Traditional beekeeping in Mariovo region
The beekeeping in Mariovo as an agricultural and production branch has been known since ancient times. The Mariovo people were self-learned and tutored from the previous experiences, they started the elaboration of the so called “brtvi”, as a primitive way for keeping bees and producing honey.
“Brtva” is the indentation of a rock, over-looking towards east or south, which is closed with a frontal lid and stuck with mud or cowpat. There is a small gap which allows the bees to find their place in the new habitat.
Swarm is a new bee community which separates from its old company, i.e., the swarming is a natural process for reproduction of the bee groups. After they separate from the old group, the swarm of bees inhabit another location, i.e., they form a new habitat in some cavity of a rock or tree.
It is not known when exactly the cunning Mariovo people realized that they can trick the bees in this way, yet it is known that the Mariovo honey was a well-known and demanded product during the Ottoman Empire.
In the brtvi during the summertime, the bees make nests and they collect honey, and the beekeepers take the honey in autumn. In the past, this operation was devastating for the bee swarms which were left with no food for the winter period.
In time, baskets made of willow branches glued with cowpat were used, and in autumn the bees moved to another place. In that way, the bees would survive the winter, and the beekeeping process became far more organized.
Nowadays, the modern beekeeping provides greater amounts of honey and other bee products, anyway, on a lot of places in Mariovo there are many brtvi. The convenient climate conditions and the specific honey flora provide ideal conditions for production of high quality food, which is at the same time a cure. That is what makes the Mariovo honey known afar.