Short presentation of beekeeping activities in Slovenia

Slovenian beekeeping home page

Published in1998

Beekeeping at the Biotechnical Faculty*
Janko Bozic1, Anamarija Plestenjak2, Terezija Golob2
1Department of Biology, Biotechnical Faculty, University of Ljubljana, Vecna pot 111, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia; 2Department of Food Science and Technology, Biotechnical Faculty, University of Ljubljana, Jamnikarjeva 101, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia

There were always some interests for beekeeping and related topics at the Biotechnical faculty in research and education.


The most established is a teaching course of Beekeeping at the two departments, Agronomy and Zootechnics. Currently it is taught by Assist. Prof. Dr. Poklukar Janez who is working on Beekeeping projects at the Agricultural Institute. Even though there are no special teaching courses at other departments, that doesn't mean our students don't get any information about bees, beekeeping and bee products. For example, students of Biology learn bee biology in several courses. In the first year they get some basic bee biology knowledge in the General Zoology course and in the 4th year of study they learn complex social behavior of honeybees in the Ethology and Neuroethology class. Department of Biology is also involved in development of education programme for beekeepers. Properties of bee products and their quality control are taught at the Department of Food Science and Technology.


The research activities of Chair of Food Assessment at the Department of Food Science and Technology on the field of composition and quality of honey and other products of honeybee last for more than 20 years. The results are published in 15 articles, 12 research reports and 16 graduation thesis. The co-workers of the Chair actively take part in the elaboration of new Slovene legislation about honey quality and in sensory evaluation of honey.

Some recent bee-related research activities were established at the Department of Biology, Chair of Neuroethology. It started as an undergraduate student project on dance communication and continued as a study of social behavior of honeybees. Currently social behavior of honeybees is investigated in relation to physiological changes and states. The results are published in 4 articles in international science journals and 4 graduation thesis.
Occasionally, some other departments are also involved in beekeeping related research projects.

* Biotechnical Faculty of Ljubljana is consisted of seven departments: Agronomy, Biology, Forestry, Landscape Architecture, Wood Science and Technology, Zootechnics, Food Science and Technology, and the Centre for Biotechnology.

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Aleš Gregorc and Magdalena Vidmar
Veterinary Faculty of the University of Ljubljana, Gerbičeva 60, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia

Research projects on honeybee diseases, diagnosis, biological control methods and tests of medicines against bee diseases are undertaken at the Institute for Breeding and Health Care of Wild Animals, Fishes and Bee. In our basic research project of contemporary diagnosis of American foulbrood, immunohistochemical methods are used to detect and distinguish physiological - programmed and necrotic cell death.

The course of "Diseases and the hygiene of beekeeping" is given to undergraduate students of veterinary medicine. The anatomy, physiology, pathology, diagnosis of bee diseases, the use of chemicals against diseases and biological control measures are the main topics of the practicles in the apiary.

The Institute for Biology and Pathology of Wild Animals, Fish and Bees is responsible for diagnostic work regulated with Veterinary law and Annual Decree of The Veterinary State Administration of Republic Slovenia. Diagnosis and prevention of honeybee diseases in queen rearing apiaries in Slovenia. Lab diagnosis of honey bee disease are also provided for beekeepers. Collaboration with researchers within the Veterinary faculty and other Faculties and Institutes and foreign Universities ensure progress in research in honeybee biology and pathology.

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Activities of the Central Slovene Service for Carniolan Honeybee Selection at the Agricultural Institute of Slovenia
Janez Poklukar
Agricultural Institute of Slovenia, Hacquetova 17, Ljubljana, Slovenia

Agricultural Institute of Slovenia celebrates the 100 anniversary which makes it the oldest state institute in Slovenia. It has been running some activities in the field of beekeeping since 1984. Two members of the Animal Husbandry Department staff (one Ph. degree, one technician) are responsible for the maintenance of the autochthonous Carniolan bee in Slovenia. They organise honeybee queen breeding activities on 15 places in Slovenia and give all the promotion activities needed. They run large field production test of about 1.000 queens each year. In the field of research they are active in the investigation the Carniolan bee gene pool in Slovenia, they study floral honey and honeydew sources, investigate honey composition criteria and take part in the varroa control activities.

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Matej Šumah
Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food of the Republic of Slovenia

Slovenian beekeepers keep the Carniolan bee or Apis mellifera carnica, which is characteristically very tranquil and has a well pronounced cleaning behaviour and a good sense of orientation. It reacts vigorously to external stimulus. The queen bee immediately reacts to an increased input of food by increased laying of eggs. Spring development is quick. The average annual produce per hive is 12 to 20kg.

Professional assignments in apiculture are conducted under the auspices of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food on the basis of the Law on Measures in Animal Farming (OJ, nos. 17/78 and 29/86). The basic assignments are the selection of the domestic variety of bees (the Carneolian) and the work of the honey monitoring and prognostic service.

The headquarters of the Slovenian apicultural selection service are at the Agricultural Institute of Slovenia. The purpose of the selection is to preserve the autochthonous breed of bee and to increase its competitiveness compared to other breeds and commercial strains.

Veterinary supervision and preventive care are conducted by the Veterinary Faculty and by nine specialists in bee diseases at the Veterinary Institute of Slovenia.

The headquarters of the honey monitoring and prognostics service are at the Beekeeper’s Association of Slovenia. The purpose of honey prognosis is to increase the honey produce per swarm and to make maximum use of free bee pastures.

Professional services co-operate in adjusting the legislation and regulations to those of the European Union and in managing agricultural intervention policies.

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Mira Jenko - Rogelj, Vida Lešnik, Jože Gabrovšek
Animal Health Center of Slovenia, Department of Bee Health Protection, C. v Mestni log 51 a,

Three Departments (Department of Food Hygiene, Department of Laboratory diagnosis and Department of Bee Health protection ) in Animal Health Center of Slovenia work on bee pathology and sanitary measures of bee products. The Department of Bee Health protection consists of eight specialists, which work in all geographical regions of Slovenia where are about 9000 (ann. report 1997: 8253) beekeepers who possess 158227 honey bee colonies. The program of work was accepted and funded by the State Ministry for Agriculture, Forestry and Food, to support and develop apiculture and its most important influence on agriculture and also to rise the quality and quantity of honey bee products.

The Animal Health Center takes care of honeybee colonies in the country and monitors the epizootiological situation. The obligations of this agency are to educate the beekeepers, to transfer new research findings into praxis, to collaborate with beekeeping association and publish educational information for beekeepers. They help the officers of State Veterinary Administration to eradicate the infectious honey bee diseases. The main success has been achieved in keeping important honey bee diseases on a tolerant level of incidence and in reducing the stagnation of the number of honeybee colonies in the country. The preventive clinical examinations of honeybee colonies and advising
about epizootiological situation are important occupations of the veterinarians. Animal Health Center of Slovenia does clinical and lab examination of honeybee colonies and certifies bee products.

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History of Slovenian bee-keeping and the Beekeepers' Association
Janez Mihelič, Editor of Slovene Beekeeper
The Beekeepers' Association of Slovenia, Cankerjeva 3, 1000 Ljubljana
tel 386 (61) 210 992, fax 386 (61) 12 61 335,
e-mail –

Slovenia is a country with a rich bee-keeping heritage and tradition, land of Anton Janša, Carniolan bee and painted bee hive fronts. Trade with honey and beeswax goes as far as 15th century. The Slovene countryman Anton Janša, born in Breznica 1734 - 1773, became world famous for his contributions to the bee-keeping science. He was the first teacher of bee-keeping at the court of the Empress Maria Teresia in Vienna. He wrote two books which gained wide recognition in the world and are based on his extremely rich practical knowledge and experience: "A Debate on Bee's Swarming" (1771) and a more extensive "Complete Teachings of Bee-keeping" (1775) issued posthumously. Beside Anton Janša the Slovenes have become famous for a lively trade with autochthon bees Apis melifera carnica in the 19th and 20th century. Export of Carniolan bee to European countries started Emil Ravenegg Rotschüts in 1866. Because of the originality the Slovene folk art deserves some special attention, namely painting of beehive fronts which was widely spread in 18th and 19th centuries.

The first association of beekeepers named "Beekeepers' fraternity" was established in Slovenia already in 1781 with 397 members who paid membership fee. A forerunner of the present organisation was established in 1898. Nowadays the organisation is called The Beekeepers' Association of Slovenia (Čebelarska zveza Slovenije) with its seat in Ljubljana. The Association issues a apicultural magazine – Slovene Beekeeper. 7,292 bee-keepers keep 164,429 bee-hives and 87,3 % bee-keepers are members of the association. 14 experts are professionally engaged in counselling and research work in apiculture.

Čebelarska zveza Slovenije will be the host of the 38th international bee-keeping congress Apimondia in Ljubljana in 2003 and at the time we will mark some important anniversaries: the 230th anniversary of Anton Janša death; the 130th anniversary of first Slovenian Bee-keeping Society, the 130th anniversary of first Slovenian bee-keepers magazine and the 100th anniversary of magazine Slovene Beekeeper - "Slovenski čebelar".

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Slovenian bee-houses
Franc Šivic, vice-president of Bee-keepers’ Association of Slovenia
Ul. Padlih borcev 31, 1000 Ljubljana, fax: 00386 61 1684 549

Bee-houses exist not only in Slovenia but also in Austria, Switzerland, northern parts of Italy, Germany and other countries with harsh winters and humid weather. Slovenian bee-houses are unique phenomenon with their high roofs and special forms, which express a particular care and liking for the bees of our beekeepers.

The technology of beekeeping in Slovenia is as special nowadays as it was in the past. When our predecessors inhabited the region and mixed with the Celtic aborigines in the 6 th century they had to take over some of the habits important for their existence. With them they brought beehives which were oval logs. The way of beekeeping had to be adapted to the circumstances of the area. Later on beekeeping in nicely painted Carniolian beehives developed and such beehives were arranged in wooden bee-houses - ulnjaki. Nowadays they still represent a specialty of the Slovene apiculture. Beekeeping in Slovenia thrived and was in the world top before the movable honeycomb asserted. Carniolan beehive remained in use for the trade with swarms and queen bees for a long time. At the time when the use of movable honeycombs started the leaf type of a beehive asserted and both types of beehives, Carniolan and leaf type, were arranged in bee-houses. The modern Langstroth’s beehive system as well as good beehives of the neighboring influential nations did not assert. Again, the reasons were extremely demanding and quickly changeable climate conditions, short, although sometimes abundant pastures, relief features, small space, tradition, necessity of transports to pastures and other reasons.

The beehive of a leaf type has been updated again, the working volume has been increased and decreased, but it still remains arranged in a nice beehouse typical for a certain region, friendly to a beekeeper and practical for the transport.

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