic as well ?
No..........but you cannot see the river at the moment and the bank under those wild roses is all stone, probably at least 6' before the water.

Bit dull to go and take one today...........

Frisbee
 

match 

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This reminds me of something I saw in Latvia at a museum of past life - hives made in the same way, but in felled sections of trees, or in trees which had been felled that had previously had hives in them:





there are lots of others mixed up in the following set if anyone is interested...

http://www.flickr.com/photos/edinblur/sets/72157617690529483/
 

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