‘Bees Unite the World’
“Bees Unite the World” is the motto of the 47th Apimondia International Beekeeping Congress to be held at the Istanbul Congress Center between Aug. 24-28 this year. The congress will bring together world beekeepers, honey industry professionals, scientists, honey traders, public institutions and organizations, as well as experts in apitherapy, bee biology, and beekeeping economy, to discuss a wide range of topics including beekeeping for rural development, bee health, pollination and bee flora, beekeeping technology and quality.
In Turkish, there is an idiom “Arı gibi çalışmak,” literally meaning “to work like a bee,” to express working extremely hard, almost non-stop, to achieve a goal. Bees really do seem to work endlessly in their effort to build the bee comb, to have the comb filled with honey, to ventilate the comb to evaporate excess water in the honey, then to seal the combs, and so on. The hive life is very busy, bees go in and out, and work endlessly. We have an expression for that too. When we talk about a shop or a venue doing very good business, a place that is very busy and crowded, we say “Arı kovanı gibi,” meaning as busy as a beehive. In Turkish culture, bees are considered to be clean animals, unlike other insects, instrumental in the life cycle, and respectful as they produce honey, a primary source of sweetness giving power and energy. Honey is always considered a healthy food; many people believe a spoonful first thing in the morning will secure you good health and longevity. When asked a very elderly person about the secret of his/her age, the secret often comes as a spoonful of local honey each morning. As the bee goes to all flowers to gather the nectar, the elixir of nature, it is believed that honey possesses almost supernatural powers, secrets we can never truly discover. That is also the reason many folk remedies include honey as a key ingredient.
Honey is not the only magical element in the world of bees. The task of the bee is not confined to producing honey only. Each bee works to support the pollination of many plant species by collecting as much pollen as possible in order that their hives grow, but this also helps to increase the productivity of plants in general. For many of the food that comes to our table; we have to be thankful to bees. Eighty percent of flowering plants and trees reproduce thanks to the pollen carried by the bees. Thanks to pollination, the yield and taste of vegetables and fruits are elevated. “Without bees, there would be no plants, no living things, no people!” is the motto of Balparmak, a leading honey producer/trader company, the Platin sponsor of the Apimodia congress. Balparmak board chair Özen Altıparmak says, “We are proud to have Apimondia in Istanbul,” and adds, “Our greatest desire for Turkish honey is to see the value it deserves in world markets,” and draws attention to the importance of the International Beekeeping Congress for the development of the industry in our country. In recent years, honey production had gone through major mishaps, affected by climate change, diseases and natural disasters like fires and floods that threatened the future of honey, bees and the beekeeping profession. The congress will address topics like the future of sustainable beekeeping and the protection of bee existence as one of the most important elements of the ecosystem, and the scientific and technological developments in the sector. Altıparmak says: “We care about the bee and our beekeepers, which are the most important elements that ensure the continuity of the ecosystem. Climate changes, pesticide residues and pesticide use pose a serious risk for bees. Beekeepers have important responsibilities such as positioning the bees in the right place at the right time, protecting them from diseases, preparing them for nectar time by growing strong, keeping the bees away from the places where pesticides are applied, preventing bee diseases, and providing a hygienic environment. All of these constitute the content of technical training. We are also working to bring young people and women to the beekeeping profession with our modern beekeeping techniques training at Balparmak Beekeeping Academy.”
Not everything in the honey world is very sweet. As honey has such a precious value in human health, it also has a considerable commercial value. Inevitably honey fraud is one of the stickiest subjects in the world of honey and bee-keeping. Adulteration increase in honey businesses is hard to stop, as it is hard to spot adulteration even by complicated tests. It becomes more difficult for consumers to reach natural and pure honey. Balparmak R&D Center has implemented a new method that detects the presence of brown rice syrup in honey. Imitation honey is usually made with corn syrup, beet syrup, and white rice syrup, but previously certain methods and tests were developed to detect the addition of plant-based syrups in identifying adulterated honey. However, there was no method that could prove the existence of brown rice syrup, which is more akin in color to honey and is widely used in the market. As a result of intensive R&D studies, Balparmak was able to determine the component that is the indicator of brown rice syrup in honey, for which they filed a patent application for the method, which is a first in the world. The method was published in one of the world’s most respected scientific journals, “LWT Food Science & Technology,” and entered the world literature. In the Apimondia congress, all the details of the method will be shared with the participants. Last but not least, another topic that will be brought to the table will be the future of pine honey, Türkiye being the major producer in the world, producing almost 90 percent of all the world’s pine honey, seriously affected by the forest fires of last year. Bees are our future, so anyone interested in Apiculture, and loves honey, keep an eye on the bee and Apimondia!
Cork of the Week: Kalecik used to be a sleepy almost forgotten town, a district of Ankara, almost 70 kilometers North East from the city center. The history of the town goes back to the Hittites, or even earlier almost to 4000 B.C., and though it remained an active trading town in the Ottoman times, the town lost its sparkle later because of the decline in viticulture due to the phylloxera disease. It was back in the 1970s when Professor Dr. Sabit Ağaoğlu, a viticulture scholar from the Ankara University’s Agriculture Department, started a study to safeguard the blackish red grape of the town, known as Kalecik Karası, aka the Black of Kalecik, and eventually, the legendary grape took off, and became one of the most important indigenous local grapes in the Turkish wine industry, now not only grown in Kalecik but also has spread to major vineyard areas from Güney district in Denizli to Cappadocia. The ones in Ankara are lucky! On Aug. 27, there will be a Kalecik Karası event, featuring about 70 wines from bubblies made with Methode Traditonelle, to whites, blush and rosé wines to monosepage reds. Aağaoğlu will be there too, and masterclasses will be held by Professor Dr. Ertan Anlı (in Turkish) and Serhat Narsap (in English, a London-based wine expert who is the founder of TWC, Turkish Wine Challenge). Day-long one can swirl & sip all KK’s available on the market at the walk-around tasting, and meet with the producers. A great opportunity to find out all about the grape, a light medium-bodied ruby red delight. The event takes place at Litai Hotel, 11:00 to 17:00, and tickets cost 550 Turkish Liras, available at https://kkankara.com/