Stories and Traditions
According to Greek Mythology Bees and Honey played a key role in the upbringing of the Greek God Zeus. His mother, Rhea, decided to take her parents Gaia’s (Earth) and Uranus’ (Sky) advice and give birth to Zeus away from his father, Cronus, who had devoured the five children born before Zeus. Cronus devoured his children because an oracle foresaw that one of his children would put an end to his reign. Rhea gave birth to Zeus in Dikteo Cave, in Crete. She entrusted the protection and upbringing of the infant to the nymphs Amalthea and Melissa (gr Bee), daughters of Melisseas, King of Crete. Melissa raised Zeus with special care and fed him honey, so that he would grow faster and stronger. Zeus loved honey and one of his names is in fact, “Melitteus” in honor of Melissa. When Cronus realized Melissa’s role he became infuriated with her and transformed her into an earthworm. Zeus took pity on her and transformed her again later on, this time into a bee.
Roman philosopher Pliny referred to honey as the “sweat of heavens and the saliva of stars”, while medieval author and poet Chancer was one of the first to use the phrase “busy as a bee”. Man recognized since antiquity that Bees were associated with nature’s regenerative forces. Honey has been appreciated, for its nutritional value and was used both for ceremonial purposes as well as for medical treatments. Nowadays, it has been scientifically proven that healthy bees are an important indication of a healthy environment. We now know that these industrious workers are responsible for 80% of flower pollination, which is an essential part of the food chain and for sustaining life on Earth.
Bees are amazing little wonders of nature.
Please be aware that this area was hit by wildfires in July 2021. The blaze, one of the worst in recent history, burned an area of around 55 sq. km. The impact and the consequences on the environment, the bees and the welfare of the locals were tremendous. However, local communities are rebuilding the environment and their livelihood with the support of the Government and the society as a whole. You can contribute to this effort by supporting local businesses.
Bees produce honey from nectar collected from blossoming plants. Honey color, taste, aroma and texture varies greatly depending on the type of the flowers a bee frequents. Thyme honey, for example, differs greatly from honey harvested from bees that frequent a lavender field. Before sugar became widely available in the sixteenth century, honey was the world’s principal sweetener, with ancient Greece and Sicily among the best-known historical honey production centers. Written testimonies also refer to Cyprus as a honey producer since ancient times. The first accurate quantitative data about beekeeping date from 1894 and indicate that about 500,000 beehives were maintained on the island. During the first half of the twentieth century, the industry experienced a significant decline and dropped to only 23,000 beehives. In an effort to reverse this, the Cypriot authorities introduced modern wooden beehives to the island.
The wooden beehive with its movable frames, which were more productive and mobile, replaced the traditional terracotta tubes (gr tziverti), which were used for beekeeping.
This route will take you through the region where the majority of beekeeping and the largest number of honeycombs is found and makes up for a big part of the island’s honey production. You will have the opportunity to get familiar with the honey harvesting procedure, maybe become a beekeeper for a day or make your own bee wax candles. Taste different honey varieties, delicacies made with honey, get to know bee lovers and help them keep our bees happy and prosperous!
Participate in bee-themed festivals and I am sure you are going to be thrilled…
According to historians Hesiodos and Pindaros, Aristaios was the son of Greek God Apollo and the nymph Kyrini, and he is the inspirer and protector of human agricultural activities.
Aristaios became immortal when Ores (gr mythology) fed him nectar and ambrosia, when he was born. The Muses (gr mythology) taught him how to cultivate vineyards, olives and beekeeping, which is the activity most closely related to him. On suspicion of being responsible for an unfortunate incident, the Muses punished Aristaios by killing his bees. Aristaios sought advice and received a prophecy from Proteas (gr mythology) saying that he had to sacrifice four oxen and four heifers to redeem himself. He did what the prophecy asked and a swarm of bees returned to his beehives. Because of the connection between Aristaios and the muses, bees are also called “birds of muses”.
Pollinators - Bee Hotels
Bee hotels are special structures built with materials that bees like to nest in, such as drilled wood, hollow cane stalks and other natural materials. They are placed in sun-drenched locations, facing south or southeast. Four large solitary bee hotels have been installed by layia village crafts, one in each of the five villages of Lageia, Melini, Ora and Odou Kato Drys. There are plans to expand the Bee Hotels network.
Solitary bees, make up the vast majority of Cyprus bee species. They are easily overlooked, but they are very well known to pollinate plants more efficiently than the honey bees. They provide an essential ecosystem service, pollinating our crops and ensuring that plant communities are healthy and productive. Without them, mammals and birds would not have the seeds, berries or plants on which they depend; in fact, approximately one in three mouthfuls of food and drink require pollination by Solitary bees. Wildflowers provide essential resources of pollen and nectar for these busy workers and ample nesting opportunities in their dry, hollow stems.
DID YOU KNOW
Bees were a symbol of wealth, good luck and prosperity since ancient times. Charms in the shape of a honeybee are believed to bring good luck and wealth. Bees are on the coats of arms of many families, but also on private or state logos of organizations and institutions. In the language of coats of arms, the bee symbolizes hard work.
The word “honeymoon” derives from the ancient tradition of providing a newlywed couple with a month’s supply of mead (honey wine) in order to ensure happiness and fertility.
Every bee colony has its own distinct scent so that its members can identify each other. Each bee has 170 odorant receptors, which means they have a highly developed sense of smell! They use this to communicate within their colony and to recognize different types of flowers when looking for food.
The average worker bee lives for just five to six weeks. During this time, it will produce around a twelfth of a teaspoon of precious honey. The queen bee can live up to five years. Her busiest time is during the summer months, when she lays up to 2,500 eggs a day!
The type of flower, the bee takes the nectar from, determines the honey’s flavour. Bees love blue and cluster type plants like lavender and rosemary.
Tip: To encourage more bees to visit your garden grow more colourful plants.
Honeybees are fab flyers. They fly at a speed of around 25 km per hour and flap their wings 200 times per second.