Beekeeper and owner Domagoj Balja inspects honey from the beehives of “Bee hotel with five stars” in Garesnica, Croatia.
Garesnica, Croatia – A family offers people who want to have their own homemade honey a three-year contract worth 2,500 kuna ($ 391.32)
A family in Croatia has opened a ‘bee hotel’ offering productive hives for sale to customers who want to keep bees but lack the time or space to care for the tiny pollinators themselves.
Domagoj Balja says the company is responding to the growing curiosity of buyers of its honey about how it is made, at a time when beekeeping is suffering from a global decline in bee populations.
At agricultural fairs, the farmer said: “We have so often been asked, ‘Is your honey really homemade? “… As experienced beekeepers, we felt a little upset, even offended. “
“Then my wife and I came up with the idea of letting people learn how it works by having their own beehives,” said Balja, whose family has spent decades raising bees.
The family, from the town of Garesnica in northeastern Croatia, are offering people wishing to have their own homemade honey a three-year contract worth 2,500 kuna ($ 391.32).
“They can buy us a beehive which we then take care of, and during those three years half of the honey production goes to them,” he said. “We collect the honey from the hive together. At the right time, a beehive can produce around 30 kilograms of honey (per year), ”Balja said.
Twenty-five clients currently own bees on the farm. While most are from Croatian towns, some come from further afield.
“This aspect of our job isn’t really about racking up profits, it’s about teaching people beekeeping,” said Balja, who aims to have 40 “hotel” clients eventually.
Owners can take their beehive elsewhere after three years, although it is not easy to find another location.
Nena Salopek bought a beehive last year and harvested four kg (9 lbs) of honey for herself. It tastes “perfect,” she said, although she is concerned about the effect of climate change on bee productivity.
Vital for plant fertilization, bees are threatened by human activities, including the use of pesticides and fertilizers, as well as by climate change.
Balja said this has been the worst year for honey production in decades, after snow and frost in the spring. “In the spring, we had to feed the bees so that we didn’t starve, which had never happened to us before,” he said.